Do you have too much together time?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have too much together time?

When homeschooling your family, typically there is automatically plenty of “together time.” It is interesting to think about how constructive some of that “together time” really is. Sometimes there can be too much together time! Just as adults crave time alone, students do too. When we as teachers make everything a group activity, school can quickly fall into the category of too much together time.

Choose group activities wisely.

It is important to actually choose when to have an activity together and when to have students work alone. There definitely should be some subjects where a student is able to work alone in a quiet environment.

Be creative in finding quiet work spaces for your children.

You might have to get a bit creative in finding space for your students to have quiet work time alone. I know we had to use my bedroom for one of our older students as a work space! At the time, it was the only quiet spot in our busy household of boys!

Train your children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Often students need to be trained to make good use of their quiet work time. It is wise to keep track of your students when they are first trying to work alone. To help me keep track of my students, I sent my boys up to their quiet space with a timer. The timer was set for the length of time their work was supposed to take. I also set a corresponding timer downstairs to remind me to check on the child after the allotted time. When the timer rang, the child had to check in with me. If the child hadn’t successfully progressed, then he had to work near me for the next subject. This helped train my children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Train your children to be diligent workers.

Through this process, my boys have learned to crave a quiet work environment and to be diligent, independent workers. Try training your children to work alone, and see if they learn to desire a quiet work space too! You may find that when you balance together time and alone time your students will be more attentive during group time too.


Why homeschool? The principal, teacher, and students love your children!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Your children will always be loved by the principal, the teacher, and the other students!

In this Heart of Dakota From Our House to Yours series, we are exploring reasons why you should homeschool. When you think back to your own elementary, middle school, and high school education, do you remember a principal or a teacher who just didn’t like you? Maybe you dreaded being called upon in their class or being summoned to their office. Or, maybe a fellow student or two just seemed to have it in for you? No matter how you tried, they just didn’t like you. Maybe you dreaded being partnered with them, sitting by them, walking past them, sharing a locker with them, standing in line by them, or going to recess or gym class with them. Negative experiences such as this impact children’s learning and hamper their potential to do their best.

In contrast, what if your principal loved your children?

The ‘principal’ of many homeschool families is also known as ‘Dad.’ He is often the support system, and the behind-the-scenes driving force that makes homeschooling possible.  The ‘teacher’ of many homeschool families is also known as “Mom.’ She is often the manager of the home, making homeschooling happen in the day-to-day.  Sometimes these roles are reversed, shared, or done solo, but no matter which scenario fits your homeschooling, one thing remains the same: both principal and teacher love the children. The bond between parent and child is strong. In homeschooling, having the support of both the principal’s governing force and the teacher’s educating capabilities just helps children have a better opportunity to do their best and meet their highest potential.

What if every single one of the ‘other students’ in the class loved your children?

The ‘other students’ of many homeschool famlies are often known as ‘siblings.’ They are the other members of the ‘class,’ and they make up the team that year-after-year attends ‘school’ together. They are there to encourage one another, to support each other, and to cheer one another on as they celebrate milestones and victories. They take an interest in one another because they are truly invested in each other’s lives, not only for the present, but also for the future.  Why? Because they love each other. Forever. That is how God designed families; blood truly is thicker than water.

What if every school year, you knew your child was absolutely, completely 100% loved by the teacher?

Do you long for your child’s teacher to love your child and give him a bright future? What if you started every school year knowing your child would 100% absolutely, completely be loved by the teacher? And what if the teacher woke up every day dreaming of how she could make just your child’s future better? What if, year after year, she moved up with your child grade by grade? And she really got to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses, honing in on just what your child needed the most?  What if she hugged your child every morning? Personally read to him every day? Asked only him discussion questions to make sure all was well-understood? Well, look in the mirror… that teacher is YOU!

No one will love your children like you will.

I had 7 years of public school teaching before I homeschooled my own children. Admittedly, I cared for each of the children in my 7 classes.  I tried my best to teach them all that I could and to give them a happy, safe environment in which to learn. However, I didn’t LOVE them like I love my own children. I wake up each day thankful I can homeschool my own children. I know the ‘principal,’ and he loves them with all of his heart too. Furthermore, I know all the other ‘students,’ and they think the whole ‘class’ is great – every one, best friend material. Finally, I know the ‘teacher,’ and she loves my children to the moon and back. I know because I am her.

One of the best reasons to homeschool is your children will always be loved by the ‘principal,’ the ‘teacher,’ and the ‘other students.’ No one will love your children like you will, and that makes for a pretty amazing learning environment. So, why not start homeschooling today?

In Christ,


What did 2018 hold for you?

Teaching Tip:

What did 2018 hold for you?

As we turn our eyes toward the new year, it is also the time when we reflect back on the year that has passed. What did 2018 hold for you? Was it a year of joy, a year of struggle, a year of change, or a year of adjustment? Did you accomplish what you desired, or did you feel like you were falling short most days?

God was not taken by surprise by what your year held.

Whatever your year held, remember that God was not taken by surprise by anything that occurred. He knew what your year would hold before you ever ventured into 2018. He knows what 2019 will hold for you too! That means that whatever is ahead, you will not walk alone. For our family, this has been incredibly important to remember this past year.

Our year held joy and struggle, change and adjustment.

Our son Greyson was diagnosed with colitis in March. After difficult months culminating in a month-long stay in the hospital, he was taken to Mayo Clinic by ambulance and had his entire colon and appendix removed. More surgeries have followed and are still to come. After his most recent hospital stay, we were blessed to bring Grey home the day before Christmas Eve. He is being treated for an abscess that was a complication from the second surgery. Yet, through this all we have watched Grey grow in his faith and so have we!

The Lord has a plan for your good!

We take heart that the Lord has a plan, and His plan is for our good. My Dad’s favorite verse is one that I have had to cling to often this past year: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. So, even when we can’t see the good in what is happening, we can rest in knowing that God is working behind the scenes for our good. Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? That is our glimpse into how God works in times of great trial in ways we can’t imagine for His good and for ours.

Did we accomplish everything we desired this year?

We did not accomplish a lot of what we wanted to do this year. Yet, we have moved forward with life and with school as best we could. Our older boys have had to pitch in and be the teacher for our younger one. They delayed starting their college classes this fall, so they could be here and keep things running. Family watched over our boys when we couldn’t be here. Friends, and family, and churches, and people we’ve never met prayed without ceasing over Grey and continue to do so. Looking back on 2018, we can say our lives are richer for the united, loving body of Christ.

Faith is strengthened is times of struggle.

As we look back on 2018, we realize that the greatest gift we can give our boys is faith in the Lord. The academics are important too, but a deep and abiding faith is what matters for eternity. In times of struggle, we are teaching our boys to pull together as a family. They have learned to set aside their own wants to serve others. As a family, we have been driven to our knees to call upon our heavenly Father. Blessedly, He opens His arms and draws us to Him.

In 2019, reach for your Father in heaven.

So, as you look toward 2019, reach for your Father in heaven who loves you. Know that He will walk with you no matter what is ahead. Join with us in fervently praying that your children will come to know Him more deeply. If that is what you seek to accomplish this coming year, you will be doing what matters for eternity!



A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day

Teaching Tip

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day.

As you plan for your school year, it is so helpful to have a streamlined lunch menu. The menu should include items that are quick to prepare. Having a set lunch menu makes the day run more smoothly.

Why is it good to post your lunch menu?

I post my lunch menu on the fridge. Then, if my kiddos are ahead in their schedule they can begin to prepare what is on the menu. This is a huge timesaver for me. It is something I started when the kiddos were little. Even the littlest ones can help get lunch ready if it is easy enough!

What are some tips for designing a lunch menu?

We have a 5-day easy lunch schedule that we use all school year. This means that the kiddos get really good at following it! I try not to rotate it too much, or the ease of preparation is quickly lost.

Lunch isn’t the time to be particularly creative.

Doing a huge lunch preparation takes valuable time away from school. So, we’ve always kept to quick lunches that are easy to prepare and to clean up. At our house, we have our larger meal in the evening and that is where the variety takes place.

What might a streamlined lunch menu look like?

In the past, our menu looked like this:

Monday: Ground beef, chips, salsa, cheese, corn, mandarin oranges

Tuesday: Ham n’ swiss panini, apples with peanut butter, yogurt

Wednesday: PBJ’s, red grapes, cheese stick

Thursday: Tuna sandwiches, peas, applesauce

Friday: Rotation of frozen pizza, hot dogs, pot pies, or mac n’ cheese and pears and gogurt

What might a quick menu with some dietary restrictions look like?

Our current menu reflects the changing needs at our house to grain-free, gluten-free, low dairy, low sugar. So, this unfortunately takes a bit more time as you can see below. Without these restrictions, your menu will be much quicker to prepare!
Monday: Tuna with lettuce salad, mandarin oranges, cut up cheddar cheese

Tuesday: Rotisserie chicken, cut up apples, green bean steamer

Wednesday: Hamburger patties with cheese, salad with dressing, pears, baby carrots

Thursday: Salmon patties, cooked peas, peaches

Friday: Applegate Farms hot dogs, cooked crinkle cut carrots, pineapple chunks, cut up Havarti cheese

Try streamlining your lunch menu.

Consider having a streamlined, standard lunch menu at your house. Find one that works for you! Practice this summer. Then, see how much it helps during the school year!


The way you handle breakfast sets the tone for your day

Why are you homeschooling?

A Heart of Dakota Life

Why are you homeschooling?

The answer to this question is so important to know, as it acts as a compass for our homeschooling. Knowing why we are homeschooling helps us find successes big and small in our school days. It helps us know when we’re accomplishing what we hope to accomplish. Likewise, it helps us make decisions better. We can go back to why we are homeschooling and see what decision best fits within that framework of goals. Using Heart of Dakota for homeschooling has helped me stay true to our reasons for homeschooling. So, here are my reasons for homeschooling, in no particular order of importance (other than #1 is #1)…

We want the Lord to be an integral part of our homeschooling!

He is not an extra, not a maybe, not an option, not a once in awhile – but the center of what we are learning.

Our homeschooling should be a place we can share our personal relationship with the Lord, often.

We want our homeschooling to help open the door for discussions about faith and Godly character qualities we desire in ourselves as well as our children. Likewise, we want to share the Good News of the Lord as much as possible in our homeschooling, as well as have ample Bibles, devotionals, Bible studies, praise music to adequately do so.

We want the atmosphere for our homeschooling to be the one we create within our own home.

This atmosphere should be one of important purpose, delight in learning, and a cheerful attitude toward our work in school together.

We want me to be the one who is responsible for the teaching of our children.

On the rare occasion I am unable to do this, we want a family member to be the teacher. We also want this person to teach within our own home, if at all possible.

We want to make homeschooling a priority by always having enough time for me to homeschool at home each day.

This means saying ‘no’ to other things sometimes, which is alright!  It also means carving out enough time to truly be able to homeschool each day by making my routine/schedule reflect that.

We want each of our children’s homeschooling work each year to be well-fitted to their individual needs.

Each child should be able to do what is asked of him each year confidently and successfully.

We want our children to encourage each other in their homeschooling.

Our family thinks time is always well spent listening to the stories/poems/narrations someone has written, clapping for someone’s performance, playing someone’s history project game, complimenting someone’s artwork, enjoying someone’s reading project, complimenting someone’s notebooking, asking questions about someone’s newly found knowledge in history/science/etc.

We want to homeschool our children all the way through high school, Lord willing.

Furthermore, we want to help them with their academic choices after high school, praying the Lord will provide guidance in this.

We want homeschooling to be a part of our life, not the whole of it.

We want to keep our homeschooling time focused and uninterrupted. This is important so we finish in a timely fashion. That way, I have time left in the day for personal interests and family time with my husband.

We want our own family and extended family to provide the socialization of our children as much as possible.

We want to take full responsibility for helping our children to learn good socialization skills. To do this, we need to choose to live near family. We also need to spend significant time with each other and with family members of all ages.

We want to encourage our children to be each other’s friends, as well as to encourage friendships among cousins.

To do this, we want to provide ample opportunity for them to spend time with us as well as to spend time together their cousins.

We want our homeschooling to be filled with excellent living books.

Using excellent literature in as many subject areas as possible keeps the love of learning strong all the way through high school.

We want hands-on learning to be a daily part of our homeschooling.

Having three sons, hands-on learning is especially important.

We want our homeschooling to gradually lead our children to successful independence within learning.

This helps our children be successful with secondary and post-secondary learning as well.

We want our homeschooling to prepare our sons to be strong providers for their future families.

Because of this, solid academics and training in good independent work habits is a must.


I made this list back in 2011! When my husband and I are faced with decisions big and small, we consider why we are homeschooling, and we try to make the best decision we can based on that.  Your list might be very different from this list, and that’s just fine!  There is no one right list.  As you get ready for your coming homeschool year and must make decisions big and small, consider making your own list. Second to prayer, it’s one of the best ways to make a clear decision.  I pray for us homeschool moms that the Lord will help us along our journey of homeschooling, as we all know it is not always easy. May we find the joy in knowing why we are homeschooling, and in doing what we need to do each day to make this happen!


In Christ,