It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the ‘child’s’ level.

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“By the saying, EDUCATION IS AN ATMOSPHERE, it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment,’ especially adapted and prepared; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the ‘child’s’ level.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 5, preface pp. 5-6)

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.


How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Teaching Tip:

How do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises?

Life is full of unexpected surprises! Some of these surprises are wonderful and others are not. There can be unexpected job changes, financial situations, moves, pregnancies, illnesses, issues with children, educational decisions, and relationship challenges. In our 20 years of homeschooling, we have dealt with every one of these surprises. So, how do you deal with life’s unexpected surprises? Today’s teaching tip will share a way to do just that!

What unexpected surprises are you facing today?

As we continue to be in and out of the hospital with our son Greyson, we never know what our day might hold. Will we be packing in a hurry to rush out the door? Will we be wondering how many days we will be gone? Will we be home but waiting on doctors to call? Will we be able to teach our boys for the day? Or, will we be calling on others to help as we make the 4 hour drive to the hospital? In the midst of these uncertain days, my sister gave me some wonderful advice from a devotional she’d read! She said, “Trust God with the future and plan for the day.”

Trust God with the future.

I must admit that I get overwhelmed when I try to look too far ahead these days. Yet, God is not overwhelmed! He knows what the future holds. So, when I trust God with the future, my burden is lighter. When I stop considering all of the possibilities ahead and just plan for the day, I do much better.

Plan for just one day.

Blessedly, the Heart of Dakota plans are written to show just one day. When I focus on doing one day at a time, I feel more able to do what the day holds. When someone else has to jump in and teach, it is easier for that person to focus on one day too. For the child who suddenly has a different teacher than expected, it is easier to think about only one day.

What can you do when you are facing an unexpected surprise?

So, when you are facing an unexpected surprise, just work on getting through that one day. Try to think of school as a series of single days. After all the Bible promises God will give us what we need for the day. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by one of life’s unexpected surprises… remember to trust God with the future and plan for the day.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, 

Because his compassions fail not.  

They are new every morning; 

Great is Your faithfulness. 

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. 

“Therefore, I hope in Him!” – Lamentations 3:22-24




Teaching Tip: Do you partner with your child?

Teaching Tip:

Do you partner with your child?

One of your roles as a teacher is to partner with your child in his/her education. So, what happens when your child is running behind, or is frustrated, or has gotten a late start? It is up to you to determine how this affects the day. When this happens at our house, I have two choices. I can either be very upset, or I can partner with my child. If I choose to be very upset, I am setting a mood of frustration for the day. If I choose to partner with my child, there is a sense of relief. Through the years I have learned that partnering with my kids is the better plan of action!

What does partnering with your child mean?

Partnering means that I jump in and do whatever it takes to get my child back on track. I am not a skipper by nature, simply because I know everything in the guide has a purpose. So, instead of skipping things, I look for ways to complete the assignments while allowing the child to catch up.

What are some ways to partner with your child?

Partnering with my child may mean I do the grammar lesson orally, rather than having the child write part on paper. Or, it may mean that I sit right beside the child for a subject he is supposed to do on his own. In this way, I can quickly help him move through that subject. Or, maybe I get out needed books or get everything ready for the next few subjects. This minimizes time lost getting books out or finding the correct page. It could be that I just clear and correct, putting everything away to minimize clutter.

To save time, I could allow a child to read on his/her own something I was meant to read. Or, I might have a child do just the odds or evens in math to catch-up there. Maybe I have my child save a subject to do in the evening. Or, I might have a child orally narrate into his iPod or narrate to a sibling instead of to me. Perhaps, we might have the poetry discussion during lunch while we eat. Or, I might write my child’s responses in the Student Book for Drawn into the Heart of Reading as he dictates them. These are all ways you can creatively jump in and help your kiddos get their day back on track.

Partnering with your child often saves the day!

Partnering together often saves the day! It shows your child that you are on this journey together. So, the next time something derails your day, don’t let it dictate your day. Instead, partner with your child to take the day back!


Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Teaching Tip: 

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together?

Do you have trouble getting the evening meal together, when school and laundry seem to take up much of the day? I have trouble if I don’t have a plan in place for getting the evening meal on the table. So, here is my plan for avoiding the “what shall we have for dinner” panic!

Once a week, make a list of evening meals for each day of the upcoming week.

On Friday, I make a list of evening meals for the week. I list the days of the week on a sticky note. Then, I list the meal including side dishes for each day. I make the list in pencil, so I can change the day for the meal if needed. I always plan one easy meal my hubby or older sons can make for nights when I might be gone. It works best to make the list of meals for the week prior to making the grocery list.

Place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to a kitchen cabinet.

I place all needed recipes for the week in an envelope attached to my kitchen cabinet. This way, I can easily refer to my recipes to see what to add to my grocery list. I also have easy access to the needed recipes as I am cooking or baking. As the week progresses, I love knowing that I have the ingredients for what I am planning to make! Even though it takes me a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, it is worth it to get organized for the week.

Place the list of meals on the refrigerator door.

I place the note with the list of meals for the week on the refrigerator door. This makes it easy for me to see what I am making each day. My boys also can easily see what is for dinner…which they love! This quick reference also helps me see what I could prepare ahead for the evening meal.

Lunch time is a great time to do a little dinner preparation.

My kiddos head outside for their recess after lunch. I find this to be a great time to get a bit of my dinner prep underway. If the evening meal has a crock pot part, I put it in during this time. If it isn’t a crock pot type meal, I might scrub potatoes or cut up needed veggies or fruit. Or, I might put ingredients in my bread maker or bake a batch of muffins during this time. I just make sure that the cooking prep doesn’t exceed my kiddos recess time. Otherwise, I find it hard to return to teaching after recess. By getting a bit of dinner prep out of the way, I have an easier time when the evening meal arrives.

Try planning ahead for a week and see what you think!

Planning ahead has become essential for me in feeding our family. As our 4 boys are growing, they are really getting to be big eaters! This makes the evening meal an important one in their eyes. Try planning ahead for a week and see if it helps you too!


A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day