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,



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,


Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

From Our House to Yours

Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

Are you busy? I can relate. Homeschool moms are some of the busiest people I know. I talk on the Heart of Dakota phone lines with moms whose lives are jam-packed. Emails arrive from moms who are pushing themselves to the max. Posts on FB, on blogs, and on our message board show homeschool moms are busier than ever. When someone asks how our day, our week, our month, or our year is going, we often say, “Busy!” But, what are we busy about?

I began to ask myself this question 6 1/2 years ago when my Dad died of pancreatic cancer. We are only promised today, so asking ourselves from time to time what we are busy about is a pretty important question to ask. So, if you summed up your day, your week, your month, your year for me, what are you busy doing? We women are born to be multi-taskers, but from one homeschool mom to another, be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life.

Love your year, but love your days too!

Not too long ago, I was sitting outside in our backyard at our patio table. I’d made my school calendar of the days we’ll be homeschooling this year, and I was really happy with it! I’d chosen my start date as Tuesday, September 1, with Friday of that week and Monday (Labor Day) taken off for vacation. I’ve found doing school three days a week at the start is perfect for us! We can try out our schedule, make any needed adjustments, and gather anything we missed gathering.

My calendar was just right. I loved my start and end dates. We had just the right days marked off for vacation, for birthdays, for holidays, and just for fun. I’d planned for sick days and for end-of-the-year testing days. From this past homeschool year, I could tell I would love this calendar! The year was going to be great! So, why was I worried? Well, it had nothing to do with the year; it was the ‘days’ I was worried about.

Some Wise Advice from My Son

My son noticed me looking stressed; every mother deserves a son like Riley. He can talk me off the ledge. He popped out to the patio table and pulled up a chair. What’s wrong, Mom? he asked. I explained I REALLY wanted to spend a lot of time with him this year because it was his senior year. He told me we spend nearly all of our time together. I tried to explain I wanted to spend LOTS of time homeschooling him though. How much time, Mom? he asked. Let’s just say my answer scared him, especially when I told how much time I thought I should also spend with both of his brothers. That’s crazy busy, Mom. It was. Riley told me that part of the reason we love our life is because homeschooling gives us the kind of life we love. A slower pace. A less busy pace. He said I deserved that too. Hmm, pretty wise advice. Thank you, son!

Mapping Out Our Days to Be Less Busy

Six and half years ago when my Dad died I made a lot of changes. I cut things out of my life that were busy but not worth the busy-ness. My years became less busy, and I began to love my life more and more. However, the days ARE busy as homeschool moms. There is no daily plan that will totally take away the ‘busy.’ It is the stage we are in, and it goes on for awhile. It’s best to recognize that. We are ‘busy’ because we have important work to do; however, we need not push ourselves to the point of exhaustion or depression. Riley helped me see that. Together, we worked at mapping out our days to be less busy. I made time for God, time to walk, time to make breakfast, time to teach, and time to work. Ideally, I’d have given more time to all of these things, but that would have made me “crazy busy,” as Riley puts it. And “crazy busy” is never a good thing.

What are you busy about?

So, now I ask you, what are you busy about? Are you ‘crazy busy’? Don’t be. You don’t have to be and that is no way to love your days! It is no way to love your life. Start with the easy things. What is not worth the busy-ness? Stop doing those things. I don’t keep a garden anymore. I’m not good at it, and I don’t really enjoy it. I don’t have rummage sales anymore. We live in the country, and no one comes. I don’t plant flowers anymore. Hanging flower pots do me just fine. I don’t make lunch anymore. Breakfast and supper I knock out of the park! But lunch? Riley makes that – it’s easy, it’s fast, and he likes it. Thank you, son. I don’t check my FB, email, or Instagram incessantly. Just here and there when I have time – that is enough.

I am busy about my teaching. Homeschooling well is important to me, but I don’t expect perfection – from me or my children. I am busy talking to my Mom and my sisters. They are my best friends; they are worth my time. I am busy dating my husband. He is my best friend too, and I love him. I am busy exercising, but I don’t always drive to exercise at the gym. My country road is a pretty place to exercise too. I am busy spending time with God each morning, but I don’t time myself as if an exact time is what He desires. So, what are you busy about? Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life. It goes fast. If you are ‘crazy busy,’ look in the mirror for the person making you so – and make some changes! Loving your life is worth it.

In Christ,


Not Just a Spelling List!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Not Just a Spelling List!  How Heart of Dakota’s first spelling instruction teaches beginning skills for Charlotte Mason’s studied dictation…

A fellow homeschool mom recently asked some questions about Heart of Dakota’s spelling. She’d been planning on continuing to use another spelling program. However, she mentioned it was pretty time intensive, and neither she nor her son really liked it. When she read in Heart of Dakota’s catalog: “For spelling, students focus on learning to spell a basic body of frequently used words. Next, they move on to studied dictation to cement their spelling skills,” her curiosity was piqued. She thought if Heart of Dakota’s way produces good spellers, and if it wasn’t so intensive on teacher and student, then maybe she should make the switch. She asked if the basic body of frequently used words were taught as just a list to be memorized? I thought this was a great question, and I wanted to share my answer here with you too.

The Charlotte Mason-style lessons planned with the spelling words are very effective.

Dictation is a process that must be trusted and faithfully applied, and it will yield results. Dictation is harder than spelling, and the way spelling is done in HOD is a stepping stone for dictation. The Charlotte Mason-style lessons planned with the spelling words in the language arts box of the guide are very effective. I know we probably all grew up doing spelling lists, by studying them and taking a test. Well, the plans written in the HOD guide are totally different. The plans apply the idea of the mind being like a camera taking a “picture” of the word each time it sees it.

Day 1 of Spelling Instruction:

So for HOD’s spelling, Day 1 always has the child look at one word written in black on a white index card. The child studies it, and when the child says he is ready, you (the parent) take the card away. Then, the child writes just that one word on his white marker board in black marker. If he misses it, right away, you erase it and show him the card again. (This is to erase that incorrect “picture” in his mind immediately.) When he says he is ready, you take the card away again, repeating this process until he writes it correctly.

Day 2 of Spelling Instruction:

Then, for Day 2’s spelling you (the parent) just say the word, using it in a sentence. The child tries to write the word from memory, again a black marker on a white marker board is best. If he misspells the word, you erase it immediately to erase the incorrect “picture.” Then, you show him the index card, allowing him to study it as he did on Day 1. The child then writes the word again, repeating this process until he writes it correctly.

Day 3 of Spelling Instruction:

On Day 3, you (the parent) choose three words the child needs to practice the most. One word at a time, the child should use the word in a sentence orally, as you write the sentence on marker board for him. Then, the child looks at the marker board to copy the sentence on paper. You help the child correct any mistakes then.

Day 4 of Spelling Instruction:

Finally, on Day 4, you (the parent) say the word and use it in a sentence. The child tries to write the word correctly. This time, if it is missed, you erase it, and show the child the index card again. Have him fix it on his paper, and while looking at the index card, do the activity to review any missed words (the activity rotates each week).

Many skills are learned though this four day rotation of spelling instruction.

Many skills are learned in this method of spelling, rather than a child just studying a list and taking a test at the end. This four day method of spelling provides an important foundation for dictation the following year. You can see that using the word in a sentence, using the word within copywork of sentences, studying a word and having it taken away then, fixing errors, etc. all prepare children to do dictation the following year.

My son, who was born quite prematurely, had speech therapy for several years as a young child. Yet, he has managed to thrive with HOD’s spelling/dictation plans using Charlotte Mason-style methods. I highly recommend giving this four day spelling approach a patient try, and then I am certain you will see the fruits of it given time! I’m a former user of Spelling Power, and R & S spelling, as well as other programs. However, I’ve found Charlotte Mason’s methods have been the most successful and produced the most carryover to children’s own writing – which is the core reason we’re studying spelling in the first place . This took me awhile to come to this consensus. But now with my second and third child, I’m totally on board with it – and it shows in their excellent spelling.

A few other links that may be helpful…

Here is a link that gives samples of the spelling lists:

Here is a link that gives dictation samples:

In Christ,

Share what is best about your homeschooling days with your husband!

From Our House to Yours

Share what is best about your homeschooling days with your husband!

So you’ve decided to homeschool, and you’re starting your first year! Congratulations – how exciting! Though there are many feelings surrounding embarking on this homeschool journey, often times, we as moms might be more excited about homeschooling than our husbands. Sometimes the opposite is true, but more often than not, we as moms can be more sure of homeschooling at the start than our husbands.  I think our husbands are worried about either our children or about us. They can feel like our children might not get the education they need, or they can feel like we might stop giving our husbands the attention they need. Both our valid concerns! Likewise, we can feel like we have to prove to our husbands that homeschooling is a success. So, what’s the answer? Well, it’s simple! You can start by sharing what is best about your day with your husband!

Your husband’s view of how your homeschooling days are going is based on what you share!

All your husband knows is what you tell him. If you are trying to show homeschooling is a positive thing in your home, be sure to share what is positive about it! If your husband comes home from work and the first thing you do is share the negatives about the day, he will assume your entire homeschool day was probably negative. In contrast, if your husband comes home from work and the first thing you do is share the positives of the day, he will assume your homeschool day was probably positive. Every homeschool day will have positives and negatives. Being mothers of children, we know every day has positives and negatives – regardless if we homeschool or not. However, your husband’s view of how your homeschooling days are going will be a direct result of what you share. So, be sure to share wisely!

Look to the Bible for inspiration!

As the Bible says in Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

When we dwell or think on what is positive, we naturally share what is positive with others. In contrast, when we dwell or think on what is negative, we naturally share what is negative with others. It is impossible to be a positive person if all we have is negative thoughts. So, the simple answer to helping our husbands see that homeschooling is truly amazing is to share what was positive about our day! Maybe Johnny spilled red juice on the carpet, but maybe Johnny also spelled all of his spelling words right too.  Maybe Amy mixed up her math facts, but maybe Amy also made a beautiful history project! Every day has positives and negatives. We need not paint a perfect picture for our husbands, but we also need not be Debbie Downers. If you want your husband to think homeschooling is a positive thing in your life – be positive! Look in the mirror – you are the greatest influence on your husband’s impression of homeschooling! So, take care to share the positives!

In Christ,