Growing into Heart of Dakota Guides
Is your child at the start or partway into a new Heart of Dakota guide? If so, this post about the process of growing into Heart of Dakota guides is for you! A homeschool parent at the start of Bigger Hearts for His Glory with her son recently asked some excellent questions about this topic. As I responded, I realized this topic of growing into Heart of Dakota guides could be good to share with others! Every HOD guide I’ve used includes this ‘growing into the guide’ time. I hope to show that in this post and help others enjoy the journey as they picture the improvements they will see in their children by the end!
At the Start of Bigger Hearts for His Glory
To give some context, I will share a short summary about this delightful 7-year-old! He is working half-speed in Bigger Hearts for His Glory, and he is on Unit 2, Day 4. He loves 3A Singapore Math but is not able to do it independently. He loves grammar but needs to work on writing neatness and accuracy. His Spelling List 2, Emerging Reader’s Set 2, Storytime, History Activities, and Geography are going great!
His Bible, Poetry, Cursive, and Science content are going well. However, he needs to work on his science notebooking assignments. This wonderful homeschool mom shared she loves the Eggleston history readings, but she wonders if she needs to discuss the end-of-the-chapter questions with her son. She also wondered how going half-speed may impact the retention of the history.
Finally, some of the language of the history reading seems to be over his head. Her biggest concern relates to her son’s writing. In general, anything where copywork is required is harder. His writing is large and missing proper punctuation at times. He did Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory last year, and he fits well in Bigger Hearts for His Glory in all the other areas.
A Balance of New Skills and Skills to Practice or Maintain
Thank you for sharing about your son! First, I just want to reassure you that your son is doing exactly what we’d expect at the beginning of Bigger Hearts for His Glory! Carrie intends for about one-third of each guide to include new skills to be taught. The new skills are the most difficult for students. They take all year to hone and to refine. If we look at the things that are going well, these are skills that have been taught before and now must be practiced or maintained. They go up a level in difficulty, but they are not completely new skills. These make up the other about two-thirds of skills Carrie’s planned to include in the guide.
For example, your son did Spelling List 1 and is now doing Spelling List 2 (up a level in difficulty, but not a completely new skill). He did Emerging Readers Set 1 and is now doing Emerging Reader’s Set 2 (up a level in difficulty, but not a completely new skill). The same holds true for Storytime, History Activities, Geography, Poetry (all vary in which parts are practiced, and which are maintained – but all are not new skills entirely). So, congrats on your son practicing and maintaining these skills well!
Higher Level History Spines with Fewer Pictures
Now on to the new skills! The Eggleston books ARE wonderfully narrative, just as Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory’s books were. However, they have little to no pictures, more difficult vocabulary, and a higher level of reading. This is intentional, and it is a new skill for students. Throughout the year, your son will learn to listen more carefully, to use context clues to figure out difficult vocabulary, to focus longer, and to understand a higher level of read alouds.
Growing into Higher Level History Spines with Fewer Pictures
For growing into higher level history spines with fewer pictures, Carrie recommends tucking the child under your arm as you read. The book can be open on your lap, so the child can see the book and follow along as able as you are reading. Just as Charlotte Mason advocated, Carrie also reminds parents not to stop reading to explain things. This interrupts the flow of the reading and defeats the purpose of teaching the new skill of using context and storyline to determine the meaning of unknown words. Finally, she recommends reading aloud the Key Idea of the Reading About History box at the end to sum up the reading for the student.
Carrie’s plans include the follow-up skills for each day’s reading. The exercises/questions in the Eggleston books are completely optional. She did not assign them (i.e. Unit 1, Day 3: Reading About History A First Book in American History p. 7-11 only, not p. 12). I did not do the exercises with my sons. I just enjoyed the readings and the follow-ups in the guide. I think you should too!
Growing into Singapore Math Instruction
Children need time for growing into new and harder Singapore Math instruction. Some math programs are to be done independently, but Singapore Math is not one of them. The textbook is to be taught, with the parent working all problems with the student. The workbook is more independent, but the parent is to remain nearby to help as needed. Blessedly, it is a shorter math program! I always felt like it was worth the time because there was no walking away to come back to mistakes to fix. To read more about staying with your child for math, click here for a teaching tip Carrie posted.
Growing into Daily Formal Grammar Instruction
Children will need real time for growing into R & S English because formal grammar is a new skill. In Bigger Hearts for His Glory, English is daily, requires writing, and is a formal grammar program. In Beyond…, grammar was once a week, did not require writing, and was not a formal grammar program. Little ones definitely need time, help, and encouragement with R & S English at the start.
You can do it mainly orally and only choose one small part for him to write. I’d expect less writing from a 7-year-old doing R & S English 2 than I would an 8 or 9-year-old. You can choose a small section/portion for him to copy that is manageable for a 7 yo (as in short phrases, 3-5 things). That is what I did with my sons, and then I gradually increased the amount of writing in R & S English 3, though we still did a good portion orally then too.
Growing into an Increase in Writing
The amount of writing increases in Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Some of the new writing skills include copying the Bible verse, completing fairly involved Vocabulary lessons, and creating Science notebook pages. Students need to learn to shrink their writing and write within a designated area. These are new skills in and of themselves!
For Science notebooking pages, I used a ruler to draw lines on blank copy paper and put spacing between lines that fit my children’s size of writing. Gradually over the whole year, I put less space between lines to help them shrink their writing. I also would write the first part of the line for them (if necessary). This provided a model of the size to try to write for them. I wrote bigger at first, maybe just slightly smaller than their big writing. I modeled smaller writing as the year progressed, trying to get them to the size of writing that would fit on wide-lined notebook paper. I didn’t write it all for them, but I did start them off right with it.
For experiments, the plans have the parent write the whole question and the words Guess and Procedure. You can help as needed with the rest, knowing this too is a new skill. I would have him print everything except the cursive workbook. Printing helps with proper spelling and copywork because it is easier for the child to ‘see’ what ‘looks right.’
Divvying Up the Writing
I would keep going half-speed with your 7-year-old, making sure to divvy up the writing evenly over the two days. I remember writing a “W” in the margin next to any box of plans that required writing for my son when I went half-speed. I made sure to divide the “W” boxes as evenly as possible over the 2 days, and I also did not put the “W” boxes in a row in the school schedule. I put non-writing things in between them. Hope that makes sense!
Half-Speed Pacing Possibilities
As far as retention with half-speed pacing, each day’s history reading is a short narrative story that ends. One story doesn’t carry over to the next day, though the stories connect cohesively chronologically. The history reading should be fine to do half-speed. Just be sure to keep the bottom left rotating history follow-up on the same day as the history reading. Since Science Exploration links to the history, you could do that on the days you don’t do history reading. Just read the Science Key Idea, and that will bring up the history connection.
Storytime readings could be done daily instead of half-speed for retention purposes. Just divide the book over more days, as those readings are longer and in one chapter book where the same storyline continues from day to day. For math, you could teach the textbook one day, and do a quick review and the workbook the next day, as your 2nd grader is doing 3A Singapore Math. You can do this with grammar as well, where you do the oral part one day and the written part the next (still doing some of the written part orally but then assigning a small part to be written). Half-speed pacing offers many options!
Enjoying Growing into Heart of Dakota Guides
So, please know your son is doing great! He just needs time to grow into these new skills, and he will have that time by going half-speed for awhile. I hope this helps! Keep up the good work you are doing by teaching your children!!! Have a fantastic year homeschooling with Heart of Dakota!