Following the Mindful Heart Method

RSS

What is the Mindful Heart?

You've heard people talk about the Mindful Heart. Maybe you've even seen samples of the curriculum or photos of the Mindful Heart in action, but you may be wondering, "How does this all work? What does it cover? Will it work with my (large, small, unique, etc.) family?"

Let me take you on
A Deep-dive Into What the Mindful Heart is
and how it works!

For a more brief overview, visit themindfulheart.com.

 

Following the Mindful Heart Method

The Mindful Heart follows the heart-first philosophy of education with a focus on learning as a family and developing a love for God. This philosophy relies on an environment that nurtures children’s innate love for their parents and learning. As parent-educators, we can create such an environment, and the curriculum created by the Mindful Heart is structured to support and guide families who desire to follow a heart-first approach to education.

With a robust but gentle approach, our curriculum uses audio and written stories, artwork, poetry, scripture, notebooking, games, and activities to aid families in developing positive relationships with each other, with education, and with God. 

The Mindful Heart complete curriculum is made up of two parts: Heart & Soul Time™ and Heart & Mind Time™. Using both pieces will offer a curriculum that covers history, reading and literature, language arts, science, math, art, and music. Some families choose to use one or their other part to supplement their current curriculum or methods of educating. I'll explain each part in detail below, but first, a brief overview of the complete curriculum.

 

Rotation Cycles and Level Placement

Our method follows a three-year rotation cycle with nine 16-lesson units per year. When scheduled with holiday breaks in mind and a four day week, the nine units cover about a nine-month time period. 

Year 1 Unit Rotation


With history at the spine of the monthly unit topics, year 1 focuses primarily on the United States of America, year 2 on the areas that are considered the Western World (Europe, North America, South America, and Australasia), and year 3 on the areas that are considered the Eastern World (Africa and Asia).

Download the complete three-year rotation cycle here.

Following the Mindful Heart method, a child will build upon prior knowledge and dig deeper as he or she visits the three-year rotation cycle up to five different times over the course of his or her home education (from three to seventeen years old). We have organized those five different times through the rotation cycle into the five following levels:

Alpha 3–5 years old (explore level)
Zeta 6–8 years old (discover level)
Theta 9–11 years old (understand level)
Sigma 12–14 years old (examine level)
Omega 15–17 years old (create level)  

Note: Each age range listed with the above levels is a general suggestion to guide families in choosing which resources to use for each child in the family. We recommend however, taking the child’s current development, interests, strengths, and weaknesses into consideration when determining which level to choose for each subject.

For more information on each level, click here.

 

What do I Need to Purchase?

The Mindful Heart curriculum includes four main products within each monthly unit. When you purchase a complete unit, you will receive a Parent Guide, a Storybook, a Picture Pack, and Student Guide(s). Within the parent guide, and also on the webpage for each unit, you'll find a list of additional books, games, and other supplies you may need or want to complete the activities included in the unit. 

 

Heart & Soul Time™

Each lesson is broken into Heart & Soul Time™ and Heart & Mind Time™. During Heart & Soul Time™, families gather together to listen to audio stories, watch videos, read stories, learn hymns and folk songs, listen to classical music, and view beautiful artwork, while working in their learning guides with poetry and scripture memorization, map work, journaling, and coloring pages to keep hands busy as they listen and learn.

Mapping with the Mindful Heart

The following is a list of activities used in Heart & Soul Time™ and an explanation of how to use them.

Hymn, Prayer, Pledge, Calendar:

Hymn—Each parent and student guide includes the lyrics or complete sheet music for one hymn and two to three folk songs. Singing the hymn aloud daily as you listen and follow along with the words, notes, or chords helps develop reading skills through repeated exposure to words, practice tracking, and connecting the senses as you hear, speak, and see the songs. Use the unit hymn each day for at least the first six days of the unit. Starting with the seventh day, you may wish to sing the unit hymn again, or you may sing another song or hymn of your choosing. An audio link of the unit hymn is listed on the unit audio/video webpage. You may sing along with the song there, or you may wish to teach your children how to play the song on the ukulele. (Ukulele chords are listed with the music in the learning guides.)

Calendar—Inviting children to mark off the date on the calendar and write the date on a dry-erase board for the family to see naturally teaches young learners how to use a calendar and how to write numbers and the date, while also helping them understand the concept of time. 

Poetry and scripture Each unit includes one or more scriptures and a list of poetry for the family to read. You may also choose to memorize one of the scriptures or poems. If memorizing, one suggestion would be to read aloud the scripture and/or poem twice each day. Memorization often comes simply through daily repetition. Another suggestion would be to read the scripture or poem once daily and then break it up to focus on memorizing smaller portions each day. You may choose to help children copy the words of a poem into his or her notebook and illustrate the page. Help new readers follow along as the scripture or poem is read. This will naturally help build their reading skills as they strengthen their ability to memorize and keep important words in their hearts. Beyond the educational benefits, memorization of good poetry and scripture can provide a lifetime of guidance and inspiration to lean on as a child grows.

Mapping:

Blank maps are included with each unit and you and your children are encouraged to find the places being talked about in each lesson and mark or color them. This opportunity gives children a sense of connection to the stories they are hearing and helps them see how the people and events they are learning about are connected. If you have wall maps or a globe, encourage children to explore further by comparing the maps of each era with what is on our current maps. Children love to learn about places and people in relation to themselves, so this is a great opportunity for discussing different cultures and climates as well.

Listening and Journaling:

Most of the lessons include a recorded audio story that is about 8-15 minutes long. As you and your children listen together, consider inviting the children to draw a picture or write some notes in the Heart & Soul journaling section of their learning guides about what they are hearing. When you model journaling skills by writing your own notes in the journaling section provided in this Parent Guide, children will eventually want to do the same, though some children will be reluctant or resistant at first, and should be given the opportunity to just listen or journal in whatever way they feel inspired. Provide an opportunity for everyone to share what he or she drew or wrote.

My Journal:

Once every four days, family members are invited to write in their journal pages. If presented in the right way, writing activities such as this provide children with opportunities to develop confidence, enjoyment, and proficiency in writing. Never force children to write; instead, invite and gently encourage them to write, and teach by example and show excitement for writing.

The following three recommendations will help encourage children to write:

  1. Let the children choose what they write about. They may wish to write a journal entry about their day and week or create an imaginative story. Some children may prefer to write lists of their favorite foods, their favorite books, or places they have traveled to. Other children may want to just draw a picture. All of these are good options. The most important part of this journal activity is to provide the opportunity to write, and with time, they will begin to write. For children who do not know how to read and write yet, inviting them to narrate while you write can also be a positive experience.
  2. Let the children share what they have written about. The sharing portion of this activity is invaluable. Week by week, as children anticipate the opportunity to share what they have written with the family, reluctant writers will often begin to increase their writing and blossom. Make sure that the children understand that their responses to each other’s writing should always be positive and encouraging. Also, as they see you write in the journal portion provided in your Parent Guide and as you share your writing, they will be inspired to share more about their writing.
  3. Let the children focus on writing during this journaling time instead of on the mechanics of writing. The art of writing, or the ability to articulate one’s thoughts on paper, takes time to develop. When children feel the weight of having to have perfect handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation, they are left with no room to naturally develop their writing abilities. Handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation should be developed independently of free writing time. As those skills are developed separately, they will naturally begin to show up in children’s writing.

We suggest providing ten to fifteen minutes of time for journal writing.

Mindful Heart Picture Pack

 

Artwork/Photo Images:

The picture pack includes 20 pages of artwork and photos to enhance the learning in each lesson. Sharing and discussing the painting(s)/photo(s) indicated each day provides an opportunity to learn to love and appreciate high quality artwork. You may choose to invite children to share their favorite part of the image or discuss the emotions it brings out in them. For younger children, consider discussing what life might be like if they were there in the painting. For older children, consider discussing how the artist used light, lines, shapes, and color in the painting to draw one’s eyes to a certain area to evoke a certain emotion or to make the painting realistic or abstract. Once introduced, you may choose to display the artwork in your home to be enjoyed for the remainder of the unit.

Music:

Included in each unit is a little information and art work about one or more composers and links to their music. As a family, you may enjoy listening to the applicable audio file or video. You may choose to play it as background music while completing other tasks or during free play or free writing time. You may choose to provide time for each child to share his or her thoughts on the music, any emotions it evoked, or things it reminded him or her of, or maybe just share your own thoughts for children to ponder on.

Read-Aloud:

Each unit has five suggested read-aloud books to from which to choose. Three of the books are related to the unit’s theme, while two of the books are just generally fun read-alouds. We provide a variety from which to choose so that you can pick a book that best fits the ages, specific interests, and mood of your children and so that you have options that you have not already read. Reading a book that matches the unit theme will enhance the learning experience. However, if you have already studied the unit’s theme in depth and would like to read another book, two other options are provided. If you have already read aloud all of the listed books or are not interested in any of them, choose any book that your family would enjoy listening to.

We suggest that Read-Aloud Time lasts about twenty to thirty minutes; however, that time can extend longer or shorter depending on the levels and interests of the family.


What about Families with a Wide Range of Levels?

An important part of a heart-first education is spending parts of the day learning together as a family. For a family with children in different levels, this can seem daunting and unachievable. Learning together as a family, however, can often instill valuable skills, abilities, and positive character traits in our children better than learning completely independently and level-based. Understanding this principle makes the Heart & Soul Time of the day even more valuable and necessary.
For children who have shorter attention spans and/or limited understanding, Heart & Soul Time™ becomes an important time to help them develop skills such as listening, playing quietly, taking turns talking, and practicing patience. Having quiet toys or activities on hand can be especially helpful to keep children engaged rather than interrupting the listening, read-alouds, and discussions.
For children who already know and understand the material being discussed, this time can be a powerful learning experience. Inviting these children to lead a discussion or the read-aloud portion, mentor or help a sibling, and be a good example of listening and contributing to the learning atmosphere and being excited about the subject matter can help them develop leadership skills, teaching abilities, greater compassion, and more. Consider speaking in private with the children and positively expressing how much you need their help and in what ways they can help you. Knowing that they are truly needed can make all the difference in the way they approach this time with the family.


Heart & Mind Time™
The Heart & Mind Time™ focus is more on math, language arts, and science for Alpha, Zeta, and Theta levels (up to about middle school). Sigma and Omega (middle school and high school) students will work independently on projects and investigations during this time, and I'll share more on those after this section. The Mindful Heart takes an approach to learning in the early years that is very play and story and hands-on based. This is true for both Heart & Soul Time™ and Heart & Mind Time™. Some parts of Heart & Mind Time™ are completed as a family, while most is done one-on-one or independently at each child’s skill level. A recommended schedule is included in the parent guide to help you juggle working one-on-one with children while others do independent work or play, but of course, use these resources in a way that best fits your family.

Heart & Mind Time Family items
Language Arts
The Mindful Heart method will help your child to naturally learn and develop language arts skills through a wide variety of cross-curricular activities. For example, reading skills are naturally learned and strengthened through repetition as children read along with the family when the unit scriptures and poems are read and when the hymn and folk songs are sung during Heart & Soul Time™. Heart & Soul Time™ involves activities that increase listening, comprehension, note-taking, and journaling skills.

During Heart & Mind Time™, more level-specific language arts skills are introduced and developed. While reading, spelling, memorizing, writing, and listening are in every unit, each unit has a different language arts focus (e.g., storytelling, folktales, fables, creative writing, parts of speech, punctuation, etc.). Therefore, if a specific language arts focus is not covered in one unit, it is most likely covered in a future unit and revisited each year.
The following is a list of many of the language arts activities you will be using during Heart & Mind Time™ and an explanation of how to use the activities.

 

Storyboard Poetry:

In the Picture Pack, you will find storyboard figures and backdrops to coincide with a poem or story. These storyboard pieces are used periodically during the Heart & Mind Time™. As you read the poem to the children, they can introduce and move the pieces according to the poem. After the poem is done, consider asking the children to retell the story in their own words, using the storyboard figures, or allow them to just use them in free-play and storytelling on their own time.

Poetry Power book series (Coming Soon!):

These books include a compilation of activities or exercises alongside poems that help the child learn and practice reading, phonics, handwriting, and spelling. As these are not yet developed, consider supplementing with copywork opportunities such as copying poems from the Heart & Soul Time™ guides or other favorite poems or quotes into a notebook and illustrating them.

Storytelling Videos:

Each of the Mindful Heart units has two to four corresponding storytelling videos for the children to watch. As children listen to these stories, they will improve not only their listening skills but also other language arts elements, including vocabulary, comprehension, and communication, each of which grows over time through exposure. These videos are available for free on our YouTube channel or at themindfulheart.com/pages/storytelling-videos.

Read-Aloud/The Mindful Heart Storybook:

Following the example of the master teacher, Jesus Christ, the Mindful Heart puts a high emphasis on teaching through stories. Throughout each unit, different stories are listed for you to read aloud to your children. Some are stories in books from outside publishers, while other stories are included in The Mindful Heart Storybook. As you read with your family, you strengthen family bonds as well as help children find a love for things they may not otherwise have ever experienced. Stories can take the reader (or listener) on adventures that develop stronger imagination, build character, and encourage a desire to learn more. 

Read with the Child/Independent Reading:

Each day, the Parent Guide outlines time for the child to read independently (Zeta and Theta levels) or for you to read with your child (Alpha and Zeta level). We suggest you provide a variety of books for your children to read from. Books can be purchased at the Mindful Heart Library, found on the Mindful Heart booklists, or checked out at archive.org/ or your local library.

 

Math

Heart & Mind Time™ for each unit includes a family focus for math, which is taught through stories and activities. Each unit has a different topic or concept to focus on, allowing time to understand the concepts before moving on, but also providing variety in what children are learning. These topics are revisited each year when you follow the rotation.

Math Packs—In addition to the family learning time, math is taught through books, games, and activities at an individual level. We call these the Math Packs, and they are compiled to cover math concepts that are taught in a fun and engaging way that is not overwhelming to teach.  Each Math Pack includes books that teach number sense, games that cover multiple concepts, and activity books that help with learning math facts.

Because we know that there are variables in every homeschool, we have provided multiple Math Pack options for each level. Choose the one that best fits your child, your budget, and availability.

 

Science

Children in the Alpha, Zeta, and Theta levels learn and remember science subjects best when they are taught through stories, activities, real-life observation, exploration, and games. As science is approached in this way, children’s love for and understanding of the world around them is supported and strengthened. They see science as the fascinating way in which God created our world and allows it to operate. As you follow the Mindful Heart approach, children’s scientific understanding will gradually grow, line upon line, year after year, and they will be prepared for the content studied at the Sigma and Omega levels. Science is generally covered together two times a week during Heart & Mind Time™.

History

Though history is mainly covered during Heart & Soul Time™, it is also included during the Heart & Mind Time™ on occasion. When included in the Heart & Mind Time™, the content is geared more specifically to the Alpha, Zeta, and Theta levels. History and science information also is occasionally shared in tandem when they relate to each other.

 

Heart & Mind Time

 


How Long do the Lessons take?

I know that sounds like a lot to do, and you may be asking yourself, “How will I teach so much to my family and still get anything else done during the day?”

We get it. We are all homeschool moms as well. That’s why the Mindful Heart curriculum is created in a way that is fun and engaging, but doesn’t waste time drilling information beyond everyone’s attention span. We want to cultivate the love of learning that comes naturally to children, so our curriculum is gentle, yet robust. You can be assured that your children will learn the things they need in life while keeping the spirit of excitement in learning for everyone involved. 

Heart & Soul Time™ is designed to take about 1-1.5 hours each day, and Heart & Mind Time™ is about the same. Two to three hours each day, four days per week is all it takes and when you find your family’s groove, most of that time just feels like playing and reading stories! Having the peace of mind that you are covering all the bases, while allowing yourself and your family the freedom to learn in a fun and natural way… What more can you ask for?

 

What About Middle School and High School?

As mentioned above, children that are ready for more advanced learning in the Sigma and Omega levels will participate in the family learning experiences of Heart & Soul Time™, but will likely separate during the Heart & Soul Time™ to work on their own projects and investigations. Investigations are created to cover a topic in more depth with a gospel focus on the events or concepts, and each investigation is created to take roughly one semester or one school year to complete if working on it about 4 hours each week. This allows the student time to work on other courses, attend co-ops, or pursue other interests as well. The Sigma and Omega Projects are still in development, but when they are available, they will be similar to investigations with a more hands-on focus and a final "project" designed by the student to show his or her learning in a fun and engaging way. Like the family units, projects and investigations have a primary focus (such as the World Wars, westward expansion, creative writing, etc.), but bring in aspects that cover many different subjects. Each one includes literature, art, poetry, music, scripture, videos and documentaries, speeches and talks given at conferences, and opportunities to write, discuss, and share in a way that encourages a child to take responsibility for his or her education and desire to dig deeper. For math, we recommend Mr. D Math.

 

So, What is the Mindful Heart?

Freedom, Joy, and a Love for Learning!
Connection that builds happy and healthy family relationships.
Opportunity to learn and grow WITH your children and develop strong testimonies as you learn about the world together.
We want to share this beautiful way of learning with everyone we meet, so we are giving away the first unit FREE to try in your home.

Previous Post

  • The Mindful Heart