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!


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!


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,