We officially kicked off our school year this week! We’ve been schooling throughout the summer, but not strictly and not every day. August always feels like our official “restart” whether it is the first week or sometime later. This year all of our vacations were done and so the first full week of August fit well for us.
Grace – Kindergarten (Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 20)
I am doing my best to savor every single moment in this guide. It is my third (and probably final!) time through with Kindergarten in Little Hearts. I have a better “bigger picture” view of Heart of Dakota this time and realize just how deep and rich it is for this age. Grace is gradually being prepared to move up through the ranks of Heart of Dakota and loves every bit!
I am the worst at keeping up with our school calendar so when Grace asked if that could be her job I jumped right on board. Each day she changes the calendar and has quickly learned her months and days in the correct order. She loves this job. I wish I had thought to have my olders to this when they were in Kindergarten!
Grace is working through Math Mammoth’s 1st grade curriculum. She was more than ready for this last year and I’m glad we went ahead. We are moving at a slightly slower pace, but she is grasping concepts quickly and solidly. She gets bored quickly though and if I’m not on top of her I’ll find her drawing pictures on the blank back-sides of the pages. She finds math comes easily, but she’d much rather be doing something else!
My girls have all loved the ABC series from Rod and Staff. Instead of just using the ones listed in the guide on certain days we use the entire series from start to finish. Grace is working on Hearing and Helping and will soon be in the next book.
Beth: 3rd Grade (Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 1 first half)
My girls all start their guides on the “young end” as it is explained by ages. They do well, but there comes a point where we usually need to go half-speed for a bit. Preparing is a pretty enormous jump up from Bigger as far as work-load is concerned so even though she is prepared, I wanted to ease Beth into the greater amount. This was a good choice because she has thoroughly enjoyed taking her time as we are learning new skills and she is gaining more independence in her learning.
Each of my girls has a tablet in addition to our schoolroom computer. As they get older many of their books are on the Kindle App and they use the Bible as well. Here Beth is studying her Bible verse for the week. Most days they use a traditional Bible, but many times for the story time portion I’ll use the app because I can choose a more kid-friendly translation.
I also use the myHomework App each day. They have a list of their assignments and can work on many things on their own which helps them with their independence and keeps us all on task!
Beth is one of those kids who finds just about everything in school easy. She rarely misses a problem in math, unless she is feeling crabby and not really trying very hard. You can see the calculator there. She does NOT use this to calculate answers, but rather to check her work on her own. She doesn’t always do this, but I’m finding great value in allowing them to find their own mistakes in math. It has been very useful for both of my older girls to do this.
We use both All About Spelling and the standard dictation written in the Heart of Dakota guides for my girls. I see good things coming from this with regards to their reading. We did complete the basic phonics curriculum and my girls are all really good readers. I feel All About Spelling is a natural way to continue reading instruction alongside spelling because of the phonetic practice they are receiving. Three levels of All About Spelling calls for some creative scheduling! I’ll be writing up a post about that soon.
One of the new skills Beth is learning in Preparing is research. I do not use the internet unless absolutely necessesary. We have acquired Encyclopedias, several dictionaries, and a large assortment of other resource books for the Bible, history, and science through gifts and yard sales. I much prefer this type of research because it is more reliable and is teaching them more than just a search function online. They already know how to do that, so I’m hoping to increase their knowledge this way. I’m very pleased that when my girls want to know the answer to a question they have they usually ask what book to look in first.
Beth’s first research assignment was about a coat of arms. It took us some time finding a book with some good pictures, but one of my yard sale finds (A retiring teacher’s sale!) was the perfect source. After she was able to answer some of the questions we started work on her own coat of arms. Since we are taking two weeks to finish up unit 1, she will finish this next week.
For history we began my favorite book we’ve used in Heart of Dakota, Grandpa’s Box. Even if you aren’t using Heart of Dakota curriculum, even if you aren’t homeschooling for that matter, this book is a must-have for families looking to disciple their kids and point them to Christ throughout the Scripture. I absolutely treasure this book and it is one which will remain with us for years to come.
Rose: 5th Grade (Creation to Christ: Unit 14)
Rose has grown up through the Heart of Dakota curriculum and she is the reason we continue through and never even consider another company. I’ve seen her grow and mature in her studies and in her love for God. I can’t say enough about how gently this curriculum has helped me to disciple her in her faith. She can’t wait to get started and usually asks the night before if she can begin working on school when she gets up if I’m not downstairs yet. Several times this past week I found her up at 6:30 busily reading history or working on a project with great zeal and excitement. I don’t have quite the enthusiasm she does that early in the morning, but it makes my heart smile to see her so eager and happy to learn.
Up until this summer math has been a bone of contention between us. This was the subject that revealed her tendencies to learn towards perfectionism to the point of extreme anxiety way back in 1st grade. Ever since that point she has said repeatedly, “I hate math.” and “I’m not good at this.” It broke my heart because I know just how able she really is. We finally settled on a math curriculum which we all enjoy, Math Mammoth, and I slowed down to accommodate her. About a month ago as we were working she suddenly looked up at me and said, “You know what? Math is my favorite subject now!” I’m not sure why, but I’m praying this remains! She definitely has more confidence and doesn’t get quite as upset when we have to rework some problems together.
Spelling and handwriting are two more areas which I have seen sudden maturity. I have a suspicion there might be some very, very minor dyslexic tendencies which she displays. Nothing which would be severe enough to show up in a classroom potentially, but consistent enough I see it. She has begun to more carefully address spelling issues and be more concerned that she is not only spelling correctly, but also writing more neatly. This is a relief. I’m not certain when most kids come to that point, but I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen!
We love history! As Rose progresses through this guide she can’t seem to learn enough to satisfy! I’m so grateful for all the resources we have at her disposal to dig more deeply. We are having some great discussions about historical events and she loves researching for her history projects each week. She is also really good to help her younger sisters find out more information or understand what they are learning more clearly. She has some teacher in her and I would not be surprised if her dream to be an art teacher comes alive some day.
We purchased the E-book for many of the HOD titles this year to save some money. I really like that we both have a copy to read from for the read aloud times together, and she loves using her tablet as much as she is allowed for school. I’m not sure if she is reading her main history text or one of the extra books here, but this is quite often how I find her reading.