Simplify Your Homeschool Life by Enjoying the Comfort of Home

A Heart of Dakota Life

Simplify (and Love) Your Homeschool Life by Enjoying the Comfort of Home!

Using Heart of Dakota is already a wonderful way you can simplify and love your homeschool life!  However, homeschooling is different than other schooling options because it primarily takes place in the home. That can be such a blessing if you let it be. As homeschool moms, we sometimes try to recreate a public school setting in our own homes. This is really not necessary nor advisable! While children in public, private, charter, and magnet schools alike are often confined to individual desks in one fairly cold and aesthetic classroom for most of their school day, homeschool children need not be. We, as homeschool moms, need not be either. Instead we can fully take advantage of the comfort of home by enjoying each part of it.

#3: Enjoy the Comfort of Your Home

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  (Jane Austen)

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

How do you feel about your home? Do you enjoy being there? Is it a place you find real comfort? Do you laugh in your home? When you look around, do you see things that bring you joy?  Have you made special memories in your home that you treasure? I remember reading Charlotte Mason’s quote that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”  I took that to heart. My husband and I decided that if we were going to homeschool, we were going to make our home a place we really wanted to be. In turn, we hoped this would make our home a place our children really wanted to be. Well, after 17 years of homeschooling, I daresay mission accomplished. Each one of our children truly loves not only being homeschooled in our home, but really, just being home. My husband and I love it too!

Rare and Beautiful Treasures

Our homes can be filled with rare and beautiful treasures, and these treasures need not cost a lot of money. First, I simply just love to see my children becoming wise, understanding more and more, and building their knowledge through homeschooling with Heart of Dakota. I love this not only because of the strong academics but also because of the Christ-centered focus of the guides. I see the first part of creating an atmosphere for education in our home as just making sure we invite the Lord to be a real part of it, every day.

Read in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to read a book? I love to read a book cuddled up with a fuzzy blanket on the couch in my living room, preferably with the fireplace on and a steaming cup of coffee on the end table next to me. Why can’t our children enjoy reading books like this? Mine do. Each has his own place he likes to read, with his favorite blanket, and with his favorite snack or beverage. Heart of Dakota adds living books that often become favorites to this ‘comfort at home’ picture, and voila! You have yourself an atmosphere for education in the comfort of your home that makes you and your children really enjoy being there!

Write in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to write a letter, a card, or take notes on something? I love to write in a well-lighted area, on a sturdy surface at my kitchen table, with a pencil or a gel pen of a color of my choice, with the perfect paper for the task. Why can’t our children enjoy writing like this? Mine do. Each has his own place he likes to write, with his favorite pencil or coloring utensil, and Heart of Dakota takes care of the proper paper for the task.

Meet with the Lord in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to do your Bible quiet time? I love to do my Bible quiet time in my cozy bed, under my warm covers, first thing in the morning, in my pj’s, with my glasses on, with just my lamp on, with my door shut, with my favorite devotional and pretty journal and a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee on my bedstand that I stumbled downstairs to hastily make.  Why can’t our children enjoy doing their Bible quiet time like this? Mine do. Each does his own Heart of Dakota Bible time in his room in his cozy bed, under his warm covers, first thing in the morning, in his pj’s, with his lamp on, with his door shut, with his HOD Bible time and special Common Place Book, and tea or granola or a twilight turtle on his bedstand.

Take Action

I want to encourage you to simplify and love your homeschool life by taking advantage of the comfort of home!  What can you do today to fully enjoy teaching your children in your home?  Likewise, what can you do today to fully help your children enjoy being homeschooled in the comfort of your home? There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort, so why not start creating this atmosphere of education today?

In Christ,


Why homeschool? Free Time for Personal Interests, Hobbies, and Skill Development

From Our House to Yours

Why should you homeschool?… Stop waiting for time to pass, and start choosing how to pass your time!

I bet a lot of you are like me and attended public or private school growing up. Large class sizes with one teacher often meant wasted time sitting at my desk. I would whittle hours of time away… just watching the clock and waiting.  Waiting for the teacher. More waiting for other students. Still more waiting for the class period to be over. Waiting for the bell to ring. More waiting for the lunch line to move. Even more waiting for the school bus to come. WAITING! Well, that brings me to one more reason why you should homeschool… so you can stop waiting for time to pass and start choosing how to pass your time!

Free time gives children time to pursue personal interests, develop  hobbies, and learn new skills.

There are so many things our children can do with their free time! When children are young, free time simply gives children time to think, to imagine, and to play!  Free time such as this for young children is the springboard for future interests, hobbies, and skills.  God has given each child different gifts and talents, and free time gives children time to discover them.

An Example of Free Time Helping Children Pursue Personal Interests

One of our sons as a young boy loved to build with legos, castillos, and blocks. Heart of Dakota‘s art, history, and science projects helped him learn how to build things systematically, step-by-step.  I was glad Heart of Dakota’s hands-on projects allowed for creativity, so he could design his own project rather than make a cookie-cutter project. Through the years, I have watched his creations become more and more intricate. With a lego computer program, I have seen ample 3-D creations be designed and then be built.  I imagine this personal interest could impact his future career, in a field such as drafting or engineering.

An Example of Free Time Helping Children Develop Hobbies

Our sons as young boys rode old 3-wheelers that my husband fixed up one at a time. They could often be seen racing around the yard on their 3-wheelers in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, they made a figure-eight track through the snow, hooked up a sled to their 3-wheelers and raced some more. I asked my husband for his brothers, who are excellent welders, to make small trailers to hook up to 3-wheelers. Soon I saw 3-wheelers with trailers whizzing to the garden to pick raspberries, down the gravel to exercise our dogs, and around the yard to pick up sticks.

One by one, each of the 3-wheelers broke down. They were old, so it was inevitable. I watched my husband fix each of the 3-wheelers, one by one, with whichever son owned the broken down 3-wheeler. Recently, I watched one of our sons rebuild an entire 3-wheeler with my husband’s help. I believe this will be a lifelong hobby for this son!

An Example of Free Time Helping Students Develop New Skills

Our sons as young boys built a tiny snow fort that promptly fell down. However, as they matured, they discovered making snow ‘bricks’ out of ice by adding water to slabs of snow made stronger bricks. I watched their tiny snow fort grow to a massive snow fort through the years.  This was all under the tutelage of one of our sons. He took a keen interest in building things, systematically, step-by-step in a way that would cause them to last.

I watched him lead his brothers in carefully creating a final fort that would withstand the elements for longer and longer periods of time.  In fact, I took a picture of one of their snow forts surrounded by grass!  The fort withstood the spring’s warmer temperatures for longer than I’d have imagined!  A few years later, I watched as this son built our retaining wall with cement bricks using a similar concept! Brick by brick, the retaining wall emerged, and it still stands strong today!

In Closing

I have found giving our sons free time gives them time to pursue personal interests, develop hobbies, and learn new skills. I think you would find the same to be true with your own children! So, in closing, why should you homeschool? So your children can have free time to discover the gifts and talents the Lord has given them! Why not homeschool, so you can stop waiting for time to pass, and start choosing how to pass time?!?

In Christ,


Give your children a Christian education for a fraction of the cost of private school!

From Our House to Yours

Why should you homeschool?… A Series on Reasons to Homeschool

We often get asked why we homeschool, and if you homeschool, I am sure you do too!  This series is something you can share with friends or families who are considering homeschooling. There are many valid reasons to homeschool. We have been sharing some of them in this Heart of Dakota From Our House to Yours series First, we talked about how you get to spend more time with your children. Second, we talked about how you know what your children did for the day. Third, we talked about how you get to run your own schedule. Fourth, we talked about how you can give your children immediate feedback. Fifth, we talked about how homeschooling is naturally the ideal education model of multi-age, multilevel, and looping. Today, we will talk about how you can give your children a Christian education for a fraction of the cost of private school.

Do you long for your children to have a Christian education?

Today more than ever, we as Christian parents long for our children to have a Christian education. We can see the changes in our public schools, and we know they are not good.  Private schools offer a Christian option for schooling, but we often find them to be too expensive, too far away, or too understaffed.  As Christian parents, we long to share our faith in Jesus with our children. Well, the good news is, with homeschooling, you can!

Does Jesus have a seat in your children’s school?

There’s an extra seat in our house where we homeschool. It is for Jesus, and He is invited every day. His wisdom governs our learning, and His light shines, so filling our house with love that it is transformed! It is now a ‘home’school because He has made His home there. Conversation flows freely, and we can talk with Him all day long.  Lord, what do you think about how the world began? Let’s read about that today in science. Lord, how would you like us to live? Let’s open our Bible for Bible study and see!  Lord, what can we learn from the past? What should we do in the present? And what can we expect in the future?  Let’s look at your Living Word and see how your plans show past history, history unfolding, and history to come!

It is difficult to have a Christian education where Jesus is not welcome.

We will find it difficult to give our children a Christian education where Jesus is not welcome. If our children cannot pray, read their Bible, or use educational materials that are Christian, how will they be able to receive a Christian education?  If Jesus is not welcome, our children will have a very difficult time becoming like Him. We wonder why children are so difficult to discipline, why they have behavior problems, and why they can’t get along. When we remove Jesus from their education, we will be hard pressed to find Him in their behavior.

A Word of Caution

One word of caution – just because you homeschool, it is not a guarantee your children will receive a Christian education. There is pressure today to leave Jesus out of homeschooling too. Government funded programs offer to pay a portion or all of your homeschooling costs – as long as the materials you use aren’t Christian. Various co-ops, programs, groups, etc. outside of the home offer to teach your children for you, but they leave Christ out of their teaching. Even homeschool curriculum programs that used to be solely Christian are publishing a second secular version of homeschooling materials. We too have been advised to do this, but we refuse.  Leaving Jesus out of our curricula would take the ‘heart’ right out of Heart of Dakota.  We have not given into that pressure, so please, don’t you either!

In Closing

In closing, one of the most important reasons why you should homeschool is you can give your children a Christian education. Open the door to Jesus by opening your mind to homeschooling.  Invite Him into your home and into your children’s education, and you will see more and more of Jesus in your children’s thoughts, words, and actions. Moreover, you will see Him in their hearts, souls, and minds – and THAT is an education that lives on forever.

In Christ,


Invite Charlotte Mason’s Teaching Methods into Your Own Home with Heart of Dakota

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Invite Charlotte Mason into your own home with Heart of Dakota!

At Heart of Dakota we ‘met’ Charlotte Mason more than several decades ago when Carrie began homeschooling her oldest son. The more we researched and practiced Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods in our own homes, the more we became convinced her methods deserved to be brought to life in other homes as well. Her breakthrough educational philosophy was just too good not to share! And so began Carrie’s 20-year journey of writing Heart of Dakota’s guides! With a dedication to bringing Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods to life, Carrie created Heart of Dakota’s guides so you too can ‘meet’ her in a very doable, inspirational way!  At Heart of Dakota, we help you invite Charlotte Mason into your own home, so you too can say, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” (Charlotte Mason)

Meeting Ms. Mason in Heart of Dakota’s Guides

Charlotte Mason’s key teaching methods come to life in Heart of Dakota’s guides. Each day you and your children use Heart of Dakota, you will be meeting Ms. Mason and inviting her into your homeschooling with easy-to-use daily plans. Step-by-step, year after year, from guide to guide, Heart of Dakota’s plans introduce your children to Charlotte Mason’s key educational principles and ideas. Little by little, children learn to love literature, love the Lord, and love their learning, just as Charlotte Mason intended.  So, just how will you be inviting Charlotte Mason into your home with Heart of Dakota? Let us show you how as we describe each facet of her educational philosophy and how it is brought to life in Heart of Dakota!

Living Books 

You cannot ‘meet’ Charlotte Mason if you do not use living books. Charlotte Mason had a passion for literature that Carrie shares! With the utmost care and loving research, Carrie carefully chooses living books for each and every subject area.  Like Charlotte Mason, Carrie’s living book choices are narratively written in a conversational way by an author who is passionate about what he or she has written. “Living” books make learning ‘come alive.’ They are the opposite of encyclopedias and textbooks, which are often written in a less than conversational way by a team of people who more than likely are not all that passionate about what they are writing.  In contrast, living books pull you into a subject and make you want to read more. They are the books you cannot put down!

In Heart of Dakota, your children will enjoy living books each and every day in a way that will make them want to read more. Living books light a passion for reading in our children, and Heart of Dakota keeps that passion for learning with literature alive year after year!  Join us in our next “More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment” series, as we describe more key principles of Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods and how they are incorporated into Heart of Dakota!

In Christ,


Why homeschool? A Multi-age, Multilevel, and Looping Opportunity

From Our House to Yours

Why should you homeschool?… A Series on Reasons to Homeschool

Prior to homeschooling our own children, I remember attending an educators’ conference in New Orleans. Carrie and I were flown there to represent our school district of 26 elementary schools. Why? Our school district’s test scores in reading were dropping, and we were to find a way to remedy that. After the conference, we were to report back to the district about what we had learned. Then, we were to provide training for teachers in inservice education classes we led for our district and in classes we taught for teachers to receive college credit.  Needless to say, we felt just a tad bit of pressure going into this conference!

What unique education opportunities are available for children?

After attending ample lectures, our first small group breakout session started with a question I still recall today.  We were asked to share what unique education opportunities our school district currently offered.  As teachers responded to this question and each turn moved closer to our position in the circle, we realized there were a whole lot more options to educating than we knew!  French immersion schools, charter schools, fine arts schools, online schools, boarding schools, private schools, magnet schools, dual language schools, performing arts schools, public schools – oh my! We found this to be so exciting!  It was freeing to think we could possibly think outside the box a bit, which in a public school setting is a rarity.

Multi-age Classrooms, Multilevel Lessons, and Looping

Many good ideas came out of that conference that we put into practice. Mainly, we began to implement multi-age classrooms, multilevel lessons, and looping. We were blessed enough to be able to implement them all in our school district!  As we were doing our master’s degree at the same time, we were able to write and receive grants for teaching this way. We taught inservice education classes and college classes on these topics.  Carrie and I were inspired!  We often stayed up until midnight planning for our multi-age, multilevel, looping classroom.  Best of all, we got to do this together because our school district also let us job share! So many funds and grants were poured into providing this education, and the results? Reading scores went up, and surprisingly, so did math scores and writing scores!

We found the one drawback to be the amount of time it took to write the plans, but we couldn’t go back to one plan, one age of students, and one classroom.

As Carrie and I taught inservices and college courses on teaching in multi-age classrooms, writing multi-level lesson plans, and looping students from year to year, one response began to emerge from teachers. They loved the results, but it was taking them way too much time to plan.  We agreed. Carrie and I were staying at school planning on the weekends until midnight sometimes. We were exhausted. However, we believed in what we were doing. We saw our students all happily moving forward in skills so well! Going back to one reading lesson, one math lesson, one writing lesson, and one grade level was impossible for us. We loved what we were doing too much!  We’d seen the results. Taking students where they were and moving them forward in all subject areas was the way to school. We couldn’t go back.

Our Last Year of Public School Teaching

In our last year of public school teaching, we had a class of about 28 students with one educational assistant.  Over half of the students in our class were on IEPs (individual education plans for special needs students).  We still believed in the multi-age classroom, multilevel lessons, and looping. But, there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all we wanted to accomplish. We had too many students with too many needs with too many interruptions. Though we were ready to begin the interview process to become principals and the prospects looked promising, we couldn’t see putting another year into teaching other children at the expense of not teaching our own at home. In short, we longed to try our hand at teaching our own children, in a Christian way!  Once we began homeschooling, we never looked back. We’d found our home!

Homeschooling is multi-age, multilevel, and looping at its best!

We began homeschooling when Cole was turning 5 years old. He is now 22 years old! My how time flies!  We took turns homeschooling Cole our last year of teaching for our school district. Since we job shared, we could do this. On my days off, I’d homeschool Cole. On Carrie’s days off, she’d homeschool him. We also watched each other’s smaller children. We loved it!  It didn’t take long for us to realize homeschooling is multi-age, multilevel, and looping at its best. Homeschooling is multi-age for families that have more than one child. It is multilevel for families using HOD, as each guide has multiple lesson plans and levels for customizing math, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and more. Finally, it’s looping, as each year the parent gets to teach the same children again.

So, why homeschool? You can have a multi-age, multilevel, looping education for your children!

So, in closing, there are many valid reasons why you should homeschool, and we have been sharing some of them in this Heart of Dakota From Our House to Yours series First, we talked about how you get to spend more time with your children. Second, we talked about how you know what your children did for the day. Third, we talked about how you get to run your own schedule. Fourth, we talked about how you can give your children immediate feedback! Finally, today we talked about how in homeschooling you can give your children a multi-age, multilevel, looping educational experience without ever having to leave your home and without having your child be one of 28 students rather than one of just your family’s size. Who knew all those years of research and study would lead Carrie and I back home? God, that’s Who, and we are so thankful to Him for His leading!

In Christ,