Set aside a balanced amount of time to teach to simplify your homeschooling!

A Heart of Dakota Life

#4 – Set Aside A Balanced Amount of Time to Teach

Using Heart of Dakota is already a wonderful way you can simplify and love your homeschool life! However, it is often the everyday things that can make or break our homeschooling success, especially long-term. In this “A Heart of Dakota Life” series, we’re exploring ways to simplify and love our homeschool life. We’ve learned the importance of not ‘going it alone,’ of enlisting help, and of enjoying the comfort of our home.  This brings us to our fourth way to simplify and love our homeschool life, and that is to make sure to set aside a balanced amount of time to teach.

Homeschooling won’t just happen – we have to make time for it!

Setting aside time to teach may seem like such an obvious thing to do to successfully homeschool. However, since we can homeschool anytime, it is tempting to think we don’t really need to set aside time to make it happen.  We have all day, all week, all year to homeschool, so what’s the big deal about mindfully setting aside time to teach? Well, the big deal is homeschooling won’t just happen. In fact, days go by faster than you think, weeks quicker than you can blink, and – before you know it – yet another year has passed.

Be informed about how much time you need to be able to teach!

Before you can set aside time to teach, it helps to know how much time you need to set aside. Heart of Dakota makes that easy, as Carrie writes plans in a very consistent way. Each guide has daily plans that take relatively the same amount of time each day. Likewise, each type of assignment takes about the same amount of time to do. Furthermore, Carrie has even given suggested time allotments for each box of plans on this blog and on our message board. Finally, starting with Preparing Hearts, Carrie notes whether assignments are “T” teacher-directed, “S” semi-independent, or “I” independent. Heart of Dakota is complete, so you don’t really need to add anything to it. However, if you are adding things to HOD that require teaching, of course you’ll want to plan for more time to teach. The same holds true if you are substituting things that require more teaching.

Avoid multi-tasking, media monitoring, and mega expectations!

To truly enjoy your teaching in homeschooling, it is important to be as focused as possible when you are teaching. Women are wonderful at multi-tasking! I often dry my hair with one hand while putting on my makeup with the other hand while marching in place to try to hit my steps’ goal on my Fitbit. I used to employ this strategy while teaching. I’d fold laundry while I listened to an oral narration, make lunch while touting a book in another hand and reading aloud, even brush my teeth while listening to my children say their Bible verses. I don’t recommend this. Multi-tasking is no friend to teaching well. Likewise, monitoring my media (like email, FB, voicemail) during teaching isn’t helpful. Finally, having mega expectations for my children to turn out 100% perfect work steals my joy and just adds time to my teaching.

The Flip Side – Planning too much time to teach!

I’ve met homeschool moms who are teaching all day, all week, and sometimes even all year! They often are weary, stressed, and ready to put their children in public school. Their husbands feel the same. Their children feel the same. Homeschooling is meant to be a part of our lives, not all of it.  I love coffee, and lots of it, but at 1 PM, no matter what, I’m all done drinking coffee. If all I drank was coffee, I’d actually begin to dislike it. Likewise, planning too much time to teach can make both parents and children begin to dislike homeschooling. Maintaining a balance in life is important.  There is a point in which we call it ‘good enough’ and move on to other interests in life.

Take Action

How do you feel about the amount of time you are teaching each of your children right now? Are you frazzled because you don’t have enough time to teach? If so, what can you take off your plate to make more time? Are you attending too many activities? Consider dropping some and enjoying fewer activities more fully. Are you checking your FB every minute or two? Consider docking your phone and setting a few times to check it more mindfully. Are you getting to bed too late binge watching Netflix? Consider enjoying one episode and getting to bed earlier so you can get up to teach on time. Are you volunteering for too many things? Consider volunteering for one thing and doing it more wholeheartedly. Are you serving perfectly healthy meals all made from scratch? Consider adding in a few ready-made quick-to-the-table meals.

Or, on the flip side, are you weary because all you do is teach? If so, what can you take off your plate to make more time for things other than teaching? For example, are you doing 2 spelling programs because your child is a poor speller? Consider choosing one and doing it well. Are you having your children write their narrations twice, so they are perfect on their notebooking pages? Consider having them write them once in pencil; then hop in and help them quickly fix any errors. Are you teaching multiple classes at a co-op and finding you have no time to teach at home? Consider teaching one class only, or take a break from co-op for awhile. Are you hovering over your older children as they do their independent work? Consider walking away and checking back with them at a set time. Are you reading aloud books your children are assigned to read independently? Consider only reading aloud the books assigned to be, and take your time to truly enjoy the reading!

Mindfully planning when you will teach can keep homeschooling in balance with the rest of your life! 

One of the best ways to simplify and love our homeschooling is to mindfully plan when we will teach. This can keep homeschooling in balance with the rest of our life. If you find you are off balance, why not take some real time to fix it? Don’t be too hard on yourself. None of us are perfect. And try not to over-correct! You’ll just throw your teaching off-balance in the other direction. Rather shoot for the middle and make what progress toward balance you can each day. Go forward in confidence, rather than wistfully looking back. Life will never be perfect, and we will never be perfect at keeping everything in balance. But, when it comes to homeschooling, taking time to truly plan for teaching – in as balanced of a way as possible – is one of the best ways to simplify and love our homeschooling life!

In Christ,



Simplify and Love Your Homeschool Life by Enlisting Help

A Heart of Dakota Life

Simplify (and Love) Your Homeschool Life by Enlisting Help

Using Heart of Dakota is already a great way to enlist help to simplify and love your homeschool life! However, as a homeschool mom, you have probably already discovered, homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. It takes real dedication, hard work, and a team effort. In the last “A Heart of Dakota Life” post we learned how important it is that we #1: Don’t Go It Alone! We can do this by first turning to the Lord as our source of strength.  This week, we continue with our second way to simplify and love our homeschool life by enlisting help from those around us!

#2 – Help Is All Around You

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and the work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.”  – Martin Luther

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms.  – 1 Peter 4:10

What we do in our house as homeschool moms can sometimes feel insignificant. Loads of laundry, dirty dishes, meal after meal to make, and in the middle of it all – homeschooling to accomplish. If we are not careful, we can begin to think of our position as being lowly. This is simply not true!  What we do in our house is worth so much! Our position and our work are sacred, and as such, pleasing to God. This is not because of the position we hold, but on account of the obedience from which our work flows. When we choose to homeschool our children in a Christian way, we are serving the Lord.

Though homeschooling is definitely a daunting task, the Lord did give us help! Each person in our family has gifts that God gave to be used to serve. Encouraging each member of our family to be faithful stewards of these gifts can show us, help is truly all around!

What are you doing that someone else could do?

Think of how many tasks you do each day as a homeschool mom!  If you were to write down every little thing you did each day, the list would be quite long, I am sure. One day when I was feeling overwhelmed I did just that. I pulled out a piece of paper and set it on the counter. Every time I did something, I wrote it down. Yes. My day went long with all that writing, but at the end of the day, I realized how many things I was doing that someone else could just as easily do. By trying to do everything, I was not letting my family do hardly anything. One person doing all of the serving all of the time doesn’t work. It creates one exhausted, somewhat bitter person serving, and the rest of the people not learning to serve – even if they want to.

Take inventory of the help.

So, I encourage you to set a piece of paper out on your counter and jot down all you are doing throughout the day. This doesn’t have to be an ‘everything every day’ list. Just do it fairly quickly, mindfully throughout one day – I want you to get to the ‘help’ fairly quickly!!!  Once you have made your list, it is time to take inventory of the help! One easy way to do this is to begin by circling the tasks only you can do. Be careful here! Just because you can do it better, it doesn’t mean you are the only one who can do the task. Yes, you probably are the neatest at folding washcloths. However, folding the washcloths is something even small children can do. So, don’t circle that one as a ‘mom only’ task.

Divvy tasks by having the youngest child who can do the task do it.

Once you have circled the tasks only you can truly do, look at the remaining tasks with your youngest child in mind (not including the baby). Put your youngest child’s name next to every task he/she can do. Then, move on to your next oldest child and do the same. Continue until you are out of children. This way, you can begin to divvy out tasks by having the youngest child who can do the task do it.

Fine tune your list by considering gifts, talents, and preferred ways to serve.

Finally, fine tune your list by considering each person’s gifts, talents, and preferred ways to serve.  Keep in mind there are tasks no one may love. That’s ok – that’s part of serving, and they still have to be done. However, surprisingly, a task one person dislikes may be another person’s preferred way to serve. For example, my oldest son loves all things outdoors. My middle son does not. So, my oldest son enjoys scooping the snow, getting the mail, and feeding our pets. My middle son, on the contrary, prefers making our smoothies, bringing me coffee, and consolidating the trash. Our youngest son loves listening to music. So, he starts our Christian music, unloads the dishwasher, and sets the table. These are just examples of how our children are serving in our home in the morning.

Take Action

So, today, why not set out a piece of paper and jot down what you are doing? Why not be mindful of you serving well by doing only the heavy thinking, grown up, tougher tasks as a homeschool mom no one else but you can do? Why not begin to encourage your children to serve in your home? Even if you just assign and teach each child one or two tasks – those are one or two tasks multiplied by however many children you have that you won’t be doing anymore! Serve, but serve wisely, and encourage your children to do the same by mindfully planning for ways for each person to serve. Help is all around you! Enlist it and get to enjoying a simpler, happier homeschool life!

In Christ,


P. S. To find out more about Heart of Dakota in general, click here!