Give your students two desirable choices.

Teaching Tip:

Encourage your students to choose a positive attitude.

As we near the end of our school year, my kiddos need extra encouragement to choose a positive attitude! It is possible that your students need encouragement too! Today, I’ll share a quick tip that works well to encourage students of all ages to cheerfully comply or obey.

Give your students two desirable choices.

To avoid power struggles, it helps to give students two choices (both of which are desirable to you). This means that while the child gets the power to choose, you also retain power because either choice is acceptable to you.

The choices strategy works especially well for young children.

This strategy works for kiddos of all ages but can be used repeatedly with little ones (all throughout the day). Here are some examples of providing two desirable choices to little ones.

At naptime you can say, “Would you like to walk up the stairs, or do you want me to carry you?” This diverts the child from the issue of not wanting to go to nap. Instead, your child will be focused on the choice of whether to walk or be carried. The napping is a foregone conclusion.

Or, for a child who is always asking for juice, you can say, “Do you want milk or water with your lunch?” This rules out other beverages and focuses on what you will accept as choices.

The choices strategy also works with older children.

With older children, you can ask, “Would you like to do math or science first?” For a child who does not like one of those two subjects, the choice allows them to delay the unloved subject. Then, when the unloved subject arrives, they know they chose for it to be in that order.

The choices strategy also works well with mature students.

For even older students, you can ask, “What is the most important thing you wish to do today during your free time?” Then, as a parent you can be sure to get that one thing in that day. This forces the child to prioritize and choose what is most important. It also helps the child realize that you worked to be sure that he/she got in what he valued that day.

Try giving your students limited choices.

Try giving your students limited choices, and see whether you notice a change. Hopefully, you’ll notice a more positive attitude which will help end your year on a positive note!


Homeschool mom of 4 who doesn’t want to combine… tips? Scheduling ideas?

Dear Carrie

I am a homeschool mom of 4, and I am not comfortable combining, so what tips or scheduling ideas do you have?

Dear Carrie,

I am a homeschool mom of four children ages 7, 5, 3, 2. I’m excited, and after much research I am set on Heart of Dakota! However, I need some encouragement that it is possible to homeschool four children without losing your sanity. I really want this to be an extension of peace in our home. I’m not comfortable with combining them in the same programs, (2 and 2). So, any tips or scheduling ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


“Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining”

Dear “Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining,”

I’m not sure if you have had a chance to check out the scheduling thread. That may be worth a peek, and you can click here to check it out!

When working with LHTH, LHFHG or Beyond, I like scheduling 30 minutes to do the left side of the daily plans in one sitting for each guide. During this 30 minute session, I start with the history (or Bible) reading first and then end with the box on the left side of the plans that looks like I could get the kiddos started and they could finish on their own. Often that is scheduling the bottom left-hand corner box.

I minimize interruptions by planning ahead, and I teach the 30 minute left side of the guide in the morning.

During that 30 minutes time, I make sure I won’t have interruptions. I don’t answer the phone, put in a load of laundry, or leave the child’s side. Any kiddos who need me come to me, however they are NOT to interrupt unless it’s a severe emergency. I makes sure about scheduling the baby to happily play with toys in his crib or playpen for that 30 minutes. I make sure the older kiddos are working independently. Often scheduling the middle kiddo to listen to a book on tape, to finish his chores, or to do an educational computer game works well. I also try to make sure to get my 30 minutes left side of the guide time in for each of my kiddos in the morning. This takes the pressure off because I’ve already finished a big chunk of the day’s plans by lunch then.

I start with something independent, so I have time for grooming for baby and me.

Since I’m not a morning person, I take that into account and scheduling my kiddos to start with something independent the first part of the day helps. That way, I have time to get the baby (and me) dressed and groomed. I can check everyone’s rooms and make sure everyone has eaten before launching into my teaching for the day. Yet, my kiddos are already underway during that time doing their first subject pretty independently. Additionally, I like scheduling the kiddos to have at least one or more subjects out of the way before joining me for their 30 minute left side session.

I like to to plan 45-60 minutes of playtime for my 4-6 year olds after breakfast.

I do like scheduling my 4-6 year olds to play an extra 45 – 60 minutes in their room after breakfast in the morning too. This gives me time with my olders to quietly work on their tougher subjects before the little ones descend upon us for the day.

We enjoy a morning recess 45 minutes each day and eat lunch together.

We all do still like scheduling a morning recess together for 45 minutes every day. Usually, we typically go out around 11:00. Also, we all eat lunch together, which my oldest begins getting ready while I’m finishing with the youngers. (We keep it very simple following the weekly menu on the fridge).

It also helps to do the LHTH toddler/preschooler earlier in the day so that the little one feels like he/she has had time with mama. Once he’s been with me, he’s more content to go play. Otherwise, that little one is begging for my time all day! Hope these tips help!


Why homeschool? Be socialized by multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Be socialized by family of multiple ages rather than grouped by one age!

Are all of your friends your exact same age, or even within a year or two of your age? I am 47 years old as I type this, and right now the ages of my closest friends range from 26 to 78 years old. Not one of my closest friends is my exact age or even within a year or two of my age. Moreover, my best friends are still my sisters and my mom, along with my husband. When we homeschool, our children are socialized by family of multiple ages. This is in contrast to the usual grouping of children by one age in public school.

Socialization in a Homeschool Setting 

Socialization in a homeschool setting encourages interaction of multiple ages. Every age is considered worthy to exchange ideas with, to talk to, and to play with. No one is left out in the cold. In fact, age is something that rarely comes up. Siblings of all different ages consider each other friends. When ‘recess’ time rolls around, games are made to work for all different ages. During lunch, everyone talks freely, and shares all sorts of things without fear of judgment. During school, every person has something meaningful to share, and not everyone has to be learning the same thing. When grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins stop by, everyone stops to enjoy their company. People are not grouped solely according to their age in any other setting outside of public school.  Socialization in a homeschool setting is much more like the ‘real world!’

The Impact of Socialization in a Homeschool Setting

Our children have only ever been homeschooled. As my husband often travels, my sons have had to help with many things. They answer the door and visit with the mailman as he delivers our packages. When the fireplace repairman needs tools, they find them and hand them to him as he needs them. If the propane truck stops to deliver gas, they introduce themselves to the driver and show him the path my husband prefers he takes to fill the tank. When the contractor is redoing one of our closets, they help him hold shelves and hand him tools as he asks for them. If our trees are being trimmed and sprayed, they head outdoors to help load the trailer with the trimmings. I share these specific stories because every one of these men have commented positively about our sons’ interaction with them. In fact, many have offered them jobs.

The Impact of Socialization of Homeschool Children Outside of the Home

Our children don’t really consider age when socializing outside of our home. When assigned random teams when playing dodgeball at Skyzone, they are happy to play with any age. Younger children are seen as assets, as they are quicker, but they are also seen as little ones to protect. Older children are seen as assets, as they can throw farther, and it’s okay to throw harder at them. When assigned random teams to play basketball at our fitness center, they are happy to play with any age. Older men are seen as assets because they are great at setting up plays, but they are also seen as prone to injury, so they don’t guard them as hard. Younger children are seen as fast and fun, but they are also seen as little ones to mentor. Everyone is someone to get to know, and age just doesn’t enter their mind.

Socialization of Homeschool Children Within the Family

Our children (who are currently 11, 15, and 19 years old) do consider one another best friends. They like to come up with games they can all do together. In our basement, they have 2 mini-basketball hoops. Countless games have been played with all sorts of different rules! They’ve found card games or board games that work for all ages. They have also made outdoor obstacle courses, nerf gun bases, basketball games, snow forts, and 3-wheeler races. Everyone can play because they make the games fit all ages. Whenever we have friends or family over, they blend in just fine. If two of them choose a movie to watch, the next time they choose a movie to watch all together. They each have their own hobbies, music playlists, books, and outdoor interests, but more often than not, they find ways to enjoy time together.

Socialization in Brick and Mortar Schools

When I used to teach in brick and mortar schools before I had children of my own, I had recess duty with multiple ages. I was always sad when children refused to play with students who were not their same age.  However, I was even sadder when children who were siblings refused to play with one another. I also saw older siblings walking home with their classmates, with their younger sibling trail far behind. Their reasoning? The younger sibling was embarrassing to be around when they were with their same age friends. Of course not all students behave this way. Some children in school really do try to take care of their siblings, stand up for them, and hang out with them. Unfortunately it is just harder to do, as for most of the school day, they are separated from their siblings.

Worried About Socialization 

One of the reasons families worry about homeschooling is often due to socialization. I find this ironic! It seems to me the opposite is true. Homeschooled children are not used to being separated into groups by age. When they see an elderly person, they talk to him, assuming he may have something interesting to share. Or if they see a young person at the park, they think it’s great because they have one more person to join their game. This way of thinking more naturally aligns itself with life in general. As long as we expect our homeschooled children to socialize with their siblings, their family, their neighbors, and other people they meet, they will be just fine. In fact, they will probably be better socialized when it’s all said and done, because they will be used to being around people of multiple ages, all the time.

In Christ,