Plug into Your Power Source

A Heart of Dakota Life

Plug into Your Power Source

Homeschooling is an incredible blessing, but it is not for the faint of heart. It takes real dedication and requires all you have to give. There are days that make your heart sing, and there are days that make your heart plummet. If you are going to make it to the end of your homeschool journey victoriously, you are going to need to plug into a power source. So, I ask you, what is your power source? Have you thought about that lately? If you haven’t, you should! What do you draw from as your power source? If you don’t have one, you need one – not just for a moment in time, but for every single day!

The Power Source that never fails!

There is only one Power Source that never fails! This Power Source is a 3-in-1 deal, which is why It packs such a punch! God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all Three working together as One on your behalf!  Now THAT is the Power Source you need to plug into that will never fail! Have you ever seen a 3-way lamp? You plug it in, turn the switch once, and a little light begins to shine. You turn the switch twice, and the light shines even brighter. Turn the switch thrice, and the light shines so brightly it illuminates the entire room! Well, that is the kind of Power Source you have available as a Christian 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t be a lamp that is not plugged in; you’ll have no Power Source and no light to shine. You’ll be homeschooling in a very dark room.

Making Time to Plug into Your Power Source

As a homeschool mom, you are busy. Your time feels short, and the days fly by. I know very few homeschool moms who don’t eek out of every minute the full 60 seconds it has to offer. Every thing and every one seems to be competing for your time and for your attention. So, how do you have time to plug into your Power Source? Well, you make the time. That’s it. Plain and simple. It’s not fancy, but it’s true. You put time with the Lord and reading His Word into your schedule, and you do it. It’s not easy, but neither is living a life without your One intended Power Source! Picture that dark room again. You don’t want that to be you!

Plug into your Power Source, and let your light shine!

I’m not going to talk to you about time of day, length of time, or what you do during your time with God. Details create obstacles God did not intend for you to have. Simply set aside some time every day or night and get into the Word. God is not timing you with a stopwatch. He is not only available certain times of the day. God is not holding up a score card of 1 to 10 on how well you performed during your time with Him. He never sleeps. He’s available every moment of the day and the night. Best of all, He loves you and already knows your every thought and emotion. He simply wants a relationship with you! So, plug into your Power Source and let your light shine! It is well worth the time. Trust me – it is the number one thing you can do to better your homeschool days… to better your life.

In Christ,



Not a typical “Dear Carrie” question – just a praise from my kids I want to share!

Dear Carrie

Not a typical “Dear Carrie” question – just a praise from my kids I want to share!

I am a homeschool mom of eight, and my children range in age from three-years old to seventeen years-old. I’ve used Heart of Dakota nearly a decade now. My three middle boys are 6 1/2 year-old, 7 1/2 year-old, and 9 year-old. We just started Bigger Hearts for His Glory this week. So far, they have these praise things to say about doing school.

9 year-old: “I really thought I would hate learning cursive. It looks so hard and boring. But this is really fun!! That must be why they call it ‘Cheerful Cursive’.”

7 1/2 year-old: “I love doing school this year! All these new books are really cool!”

This is our first year doing formal Grammar. I had a tough year last year due to a high risk pregnancy, so I skipped the grammar lessons that were written in Beyond. I was really worried about adding English. However, every day this week, when I pull out the English book, my children all have positive feedback and praise.

6 1/2 year-old: “I love English!” And “Yay! Time for English! We get to write a sentence!”

Also, my oldest recently asked why every kid he talked to hated history. He loves history! I said he might hate history too, if he was taught the same way those other kids were who aren’t using HOD. Thanks to Heart of Dakota for making him a huge history buff!!! Now, there’s a praise from me! I can’t wait to wake up to teach tomorrow.


“Ms. Just a Praise from My Kids I Want to Share”

Dear “Ms. Just a Praise from My Kids I Want to Share,”

Your kiddos’ comments greatly blessed my heart today, and I am so glad to hear about your good start to the year. Just the encouragement I needed!


Loving Our Schedule This Year… A Look at Scheduling Older Students’ Days

From Our House to Yours

Loving Our Schedule This Year… A Look at Scheduling Older Students’ Days

We are loving our homeschool schedule this year! Wyatt is a junior in college, and he is earning his Business Finance degree from Liberty University Online. Riley is a 12th grader, and he is using Heart of Dakota’s USII guide. Emmett is an 8th grader, and he is using Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels. We are one week into our schedule, and we are truly loving it!  I can see us sticking with this schedule all year long, so I thought I’d share it here!

Starting with the Time Allotments and Meeting with Each Student

I always like to start my schedule by jotting down each guide’s suggested time allotments. (Click here for the suggested time allotments.) Then, I pull out my HOD guides and jot down about how much time I think my part will be for each box of plans.

Next, I meet with each of my sons separately. I show them the times for each box of plans. They give me their opinion about when they want to wake up and get started, what order they want to do their boxes, what they want to do for ‘homework’ the afternoon/night before, when they want to be done, and when they could use a break. Of course, they know the final schedule may or may not end up to be that exactly. However, they appreciate being a part of the process! I can also tell what they each feel they will need my help with the most, and that helps me make those things a priority.

Considering What I Need and Want in the Schedule for Me

At this point, I consider what I need and what I want in the schedule for me. This is important too! When we as moms love our homeschool days, our children pick up on that attitude and in turn enjoy their days more too. Needs come first. I need to have time to make breakfast, lunch, and prep for supper. Also, I need to be to work in the afternoon on time. I need time to teach my “T” boxes. Also, I need time to shower, get ready for the day, and do some daily household chores.

Wants come next. I want to do my Bible Quiet Time first thing in the morning. (This is actually more of a need than a want, but I list it as a want as there have been times in life when I’ve had to move this to the day/night – uhh, like when I’ve just had a baby.) I want to exercise. Also, I want time to make bake/cook fun things for the boys. Then, I put that all together and type a schedule with everyone in mind, including my college student who wants to be part of meals, breaks, and gathering times too. Everyone unanimously loves this schedule this year!

Emmett’s MTMM Schedule

6:00-6:10     Wake up

6:10-6:45     Bible (30-35 min.)

6:45-7:20     Science/Lab (30-35 min.)

7:20-7:45     History Project (20-25 min.)

7:45-8:10     Rotating History (20-25 min.)

8:10-8:30     Independent History (15-20 min.)

8:30-9:00     Shower/grooming, chores, room (30 min.)

9:00-9:30     Reading About History (30 min.)

9:30-9:45     Breakfast (15 min.)

9:45-10:05   Meet with Mom. Narrations. Correct work. (20 min.)

10:05-10:15 Who Am I?/Nature Journal mom’s part only (10 min.)

10:15-10:35 Finish Who Am I?/Nature Journal your part on own (20 min.)

10:35-10:45 Read grammar (10 min.)

10:45-11:05 With Mom for grammar – oral and 1 written part (20 min.)

11:05-11:15 With Mom for dictation (10 min.)

11:15-11:25 Make hot cocoa; put away finished school (10 min.)

11:25-11:45 Cocoa break (20 min.)

11:45-12:15 With Mom for math (30 min.)

12:15-12:45 With Mom for WWTB and/or mom’s part of DITHOR (30 min.)

12:45-1:00   Finish WWTB; read/finish your part of DITHOR (15 min.)

1:00-1:30     Lunch and cleanup (30 min.)

*Afternoon homework, before supper:  Storytime (20 min.);  President/State Study (25 min.)

Put away school neatly

2:20        Leave for work

Riley’s USII Schedule

6:15-6:50     Reading About History (35 min.)

6:50-7:30     Literature (40 min.)

7:30-8:00     Economics (30 min.)

8:00-8:30     Living Library (30 min.)

8:30-9:00     Chores, grooming, room (30 min.)

9:00-9:30     With Mom. Narrations. Correct work. Discuss Economics. (30 min.)

9:30-9:45     Breakfast (15 min.)

9:45-10:15   Clean up breakfast. Open time. Get math ready. (30 min.)

10:15-10:45 With Mom for math. (30 min.)

10:45-11:00 Finish math on own. (15 min.)

11:00-11:25 History Activity (20-25 min.)

11:25-11:45 Cocoa break (20 min.)

11:45-12:15 Finance (30 min.)

12:15-12:50 Speech/Grammar (35 min.)

*mom will check in with you sometime here for finance questions, work on counter, etc.

12:50-1:00   Make lunch (10 min.)

1:00-1:30     Lunch and cleanup (30 min.)

After lunch and before supper: Science/Lab (45 min.)

Put away school neatly.

2:20        Leave for work

*Before 9:45 PM Bible (40 min.) and Latin (20 min.)

Wyatt’s College Schedule

Wyatt’s College Schedule:

6:15-8:30    Bible Quiet Time/College (2 hours 15 min.)

8:30-9:00    Shower/grooming, chores, room (30 min.)

9:00-9:30    Open time

9:30-9:45    Breakfast

9:45-10:15  Clean up breakfast; open time (30 min.)

10:15-11:25 College (1 hour 10 min.)

11:25-11:45 Cocoa break (20 min.)

11:45-1:00   College (1 hour 15 min.)

1:00-1:30     Lunch and cleanup (30 min.)

1:30-2:20     College/open time (50 min.)

*Put away school neatly.

2:20        Leave for work

Key Times for All Sons to Make a Priority

8:30-9:00 Shower/grooming, chores, room (30 min.)

9:30-9:45 Breakfast (15 min.)

11:25-11:45 Cocoa break (20 min.)

1:00-1:30 Lunch and cleanup (30 min.)

2:20 Leave for work

My Schedule

7:00-7:30  Bible (30 min.)

7:30-8:30  Exercise (1 hour)

8:30-8:45  Shower (15 min.)

8:45-9:00  Make breakfast (15 min.)

9:00-9:30  With Riley for narrations, correct work, Economics questions (30 min.)

9:30-9:45   Breakfast (15 min.)

9:45-10:05 With Emmett for narrations, correct work (20 min.)

10:05-10:15 With Emmett Who Am I? / Nature Journal, my part (10 min.)

10:15-10:45  With Riley for math (30 min.)

10:45-11:05  With Emmett for oral and 1 written part (20 min.)

11:05-11:15  With Emmett for dictation

11:15-11:45  Get ready, pack lunch, supper prep

11:45-12:15  With Emmett for math

12:15-12:45  With Emmett for mom’s part of WWTB/DITHOR

12:45-1:00 Check in with Riley. Finance questions, correct work on counter

1:00-1:20  Finish supper prep

1:20  Leave for work

We are loving our Heart of Dakota life with this schedule!  I hope this encourages you to make a plan with a schedule that helps you love your homeschool days with your older students too!

In Christ,


Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

Teaching Tip:

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

One of my absolute favorite Charlotte Mason-style teaching strategies is the way she uses studied dictation. This is because studied dictation encompasses so many skills within a short session.

What skills are included within a studied dictation lesson?

Before the dictating begins, studying the passage first encourages students to picture correct spelling and punctuation on their mental blackboards. As the passage is dictated, students hone their auditory and verbal skills as they listen and repeat the passage before writing. Correcting their own passage by checking it against a correctly written model practices proofreading skills. Immediately fixing any mistakes means errors in spelling take less root in the child’s mind. Repeating a missed passage once daily until it is written correctly helps students replace an incorrect model with a correct model in their mind. Through the studied dictation process, your children are learning spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills too.

How can you help your children carry dictation skills over into their written work?

Once your children are making progress in dictation, it is time to begin helping them carry these skills over to their written work. One easy way to help students do this is to begin having them read aloud to you anything they write for school. As they read aloud what they have written, they will begin to catch some very noticeable mistakes. These obvious mistakes usually include missing words, double words, or very long run-on sentences with no punctuation. As students read aloud their written work, it is important that you are next to them with your pencil in hand. As they read, gently point out a few things to add. Often these things include missing words, periods, capital letters, commas, and question marks.

How can you address incorrect spelling in written work?

After your child has read aloud his written work, go back and write in pencil the correct spelling above any word that needs fixing. Then, have your child erase the incorrect word, copy your correct spelling in its place, and then erase your word (leaving a clean copy). If you do this regularly, your child will start to notice errors more and more on his own.

Proofreading takes training.

Proofreading takes training, just like anything else. It doesn’t happen naturally. One side note of this process is that you may see the volume of your child’s writing decline for awhile. This is alright, as it is honestly better to produce less quantity that is well-done than volumes written poorly. So, try having your child read aloud his writing today, and let the training begin!



Is placement off if character qualities are too abstract for my child?

Pondering Placement

Is placement off if character qualities are hard for my daughter to understand and apply?

I am using Heart of Dakota’s Bigger Hearts for His Glory and Drawn into the Heart of Reading with my eight year-old. In the Bible box we talk about a character quality each week. While she can have a reasonable discussion about the trait after we define it, she doesn’t really remember the meanings of the words. When I ask her how she can display the trait we are studying, she can’t really answer. She usually says things like “I should obey my parents” or “I should be nice.” Should I have her look up each character trait, write them down, and study them as vocabulary words? But then I kind of wonder if the character qualities are just too abstract for her still? If the character qualities are too abstract for her, did I place her in too high of a guide? Thanks in advance!

Carrie’s Reply in Regard to Understanding and Applying Character Qualities

Understanding and applying character qualities is a new skill to be learned, and it definitely takes time. One thing that is really helpful to know is that learning to think beneath the surface of what was read and learning to make connections among various strands of learning are definitely higher level skills. Often these types of skills are not really fostered in many educational settings, simply because they do require discussion and time for the learner to sit with a reading and dwell upon it and ponder. These skills don’t come naturally, as it is just so much easier to stay at the basic comprehension level in our thinking, because it just takes much less effort and is so much easier to do! By studying character qualities, children begin to learn to think beneath the surface of what is being read.

Delving into character qualities helps children see God and His Word are our measuring stick for how we live our life.

The reason we focus on this type of open-ended questioning and seeking or questing for deeper answers is because this is what God desires for us to do in His Word. He wishes us to know Him better through dwelling upon what He has shared with us both literally and beneath the surface in the Bible. He wants us to weigh everything else that we read and hear with what it says in His Word. This is to be our measuring stick for how we live our life. So, we start to foster this type of thinking from an early age, as we teach kiddos that looking beneath the surface of what you read is part of reading. Delving into character qualities is one way we do this.

When you pose questions to think and discuss about character qualities, you provide opportunities for children to learn to read with moral discernment.

We pose questions that take time to think about and discuss, and we do it regularly. We want to provide as many opportunities for this type of thinking, pondering, and connecting as possible. Kiddos can then learn to think carefully about what is really being said in writing and watch for the messages that are hidden in what they read. It is our ultimate goal for kiddos to read with moral discernment and to weigh everything they read and hear with God’s Word in mind. This brings character qualities to life in a real and life-changing way!

You can think of the study of character qualities as a time to train your child to think deeply and Biblically.

As you can imagine, this is a lifelong pursuit!   It is not something that happens in a year or even in a few years. It is something that as adults we are still pursuing and seeking to do daily. So, if you can think of these types of questioning moments as opportunities for conversation, or opportunities to share you own thought process or examples, you will have a much more fulfilling time with your child. The study of character qualities can be though of as a time to train your child to think deeply and Biblically one step at a time. This is the ultimate goal of learning about character qualities.

Character quality studies should be personal and should provide the opportunity for deeper, heartfelt discussions.

One thing I would caution you against would be in making the activity into a comprehension type exercise that seeks one right answer from your child. It is so tempting to do this, as this is often where our comfort level as a teacher lies (in that comprehension level, one-right-answer questions are so much easier to measure or grade)! But, if you do that you’ll miss the opportunity for the deeper discussions! So, I encourage you to persevere and seize the moments to share your own thinking and examples with your child. Make it personal and your child will eventually share personally too. The deeper questions will provide dialogue opportunities and a window into your child’s mind for years to come! As your children mature, you will be so thankful for this window into their soul. I know I have been!

Your daughter is in the right guide. She is flourishing in every area of Bigger Hearts and Drawn into the Heart of Reading! I know this from visiting with you. So, I just want to encourage you, your daughter will also learn to take more and more from her reading as she studies and applies character qualities. She has many years to continue to grow in this area!