Making the Five Love Languages a Part of Your Average Homeschool Day

From Our House to Yours

Hello fellow homeschool moms! If you’re too busy to read this post, try listening to the audio version of it by clicking on the link at the bottom!

The Five Love Languages

I bought both The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children at a Christian book fair booth many years ago. These books by Gary Chapman teach that there are five love languages. These five love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. The premises is that each adult or child has a preferred love language. In other words, each person has one more predominant way he/she feels loved. Each person also has one more predominant way he/she shows love to others. Ironically, this may be a different way than the way in which he/she feels loved. So, what does this have to do with Heart of Dakota and homeschooling? Well, let’s see!

Love Language #1:  Words of Affirmation

Does your child thrive when you speak words of affirmation? Well, sincere verbal compliments or kind words are easy to make part of your Heart of Dakota homeschool day! When your child finishes giving an oral narration, share what you loved best about it. On top of your child’s passed dictation passage, write “Terrific work!” When correcting your child’s creative writing story, jot some encouraging words in the margins about what you liked best. In your child’s Common Place Book, take a moment to write an encouraging comment. When discussing your child’s Bible Study, be sure to affirm how much you love your child and to share the Christian qualities you see blossoming in your child. If words of affirmation is not your own love language, remember Thessalonians 5:11 says: So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now. Give it a try!

Love Language #2:  Physical Touch

Does your child love to be hugged? Well, physical touch is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! As you begin your homeschool day, give your child a big hug! When reading aloud to your child, cuddle close together on the couch. If you are working through a tough math problem together, give your child a little neck or back rub to ease stress and provide encouragement. Every now and then, give your child’s shoulder a little squeeze of encouragement as you say “I love you!” Share a fuzzy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa as you go through your child’s completed independent work. If physical touch is not your own love language, remember I Peter 5:14 says: Give each other a kiss of Christian love when you meet. For your child’s sake, give it a try!

Love Language #3:  Quality Time

Does your child love to spend time with you and have your undivided attention? Well, quality time is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! Whenever you have “T” teacher-directed plans, give your child your undivided attention. Look your child in the eye, nod as you listen, share your thoughts, and be really present in that moment. Set up your day to have teaching blocks of time alone with your quality time-loving child. Then, be sure to spend that time together without distraction. Show your child how much you care by not taking phone calls, checking text messages, posting on Facebook, or giving that child’s quality time to another child. If quality time is not your own love language, remember Jesus said in Matthew 28:20: I will be with you always, even until the end of the age. And, give quality time a try!

Outdoor “recess” can become quality time with cousins too!
DITHOR Projects are great quality time opportunities for siblings too!
Science projects offer quality time chances for brothers too!
Love Language #4:  Acts of Service

Does your child love it when you show you care by performing acts of service? Well, acts of service are easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! Any “T” teacher-directed or “S” semi-independent boxes of plans in your child’s guide are a great place to step in with some loving acts of service! For the “I” independent boxes of plans, you can help set out your child’s books, art supplies, or science experiment things. You can make your child a cup of hot cocoa for break time. Simply asking, “How can I help?” or “How can I make things better?” are great ways to see what acts of service would be most appreciated. If acts of service is not your own love language, remember I John 3:18: My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring. Give it a try!

Who doesn’t love being served hot cocoa?!?
Helping a little brother with school is an act of service too!

Love Language #5:  Gifts

Does your child love to receive gifts or little surprises? Well, this love language is easy to make a part of your Heart of Dakota day! “T” teacher-directed and “S” semi-independent plans help you offer the gift of your presence every day! Have a fun HOD ‘box day’ by wrapping your child’s books like a gift at the start of the year. Or, make a ‘treasure hunt’ with your child’s HOD books as the ‘treasures!’ Choose some inexpensive special art supplies (i.e. twistables) or school supplies (i.e. glitter) for your child to open as gifts throughout the year. Surprise your child with a special drink (i.e. bubble gum soda) or snack (i.e. caramel popcorn) during the homeschool day. Get a new dollar store candle to light during seat work.  Remember, James 1:17: Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows.

History Projects can be ‘gifts” when shared!
History-inspired meals can be shared ‘gifts’ too!
The dollar store is full of fun little surprise gifts!
The Lord cares so much about us showing love that He commands us to do so!

God made each of us His own special creation. We all feel loved and show love in different ways. Knowing how our children feel most loved and showing them we love them during our homeschool day is so important! The Lord cares deeply about us showing love to one another. In fact, He cares so deeply that He said in John 13:34-35: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.

Putting Love Languages into Practice

Knowing how each of my children feels loved is key. It saves time! Showing love in the way each of my children truly feels loved fills their ‘tank’ faster and longer than trying to show love in just the way(s) I feel loved. The love language a child prefers can change through the years. So, be ready to make a change if need be! When in doubt, I try to show each child each love language and see which one each seems to prefer. Being sincere and not judging a child for his/her preferred love language is crucial. Remember, there is no one right way to love or to be loved! On a side note, it never hurts to tell your children how YOU feel loved too! We don’t want to feel like showing love to us is a difficult task with an unknown target. Hope you have fun discovering how love languages can enhance your homeschool days!

Click the following link to listen to the audio version of this post!  If you have trouble finding the audio in the email version of this post, try copying and pasting the URL at the very bottom of the email in your browser!

In Christ,


Summer is good time to work on keyboarding

Teaching Tip

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding skills.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on skills that will help your child during the school year. One skill that we’ve worked on with our older kiddos during the summer is keyboarding.

How much time is needed to see progress?

It is amazing how much progress can be made with just 10-15 min. of steady practice each day. We set a timer and have our older boys practice typing Monday-Friday during the summer months.

What can you use to teach keyboarding?

We happen to use and enjoy Typing Instructor, but you can use any program that works well for your family. Just be sure that your kiddos are placing their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard.

What are the benefits?

Strong keyboarding skills are a huge help during the school year as students type their essays and writing projects! Teach it this summer and reap the rewards when school rolls around again.


Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

I was looking back at past posts on our Heart of Dakota (HOD) Message Board. In the HOD Weekly Check-In posts, I found a random past post I’d done about my oldest son’s week in USI. Reading this post, I realized how all of those Charlotte Mason skills my son learned in HOD still help him so much in college! I just was struck by how well Charlotte Mason skills prepared him to study and succeed in college. Below, I’ll share my 2016 post about USI, and then at the end I’ll share how I’ve seen these skills help my son study well in college.

The Study Skill of Giving a Topic Oral Narration Using Notes

This week Wyatt has been learning about The Second Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence in history. He prepared to give a topic oral narration by listing topics as starting points for a new part of the narration in his US1 HOD History Notebook. Phrases of names, dates, places, etc. that were important were jotted down to help jog his memory. He then referred to these notes as he narrated orally. This activity has so many important skills in it! They are skills I used in college often, and I am glad he is leaning to utilize them already now. He now takes notes and refers to them as he speaks very naturally. It just flows, and he is at ease as he speaks.

The Study Skill of Responding to Critical Thinking Questions

Another great activity is his responding in writing to critical thinking questions from Great Documents in U.S. History. So much more depth is brought out from the readings by the pondering of these critical thinking questions. Then, reading actual Great Letters in American History alongside these assignments – well, what could be better than the actual letters, word for word, written by these amazing people from history themselves! It is like being transported back in time and really being able to ‘know’ that person through his/her very thoughts and words put to paper.

The Study Skill of Researching A Topic and Supporting Your Opinion

A Noble Experiment has Wyatt researching various court cases and their findings, and he finds it incredibly interesting. It appeals to his sense of right and wrong, and he is beginning to see the importance of being able to ‘support’ your opinion by citing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.

The Study Skills of Watching Presentations, Taking Notes, and Sharing What You’ve Learned

The USI History Notebook is not just a place for Wyatt to record his thoughts and written answers. It is also a beautiful visual reminder of that which he is studying, and every picture, portrait, document, historic memorabilia, etc. has its purpose and is used in some way, shape, or form for assessing what he has learned. This week, after Wyatt watched his American Testimony DVD, he referred to the beautiful pictures in his USI History Notebook as he orally narrated about each portion of the DVD he’d watched. Being comfortable speaking while referring to diagrams, photos, documents – this is a key skill he’ll need for whatever future job he will probably have. He is already becoming quite comfortable with it, and I can envision him giving a power point presentation with notes quite adeptly someday.

The Study Skill of Conveying Your Thoughts and Opinions in Writing

Being an accomplished writer that can convey thoughts and opinions clearly in an accurate interesting way – this is becoming a lost skill for many teenagers. NOT SO, with HOD! The steady diet of completing Charlotte Mason style written narrations inspired by reading timeless living books has made responding in writing to a topic quite easy for Wyatt. Now, this was not always so. I only have to pull out his beginning fledgling written narrations from CTC to be reminded of how far he has come. But, oh, it is so exciting to me to see the progress!

The Study Skill of Internalizing What’s Been Learned

Where many high school students stare at the blank page with no confidence of how to begin, he can begin writing immediately. Why? Because having completed countless oral and written narrations in the past, he knows from experience one must THINK about what one is reading while one is reading it to be able to respond to it afterward. Pretty important stuff if you ask me. So, oral narrations with index card planning, critical thinking questions, and written narration assessments all work together to help our dc learn to internalize and respond to what they have read in an active thoughtful way. So much better than completing a multiple choice quiz every time.

How These Study Skills Help My Son in College

My son just finished his sophomore year of college. He has taken 18 credits each semester. Some of these credits were earned by taking courses. The other credits were earned by taking CLEP or DSST tests. Either way, he uses the study skills he learned in HOD for both. As he reads his college material, he takes notes. He takes notes as he listens to his professors or watches DVD presentations (just like he did for USI’s American Testimony DVD assignments). From these notes, he writes essays (just like he did for his topic narrations in USI). He has to give an overview (i.e. written narration) and share his opinion citing research or court cases to support it (i.e. opinion narration). Throughout all of this, he is taking quizzes and tests. The scores he receives show he has internalized what he has learned!

A Special Webinar with Jeff Myers

These study skills all came together during an Educational Leadership webinar with Jeff Myers and fellow students. Each student had to write one question for Jeff Myers, based on the materials they’d read. During the live webinar, Jeff chose some of the students’ questions to answer. Jeff chose Wyatt’s question! Wyatt was so excited! Jeff spent nearly 30 minutes answering it and interacting with Wyatt and the other students as he did. It was just such a neat moment! After this, Wyatt wrote an essay on what he’d learned, citing his notes and supporting his opinions with references to the reading material and webinar. So, rest assured, HOD’s Charlotte Mason-inspired skills do much to help your future college students! Even on quizzes and tests – because they truly have the skills to internalize what they have read and what they have heard.  What a blessing!

In Christ,


Spelling Troubles and How to Fix Them

Dear Carrie – Spelling Troubles

How can I fix my 7 year-old daughter’s spelling troubles?

My 7 year-old has spelling troubles! She did list one and is doing spelling list two now. She’s had trouble with spelling and learning to read. Recently, her reading has improved dramatically. She is now 2/3 of the way through the Emerging Reader’s Set. However, her spelling is only slightly improved. In Beyond, on the first spelling day, she’d study the card, turn it over, and often spell it wrong. Sometimes she didn’t even notice it was wrong when she checked it. Twice so far in Bigger she’s had all the words right by the end of the unit. This is a major improvement! With the spelling lists followed by dictation, will it get better? I’m a believer in dictation which is working fabulously for my oldest. I own All About Spelling level 1, but honestly, it was a miserable experience with my older daughter. So, not interested in that.


“Ms. Please Help My Daughter with Spelling Troubles”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Daughter with Spelling Troubles,”

Spelling in the early years is often quite tied to a child’s reading. This is because kiddos at the early stages of spelling are often sounding their spelling words out as they write them. So, in the early years, as your child’s reading progresses, the spelling will lag a bit behind that reading progress in coming along too. This is pretty much what you’re seeing now. As you see your child’s reading is coming along, you see her spelling is now progressing a bit more too. That is not to say that in the long haul spelling and reading progress are always linked. This is not necessarily true, as the spelling words get longer and harder. However, you are already seeing some improvement with your daughter’s spelling troubles, and it is certainly in part linked to her recent improvement in reading.

Children to whom spelling does not come naturally need regular practice in properly capturing the correct mental image of a word.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for kiddos to whom spelling does not come naturally more drill is not really what they need. Regular practice in capturing the correct mental image of a word is the skill that truly needs to be developed in order for the mind to know whether a word that has been written is written correctly. This is the skill that is being developed in Beyond and Bigger. So, one of the best things you can do to help your daughter with her spelling troubles is to work through the daily spelling lessons in Bigger.

Immediately erasing any incorrectly spelled word during spelling lessons will help lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles in an immediate, tangible way.

Since properly capturing the correct mental image of a word is so important, we keep the other writing the child is doing during that season of learning to copywork or copying from a correctly written model. This is because we don’t want the mind capturing the incorrect image (and having a child inventively spell many words results in the incorrect spelling beginning to “look right” in the mind’s eye.) So, to prevent this same thing from happening during spelling lessons be sure to immediately erase any incorrectly spelled word and have the child copy the correct spelling over top of the erased word instead. This will help lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles in an immediate, tangible way.

Be vigilant as you do the spelling lessons, and that vigilance will begin to lessen your daughter’s spelling troubles.

Think of spelling time as mental training rather than seeking memorization of specific words. In that way, every error is an opportunity to swoop in and retrain the mind. Be vigilant as you do the spelling lessons. As soon as an incorrect letter is written in the spelling of a word, erase it away and redirect to the correct image (showing the index card with the correct spelling upon it). Be sure to use a dark colored marker on a white index card too when writing the spelling words (as directed in the guide), which helps the mind capture the image of the word even more clearly. Over time you will see continued progress and improvement within your daughter’s spelling troubles.

Dictation, as you have seen with your older daughter, will help your daughter gradually further improve her spelling skills.

Dictation builds on the foundation of mental picturing that is practiced in the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger. It is where kiddos actually start to pay more attention to spelling in the context of sentences. This is the moment where they realize spelling is about writing a string of words correctly. It is mental imaging taken to the next level. This is often where kiddos start doing a bit better in spelling, if they had a hard time in the word lists that they did before beginning dictation. This is because in dictation they are putting to use the mental imaging and beginning proofreading and auditory skills they practiced in Beyond and Bigger and are applying them.

Students eventually transfer dictation skills to proofreading and correcting their work to be sure the right mental image remains.

Through studied dictation kiddos learn to transfer the skills of capturing a correct mental image of a string of words, auditorily hearing the sentence and repeating it back correctly, writing the words in the correct sequence (including all punctuation and capitalization), and proofreading and correcting their work to make sure the right mental image remains (rather than the wrong one). Over time, these skills transfer to kiddos’ proofreading their own written work in other subjects. You can see this is all a part of spelling, but it is a process that takes years to internalize. By practicing and honing these skills over time, students spelling troubles begin to diminish.

I encourage you to keep moving forward, patiently guiding and diligently correcting.

This is why I encourage you to keep on going, patiently guiding and diligently correcting. You will see progress as the years pass. Your daughter’s spelling troubles will gradually lessen. Just as you saw improvement in her reading, you will see improvement in her spelling. Just make sure not to put the focus on word memorization. Rather, place the focus on the ultimate long-term goal of writing correctly and proofreading in daily work.

In Closing

My own third son struggled with the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger too. He improved as he headed into dictation, even though he is by no means a natural speller. Referring back to his reading material to copy the correct spelling of words has also been a ‘help’ to him. He uses this ‘help’ especially while writing his written narrations. This is another moment where capturing the correct mental image of words (i.e. names and places) and transferring them to paper comes in handy. I share this to encourage you that over time with these methods, even kiddos who struggle with spelling will make gains in the area where it really counts.


A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts for 6-8 Year-Olds

From Our House to Yours

A Hybrid Approach to Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts

Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) has a target age range of 6-8 years old. This means the bulk of the guide is geared toward children within this target age range. So, the history, geography, timeline, science, Bible study, devotional, music, art projects, poetry activities, and read-alouds all are very appropriate for children ages 6-8. These subjects are more inspirational, and as such, have a wider range of appropriate placement. In contrast, language arts and math are more disciplinary subjects. These subjects have a smaller range of appropriate placement. They require more fine tuning. There are already multiple levels of reading, spelling, math, and copywork in Beyond’s plans. However, what if you are combining a 6 year-old with an 8 year-old that is just ready for more in language arts and math? Well, you take a hybrid approach!

A Hybrid Approach to Handwriting

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond) already has writing options for copywork. Students use classical poetry provided in the Appendix of Beyond for copywork. You can already customize handwriting by choosing how many lines of the poetry each student copies. Younger students might begin by copying one line of poetry each day. Older students might copy four lines of poetry each day. But what if your 8 year-old is advanced in handwriting and is ready for cursive? Well, you take the hybrid approach by adding either Cheerful Cursive or Italic D from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Math

Beyond has two math options. The first option includes 1A/1B Singapore Math. The Beyond guide has wonderful hands-on daily math plans to teach the 1A/1B math. In the Appendix of the Beyond guide, there is a second option for using 2A/2B Singapore Math. This schedule uses the textbook to teach 2A/2B, with the workbook to follow. However, if you prefer hands-on math plans to teach 2A/2B, or if you have one super smart little one that places in Singapore Math 3A/3B, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! How? Well, you use the Bigger Hearts teacher’s guide. With daily hands-on math plans for 2A/2B, by using the Bigger Hearts guide, you don’t even need to buy the 2A/2B Textbooks. So, really, by using this hybrid approach for 2A/2B, you’re getting the Bigger Hearts guide for nearly $30 less (the guide less the cost of the textbooks).

A Hybrid Approach to Spelling

Beyond includes two spelling options already. Spelling list one is easier than spelling list two, and both are included in Beyond’s daily plans and Appendix. However, if your 8 year-old is ready for harder spelling in the form of Charlotte Mason’s studied dictation, it is time to take the hybrid approach! The Appendix of the Bigger Heart’s teacher’s guide includes Dictation Level 2. This is the first of eight levels of studied dictation, and it is the next, harder level of spelling instruction after Beyond’s spelling list two. So, if you have an 8 year-old in Beyond who is ready for studied dictation, take the hybrid approach by adding the dictation plans from the Bigger Hearts guide!

A Hybrid Approach to Grammar

Each Day 5 of each weekly unit in the Beyond teacher’s guide already includes an activity to teach a grammar skill. The grammar lessons in Beyond usually don’t require much writing, so they are perfect for 6 or 7 year-olds ready for grammar but not ready for a lot of writing! However, if your 8 year-old is ready for daily grammar with more writing, it’s time to take the hybrid approach! Just add the Bigger Heart’s R & S English 2 grammar plans for your 8 year-old!

A Full or Partial Hybrid Approach

So, if you have an 8 year-old or nearly 9 year-old using Beyond for a core guide, either solo or combined with a younger sibling, consider a hybrid approach! Choose a full hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in all language arts and math areas. Or, choose a partial hybrid approach for an 8 year-old ready for more in just one or two areas. Either way, you can easily use a full or partial hybrid approach alongside Beyond as your main guide. Better yet, you won’t be out your Economy Package savings the following year when you use Bigger Hearts as your main guide! Just let HOD know you already purchased your Beyond guide from them the year before, and HOD will still apply your $20+ package savings when you order the rest of the Economy Package later. Hope you enjoy some of these hybrid approach ideas!

In Christ,