Finding Balance in Life with a Pie Chart

From Our House to Yours

Finding Balance in Life with a Pie Chart

Emmett and I have been working on pie charts in HOD‘s Singapore Math 6B. Half a pie is 50%, a quarter is 25%, one-tenth is 10%, and so on. I began to think about what my life would look like in a pie chart of time. What if I made a pie chart with how I usually spend 24 hours each day? How much of the pie chart would be devoted to homeschooling? Time with God? Health? Entertainment? Errands? Cooking? Cleaning? Sleeping? Work? Media usage? Appointments? Time with my husband? Or, what if I made a pie chart of a month? Of a year? What if each of my sons made a pie chart of their time? A pie chart is an interesting way to think about how we spend our time, isn’t it? I would think our pie charts would reveal whether our life is in balance or not.

Balance in life is important, but it will naturally vary based on our stage of life.

We all know it is good to strive for balance in life. Isn’t it odd how we can easily look at others’ usage of time and see where we think their pie charts are off? She’s on FB way too much! He’s a workaholic. She’s always at the gym! All she does is homeschool! He’s way too into sports. She never spends time with her husband. He should make more time for God. All they do is run from one activity to the next! She’s always shopping. He’s always eating out. These are snap judgments that may or may not be right, especially considering we might be in a different stage of life than the person we are judging. However, I will say, one thing is certain; it is easier to see where other people’s balance is off than to see where our own balance is off.

Each person’s pie chart will vary based on their stage of life and God-given purposes.

God made each of us His own unique creation, with different gifts and purposes. Because of this, our pie charts will be balanced in their own unique ways. Rather than spending time judging other people’s use of time, our time would be better spent considering how we spend our days. The comparing game is never a good one. Either we fall short or come out ahead, and neither leaves us with a good feeling. Instead of looking at others, we should take a look at ourselves. Not in a negative way, but more in a reflective way. Is there something I’m giving way too much time to that I shouldn’t? Or, is there something I’m not giving any time to that I should? What’s out of balance in my life in an unhealthy way, and how can I try to fix it?

To have a healthy life, some things should be on everyone’s pie chart!

No matter what stage of life we are in or what our purpose or goals in life are, certain things really do need to make it on everyone’s pie chart. For example, time with God, somehow, really needs to be represented. Maintaining relationships (with our parents, children, husband, etc.) should show up too. What it takes to stay healthy (food, water, exercise, sleep, etc.) really should make an appearance! Time to homeschool must be present (if we are homeschooling). House upkeep, errands, appointments – alas, must put in an appearance too. This week, I’m taking a good long look at the balance in my pie chart! I’m going to start just be being very mindful of how exactly I’m spending my time. But then, I’m going to look for what is clearly out of balance and make some changes! Want to join me?!? Let’s get balanced together!

In Christ,



Switching to Heart of Dakota for High School

Pondering Placement

Switching to Heart of Dakota for High School

I used another curricula through 7th grade for my oldest son. He has completed (by the end of this year) all of the history time periods. I really am thinking that Heart of Dakota will be the best fit for him for high school. However, I would like to have him complete one of the middle school guides for 8th grade. I want him to be familiar with the flow of Heart of Dakota. Even though he would place in MTMM, I don’t think that would be best, as we are studying that same material now. (We are even using Story of the World 4). My thought was to place him in Revival to Revolution. I would add the extensions and the advanced science package. I am a little nervous about the switch, but my heart keeps coming back to this curriculum! What would you advise for placement?

Carrie’s Reply to Placement Questions About Switching to Heart of Dakota for High School

Normally, we would encourage you to place your son in MTMM if that is where he fits best on the placement chart, even if he is switching to HOD from another Charlotte Mason-style curricula. However, if you feel that he has done that particular time period this past year, then it would be workable to consider Revival to Revolution instead.

Switching to Revival to Revolution would give a good introduction to Heart of Dakota.

I do think that Revival to Revolution would give you a good introduction to HOD. Your son would also be able to get into the pattern and the feel of the guides prior to high school. There is a jump between Revival to Revolution and World Geography. So, you may want to take another look at MTMM just to be sure that there is as much overlap in content as you think. Yet, I do think switching to Revival to Revolution is a workable plan in your placement situation.

Your son should also switch to Drawn into the Heart of Reading 6/7/8, as well as the correct levels of grammar and math.

In order to be well-prepared for the high school literature in the World Geography guide, you would want to do Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 6/7/8 with the level 6/7 or 7/8 book pack as part of whichever HOD guide your son is switching to. You will also need to make sure to have the correct level of grammar and math in place too! I pray you enjoy HOD as much as we have and are!


Wanting to be further along… Do extra? Or just keep moving forward?

Dear Carrie

I’m wanting to be further along! Should I just do extra each day? Or, should I be okay with where they are and just keep moving forward?

I want my 10 yo to be further in Bigger. My daughter should be further along in English, math, and WWTB in CTC. So, I’m always “catching them up.” I just wasn’t diligent at first, so now I try to do extra each day. I try to do two grammar lessons. If math is shorter, we do another lesson. Today, I did three WWTB lessons, several dictation passages, etc. She can handle the work to an extent, but it takes more time than I realize. Some days I don’t even get to a younger one. Yesterday, I just stuck to the guides and kept moving. I also worked with the CTC child first and then the others. I finally figured out what the other two could do independently while I did CTC. It went so much better! Should I be okay with where they are and just keep moving forward?


“Ms. Wanting to Be Further Along,”

Dear “Ms. Wanting to Be Further Along,”

This is such an interesting question, as it is something that I have learned the hard way myself as we have schooled through the years. Since that time of dawning, I have become a get-it-done, check the box type of teacher. While I do take time to stop and discuss things that are scheduled as discussions in the Heart of Dakota guide, I avoid doubling up on things or pushing on further than planned for the day. I have discovered in the long haul that schooling in this manner means that none of my littles get neglected (which wasn’t the case before when I was so busy pushing my olders or middlers).

It is freeing to do just what is planned in the guide each day!

It is also very freeing to only do what is planned in the guide each day. This way, both you and your students know exactly what to expect. It is like reaching your destination and feeling successful each day that you have reached it! Plus, my boys do not love to have me add things on when they happen to finish early. They feel that free time should be their reward for finishing early, rather than more work! Go figure!

Steadily doing each day’s plans will move you further along and cover a lot of ground through the years.

Honestly, in the long haul just steadily doing what is scheduled each day means that you will move further along and cover a lot of ground through the years. Slow and steady truly does win the race, rather than a sporadic and jumpy pace that omits or adds along the way. Plus, steady progress through the plans leads to a steady rise in skills and an even progression toward higher levels of difficulty which often cannot be rushed. So, before you resort to cramming it in, I want to encourage you to just allow yourself to progress further along at the guide’s pace. For students who are well-placed in their guide the journey will be much more joyful this way!


Valentine’s Day Fun – Why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota?

From Our House to Yours

Valentine’s Day Fun – Why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our fellow Heart of Dakota families!   I thought it would be fun to answer this question: Why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota? – a kind of “count our blessings” for Valentine’s Day, if you will. I actually posted this question back in 2011 on our Heart of Dakota Message Board. We all had so much fun sharing our responses and reading each other’s responses that I thought it would be fun to do this again nearly a decade later. And who better to do this with than all of you?!? Check out my 2011 answers to “Why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota?” below!

I love HOD’s Christian education of the heart as well as the mind!

I love Heart of Dakota because it helps me keep my priorities straight. A quality education is highly valued by our family, and to us that includes educating the heart as well as the mind. HOD does both!

I love HOD’s living books!

Our children use excellent living books every single day, but they use their Bibles every single day too. Providing a rich diet of literature that makes learning come alive is important in our homeschool. Heart of Dakota has chosen outstanding living books for virtually every area of learning. From history to science, from reading to devotions, our day is filled with books we love.

I love HOD’s strong academics and solid preparation for the future!

We have three sons, so another goal of ours is for our sons to be able to provide well for their own families someday, which means they need to be competitive when it comes to earning a salary. Heart of Dakota is giving our sons an incredibly strong education that is preparing them well for their future.

I love HOD’s balanced, open-and-go plans!

Finally, we want to have a happy homeschooling environment, which means I need to be able to school in a timely fashion, in an enjoyable way, and in a manner that doesn’t require me to leave the home. HOD’s guides are a treasure to me. They are truly open and go, and they help me organize my day in a balanced way that allows us to get the maximum benefit out of our homeschooling time together.

I love HOD because after all these years, I still love what I do!

I’ve been teaching HOD for 9 years (in 2011), and I still love what I do (now 9 years later this 2020). I actually get quite sad thinking of it ending someday, but then again, I suppose there can always be HOD for the grandchildren, right?

So, why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota?  

So, now that you’ve read my 2011 reasons for loving HOD, it’s your turn!  Why do you ‘heart’ Heart of Dakota? Please take a moment to share if you can – we all can’t wait to read your answers!!!

Love in Christ to all my favorite HOD families this 2020 Valentine’s Day!!!


Charlotte Mason Recitation… So Much More Than Rote Memorization

More than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason Recitation… So Much More Than Rote Memorization

Charlotte Mason encouraged recitation of beautiful poems, scripture, and hymns throughout a child’s learning. For twenty minutes each day, Charlotte’s schools planned for ‘Repetition.’ During ‘Repetition’ time, children would alternate between poetry, Bible, and hymns. Younger children recited a poem of their choice, a hymn, a Psalm, and several passages each six verses in length per term. Older children recited several longer Bible passages each about 20 verses in length, as well as three poems each term. Children also practiced hymns. As children matured, they memorized lengthier Bible passages and poems, and they added more hymns to their repertoire.

Charlotte Mason-style recitation differs from rote memorization.

Just as Charlotte Mason’s living books differ from dry textbooks, Charlotte Mason’s recitation differs from rote memorization of dry facts. Just as Charlotte Mason lovingly and carefully selected living books, she also lovingly and carefully selected recitation sources. Poetry, scripture, hymns – one can see the line of thinking Charlotte had about what was worthy of recitation. Recitation is often thought to be synonymous with memorization, but Charlotte differentiated between the two.

Charlotte Mason’s quotes regarding recitation of poetry, scripture, and hymns.

“Recitation and committing to memory are not necessarily the same thing, and it is well to store a child’s memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labour…. attempt only a little, and let the poems the child learns be simple and within the range of his own thought and imaginations” (Volume I, p. 224-226).

“The learning by heart of Bible passages should begin while the children are quite young, six or seven. It is a delightful thing to have the memory stored with beautiful, comforting, and inspiring passages, and we cannot tell when and how this manner of seed may spring up, grow, and bear fruit…” (Volume I, p. 253).

“Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed” (Volume III, p. 143).

Making Charlotte Mason’s Recitation Happen in Your Home

Many young mothers read Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on recitation and long for this kind of more meaningful memorization. In Charlotte’s type of recitation, we can all see context is king. Memorizing poetry, scripture, and hymns within the context of studying a certain poet, a particular book of the Bible, or a hymn study just gives depth to what is memorized. It gives what is being memorized meaning. However, successfully integrating meaningful recitation in the day-to-day of homeschooling on the fly isn’t so easy. Blessedly, Heart of Dakota already includes Charlotte Mason-style recitation in its guides in a balanced, meaningful way!

Recitation – already a beautiful, meaningful part of Heart of Dakota’s guides!

We include recitation of Bible verses within each of our guides, and we begin recitation of poetry each term in Preparing Hearts. Likewise, we include corresponding music in our guides. We keep things fresh by rotating the focus of our music. Sometimes we choose music based on scripture, and sometimes we choose it based on hymns. But either way, we always include recitation with it (often in the form of singing).

Furthermore, Heart of Dakota provides rich context for recitation. Children complete recitation of poems within the context of poetry study. So, children truly get to know the poet and the inspiration behind the writing of the poems. Children complete recitation of scripture within the context of a formal Bible study. So, children truly are immersed in a book (or books) of the Bible and its deeper meaning. Children complete memorization of hymns within the context of a hymn study. So, children truly get to know the hymn writer and the inspiration behind the writing of the hymns.

Recitation Recorded in a Charlotte Mason Common Place Book

Approaching recitation in a more meaningful way is taken even one step further by the keeping of a Common Place Book. Charlotte Mason refers to Arthur Burrell’s In Recitation: The Children’s Art, in which he recommends filling a copybook with beautiful passages and poems. Charlotte Mason encouraged children to keep their own Common Place Book for this very purpose. In Heart of Dakota, poems children memorize, Bible passages children memorize, and stanzas of hymns children sing are lovingly recorded, so students create a special keepsake of their recitation. As they look back at their Common Place Book, they remember – not just the recitation, but the poet, the author, the writer and their inspiration. Recitation done this way is more than words; it is someone’s life story. And because of that, those words are remembered, right along with the people who wrote them.

In Christ,