We are really enjoying homeschooling this year. The flexibility it offers is such a gift to us…especially as we navigate “life after the accident”. We had planned to start our 2012-13 homeschooling year on July 25, 2012. However, the accident on July 15th altered our whole lives, including our homeschooling year.
I made the decision to wait until we were all three back home from the hospitals for a few weeks before we got started. So for us…this new homeschooling year began on Labor Day. Many of you have asked me about our homeschooling schedule. We educate at home year round. It works VERY well for us and even more so this year. I will be sharing what homeschooling year round looks like for our family in a future article.
Today I am excited about sharing the curriculum, books, and resources that I am using with Josh, our 4th grader, this year. So hold onto your hats…this post has a lot included…I hope it helps you to better understand what homeschooling looks like for us. Please keep in mind that we are using Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory as our main Guide for Josh this year from Heart of Dakota. This was a decision Will and I made together last Spring.
Here’s a peek at one day in a 5 day Unit of the guide to show you how easy it is for me to follow!
Bible and Godly Character Study/Discipleship training
The most important “subject” we are working in is Bible study and Character study…Discipleship. The academics are very important, but these areas of study are essential to their lives, faith and eternity. We enjoy the Bible Study and devotions in this year’s guide, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, as well as the Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD that helps with memorization in a fun way. One of the great parts for our boys is that as they memorize the Scripture verses, they do it in a physical way. What I mean by that is…the read or quote it three times then to a set of physical exercises like jumping jacks or something like that (I have adapted this part for our boys abilities with their injuries) and then quote the verse again. There’s lots of giggling and it gets the wiggles out which is perfect for our ADHD kids.
The Bible Study questions are effective for discussion and Bible comes up over and over again in every subject but Math in their day. But I have to say that the biggest reason that Will and I decided on Heart of Dakota for our family is the fact that every subject, especially the Reading and history/social studies portions are FULL of wonderful godly character lessons as the children learn to discern godly character traits in the “heroes” from our country’s past as well as classic literature and then apply those lessons to their own lives!
I add other little things throughout the day as we talk about heaven in our discussions about Daddy’s death. And the importance of a good, godly character as we do our home blessings (chores) and deal with discipline opportunities throughout the day too.
Core Subjects ~ Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies–as defined by the state of Missouri’s homeschooling laws of which we must complete a minimum of 600 total subject hours per year for elementary.
I am SO excited about the Reading Program that our chosen Heart of Dakota Curricula uses! It is called Drawn into the Heart of Reading by Carrie Austin and it is fantastic!
One of the things that I love about it is that the parent uses the green “Drawn into the Heart of Reading for every year of the program…which means that it is made to use with one or many more children at the same time. In addition, you purchase this guide ONCE and use it every year. It’s so simple to understand and use for the teacher and the student guide for each year is phenomenal as well. But I have to say that the biggest reason that Will and I decided on Heart of Dakota for our family is the fact that every subject, especially the Reading and History/social studies portions are FULL of wonderful godly character lessons as the children learn to discern godly character traits in the “heroes” from our country’s past and the classics of literature and then apply those lessons to their own lives!
One of our favorite parts is that it isn’t a “reader” with a textbook. These guides work alongside fantastic literature that is divided out in the catalog and on the website for the appropriate reading level.
Here are the books we are using this year with Josh…
You can find this list on the Heart of Dakota Website in the Drawn into the Heart of Reading Section for Level 2/3 which includes books for children at many levels of reading our choices were great for Josh who reads at a 4-5th grade level.
Another special part of “Reading” with all of the Heart of Dakota guides is the Read Aloud section referred to as “Story time”. I was amazed as to how well the books that Carrie suggests to go along with this guide go perfectly with the Drawn into the Heart of Reading program. Josh and I, and even Michael at times, enjoy the snuggle time we have on the couch together as I read the wonderful classic books aloud to him. The Read Aloud section for each day of each unit instructs the parent as to how to help our child learn to narrate, learn about the main character, and so many other essential reading skills which are discussed after the section of the book for that day is read aloud by the parent. Here are some of the “Read Aloud” books that we are using this year…
I am using the Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory Guide’s amazing copy work and poetry and rhymes lessons which even include poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson. I followed the wonderful skill level charts on the website to determine what to use with him for grammar. I was excited to see that we are using Rod and Staff’s English series. It is a very solid course for English Grammar that uses wonderful Biblical references throughout. An example would be in the section on what is a complete sentence the sentences used would include things like: “Peter was a fisherman.” and “Andrew was a disciple of Jesus.” In addition to talking about how God created language and shares how He did that from the Bible! I am using English 2 for grammar with Josh this year. (English 2 isn’t second grade english it is skill level numbered uniquely for Rod and Staff.)
For Spelling, I am using the spelling lists for Fourth Grade found on the website superteacherworksheets.com. The spelling words which are included in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory are for younger children. So this works beautifully alongside it and gives wonderful word searches, cross word puzzles and things like that to help him learn the spelling and meaning of the words. He loves it! There are some free resources on that site but to become a member it is only $20 a year which is a real bargain as it covers SO MANY subject areas and is great to supplement many different curricula.
I am using many forms of writing opportunities with Josh. He has a family of children with whom he has become friends and pen pals and he is writing letters back and forth with them. He has also been learning to write thank you notes to many friends and relatives who have sent/are sending little gifts to him since the time he was in the hospital. In addition, he has begun to enjoy writing stories of his own…on his own! And there are lots of writing opportunities in Drawn into the Heart of Reading as well!
Heart of Dakota utilizes Singapore Math books with their curricula. Josh took the Singapore Math placement test and placed in their level 2 Math books. Since Will and I made the decision to buy two complete guide packages for each of our boys while we had the money last Spring, I am able to use the wonderful hands on learning math activities and games that Carrie gives us three days of the week for each unit in the next guide up that goes with these math books, Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Josh loves these!
In addition, we play lots of games which involve math including Yahtzee, Monopoly, and wonderful apps and learning games on his Leapster GS. Not to mention, he is learns and uses his math skills in many, many life skill and art projects we are using this year too.
Josh and I love the social studies sections of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory! The “real books” or as Charlotte Mason calls them, “living books” that are used are just wonderful! He is learning about the beginnings of America from the lives of the people then with special emphasis on what it was like and what happened from the perspective of the children who were there.
There are TONS of hands on learning activities in every unit. In fact, the first day of Unit One has us using painter’s tape to map out a globe on the floor in our dining room and he and Michael had a ball jumping and walking the path that the explorers’ ships would have taken to get them to America. Then we looked at the path of ships on our family’s globe. They were SO into it and so was I!
There is so much in this subject that it is hard to put into words. But I, again, have to say that the biggest reason that Will and I decided on Heart of Dakota for our family is the fact that every subject, especially the history/social studies portions are FULL of wonderful godly character lessons as the children learn to discern godly character traits in the “heroes” from our country’s past and then apply those lessons to their own lives! In addition, I add in fun field trips to historical places around our community and state as we can!
We are really enjoying the science portion of our year so far. In addition to wonderful books that focus on Biblical truth with science, there are lots of wonderful and easy to do science experiments in every Unit of the guide. And it is so cost and time effective too because all of the things we need to do the experiments are things we have around our house already! In addition we spend lots of time outside exploring in our yard, the nearby river, and next Spring I hope to take the boys on a little camping trip and hike and explore the lakes and rivers here in the Ozarks….but don’t tell them about that! It’s a surprise!
Because this topic of what I am using with Josh for homeschooling this year involves so much, I am going to cover what Missouri calls the “Non-Core” subjects in the next article on homeschooling. Additional Non-Core Subjects per the state of Missouri include anything that isn’t listed in the Core Subjects: Music, Art, Physical Education, Life Skills, Communication Skills, Community Service/Ministry and other things I have added as well. In Missouri, we are required to complete a minimum of 400 subject hours in these subjects. Not a problem! LOL Trust me!
I hope you will come back and join me for that discussion.
I realize that this was a very LONG article, but it is something I go through with all of you only once a year…and many of you asked me to do it! LOL
I would love to hear what your family uses for these subject/learning areas at your house!
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Unwrapping His Grace,
P.S. Again, I was not given any resources from Heart of Dakota. This is not a review for them. It is just me sharing what we are using and how much we are loving it.