Why homeschool? Less screen time, more book time!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool?  Less screen time, more book time!

One of the biggest battles we will fight for our children in this day and age is too much screen time. We see children using smartphones or tablets, playing video games, working on computers, watching television, etc., day in, day out. As parents, the allure of less expensive books, easily and readily available on media devices is strong. We see brick and mortar schools facing this same allure of a lower budget when choosing media resources. Real books cost more money, plain and simple. We see the results of the bottom dollar. More often than not, schools are investing in media devices rather than books. I believe Charlotte Mason would be appalled.

If all of our children’s ‘books’ are digital, what does the rest of their day look like?

If our children spend all day on media devices for the reading of books or literature, what does the rest of their day look like? This is a battle. We all know too much screen time is not good – it’s not good for us as adults. It is all the more not good for our children, whose brains and bodies are still developing. Too much screen time has been linked to numerous harmful side effects such as obesity, sleep deprivation, vision problems, problems in school, loss of social skills, and increased aggression. As parents, we know our children will have future careers that require knowledge and expertise in communicating and working with media. However, we also see the detriments of them having way too much screen time. What is a parent to do?

In homeschooling, we can choose printed books and resources as the primary source of education materials.

In homeschooling, we have the opportunity to choose printed books and resources as the primary source of our education materials. Simply by choosing printed resources, we can decrease our children’s daily screen time. We can also choose to use media resources only when they truly are the best choice. Furthermore, we can choose these resources in a more controlled and easily monitored way, so our children don’t fall victim to less than desirable websites or links.

In Heart of Dakota, children learn to love to read real books, while still learning to use media resources in a balanced, monitored way.

In Heart of Dakota, we have children use audio CDs, instructional DVDs, online encyclopedias, and interactive websites. However, these are used in a very balanced, monitored sort of way that is cognizant of children’s age and maturity. Whenever possible, real books are used and options are given. Children are encouraged to use print materials, to often write instead of type, and to respond to what they are reading with all types of assessments, including hands-on. So when you are weary as a parent at the end of your homeschool day and your child wants to watch a movie, play a short online game, watch a television show, chat with someone online, or hop on the computer, you can say ‘yes’ to what you are comfortable with, knowing at least for the rest of their day, they weren’t doing the exact same thing.

In Christ,


Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

A Heart of Dakota Life

Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

There are only 24 hours in a day, and there are only 7 days in a week. How do you spend your time? Each day has tasks we must do, but each day also has open time to do with it as we choose. We might not think of our days this way, but much time truly is at our discretion. Blessedly, we don’t all have to spend our time the same way. God did not design us all to be exactly alike. He made us each unique, with different interests, gifts, talents, and purposes. One key to unlocking the joy and peace that can simplify your life is to know what drains you and what fills you up.

What drains you?

I am not a night owl. As the day turns to night, I grow more and more weary. I used to try to work, homeschool, or exercise at night. But it simply drains me! I go to bed most nights by 10 PM, and I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ I dislike overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes, and unmade beds. The sight of them drains me. So, we clean up the best we can after supper, but first thing in the morning, we take out the trash, unload the dishwasher/wash any big pans in the sink, and make our beds. Another drain avoided. Too many errands, appointments, or activities in the day drain me. So, I do errands on Saturdays. I schedule only one appointment a week if possible. I also limit our activities during the morning and early afternoon, so we are home to homeschool. In doing so, I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ What drains you? How can you avoid your ‘drains?’

What fills you up?

I love coffee, first thing in the morning and lots of it. I’ve given up pop, sugary snacks, and too many carbs, but plain black coffee I will not give up. It simply fills me up too much! I love doing my devotion first thing in the morning all by myself. Right after my devotions, I love spending 1:1 time with each of my children. In our pajamas, with my steaming coffee, I meet first with Wyatt, then Emmett, then Riley. We discuss their Heart of Dakota Bible, any work they’ve done, and the day ahead. Hot bubble baths, Christian praise music, a new recipe to try, a date with my husband, a long run in the country, a pretty sunrise, family meals, hugs, a roaring fireplace, and my list of what fills me up goes on. What fills you up? How can you make time for these?

What drains one person may fill another person up!

Many people have lovely gardens. They enjoy spending hours tending to it. I love to cook, so I thought I’d love to garden. One day as I was enjoying my morning coffee, my morning devotion reiterated we are all unique with different God-given purposes. The words ‘stop doing what you are not good at’ jumped out on the page at me. I began to laugh out loud, and I have a feeling God was laughing with me. I knew exactly what I needed to stop doing: gardening. Truly, I am not gifted at it. Anything that grew in that garden was a gift from God. In fact, all we kept were the raspberries. They grow completely on their own. Are you finding yourself drained by doing something that fills someone else up? Maybe it’s time to stop.

What does this have to do with simplifying and loving your homeschooling?

If you fill your time with things that drain you, you will not have much peace, joy, and contentment to bring to your home and your homeschooling. Taking time to do what fills you up helps you in turn be a happier, more joyful, less stressed, more patient homeschool teacher and mom. Our children should not only be aware of what drains us as moms. They should also be aware of what fills us up. My children often bring me a cup of coffee, give me hug, turn on the fireplace for our Storytime reading, start my favorite Christian praise song, show me a pretty sunrise, or ask me all about a new recipe I made. They know what fills me up, and they like me better ‘filled up’ than ‘drained.’ I like that me better too.

Simplify and love your homeschool life by eliminating ‘drains’ and adding things that ‘fill you up!’

Short-tempered, cranky, rude mothers don’t produce happy, peaceful homes or children. Do yourself, your children, and your husband a favor, and eliminate the ‘drains’ you can. Then, plan some things each day that fill you up. There’s only one you, so don’t try to be someone else. Just because someone else enjoys tending a lovely garden, that doesn’t mean you too were born to be a gardener. We don’t have to be good at everything.  But we do have to be responsible for how we behave. Take real time to stop your ‘drains’ and plan for simple daily ways to ‘fill you up.’  I bet you will love the new you, and your children and husband will too!

In Christ,


World Geography for Open-and-Go, or Revival to Revolution for Best Placement?

Dear Carrie

Should my son do World Geography to keep it open and go, even though he places best in Revival to Revolution?

I’m a mother of 7 children. We use Heart of Dakota with all of our children. We tried some different things with our 13 year old son, and we’re so glad to be back! My son is finishing up Resurrection to Reformation. He didn’t do the extensions.  He’s using Revival to Revolution’s physical science.  We didn’t do RTR’s IEW writing. (Failure on my part!) In truth, he hasn’t had much formal writing. He will be 14 in August. This next year will be his freshman year, and I’d like him to use Revival to Revolution. I love HOD’s open and go feature. When I consider the things we’ll need to modify, I start to panic that it won’t get done. So, my question is, should my son do World Geography, even though he places best in Revival to Revolution, so we could keep the open and go aspect?


“Ms. Choose Between Open-and-Go World Geography or Better Placement Revival to Revolution”

Dear “Ms. Choose Between Open-and-Go World Geography or Better Placement Revival to Revolution,”

If you are finding RTR to be a good fit for your son, then it may be wise to move into Revival to Revolution for his 9th grade year. Since he hasn’t had much in the way of formal writing instruction or formal literature instruction, I’d lean toward doing RevtoRev for those areas along with the DITHOR Level 7/8 Book Pack. However, from what you’ve shared thus far, a more independent type program may be needed in those areas for the time being. With that in mind, you could definitely borrow the literature and writing from the World Geography guide to use with RevtoRev. Both may be a challenge, but they would be more independent and be on grade level for high school.

I would do either the BJU Literature or the novels with DITHOR 6/7/8.

If the literature looked too overwhelming in the World Geography guide, you could potentially do just the BJU lit. text without the novels or do just the novels with DITHOR 6/7/8 without the BJU lit. text. Either option would downsize how heavy the literature is but still keep your son moving forward in this needed area.

I would do R & S English 5 all year to cover his bases well and follow up with R & S English 6.

For grammar, I would do English 5 all in one year as planned in RevtoRev. English 5 is a key year in Rod and Staff and will cover his bases well in this area. Even if you stall out and need to take more than one year to do English 5, it is good to keep going on through it until you finish it. It is a terrific level of Rod and Staff. We will definitely want to follow-up with English 6 after that!

I would omit Storytime and do the Extensions.

You can omit the Storytime and do the Extension books instead in RevtoRev for high school. If the reading in the Extension Pack looks too heavy, he could instead do the Storytime books rather than the Extension package. He could look at both sets to see which appeals more.

I would consider doing IPC from World Geography for science.

For science, since you have already done the science in RevtoRev this year, you could consider doing the IPC from the World Geography guide for science as well. This would be a good first year of high school science for your son. If he is headed toward a science degree, he should follow the science path of the high school guides. He could consider doing Physics instead of the Astronomy and Geology for his senior year if desired. But, you will know much more about his interests for college once you get to his senior year.

I would address government later in his junior or senior year.

You could hold off on doing Government for now, as getting formal literature and writing in will be much more important for his first year of high school. If he is college-bound we have to make the lit/comp/grammar a primary focus this year. We can always address the government part later, adding it in his junior or senior year.

I would add Spanish as a foreign language credit.

I would also consider adding the Spanish from World Geography to his day to get him started on needed foreign language. Getting Started with Spanish is short and sweet and an easy way to begin that credit.

So, his credits would be as follows:

U.S. History I (1 full credit)
Fundamentals of Literature/Composition (1 full credit)
Integrated Physics and Chemistry with Lab (1 full credit with lab)
Math (1 full credit Algebra I hopefully)
Spanish I (1/2 credit)
Bible (1/2 credit – if you add additional free time Bible reading to the RevtoRev plans or sub this out with World Geography’s Bible. The World Geography Bible is worth 1 credit but will be quite a bit more intensive. If he liked the Bible in RTR, I would probably stay with the Bible as written in Rev2Rev.)
Fine Arts: Music Appreciation (1/2 credit)



Be the timely talented teacher by day, instead of the harried homework helper by night!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Be the timely talented teacher by day, instead of the harried homework helper by night!

At Heart of Dakota, I get the pleasure of helping many moms on the phone. If moms are considering taking their children out of public school, one topic never fails to come up.  What is that hot topic, you might ask? It is homework. Piles and piles of homework. Most brick and mortar schools require teachers to assign homework, whether they want to or not. No matter how good the intentions are of homework, there is often a breakdown in communication. Somewhere between school and home, something gets lost. Children leave something at school they needed to take home for homework. Parents are unsure of how to help their child complete their homework. Children forget to bring their homework back, or parents forget to send it. Teachers can’t find time to correct the homework, or they just can’t find the homework at all.

When you are not the teacher, you are the harried homework helper by night!

Moms who are frustrated with homework have good reason to be. They are still in the role of teaching their children, but the conditions are less than ideal. Children don’t want to do homework. They are tired after doing school all day. Parents don’t want to do homework. They are tired at the end of their day too. Children and parents alike often don’t understand the homework, and no one is there to help. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. Come on!  We have to finish your homework! Hurry! And this is when moms become the harried homework helpers by night.

In homeschooling, you can teach your child in a more timely fashion by day!

In contrast, in homeschooling you can teach your child during the day. You can choose a time when you are at your best. Likewise, you can choose a time when your children are at their best. You can also choose what you will teach, how you will teach it, and what your children will do. These are much more ideal conditions under which to be the teacher!  Voila!  By homeschooling you have in one fell swoop changed from the harried homework helper by night, to the timely talented teacher by day! Recognize you are teaching anyway if you are helping your children with homework at night and on the weekends. Why not trade in your harried homework helper identity for a timely talented teacher identity, and start homeschooling today?!?

In Christ,