The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

This is where new posts begin. All questions or discussions about any of Heart of Dakota's curriculums start here. If you wish to share a one-time post about your family's experience with our curriculum, you may post under the specific curriculum title (found beneath this "Main Board" heading).
Post Reply
jer2911mom
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 10:40 pm

The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by jer2911mom » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:58 pm

Thank you for indulging my questions lately. I am trying to make sure I understand HOD's setup as the years progress and wanted to ask about the philosophy behind the increasingly independent work. I've seen several people mention the need for the olders to work independently so Mom has time to help the youngers. I only have two children, so that is not as much the case for me. I understand that by high school, working independently will be a necessary skill, and it is good to work towards that. I just want to understand the need for the independent work starting younger than I expected. Which parts are independent and how do I stay involved in those parts? I want to make sure I still know what my children are doing and learning and be involved in all subjects. If I don't want the work to be done independently quite so young as is scheduled, how hard is it to adjust the instructions to do it with my child? I guess I want to be reassured that if they are doing something independently, I still know exactly what they are doing and learning and we are still discussing it. I'm not looking to hand things off as early as 3rd or 4th grade, if that makes sense.

Thanks,
Kathy

lmercon
Posts: 659
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:05 pm
Location: Zieglerville, PA

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by lmercon » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:41 am

This is my third year using HOD. I am using Preparing with my 9 yo ds who would be in third grade. In Preparing, there are a few areas of independent work. The "independent history" section is optional. It involves reading a short passage and doing some sort of writing, copywork, or drawing activity. There are also "student led" sections, where the student is sort of leading the way through the assignment but with the guide of the parent. Most of the program is still teacher-led. I only have two dc as well, but they are four years apart. I am counting on ds doing more by himself in the next few years as my dd comes up with the earlier programs. LHTH through Bigger are teacher-intensive, so I'll need my ds to be able to handle some of his learning. The independent work always has some kind of finished "product," be it a drawing, written piece, or oral narration. You will always have the opportunity to assess learning. I'm like you, I want to be a part of his learning as much as I can.

For me, being independent is as much about being able to accomplish a task well in a fair amount of time without dawdling and needing prompts to keep going. I've seen a HUGE improvement with my ds this year. He can work diligently at a task for an extended time away from me with no prompting. This has taken time, but it is going really well this year.

My ds can't take advantage of the independent activities that are scheduled yet because of his severe dyslexia. I do tape-record the indep. reading sections because I want him to be able to take ownership of some of his learning. I want a child who has the initiative to learn on his own.

hth,
Laura
Wife to a great guy and mommy to:
Ds(15) - using WG and loving it!
Dd(11) - using Res.to Ref and having a blast!
Ds (3) - our joy!
Two little ones in the arms of Jesus - I can't wait to hold you in Heaven!

Mom2Monkeys
Posts: 1410
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:31 pm
Contact:

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by Mom2Monkeys » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:27 am

I only have a quick second to reply, so this will be short and I may or may not remember to come back to reply more fully. :D So goes the life with littles. LOL

Anyway, I had the exact same thoughts as you have when I first started looking at HOD. But, I have grown to love the small, incremental, methodical steps to working independently and doing it well. I am still very much a part of all my kids are learning yet my oldest has become more independent in some areas and feels so accomplished! It's given her a new love for her learning...it's "her HOD" :D . If not for the slow method of bringing them to independence, the other option would be to cut the cord suddenly or too late, leaving our dc with difficulties in this transition to independence just as the workload and depth of study increases so much. I don't want to do that to my dc! They need to learn time management, study skills, diligence, etc. before high school, but those are tough to learn in just a short year or two of jr. high/middle school....so I think you'll find the method HOD uses to get to that point very refreshing. You are still involved...not hands-off at all. You'll love watching as your young one blossoms and how they glow when they do an experiment themselves! You'll love how they excitedly want to call grandma to tell her the cool thing that THEY did in school today ALL BY THEMSELVES :D With your watchful eye and the fact they still narrate and such even with independent work, they are still right there with you. Gotta run! Battery is dying and time is short!
~~Tamara~~
Enjoying HOD since 2008

DD15 long-time HODie finding her own new path
DS12 PHFHG {dysgraphia, APD, SID}
DS9 PHFHG
DS6 LHFHG
DD new nursling

LynnH
Posts: 1846
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:41 pm
Location: OH
Contact:

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by LynnH » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:18 am

This is our second year with HOD. We did Preparing last year and CTC this year. Yes there are a few more independent boxes in CTC, but I still know what he is learning in the boxes. One way I know this is by reading the notes Carrie puts in each box. These notes highlight the key ideas. I will read these and then I may say something like "so it looks like you learned about... today". He usually will then start telling me about what he read or learned. Not an official narration, just a little bit of info he found interesting. I am still very involved in what he is learning. Like you I only have 2 and the other one is in high school and truly is very independent with her work. I don't know as much about what she is learning except as I grade papers. I thought I would give you an idea of how much I really am involved in his day with CTC by outlining a typical day.
Bible Quiet time: he does do by himself, but he may tell me something that stuck out to him
Science (an Independent box): He does the reading by himself, but he usually is so excited about it he may tell me something he learned and then he either does an oral narration to me, a notebooking page I can then look at, answer questions that I review and a Science experiment that I watch him do and help with if needed.
Geography: We do together with me reading to him/ Bible Study: we do together and discuss
Poetry: He reads this out loud and then does the water color painting in the dining room so I see what he is doing. He also recites the poem on the fourth day and asks questions about it to his "audience".
English: We do most of it orally together.
Storytime: Read aloud together
Reading about History: This is an independent box and where I rely on Carrie's notes, but again he produces things that let me know what he is reading about. He makes a timeline, picks something he finds interesting and copies it, does a written narration. All things I look at and ask him about.
Independent History study: Another independent box, but much of this is Listening to the Diana Waring CD's which he does in the living room so I can hear it. He also does notebooking pages so again I can see what he is doing.
History Project: I help him with this is he needs it, but he gets great satisfaction out of doing it mostly by himself.

I write all this to show you that yes the boxes are independent and he is working on his own for some of it, but I still see exactly what he is studying. I am much more aware of what he is learning than say if he were doing workbooks or textbooks. The Charlotte Mason style of learning seems to foster my ds to want to share what he is learning.
Mom to:
dd 22 college graduate and employed as an Intervention Specialist
ds 18 US2, Loved Preparing, CTC , RTR , Rev to Rev, MTMM ,WG, WH and US1
http://www.graceandfur.blogspot.com/

birchbark
Posts: 192
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:21 am
Location: NW Wisconsin

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by birchbark » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:46 pm

lmercon wrote: For me, being independent is as much about being able to accomplish a task well in a fair amount of time without dawdling and needing prompts to keep going.
This is an EXCELLENT point.
Married to a wonderful man since 1995
DS
DS
DD
DS

my3sons
Posts: 10589
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:08 pm
Location: South Dakota

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by my3sons » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:14 pm

What an excellent question, and I would love to answer it! :D HOD's philosophy behind independent work is to incrementally teach dc skills so they can be successful with them independently in the future. This then allows for new skills to be taught incrementally. So, every year HOD teaches new skills, and every year an older skill becomes independent, semi-independent, or is built upon by another level being added to the skill. This is usually a 3 year process, where a skill is first taught independently, then the next year it becomes semi-independent, and the final year it becomes independent. Each year of school has new skills that must be learned, and if older skills never became independent, there would not be room in the student's day nor in the teacher's time to keep them all dependent upon her. :D

This philosophy is also based upon the student becoming the active learner, rather than the teacher being the giver of information. This autonomy with learning teaches dc to view themselves as capable of learning things on their own, without waiting for the teacher to pour knowledge into them. Children see themselves as learners, and it carries over into the rest of their life as their passion for learning new things independently is sparked! :D

Charlotte Mason said a child should be reading school books independently by the age of 9 years old (unless they were unable to in which case further reading instruction is needed so they soon can). Why not have the parent read everything to the child (because after all, many of us parents love to read to our dc anyway :D )? Because often dc do not retain what they hear read aloud to them as well as what they read for themselves. We have found this to be true. This is an example of a skill HOD gradually gives dc the tools to take over and be successful with independently. For example, in BHFHG dc begin "Drawn into the Heart of Reading" which would be the first stage of this skill. In PHFHG, dc begin to do their science readings and part of their history readings independently, as well as DITHOR. In CTC, dc begin to do their history readings independently, as well as their science and their DITHOR as well as moving up a level in DITHOR. In RTR, dc begin to have the option to do their Storytime partly or totally independently, as well as the other things already mentioned, and if dc move up to Level 6/7/8 in DITHOR, their DITHOR Student Book at this point is written to them. All along, the guide eases the dc into this, as well as the parents. :D Key Ideas act as cliff notes for us parents, and HOD makes sure to have a follow-up activity, discussion, assignment with us as parents checking or interacting with our dc to check so we know if they understood what they read. :D

Through this gradual independence, other new skills are taught every single year, and they are important new skills to teach for the age level they are introduced. This year for us in RTR, some new skills are key word outlining in Medieval History Based Writing Lessons, puberty study and boyhood/girlhood study with "Boyhood and Beyond" / "Beautiful Girlhood", art appreciation of classic art pieces and artists through picture study with "Looking at Pictures", higher level poetry study with Emily Dickinson's poetry, etc. Examples of semi-independent skills are mapping by drawing/labeling detailed maps specific to historical events and cross referencing these with a World History Atlas, using several resources to research a famous person from history and complete a history notebook entry upon him/her, memorization of an entire chapter of Philippians with an inductive Bible study added to it, written narrations with increased length and a more detailed editing process, using story elements to find certain elements of style within Storytime books, etc. Examples of independent skills are giving good solid oral narrations, reading most if not all living books for the guide, having a Bible Quiet Time each day, following step-by-step instructions for history projects, experiments, independent history study, etc. :D

One can see that if you are still reading all of the books to your dc and also teaching every single part of a lesson, that one of two things will happen: either necessary learning will be omitted and learning will therefore plateau, or a student's day will be extremely long and overly time consuming. Neither of which is a positive. The real shame here would be the student would never have been able to feel he could learn something on his own, and would never learn to see himself as a person capable of learning without a teacher by his side. I believe this is why so many dc do not "learn" anything outside of school - they do not see themselves as learners, but rather as "wait-ers", waiting for the teacher to tell them the next thing to do.

So, "independent work" is a stage of learning that is not ever absolute in any HOD guide. Carrie is ever so careful to keep BALANCE in each and every guide, where a set of skills becomes independent, another semi-independent, and yet another teacher-directed. Yet all the while, she has written in checks and balances for the parent to see if the student understood the work. This move a student forward at a healthy pace he can not only handle and can also be successful with - it in short, begins to turn our boys into men, and our girls into women. And it changes our relationship with our dc too - we become not the givers of information, but rather co-learners as we enjoy watching our dc grow, blossom, and mature in this homeschool journey together. I am finding this way of letting my dc mature in school incredibly satisfying, very enjoyable, and most importantly - I can see it helping me have the desire and ability to finish homeschooling all the way through, strong. HTH! :D

In Christ,
Julie
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 25 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 20, 17, and 13
Author of Women's Devotional https://www.ebay.com/itm/293355757184
Blogger https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/
Sister to Carrie

Carrie
Site Admin
Posts: 8052
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:39 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by Carrie » Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:55 pm

Ladies,

Thank you so much for chiming in on this thread with your truly excellent responses. :D The poster asked a good question, and I am honestly so swamped right now that I haven't had a chance to get to it. I fully appreciate your sharing what you have found as you travel through this process in our guides, and I could not have explained it myself any better. :D

Blessings,
Carrie

jer2911mom
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by jer2911mom » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:40 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your very informative replies. This has been a concern for me because I believe my older dd is a "Sociable Sue" and thrives on her interaction with me. I don't want the independent work to give her a sense of isolation. One follow-up question I have is, do you then pre-read/preview the books they are reading independently or do you only rely on the key ideas in the guide? I'm not sure I want to be that detached from the actual content of what they are reading. But pre-reading seems like a daunting amount of work, not to mention the need to share materials like that. I guess until I am comfortable with not reading the content, we may need to read it together for awhile. How have you handled this? Thanks!

Carrie
Site Admin
Posts: 8052
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:39 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by Carrie » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:46 pm

Kathy,

I remember feeling the way that you do when my oldest son was as young as your oldest kiddos. I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I'm thinking your oldest child is currently in LHFHG, and there is truly much change that goes on both in expectations and oversight as your children age and mature. When my children were young, I did preread everything that they read. :D As they grew older, and became avid readers, it became nearly impossible for me to preread everything before my kiddos read it. It was then that I had to begin relying more on booklists and publishers that I trusted. Around third grade is usually the point at which this begins, and your kiddos really begin to outread you on a daily basis. This is also, hopefully, the time when they have found great joy in reading and no longer want to be made to read aloud to you. :wink: Instead, they begin to prefer to read their material silently to themselves around this same age (as CM so wisely mentioned - around age 9). Moving toward independence is honestly a stage in reading. It is one that comes after the child has emerged as a reader and is a joy to behold! :D

At HOD, our goal is train children to learn to read their own books but to read them with moral discernment. This is a goal that is necessary life-long, as we know as parents we will not always be with our children as they choose what to read, and our children will need to grow in discerning for themselves how what they are reading is lining up with the standards God sets forth in His Word. This is what DITHR is based upon and is also why we wrote it to work with any books that YOU choose. This leaves you in the driver's seat in this important area. :wink:

At HOD, we do read aloud the history spines to our children all the way through Preparing Hearts. We read aloud all of the science material in the guides up through Bigger Hearts. Each of our guides to follow continue to have many areas of interaction for both parent and child. For example, in CTC, we are able to do a thorough Genesis study and a Geography Study of the Bible Lands (along with still teaching math, grammar, DITHR, dictation, Write with the Best, and reading aloud storytime). We see or hear about every other part of the guide, through the kiddos notebooks and narrations.

In RTR, we are able to spend time doing a purity study, study higher level poetry like Emily Dickinson's, and do picture study (along with still teaching math, grammar, DITHR, dictation, Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, and reading aloud storytime). In the new guide Rev. to Rev., we will be doing a worldview study Who Is God? and also be doing a composer study (along with still teaching math, grammar, DITHR, dictation, The Wonderful World of Creative Writing, and reading aloud storytime). We continue to see or hear about every part of each guide through the daily assignments. In the next guide, we will be doing a study of Pilgrim's Progress and have time spent in another devotional meant to train students in becoming Godly young men and women. :D In these listings, you can see that at HOD we hold back a variety of important things for our interactions between parent and child and allow the child to do the parts on their own that they are ready and trained to do well.

Imagine that on top of all the things I've shared above that you were still reading aloud all of the history and science each day and guiding every activity. Would you truly have time to get done the wonderful studies that I've mentioned above, or would they quickly fall by the wayside in the overburdening of being the sole reader and the sole purveryor of information? :D It is evident that God desired for our children to read for themselves, or He would not have written His Book to our children and to us. Understanding and making sense of the written word is an integral part of education. This is why through HOD, we train our children to read well and comprehend what they are reading, but also to love what they are reading and discern how it fits with God's word. :D

After our children have had years of very focused teaching attention, they are ready to move forward a bit more on their own, and we encourage this growth. This happens very gradually about the time of Preparing Hearts, but only in two subject areas (both of which are quite short)! In the guides which follow Preparing Hearts, I cannot imagine my older boys (6th and 9th grade) waiting on me every day to read their material to them, nor of me reading aloud the same history and science material to all of my children (from aged 15 down to 4). While I do truly love reading aloud everything to my 4 year old and 2nd grader right now, they still need me to do it! But, there is so much difference in my children's maturity at their various ages (and will likely be for your kiddos too), so there should be a difference in what I expect from them. It's so important to recognize that difference and to award children with independence accordingly. RIght now all of my boys love books, and my older three boys read avidly. I am glad they outread me! :D They have a thirst for their school books that I never had, and they do not need me to get in between them and their school material (as CM would say). Instead, it is our desire for them to develop their own relationship with the reading. :D

I do preread the books we use in our guides very carefully, and I write the key ideas to give parents a great look into what is being read too. :D The narrations both oral and written are another window into the readings, and I always have the book in hand when my child is narrating to skim over. Since you are the parent, you can be as involved as you choose to be. It is your children's education. Our goal is not to "hand off" the child's education to them, but rather to incrementally train them how to learn so that they become lifelong learners. I leave you with this thought to ponder: If our children, as they mature, see their schoolbooks as only being mine to read to them, when will they ever make the leap into learning for their own sake? :D I agree that it is a new stage in the child's learning, but one that is important to take or the child's learning will forever be dependent on us.

Blessings,
Carrie

jer2911mom
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by jer2911mom » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:08 pm

Carrie,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write a detailed reply. The specifics are very helpful to me as I try to understand and become comfortable with this philosophy. You are right, my oldest is using LHFHG for K, so it is hard for me to grasp what third grade and fourth grade will look like for us. This is my first year homeschooling and I'm trying to do the research now to understand where we are headed. I really appreciate your help with explaining this approach to me. I appreciate that you have specific goals in mind and a very incremental approach to reaching those. I think I have one more "what is your philosophy" type question for you but will post that in a separate thread. I want to search first to make sure it hasn't been answered already.

Thanks again!
Kathy

pjdobro
Posts: 1491
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:45 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by pjdobro » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:33 pm

I have really enjoyed reading this thread! Thank you Kathy for asking the question. It is so nice to know the reasons behind each little step of independence that is given. It's so interesting to hear from those ladies that are far along in the process and those that are just beginning. I suppose I fall somewhere in between. I can understand your feelings Kathy, and I couldn't fathom just a couple of years ago allowing or expecting independence in many areas of my dc's life including school. It's surprising how much change happens in such a short time. I have watched my dc continue to mature and begin to desire more independence in their school work. Much to my surprise they are ready for these tasks. Each guide along the way has guided them and enabled them to make these baby steps. I know I would never have thought that they would be able to do the science in Preparing all by themselves even 6 months ago, but now I see how this won't at all be a problem. They have gradually gained the necessary skills and will be ready next fall. Already, they are starting to become more semi-independent on some of the boxes in Bigger so I have no doubt they'll be fully ready for Preparing. It's been a neat progression to see. I thought that I wouldn't be ready for this either, but surprisingly I am thrilled to see their growing discernment and level of maturity and I'm ready to let go of control over some things. That's really saying something too considering I can be somewhat of a control freak! :shock: The progression in HOD is great for preparing the students and the teacher for what lies ahead! :D
Patty in NC

b/g twins '02 Rev2Rev 2014/15
previously enjoyed LHFHG, BLHFHG, Bigger, Preparing, CTC, RTR
******
Nisi Dominus Frusta (Without God, frustration)
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

my3sons
Posts: 10589
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 7:08 pm
Location: South Dakota

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by my3sons » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:16 pm

Kathy - In answer to how I know the material in addition to utilizing the key idea, I skim it. I hold the book in my hand and skim as they are narrating, or responding to the reading in whatever HOD has planned as a follow-up. This has worked well for us. :D HOD really does have a follow-up to everything. Take a look at each first week of plans. A follow-up accompanies everything. Of course, just like with any curriculum, if you have a strong desire to read the books to your dc yourself, you may certainly do so! You can do that with HOD just as easily as you can with any other curriculum out there. :D Thank you to the gracious ladies who took so much of their time to answer this thread - many ladies will read your responses and be blessed by them. :)

In Christ,
Julie
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 25 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 20, 17, and 13
Author of Women's Devotional https://www.ebay.com/itm/293355757184
Blogger https://my3sons-julie.blogspot.com/
Sister to Carrie

jer2911mom
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: The Philosophy Behind Independent Work

Post by jer2911mom » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:09 pm

Thank you, Patty and Julie! I appreciate your replies. Julie, I've printed all the samples and am slowly making my way through them. I know they will give me a better feel for things, like you said. I really appreciate everyone's input on this thread!

Kathy

Post Reply