We’re missionaries, and we need help deciding when to homeschool!

Dear Carrie

Missionaries Needing Help on Deciding When to Homeschool

I have 5 kids, and we’re missionaries in Indonesia. We’ve used Heart of Dakota (HOD) for two years. This year, my oldest two are being taught at our missionary school. I convinced the missionary school to use HOD, and they love it! Next year mid-June, I’ll be homeschooling all my kids again (then in 7th, 6th, 4th, and two in 1st). My older two place in Revival to Revolution. The fourth grader places in Preparing, and my 1st graders place in Beyond. The older two are largely independent, which really helps! However, we’re going to be on furlough for three months, traveling all of September, settled for October, and traveling all of November. Maybe I could homeschool for the summer months, and the months we aren’t on the road? Then, I could take off the months we are on the road? What do you think would be best?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help This Missionary with Choosing When to Homeschool”

Dear “Ms. Please Help This Missionary with Choosing When to Homeschool,”

We feel so blessed to have many missionaries using Heart of Dakota, and I’d be glad to answer your question! I would probably lean toward taking the months off that you are traveling, which sounds like all of September and all of November. I would look at doing school during October, which sounds like it will be the month you will be more settled. With that in mind, I would look toward schooling in the summer for two months to make up for having all of September and all of November off. Hopefully, this would still allow you to take at least a month off in the summer.

If needed during the summer, you could go half-speed with the 1st grade twins (doing the left side of the guide one day and right side the next, or any combination you felt would work well). You could actually just keep the twins at half-speed for as long as needed during the year too (since they will be on the younger age range of Beyond). This would allow you more time to work with your Preparing and Revival to Revolution kiddos to get them started and progressing well.

Hopefully, this will help a bit as you ponder your scheduling options as missionaries. I just want to encourage you that we have had other missionaries use this same kind of scheduling and truly enjoy it! Sometimes it just helps to talk options through with others to find the one that will work well for you.

Blessings,
Carrie

A “Thank You” from a Mom with Six Kids Happily Using Heart of Dakota!

Dear Carrie

Just a “Thank You” for Carrie from a Mom with Six Kids Happily Using Heart of Dakota!

I am a homeschool mom currently using Heart of Dakota with six of my eight beautiful children. (My oldest two children are now in college.) I have been homeschooling for 11 years and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Last year I discovered Charlotte Mason’s philosophies after asking the Lord what plans He had for our family in the realm of homeschooling. This is what led our family to using Heart of Dakota! I am happy to say, with Heart of Dakota, we have had our best school year to date. All of my children are really enjoying the learning process, instead of just crossing things off their lists. Thank you, Carrie!

Here are my Heart of Dakota levels:

  • 12 year-old son doing Revival to Revolution
  • 10 year-old daughter doing Creation to Christ
  • 7 and 8 year-old kiddos doing Bigger Hearts for His Glory
  • 5 year-old doing Little Hearts for His Glory, half-speed Learning Through History side with full-speed Learning the Basics side
  • 1 year-old ‘helping’
A Little About My Background Prior to Finding Heart of Dakota

Last school year, I felt the Lord stirring me to revisit what I was doing with our children because I was spending LOTS of time trying to pull things together for each of them. At this point the Lord drew my attention to Heart of Dakota. I had heard of it over the years, but it wasn’t until more recently that I discovered it was based on Charlotte Mason’s philosophies.

After much prayer and many discussions with my husband we have switched our kiddos over to Heart of Dakota, and we are enthusiastically using four guides with great joy. I can’t express the deep satisfaction that I feel at really knowing that all the details are covered and in such a way that my children are growing in their love for the Lord! Their writing skills are being stretched, and they are learning to work independently and appreciate a job well done. I know that Heart of Dakota is an answer to prayer for our family. I have happily taught school over the past 11 years, but each day now holds a depth of delight for me that I cannot describe.

So, I guess this isn’t really a “Dear Carrie” question, but more of a thank you! Thank you, Carrie, for obediently doing what the Lord has called you to do, so that I can walk out well what is mine to carry!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Just a Thank You for Carrie from a Mom with Six Kiddos Happily Using Heart of Dakota”

Dear “Ms. Just a Thank You for Carrie from a Mom with Six Kiddos Happily Using Heart of Dakota,”

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your joy with us! I was so blessed by your post, and I know it will bless many other readers. For much of our homeschool journey, we ran four guides here too with our four kiddos (as mine are too far apart age-wise to combine well). We too have discovered that it is actually easier to have our kiddos each place where they fit best (even if that means running multiple guides). With my schedule of writing, planning, and keeping up with the day-to-day business of Heart of Dakota; it’s important that my time teaching my own kiddos be well-planned and fruitful. We find the peace of knowing everything is covered in using the Heart of Dakota guides with our own four sons as well.

Each family is different in what works well! It is wonderful that the option to combine or separate your kiddos as needed is available through Heart of Dakota. Thank you for sharing your joy with us here!

Blessings,
Carrie

A Christian Education… A Way of Life

From Our House to Yours

A Christian Education… A Way of Life

I am so thankful our children are receiving a Christian education! Heart of Dakota puts Christ front and center, each and every day we homeschool. Bible Study and Bible Quiet Time are special Christ-centered parts of Heart of Dakota’s plans that I love and appreciate so much. However, Heart of Dakota’s Christian education doesn’t stop there! Literally, every part of our day is Christ-connected. I especially love finding Christ in less than normal places. Like where, you ask? Well, how about in British Literature?

A Christian Education in British Literature: The War for Mansoul

Riley and I find Christ every day in his British Literature plans. We have simply had the best discussions thanks to his British Literature plans this year! Right now, Riley is reading The War for Mansoul. This book is an allegory of the Christian’s battle with spiritual warfare. Riley and I are loving his trip through this book!

The British Literature plans help Riley make biblical connections to  what he is reading. They set the stage with the Introduction. Then, in the Read and Annotate section. Riley has a few noted things to search for as he reads, but largely he can just enjoy the book, annotating what stands out to him personally as he goes. Next comes the Common Place Book entry, where Riley chooses a passage that stood out to him to copy from his reading. Then, he moves on to Reflect, which has step-by-step leading questions and Scriptures to guide him through the creation of his literature journal entry. Finally, and this is my FAVORITE part, we go through each part of this together! I LOVE this so much! We have had the very best discussions! This Christian Education benefits me as much as my son! What a great way of life!

A Christian Education in Composition: Write with the Best Vol. II

Emmett and I found Christ in his Write with the Best plans this week. We had to choose a magazine article for Emmett to use as a source. Emmett chose an article from a Christian magazine I enjoy. I love that he just went to our reading basket, found a Christian magazine, and thumbed through to find an article that is saturated in Christ! Emmett and I are loving his trip through this magazine article!

The Write with the Best plans helped Emmett first make an outline of the article. Then, they had Emmett take notes on the article. He could take notes in phrases or in sentences. When he chose to take notes in sentences, I knew he was inspired! Sometimes Emmett will ask how many sentences he has to write – do you ever hear that question? He did not this time. That’s when I knew he was hooked!

He wrote long sentences, taking care to word them just so. This article about God loving variety, about God creating us each to be individually special yet all be created in His own image struck a chord with Emmett. The part about not comparing ourselves to others seemed especially striking to him. Being a teenager isn’t easy. We are covering this in our Biblical Worldview course this year, but I think God gave us a special double-dipping lesson in a healthy self-image in our Write with the Best article. I LOVE this so much! This Christian Education is of such a benefit! What a great way of life!

I hope you love this Christian education with Heart of Dakota as much as I do!

In Christ,

Julie

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.

Sincerely,

“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!

Blessings,
Carrie

Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

From Our House to Yours

Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life!

Are you busy? I can relate. Homeschool moms are some of the busiest people I know. I talk on the Heart of Dakota phone lines with moms whose lives are jam-packed. Emails arrive from moms who are pushing themselves to the max. Posts on FB, on blogs, and on our message board show homeschool moms are busier than ever. When someone asks how our day, our week, our month, or our year is going, we often say, “Busy!” But, what are we busy about?

I began to ask myself this question 6 1/2 years ago when my Dad died of pancreatic cancer. We are only promised today, so asking ourselves from time to time what we are busy about is a pretty important question to ask. So, if you summed up your day, your week, your month, your year for me, what are you busy doing? We women are born to be multi-taskers, but from one homeschool mom to another, be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life.

Love your year, but love your days too!

Not too long ago, I was sitting outside in our backyard at our patio table. I’d made my school calendar of the days we’ll be homeschooling this year, and I was really happy with it! I’d chosen my start date as Tuesday, September 1, with Friday of that week and Monday (Labor Day) taken off for vacation. I’ve found doing school three days a week at the start is perfect for us! We can try out our schedule, make any needed adjustments, and gather anything we missed gathering.

My calendar was just right. I loved my start and end dates. We had just the right days marked off for vacation, for birthdays, for holidays, and just for fun. I’d planned for sick days and for end-of-the-year testing days. From this past homeschool year, I could tell I would love this calendar! The year was going to be great! So, why was I worried? Well, it had nothing to do with the year; it was the ‘days’ I was worried about.

Some Wise Advice from My Son

My son noticed me looking stressed; every mother deserves a son like Riley. He can talk me off the ledge. He popped out to the patio table and pulled up a chair. What’s wrong, Mom? he asked. I explained I REALLY wanted to spend a lot of time with him this year because it was his senior year. He told me we spend nearly all of our time together. I tried to explain I wanted to spend LOTS of time homeschooling him though. How much time, Mom? he asked. Let’s just say my answer scared him, especially when I told how much time I thought I should also spend with both of his brothers. That’s crazy busy, Mom. It was. Riley told me that part of the reason we love our life is because homeschooling gives us the kind of life we love. A slower pace. A less busy pace. He said I deserved that too. Hmm, pretty wise advice. Thank you, son!

Mapping Out Our Days to Be Less Busy

Six and half years ago when my Dad died I made a lot of changes. I cut things out of my life that were busy but not worth the busy-ness. My years became less busy, and I began to love my life more and more. However, the days ARE busy as homeschool moms. There is no daily plan that will totally take away the ‘busy.’ It is the stage we are in, and it goes on for awhile. It’s best to recognize that. We are ‘busy’ because we have important work to do; however, we need not push ourselves to the point of exhaustion or depression. Riley helped me see that. Together, we worked at mapping out our days to be less busy. I made time for God, time to walk, time to make breakfast, time to teach, and time to work. Ideally, I’d have given more time to all of these things, but that would have made me “crazy busy,” as Riley puts it. And “crazy busy” is never a good thing.

What are you busy about?

So, now I ask you, what are you busy about? Are you ‘crazy busy’? Don’t be. You don’t have to be and that is no way to love your days! It is no way to love your life. Start with the easy things. What is not worth the busy-ness? Stop doing those things. I don’t keep a garden anymore. I’m not good at it, and I don’t really enjoy it. I don’t have rummage sales anymore. We live in the country, and no one comes. I don’t plant flowers anymore. Hanging flower pots do me just fine. I don’t make lunch anymore. Breakfast and supper I knock out of the park! But lunch? Riley makes that – it’s easy, it’s fast, and he likes it. Thank you, son. I don’t check my FB, email, or Instagram incessantly. Just here and there when I have time – that is enough.

I am busy about my teaching. Homeschooling well is important to me, but I don’t expect perfection – from me or my children. I am busy talking to my Mom and my sisters. They are my best friends; they are worth my time. I am busy dating my husband. He is my best friend too, and I love him. I am busy exercising, but I don’t always drive to exercise at the gym. My country road is a pretty place to exercise too. I am busy spending time with God each morning, but I don’t time myself as if an exact time is what He desires. So, what are you busy about? Be careful of being too busy to enjoy your homeschool life. It goes fast. If you are ‘crazy busy,’ look in the mirror for the person making you so – and make some changes! Loving your life is worth it.

In Christ,

Julie