Take Time Off to Refresh

Heart of Dakota Life

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!

Take Time Off to Refresh

Do you find you need some time off from homeschooling to refresh? “Refresh” means to give new strength or energy to, to reinvigorate. I do find I need time to refresh, and for me, this time off comes in the summer. I find if I don’t really focus on the fact that I am trying to “refresh,” I can quickly make my summer look just like my homeschool year. Then, the “refreshing” never truly happens, and I return to homeschooling weary. “Refreshing” is both an adjective and a verb. As we Heart of Dakota moms know from teaching R & S English to our children, in very basic terms, an adjective describes and a verb is an action. I think both are important to our success of taking time off to refresh!

A Closer Look at “Refreshing” As an Adjective and As a Verb

According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective “refreshing” means having a renewing effect on the state of the body or mind, and it is the opposite of wearying. Some synonyms for the adjective “refreshing” are rejuvenating, restorative, reviving, and revitalizing. Other words related to “refreshing” are strengthening, corrective, therapeutic, beneficial, healthy, wholesome, and helpful. As far as I can tell, those are all good reasons to making this a part of our plan as homeschool moms!

According to Merriam-Webster, the verb “refreshing” means to bring back to former condition or vigor. Some synonyms for the verb “refreshing” are recharging, recreating, renewing, reviving, and restoring. Some words relating to “refreshing” are making over, overhauling, reclaiming, reconditioning, redesigning, redoing, rehabilitating, remodeling, and replenishing.

What does the opposite of “refreshing” look like?

Well, now let’s take a look at what the opposite of “refreshing” looks like. Some antonyms for “refreshing” are deadening, debilitating, draining, exhausting, numbing, sapping, weakening, wearying, unhealthy, and unwholesome. Yikes!  Now, those are some things we definitely want to avoid!

When is the last time you took real time to refresh, and what did you do?

We can all see from these basic definitions, synonyms, and antonyms that this is important to do. So, when was the last time you took time off from homeschooling to refresh? And what did you do? Did you really stick to “refreshing,” or did you just turn that time off into a wearying time? What is refreshing to one person is not refreshing to another. Figuring out what really fills your tank is important.

A Few Things I Have Found to Be Refreshing

I love God’s creation, and I also love to exercise – not the kind of exercise that is over-the-top training for something special though. Being on-the-move in motion is more my kind of exercise! Listening to podcasts, like Joyce Meyer’s Everyday Living, is soul-filling to me. So, one of my very favorite things to do is walk in the morning down our beautiful country road, while listening to Joyce’s podcast. I also love Christian praise music, so starting my day with a favorite playlist and good strong coffee fills my soul! Another thing I truly love is an organization project. Put a label-maker and some clear tubs in my hand, and I am one happy person! Morning Bible devotions are special to me too! Right now, I am reading through the Everyday Life Bible in a year. Love it! So, try your hand at finding what is truly refreshing to you, and see what you discover!

 

Don’t forget, our children need time to refresh too!

As you go about taking time to refresh, remember, our children need time for this too! They need time to do things they love that are not school related. While our summer break can be a great time to do extra learning, I either forego the extra learning or pick one important thing to do. For example, multiplication fact practice, typing instruction, or one unit in DITHOR are things I have had our children do in the summer. However, the rest of the summer break is a time for our kiddos to refresh too.

I purposely don’t micromanage their days. Rather, I look at our summer break as a time for them to try their hand at structuring their free time. Oh, they do have jobs, and there is mowing, of course. I do have them work into their day outdoor time, free reading time, and free time to do things with each other. But, there is lots of free time to figure out what to do! I think this is actually a skill lacking in kiddos today. They don’t know what to do with their free time! They’re too used to their every moment being planned.

A Few Things Our Sons Have Found to Be Refreshing

Each of our sons refreshes in different ways, though some overlap. Two of our sons love to read! Each can often be found with book in hand reading. Another son loves to tinker in the garage. He took my label maker to town and organized his own shop area! Another remodels nerf guns and set up shop in the basement. Still another son ordered a basketball training program to work out each day. Two took up running on the treadmill. A different pair set up an epic worldwide Axis and Allies board game to play together all summer long. Another son loves riding his three-wheeler and mowing (yes, I did say mowing – what’s not to love about that?). Shore fishing is yet another special activity for one son, and the list goes on! So, have your kids try their hands at what they find refreshing! See what they discover!

In Christ,

Julie

Click on the play button below to listen to the audio version of this post! Hope you enjoy this!

Is your glass half-empty or half-full?

Heart of Dakota Life

Is your glass half-empty or half-full?

Glass half-full people choose to look at the sunny side of life. These people would be considered optimists because they expect good things to happen. In contrast, glass half-empty people choose to look at the darker side of life. These people would be considered pessimists because they expect bad things to happen. The idea here is that two different people can look at the same glass but see two totally different things. The optimist sees the glass as half-full, focusing on the drink that is still there to be enjoyed; while the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty, focusing on the drink that is gone. In homeschooling, would you say your glass is half-empty, or half-full? If you’re not sure, ask yourself these telltale questions!

When your husband asks how your day went, what do you say?

Your husband walks through the door at the end of his work day and asks how your day went. What do you typically say? Every day has its ups and downs. Some of it will be good, and some of it will be bad. However, a glass half-empty person will lead with the negative; a glass half-full person will lead with the positive. In fact, a glass half-full person may never share the negative at all! This doesn’t mean nothing bad happened; it just means the glass half-full person is choosing not to focus on the bad. If your husband thinks your homeschooling is going poorly, it could simply be because the only things you are sharing with him are the ‘half-empty glass’ things.

When you have a chance to post on homeschool forums, what do you say?

You have a free moment to post something about homeschooling on one of the numerous media outlets available. What do you typically say? Every poster has good and bad things happening in homeschooling on a daily basis. However, a glass half-empty person will readily share the negative; a glass half-full person will readily share the positive. Both may have a question; both may need help. However, the glass half-empty person will word things in the worst possible way, with the bleakest outlook imaginable. The glass half-full person will word things in the best possible way, with anticipation of being able to successfully answer the question or get the help that is needed. If you were to look up your past posts, what would you find? Words are powerful. Glass half-full people know that, and they choose what they say wisely.

If your children were asked how you feel about homeschooling them, what would they say?

Your children are with you day in and day out in homeschooling. You are often their only teacher. If your children were asked how you feel about homeschooling them, what would they say? Sure, they might say it’s stressful and busy at times. But, would they also say they know -most days – you do love to homeschool them? That though everything is not perfect, you still are thankful to be homeschooling them? That though it is hard, you wouldn’t change it because you believe in what you do? If so, you are probably a half-glass full person. Or, would they say you don’t like to homeschool, you can wait for the day to be over, and you are constantly in a bad mood ready to snap at any given moment? If so, you are probably a half-glass empty person.

What can you do if you want to be a half-full glass person, but are instead a half-empty glass person?

If you long to be a half-full glass person, but instead find you are a half-empty glass person, there are things you can do! For example, to be a half-full glass person, I hang completed homeschool projects on the fridge or set them out on a table. When my husband comes home, I point out the projects and tell him all about them. To be a half-full glass person on homeschool forums, I try to be more encouraging than discouraging. I look for the good and share it, and in return, I feel good about homeschooling myself.  To be a half-full glass person in homeschooling my children, I make it a point to tell them often I love being able to homeschool them, that I am proud of them, that they are good students, and that I love being their teacher. Half-full glass people are happier. Try it! You’ll see!

In Christ,

Julie

Homebound? Here are four ways to jump start your next homeschool year!

A Heart of Dakota Life

Homebound? Here are four ways to jump start your next homeschool year!

Do you find yourself homebound during this pandemic? Maybe you are finishing your Heart of Dakota guides, but find yourself looking for things to do! Well, do take a bit of a break to celebrate! But after that, if you are looking for things to do, why not jump start your next homeschool year in one of these four ways?!?

Jump Start #1: Get your next HOD guides and start organizing!

If you are stuck at home, you can jump start your next homeschool year by getting next year’s things. This is the perfect time to begin visualizing your children’s next year. By ordering your guides and resources from Heart of Dakota now, you can use extra time at home to prepare for next year. I like to read through each guide’s Introduction. This helps me visualize my year and understand the skills I’ll be teaching. I also like to jot down in the Introduction’s margin any special supplies I’d like. Next, I put tabs in my guide’s daily plans, as well as in important places I’ll use in the Appendix (i.e. poetry, dictation, math, narration skills list, etc.). Finally, I label all of my HOD books, so they are easy to find when we need them and easy to put away when we are done with them.

Jump Start #2: Do a genre or two of DITHOR!

Stuck indoors? Why not jump start your next year by doing a genre or two of Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)?!? I’ve done this during our summer break several times. We had so much fun! I really did it up ‘big!’ As it was the only school subject we were doing, we picked a more involved genre kickoff. For example, one time we buried ‘treasure’ in the garden. When the boys dug up the ‘treasure’ chest (a.k.a. plastic tub with lid), they found pirate hats and patches in it! Oh, the fun they had playing with those! I also remember doing a big Mystery Dinner. The boys had such fun designing the menu and serving us our mystery meal! This jump start was great because it kept the boys reading all summer, and it got us ahead a genre or two for the school year.

Jump Start #3: Get ahead in a subject that isn’t connected to other areas!

Do you find yourself trying to find ways to keep your kiddos writing, reading, or doing a little math during their break? Instead of buying filler things that may not be the right fit anyway, why not choose an HOD subject or two not connected to other areas to do in a low key way? For example, you could do dictation, math, and/or grammar two to three times a week. If you have high school students, maybe they could get a jump start on a half-credit elective. Whatever you choose, just be sure it’s not connected to other subject areas. That way, intended connections aren’t lost. This jump start gives wiggle room in your year. If you have an especially busy day and need to shorten it, you can just not do a lesson of whatever you got ahead on during your break – and still not be behind!

In Christ,

Julie

Building better writing habits… one step at a time!

Heart of Dakota Life

Building better writing habits… one step at a time!

Red pens can make people shudder. Why? Well, red pens used to be a teacher’s weapon of choice for tearing a written paper to shreds – all in the name of ‘correcting’ or ‘editing.’ I always enjoyed writing, but I had a friend who didn’t. He tried so hard, but writing was just not his thing. I remember him getting a paper he’d written back from the teacher with more red on it than any color. He was embarrassed and devastated. He also didn’t know where to begin to be a better writer. I wanted to help him but felt pretty defeated too. Where do you begin when everything is wrong? Well, you build better writing habits just like you build any structure you want to be solid…  one step at a time.

Choose the first step carefully – success is a must!

For kiddos to feel confident in building their writing skills, it is important to focus on improving one skill at a time. I choose the first step to building a better writer carefully. Children need to experience success. For little ones, proper formation of letters is important. Spending time by their side to encourage and gently correct mistakes helps prevent poor habits. Heart of Dakota’s handwriting programs in Little Hearts for His Glory can help instill these good habits. Once students move past writing letters well, the next concern is often spacing issues. Their words might all run together. Or, they may not use the top, dotted, and bottom lines as stopping places. Building a better writer begins with the step of helping them recognize how to correct spacing issues. Below, you can see some ways I addressed this with our sons.

Other Steps to Building a Better Writer

Once children have learned proper letter formation and spacing, often the next step to building a better writer is simply shrinking their writing. Moving from handwriting paper to wide-lined notebook paper is a step that takes much encouragement. As students shrink their writing, often times legibility and spacing becomes an issue again. One of my sons began making the letter “s” with no curve – essentially, every letter “s” looked like the letter “l”. Another son didn’t close his vowels. Basically every letter “a” and every letter “o” looked like the letter “u”.  My nephew wrote every lowercase “r” as a giant “r,” as tall as a capital letter. Another nephew wrote microscopically small. One of my sons put large spaces in the middle of bigger words, making them look like two words. Each of these steps were patiently tackled, one at a time.

Further Steps to Building a Better Writer

Once letter formation, spacing, shrinking, and legibility have been tackled, often times spelling is next. There are many steps to building a better speller. Blessedly, Heart of Dakota makes this maze of how to begin to build a better speller easier. Spelling tips in the Appendix include a hierarchy of steps to work through. Beginning steps involve more parent help. Ending steps promote more independent spelling helps. More mature steps to build a better writer come next. Maybe students need to use better transition words. Or, maybe they need to vary the length of their sentences. It could be they need to use more descriptive words. Or, maybe they need to do a better job of choosing their topic. Heart of Dakota’s editing list, R & S English’s lessons, and formal writing programs’ instructions in each guide help each step of the way. So, here’s to building better writers – one step at a time!

In Christ,
Julie

 

 

 

 

Raising Siblings to Be Best Friends

A Heart of Dakota Life

Raising Siblings to Be Best Friends

When I first began homeschooling with Heart of Dakota, I made a list of reasons why I wanted to homeschool. I have referred to that list often this past 17 years of homeschooling! Especially if I am having a tougher day, I go back to that list and find inspiration to press on.  One thing I listed was that I wanted our sons to be each other’s best friends. I consider my siblings to be my best friends, and I credit that to my parents. They raised us in a country home that was miles from town and friends. We three girls often only had each other as playmates and confidants, and we became so close. Still today, we sisters consider each other as best friends! As we raise our own sons, I see them becoming best friends as well – what a blessing!

Siblings As Best Friends As They Mature

My oldest son is now in college. However, we are still blessed to have him living with us, as he is doing an online business finance degree at Liberty University.  Like most 20 year-olds, he is crazy busy!  Playing basketball, attending Bible studies, homeschool dances, college/career Sunday School classes, coffee shop board games, church, work, etc., keeps him busy.  However, we still are thrilled Wyatt is home most mornings and early afternoons. When Wyatt began college, I knew we were in a new chapter of life. Wyatt works on college independently, and I don’t manage his time. However, he still wanted to have a mid-morning break from work to meet with his siblings. Even though he has matured into a young man, he considers his younger brothers as best friends worthy of his time, which I love!

A Boys-Only Club Meeting

Just today, I snapped a picture of our sons having their “Boys-Only Club Meeting.” I had to be quick!  I’m not allowed to attend. Neither is my husband, though they make an exception if something must be decided. This sibling private get-together started when Wyatt started college. At about 11 AM every school day, Emmett makes homemade hot cocoa for himself and his siblings. He jazzes the cocoa up with different kinds of creamers, marshmallows, sprinkles, or whipped cream. Then, he grandly announces that is it time for the ‘private delegation to meet.’ Behind closed doors, the three siblings meet, make plans, and laugh together. I’ve attempted a few times to come in with a note that say ‘Julie Grosz has hereby been granted permission to attend the private delegation today.’ However, I’m quickly ushered out by ‘security.’ Too funny! I love it!

Successfully raising siblings to be best friends means they must have time to be together!

I’d say we are successfully raising our sons to be each other’s best friends!  Hooray! One thing I can happily check off the list.  Growing lasting friendships like this takes time though. In the hustle and bustle of life, we have to make sure we really do set aside time for them to just be together. I have to be okay stepping out of the room and letting them enjoy time alone. Like all of you, I have more than enough things to get done anyway. I don’t mind one bit when our sons meet for their “Boys-Only Club Meeting.” In fact, I’ve rather grown to love it! Oh, there will always be occasional squabbling or less-than-perfect behavior, but after all, if you can’t be yourself with your best friends, who can you be?!? I hope, given time, your children can find their way to becoming each other’s best friends too!

In Christ,

Julie