Do you have a plan for laundry at your house?

Teaching Tip: 

Do you have a plan for laundry at your house?

Having a routine for dealing with laundry each week is a huge time saver. Laundry may seem like an odd topic to include on our teaching tip day! But, laundry can really interfere with teaching by taking up needed space for “school” and overtaking your house! So, I’ll just share a tip that may get you thinking of how to address laundry at your house.

How do we deal with sorting laundry each week?

As our family has grown, we’ve discovered that the sorting of whose clothes belong to whom can really take time. It also slows down the folding process. So, we’ve found it’s easier to keep the laundry more separated from start to finish. To do this, each of our bedrooms has a laundry hamper. Even within the bedrooms, we have individual clothes baskets for our boys. This reduces the amount of mixing of clothes among family members.

How do we schedule our laundry to be done?

We schedule our laundry to be done in smaller chunks each day to keep it more manageable. So, at our house, Monday is our littlest guy’s laundry day. Tuesday is towel day and also the day my hubby and I’s laundry is done. Wednesday is our third son’s laundry day. His laundry requires special laundry detergent, due to skin allergies. Thursday is our oldest son’s laundry day. Friday is our second son’s laundry day. Saturday and Sunday we have off from laundry.

What is our laundry routine?

Everyone just brings their own laundry downstairs in their hamper or basket on their designated day. The person whose laundry it is also helps fold and put away on his/her assigned day. This makes sense, as each person knows best where his/her own clothes go! Of course, we all pitch in to help fold and put away when we are in a hurry. We have a goal to get everything put away by bedtime. Sometimes, we don’t quite make it. But, having a school workspace free of folded laundry is a great motivator!

Try making a laundry plan and see what you think.

Having a plan for your laundry may really free you up from feeling like the laundry is never really done. Try making a laundry plan, and see what you think!


My “Go-To Recipe” for Homeschool Success

From Our House to Yours

My “Go-To Recipe” for Homeschool Success

Do you have a “Go-To Recipe” you use again and again? A “Go-to recipe” is a recipe you pull out for meals again and again. A go-to recipe is a favorite because of its simplicity and its success rate. It is tried and true, and it always works. Well, just like my cooking binder has some well-loved go-to recipes, so does my homeschool binder. The formula is basic, but it always works. So, here is my go-to recipe for homeschool success!

Go-To Recipe for Homeschool Success

Set a start time and stick to it.

Alternate teaching times with independent times.

Set times to meet with each student and stick to them.

During teaching times correct work competed, teach teacher-directed boxes, and end with giving directions for semi-independent or independent work.

Mix in joint playtimes for youngers, add snack breaks, and season with love!

Oh, and make sure everyone has their own copy of your ‘Go-To Recipe’ for homeschooling!

Now, that’s a recipe for success!

Sample Go-To Recipe for Three Children Ranging Ages 4 to 10

Let’s just say you have a 4 year-old doing Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH), a 7 year-old doing Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond), and a 10 year-old doing Creation to Christ (CTC). Here’s a sample go-to recipe:

Start time: 8:30 AM

8:30 to 9:30 AM:  Teaching time with 10 yo CTC student; Playtime together for 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student.

9:30 to 10 AM: Breakfast and Chores

10 -11 AM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student. Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student. Independent playtime 30 minutes and audio book 30 minutes for 4 yo LHTH student.

10 to 10:30 AM: Teaching time with 10 yo CTC student with snack; 7 yo Beyond student helps 4 yo pick up from playtime then they have a snack together at kitchen table.

10:30 to 11:15 AM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student; Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student; Independent playtime of learning stations for 4 yo LHTH student.

11:15 to 11:45 AM:  Teaching time with 4 yo LHTH student; Independent work time for 10 yo CTC student; Independent work time for 7 yo Beyond student (playtime if independent work is done before time is up).

11:45 – 12:15 PM: Teaching time with 7 yo Beyond student; Playtime together for 4 yo LHTH and 10 yo CTC students. (Tip: If running behind, have 10 yo finish LHTH with 4 yo.)  At this point, 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student are done with school.

12:15 – 1 PM: Teaching time and final correcting time with 10 yo CTC student. Exercise video or playtime with toys together for 4 yo LHTH student and 7 yo Beyond student.

DONE! 1 PM Lunch and then Free Time! A recipe for success!

In Christ,


A Practically Perfect Homeschool Life

A Heart of Dakota Life

A Perfect Homeschool Life

It’s that time of year again!  Time to start my homeschool year and to make the perfect plan that makes all my dreams come true!  I put on my rose-colored glasses and put pen to paper to plan all I hope my homeschool year will be. My year begins to unfold before my very eyes. I write lofty goals, as I envision my perfect homeschool year. In my mind, I wake up well-rested to sunshine and blue skies. I shut off my alarm before it even rings – I’m just that excited to start my day!  My Bible Quiet Time and prayer time come next, as I prepare my heart and mind for all the day may hold. Then, I wake my children cheerfully, throw open their curtains, and whip up a healthy, homemade breakfast they adore. While the breakfast is bubbling and baking away, I skip downstairs to run 4 miles on my treadmill. We all happily arrive at breakfast punctually at the same time, showered and looking just so, chores all complete, and ready to greet our day!

A Practically Perfect Homeschool Life

I love to dream of my ideal homeschool life, but there is only one problem! It’s just not practical. In fact, the perfect day is pretty rare, and lofty out-of- reach plans just leave me feeling like a failure. So, I have traded in my perfect homeschool life for a practically perfect homeschool life. And you know what? I’m a whole lot happier!  I put pen to paper with plans that are practical, yet full of most of what I really want them to be.

When I know I will be teaching the next morning, I try to get to bed on time. I pick a start time that is early but not so early I can never really start on time. My alarm must be set, or the reality is I might not wake up. I do wake my children, quickly, with a hug and a kiss, but then promptly head downstairs for a strong cup of coffee.  A quick Bible time, a 1 mile jog on the treadmill once and awhile, breakfasts that are sometimes homemade and sometimes healthy but probably not both, prayer in my shower, and all of us arriving at breakfast about the same time with most our chores done – that’s perfect for me in a practical way.

Enjoy Planning Your Practically Perfect Homeschool Life

Rather than planning your perfect homeschool life, why not enjoy planning your practically perfect homeschool life? Make goals, but try to be practical about them. Set a schedule, but be practical by including margin for unplanned interruptions. Try a routine, but be practical by adding some wiggle room in it knowing it probably won’t go just so. Include some healthy goals, like getting enough sleep, having some healthy meals, attempting to exercise, etc., but be practical!  These things probably won’t happen daily.  Do the same with your homeschool subjects and with your children. Plan practically rather than perfectly. Take 2 weeks to do 1 week of plans to give grace to both you and to your children as you figure out your new guides. Most of all, plan for God to ultimately make your plans each day – after all, His plans are best, and they ARE actually perfect! It just makes good practical sense to follow them.

In Christ,


Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

From Our House to Yours

Rotating Teacher-Directed and Independent Blocks of Time

In this Heart of Dakota series, we continue describing a ‘day in the life’ of using Resurrection to Reformation (RTR) and World History (WH). First, I shared our take on homework. Second, I shared our waking up to homeschool routine. Third, I shared our morning chores and breakfast routine.  Today, I will share how we rotate teacher-directed and independent blocks of time between breakfast and lunch.

My Teaching Block for Resurrection to Reformation

After breakfast and clean-up, I have my teaching block for Resurrection to Reformation with Emmett. This is a favorite time of ours! We meet on the living room couch or in a reading nook, as Emmett sometimes like to ‘build’ these. If Emmett had an oral narration for his Reading About History, we begin with that. Then, we check any work he completed earlier for his Independent History box and his Rotating History box. Next, we head to the kitchen table for his math lesson. Finally, we end up back on the couch or in our reading nook for our favorite – the Storytime read-aloud! After the reading, we set out the Storytime cards, and we go over directions for his History Project. He goes to the kitchen table to finish his Storytime card and to do his History Project.

Riley’s Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has an independent block for World History. First, he does his History Activities. He does the seatwork portion at our dining room table. As the You Are There CD is an audio, he listens to this with earbuds in his bedroom. He has a caddy of art supplies, his Bible, and his journal at the ready as well.  Next, he moves on to his World History. He enjoys doing this subject in the addition by Wyatt, our oldest son, who is usually doing his online college there. They often share with each other what they are studying. This is just an informal talking time they both look forward to and enjoy.

My Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Storytime card and his History Project, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we enjoy meeting in the living room. We begin with World History. Riley stands to give his oral narrations, which works perfectly for me as I love to sit, sip my coffee, and listen!  He hands me his book open to the page he started reading. I skim it, and then page through it as I listen to him narrate. He is an animated narrator, and he likes to use his voice or his hands to emphasize this or that. I love hearing him narrate!  He reads aloud his written narrations standing as well, and we edit together. Next, we go through his completed work for History Activities and for his Science written work. Finally, I do just the teacher portion of his Grammar or EIW. He then finishes his independent parts for these at the dining room table.

What’s next? Maybe my next teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation, and maybe not!

Often at this time, Emmett has decided to make homemade hot cocoa. He has lit a candle, set out whipped cream, coffee creamer, mini marshmallows, and sprinkles. He knows everyone likes their hot cocoa their own way. This was not a part of our ‘plan,’ but I love it, and he did finish the work he was supposed to, so I let it ride. He rings a bell – a cowbell (we do live in South Dakota). This is LOUD, and everyone stops what they are doing and heads to the kitchen table. Why? They know Emmett has either made hot cocoa or has a history project that involved baking. They each make their favorite hot cocoa concoction or eat the history project, chat, laugh, and share what they’ve been doing so far. Many times they make plans for the afternoon or evening together too. Then, everyone is back to working on school.

Back to My Teaching Time for Resurrection to Reformation

Okay, after the impromptu beverage/snack/chat break, we are back to my teaching time for Resurrection to Reformation. I do my teaching portion for Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, for Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and for R & S English. I leave Emmett to finish his independent portions of these subjects, with a plan to check on him off and on later when I make lunch.

Riley’s Next Independent Block for World History

While I am doing the teaching block I just described with Emmett in RTR, Riley has his next independent block for World History. After he finishes his written portions of Grammar and EIW, he does his Fine Arts course, usually in the addition at the table. At this point, Wyatt has either gone outside to shoot some basketball hoops or has moved upstairs to work on his college. So, the addition is free and a happy, sunny place to work on art at the table by the window. Next, Riley does his independent reading and writing assignment for either Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress, whichever is assigned for the day. He gathers his things to meet with me, so he is ready when I call.

My Final Teaching Block for World History

While Emmett is finishing his Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, and R & S English, I meet with Riley. In this teaching block for World History, we first check the portion he wrote for his grammar or EIW. Then, we correct his Fine Arts written work. I marvel at his art project and its progress. Next, we discuss his Total Health or Pilgrim’s Progress on the living room couch. He often still likes to pace, while I sit with yet another cup of coffee (lunch is my cutoff).  I love this private time together to talk about all of the important things that come up in Total Health and Pilgrim’s Progress.  Finally, if it was a tough morning, and Riley didn’t get up early to do Geometry with Wyatt (see my earlier post), they do Geometry now instead.

Making Lunch and Helping Emmett Finish Resurrection to Reformation

As I begin to make lunch, Emmett is finishing his independent portions of Medieval, DITHOR, and R & S English at the kitchen table. It is easy to pop over and offer an assist if necessary! This is also a time Emmet may have left the table, needing to be found and redirected to finish his work. He is my free spirit that can lose track of time or get lost in the moment of a bluejay on our tree, a package that came in the mail, or a wrestling match with my husband. It is at this time that Emmett may need to finish his science. If he did his science as ‘homework’ (see my earlier post), then he is done for the day. If he didn’t, well, then it is time for science. There is a very good chance he will then be finished with school after both my 10th grader and my college student. These moments help Emmett to dig down and do science as homework instead the next time. And that is our day between breakfast and lunch!

In Christ,


Do you have scheduled breaks in your day?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have scheduled breaks in your day?

We’ve found that our kiddos can stay more focused on their “school” if they have scheduled breaks within their day. For us, this works better than doing all the subjects without any breaks in between.

Setting time limits for your breaks is key.

One key for us when utilizing scheduled breaks is to set a definite time limit for the break. We also make sure to use a timer to time that break. Perhaps you’re thinking you’d rather just allow your day to flow without the aid of a timer. I used to be that way too!

What if you don’t want to live by the clock?

Even if you don’t want to live your day by the clock, a timer is a great aid to keep your day moving. It addresses the one pitfall of giving your kiddos a break in the middle of the school day. That pitfall is getting your children, and you, to return from that break! Without the aid of a timer to signal the break’s end, neither you nor your child may wish to get back to “school.”

Setting a timer to signal the break’s end takes care of potential problems that arise with breaks.

When we set a timer for the break, both parent and child are well-aware of when the break will end. As a parent, this keeps me from taking on lengthy tasks that could spill over long beyond the break. It also keeps my child from feeling like he will be randomly pulled away from playtime on my whim. Instead, with a timer, my child knows exactly how much time he has to play.

How long should a typical break last?

Typically, our scheduled breaks are 30 minutes long. Our children take those breaks at varying times throughout the day. These breaks might include things like a mid-morning snack, playtime with a sibling, recess outdoors, time on the computer, going for a walk, tea-time, etc. Try a scheduled break in your day and see what you think!