Habit Training for Children Using Visual Aids

From Our House to Yours

Habit Training for Children Using Visual Aids

Charlotte Mason was an advocate of training children to have good habits in all areas of life, including personal hygiene. I have tried to train our sons to have good habits in this area from a young age. Rather than sporadically asking whether they have done something or not, I have found it is better to have a more planned way of checking this. I have also found it is helpful to have a visual, printed reminder of the habits expected. This way, I know there is no confusion what habits are expected. Likewise, I can have different expectations for good habits based on each child’s age. Below, you can see one of my first charts for our sons when they were little. I laminated the chart and posted it in the boys’ bathroom. They checked it off each day with a dry erase marker. The pictures really helped!

A Tear-Off Pad for Personal Hygiene and for Chores

One year, I made a tear-off pad of colored notes for our sons’ habits of personal hygiene. I also added their chores to the list. Each son had his own pad of paper to check off, with his own age appropriate hygiene and chore habits. I took the pads of paper to a local office store and had them compile them like sticky-note tear-off pads. I gave each son a pad with a different color of paper. Each day, I had them check off their tasks as they were completed. When their tasks were done, they tore off their papers and handed them in on the counter before breakfast. I loved not talking about these things every day! It was easy for me to see if they had completed their tasks or not. Either their paper was on the counter, or it wasn’t!

Charts to Encourage the Habits of Good Personal Hygiene and Picked-Up Bedrooms

As our children grow, I found I wanted to encourage them in other habits, like keeping their rooms picked up. Little ones can just begin with putting their toys in a basket in their room. They can also be taught to pull their blankets on their bed up and smooth them. These little things make a big difference in how picked up a room looks! As children get older, they need to take on more responsibilities for keep their rooms neat. If they are sharing a room, I have found this habit of picking up even more important to teach! Invariably it seems one child is neat, and the other is not. Sharing a bedroom can be a real source of frustration! Below you will see one of the charts I used to encourage both good personal hygiene and picked-up bedrooms.

Charts on the Fridge with Magnets 

One year, I posted charts on our fridge.  I included personal hygiene, chores, and bedroom clean-up habits. All of the magnets were placed on the right “DO” column before I went to bed. Then, the next morning as the boys completed their tasks, they moved their magnets from the right “DO”column to the left “DONE” column. They enjoyed the magnets, and I liked being able to see at a quick glance what still needed to be done. Now that our sons are older, I just have a quick chart we use. Some days I use the chart, but many days our sons take turns grabbing the chart and being the checker. I think all the previous years of visual charts for personal hygiene, chores, and room clean-up have made this task super easy!  Hope one of these ideas can help you instill the habits you want to in your children!

In Christ,


A quiet place to work is key.

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a student in 6th grade or above?

Older students naturally have a heavier workload with lengthier readings and weightier material. As students mature, assignments take longer and require more thought. Today’s tip deals with older students and something we’ve discovered by trial and error through years of schooling 4 boys.

For older students, having a quiet place to work with less interruptions is key.

Our older boys do MUCH better with school when they have a quiet place of “their own” to work. Even though our boys are different from one another personality-wise, they each came to a time when they craved personal space. Working in a space with less interruptions was key in their ability to focus during the middle school and high school years.

What are some possible places to use as quiet work spaces?

With our oldest son, we acknowledged the need for a quiet work space and allowed him to work in our bedroom. There were less distractions for him in our bedroom than in his bedroom. As he matured, he later worked in his own room. Then, after we built an addition onto our house, he worked in the new addition. Our next son also did better after he gained a quiet table of his own in our new addition. These days our third son has taken our second son’s place at the addition table. Our fourth son works in his bedroom spread out on his carpeted floor.

Get creative in thinking about possible work spaces in your home.

I encourage you to get creative in thinking of possible quiet work spaces in your home. Some personal work spaces may require more monitoring than others. For example, I had to check on my oldest son more often when he was working upstairs in my bedroom. During those years, I sent a timer with him so he would know when to come back downstairs. If you have to utilize a space on a different floor, it can still be a workable solution. Even with the extra monitoring required, I still found the positive changes in my son to be worth the extra effort.

No matter what type of learner you have, a quiet personal work space can positively impact your child’s attitude and work habits.

I cannot begin to tell you the change a quiet space produced in each of our older boys’ attitudes and work habits! This is true in spite of our four sons being uniquely different in so many ways. No matter what type of learner you have, it will pay dividends if you can give your older child a quiet work space.

A quiet work space means fewer distractions and less interruptions.

In a quiet space there are fewer distractions and less interruptions. In their quiet work spaces, our older sons got more done than when they were working near the rest of us downstairs. Try creating a quiet, personal work space for your older child. See if you think it improves your child’s attitude, focus, and/or work habits. You may find your child gets more done in less time and does better work too!



Don’t overthink it! Just dive into Little Hands to Heaven!

Heart of Dakota Life

Don’t overthink it!  Just dive into Little Hands to Heaven!

I started Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH) when my boys were 3 1/2 years old. I homeschooled 4 days a week, and this worked so well, I planned on doing the same with my youngest son, Emmett. However, the dynamics had changed in our homeschooling. Though only 2 1/2, little Emmett was well aware I was homeschooling his two older brothers. They each had me to themselves and were having such fun. No surprise Emmett wanted that too! Oh, it wasn’t like I forgot Emmett! (Who can EVER forget a 2-year-old?!?) I had lists of ideas! Read his Bible. Do a puzzle. Color something. Throw a ball. Sing the alphabet. However, the end of the day came, and somehow I’d failed to do ANY of those things. I felt so guilty! Over 10 years ago, I realized I needed to stop overthinking it and just dive into LHTH!

My “Dive-In” Moment with LHTH Over 10 Years Ago

From a post I wrote on October 5, 2009:  I was overseeing the semi-independent parts of Beyond and CTC today, and my little one was hopping all over wanting my attention. He was doing his “patty-cake” and “head and shoulders” rhymes (getting about every other word right), and I thought, “What am I waiting for? He’s dying to do LHTH. Why not dive in and do it?

A Happy “Dive-In” Day with My Little Emmett

So, I pulled LHTH out and did half of Day 1. He LOVED it! Before I knew it, he was strutting around shouting, “A, A, Adam” and doing all of the animals from the fingerplay, having a great time. He kept shouting, “Emmie do more school, mom!!!!” It was just too cute. I was going to start when he was 3 1/2, but I don’t think either of us can wait that long. Why oh why have I been overthinking this? I just needed to dive in and begin!

A Half-Speed Plan to Try

I think I’ll go half-speed. I have both Bibles, so I think I’ll read from the easier Bible first, do the Fingerplay, the letter activity, and the Bible activity the first day (that’s what we did today). Then the second day, I’ll read from the harder Bible, repeat the Fingerplay and review the letter flashcard, and then do the remaining boxes (music and rotating box) I haven’t done yet. I can tell this is going to fill a need I’m having right now. I’ll still have him do the Lakeshore boxes and Kumon books for fun the other mommy time I have planned, but I can see he’s going to flourish with LHTH. It was just such a great day – I had to share it with you all!

In Closing

I know lots of you are moms of many. You might be feeling the same way I as feeling 10 years ago. If so, I just want to encourage you, dive in! Give LHTH a try, even if it’s just half-speed. Don’t overthink it! Just begin. LHTH is easy to add to your day. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say adding LHTH for your little one(s) makes your day easier. Little ones demand attention, and we know they deserve it. However, we are pulled many ways as moms of multiple children. Simply doing LHTH with little ones helps them be happier, helps us feel better as moms, and teaches them some important skills along the way.  If you are on the fence, dive in! Your little ones will thank you.

In Christ,



Thoughts on Geometry: A Guided Inquiry after VideoText Algebra?

Dear Carrie

Could my son do Geometry: A Guided Inquiry after he finishes VideoText Algebra?

My oldest is finishing up HOD’s 8th grade guide but doing VideoText Algebra. He is almost done with Module C now, so I expect him to complete the rest of the VideoText curriculum in 9th grade. He has done well with the program. I’m considering using the Geometry Modules but curious as to other options. My question is what the math plan for 10th – 12th would look like if we chose to not do VideoText Geometry. Would he do Geometry: A Guided Inquiry in 10th and then be ready for Foerster’s PreCal with Trig in 11th? And then what would be our options for 12th…Calculus? Other? Thanks in advance!


“Ms. Please Help with Geometry After VideoText Algebra”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Geometry After VideoText Algebra,”

Yes, you are right!  If you did HOD’s Geometry: A Guided Inquiry, then you would move into Foerster’s Pre-Calculus next. Foerster’s Pre-Calculus may be a bit of a step up after VideoText Algebra, as Foerster’s Algebra II and Trigonometry is quite meaty and rigorous. So, you would definitely want the Math Without Borders flash drive lessons, schedule of assigned problems, and solution’s manual to use with Foerster’s Pre-Calculus!

Options After Completing Geometry and Foerster’s Pre-Calculus

Then, for your son’s senior year, you could consider either doing Foerster’s Calculus or doing College Algebra through www.mathhelp.com. Either option would work.  However, if VideoText is working well for your son, you may simply want to continue on that path.



‘Pop Back and Forth’ to Teach Multiple R & S English Levels Simultaneously

From Our House to Yours

‘Pop Back and Forth’ to Teach Multiple R & S English Levels Simultaneously

I thought I’d share how I teach multiple R & S English levels at one time! Emmett is using R & S English 5 in HOD’s Revival to Revolution, and Riley is using R & S English 8 in HOD’s USI high school. I like to have each sit at their own table in adjacent rooms, so they are not distracted by each other, but I can easily pop back and forth between them.  Emmett sits at the kitchen table, and Riley sits at the dining room table.

I start with the youngest studying his oral review questions and answers.

I start by having my younger son, Emmett, study his oral questions and answers in his R & S English teacher’s guide. He is a visual learner, and reading the questions and answers in print helps him better retain the information. Usually within a few minutes, he tells me he his ready. I then take away the guide and orally ask him the questions. He rarely misses any, but if he does, I have him study the teacher’s guide again. Then, I ask just the one he missed one more time. It is amazing to me how much better he does on reviews since we have been doing this!

I pop over to the oldest to do his oral review questions, while the youngest silently reads his lesson.

Emmett then silently reads his R & S English pupil text lesson. While Emmett is silently reading his lesson at the kitchen table, I call Riley to the dining room table. Riley studies his oral questions and answers in his R & S English teacher’s guide. When he says he is ready, I take away the teacher’s guide and orally ask him the questions. Just as I did with Emmett, if he misses any, I have him study again and ask that question one more time. After this, Riley reads his pupil text lesson silently at the dining room table.

I pop back to the youngest to orally do his lesson, while the oldest silently reads his lesson.

About this time, Emmett is done silently reading his lesson. So, I pop back to the kitchen table. We then work through the lesson together orally. I often have him take a few minutes to ‘study’ and ‘think through’ his answers for a section before asking him to orally answer. It is amazing how much better he does then! Emmett can rush and be a bit of a ‘blurter’ otherwise. Having him study a section and think through his answers prior to answering them orally has helped him go from answering many questions wrong to answering almost every question right! As we are working orally through the lesson, I look ahead and mentally note which written part I want to assign him to write the answers for in his notebook.

I pop back to the oldest to orally do his lesson, while the youngest writes the section I’ve assigned in his notebook.

We keep moving through the lesson orally until Riley calls out to say he’s done reading. If Emmett and I get to the section I want him to write before Riley calls out to me, I skip the section I want him to write, and finish out the rest orally. Whenever Riley calls out to let me know he is done reading though, I quickly finish the section Emmett and I are orally doing and then have Emmett do the written section I chose for him to write in his notebook. While Emmett is independently doing his assigned written section, I pop back over to Riley. We work through his lesson orally. Whenever Emmett calls out he is done with his written section, I quickly finish the section Riley and I are orally doing and then have Riley look ahead to choose a written section to do in his notebook.

I pop back to the youngest to correct his written work and orally finish his lesson, while the oldest does his written work, and then finish out orally with the oldest.

I pop back to the kitchen table. Using the teacher’s guide, I correct Emmett’s written work and assign a grade for it. We then work through any remaining questions orally. Emmett is done, so I pop back to Riley’s dining room table. I correct Riley’s written work and assign a grade for it. We then work through any remaining questions orally. Voila! Both are now done with grammar, and in a fraction of the time it used to take me to teach multiple levels!  Hooray!  I know it sounds chaotic to pop back and forth, but it isn’t.  It works great and is a real time saver! Maybe you’d like to give it a try!

In Christ,