Have you trained your children in Charlotte Mason style skills?

Teaching Tip

Did your students jump into an upper Heart of Dakota guide?

If so, it is likely some skills your child is being asked to exhibit were practiced in previous guides. This means there will be a learning curve as your child adjusts to what the guide is asking. This curve will be especially noticeable with Charlotte Mason style skills that may be new to your student. When you jump into an upper Heart of Dakota guide, extra time will be required at first for training in these skills. Additionally, you may want to check out this post: Is Your Child Placed in the Correct Guide?

What Charlotte Mason style skills might require some training?

Skills like giving oral narrations and producing written narrations may be totally new to your student. Taking studied dictation and studying classic poetry may be new as well. Next, reading living books, creating notebook entries, sketching, and learning in a Charlotte Mason style fashion all might feel new too. In the end, if you don’t take time to train your child in these skills, it will be harder for your child to succeed.

Have you trained your kiddos in Charlotte Mason style skills?

Allow time in your schedule to give your children extra help in Charlotte Mason style skills. Your HOD guide will aid you in training your student in gaining these skills. Know that these skills do not develop overnight. They take training and time to hone. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, remember that your student may need to work up to the level of independence suggested in the guide. Always err on the side of giving help and encouragement to your child whenever needed. Finally, be patient, and you will eventually see fruit!


School day too long? Check your times for each subject with the author!

Teaching Tip

Approximately how long should each subject take?

Great question! The Heart of Dakota message board lists approximate times for each subject in each of our guides. If your day is too long, these lists can help in pinpointing time stealers. Simply jot down the start and end times for each subject for a day or two in the guide you are using. Then, compare your times to the times provided in the links below to find your time stealers. You can see information for each of our guides in the board posts linked below!

  • Little Hands to HeavenRevival to Revolution suggested times can be found here.
  • Mission to Modern Marvels suggested times can be found here.
  • World Geography suggested times can be found here.
  • World History suggested times can be found here.
  • U.S. History I and U.S. History II suggested times can be found here.
What do you do if a subject is consistently taking too long?

First, look over the plans for that subject. Ask yourself whether you are changing or adding to the subject in any way. Then, move toward doing it as written in the plans and resist the urge to add to the subject. Additional helpful tips are often given in the “Introduction” and the “Appendix” of the guide. Refer to the tips that pertain to the subject you are targeting.

Second, note whether the subject is coded as ‘I’ = Independent, ‘S’ = Semi-independent, or ‘T’ = Teacher Directed and then move toward doing the subject as coded in the plans.

Third, check whether your child needs additional help to do the subject as written. Then, do any training needed to help your child be more successful with that subject in the plans. This training can take time as you gradually move your child toward success.

Fourth, check to see if the subject is a weak area for your child. Plan to be available to help whenever your child is working on a weak area.

Do you enjoy following the clock, or do you prefer a less structured approach?

Either way, doing a time check periodically can help your days run more smoothly. See how your day compares to the times suggested for each subject in the links above. Then, follow the steps to pinpoint any time stealers. Try it, and see if your days improve!


PS: Check out these other articles if your school day is running longer than you would like…

Have a Written Routine and Provide it to Your Child

Is your child placed in the right guide?

Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!


Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Summer is a great time for chore training!

Teaching Tip

Summer is a great time for chore training!

Summer is a wonderful time to train your children to do various chores around the house! We use the summer to train each of our kiddos to do a set of chores appropriate to his age. Then, during the school year the child is easily able to do these chores well, with less checking and monitoring!

How many chores can you expect a child to perform well?

Each child has 1-3 chores we train him to do very well. These chores are the child’s responsibility until he grows another year older. Each year the chores shift, allowing each child more responsibility as he matures.

What types of chores can you train children to do?

Chores can range from dust busting after meals, to clearing table, to loading and unloading the dishwasher. Taking out the garbage, wiping the counters, and sorting and folding laundry are other chores that can be taught. Older children can tackle lawn care, snow removal, house cleaning, putting away groceries, and making quick meals. The chores we assign go beyond typical “picking up.”

Routine “picking up” is also a daily responsibility.

All of our kiddos are expected to put away their school books, make their beds, and keep their bedrooms tidy. Our older kiddos also take turns doing a “clean sweep” of the house in the evening before bedtime. This sweep involves systematically tidying each room and putting away out of place items. These routine tasks are in addition to our boys’ other assigned chores.

Why is summer a great time for chore training?

Chore training takes time and diligence! This is why summer is a great time to tackle this task with consistency. Try it with your children and, when the school year rolls around again, you will be glad that you did!


A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

Teaching Tip

A little bit of playtime can go a long way!

If you have little ones, here’s a tip you can put into practice during summer break! This summer, train your little ones to have a 20-30 minute playtime alone in a designated safe area at least once daily.  For really young ones, the playpen or the crib can serve as the designated area.  For kiddos aged 3 or older, a gated play area can work well. For kiddos closer to school-age, playtime in their bedroom can be an option.

What can the kiddos do during this designated playtime?

During playtime in the designated area, we had certain toys for the child to play with during that time. When the kids were younger, we kept those toys/books in 5 lidded storage tubs numbered days 1-5.  Each day, we just pulled out the next numbered tub. We stored the tubs under our bed. When the kiddos got older, we listed safe toys from our playroom on index cards numbered 1-5 instead. We placed the index cards on a ring on our fridge.  We flipped to a new card each day to know which toys to set out for playtime for that day.

Focus on getting your young ones to have some playtime alone in a safe space.

There are many different variations you could use to accomplish this goal.  The focus needs to be on the little one having a bit of playtime alone in a safe environment. This is so helpful during the school year and makes for a happy little one and a happy mama! Don’t despair if the training takes some time. Just remember you are training for the future.


PS: Looking for more ways to utilize playtime to keep your days running smoothly? Check out this Teaching Tip!