Know your goal…exposure or mastery?

Teaching Tip 

Know your goal…exposure or mastery?

As you teach younger children, it helps to remember this is often their first exposure to many concepts.  Everything ranging from history to math to reading will be new. So to expect mastery of new concepts, or even terrific retention, at such a young age is a tall order.

How can you help young children be successful with school?

Instead with younger kiddos, strive for the following goals:

  1. Keep the lessons short.
  2. Keep the day moving along.
  3. Keep your expectations in line with your child’s age.
Resist the urge to add extra drill and practice beyond what is in the guide.

Often as parents, we think more practice is better.  The Internet makes it easy to add extra practice with little effort.  However, is this truly necessary for your child to gain exposure to a subject? If you add too much to the guide, your children may feel their school day is too long.  You may also find that the extra practice crowds out time for the rest of the subjects in the guide. There is a careful balance between enough practice and too much!  Your Heart of Dakota guide is designed with this careful balance in mind.

Young children make great gains when you least expect it.

Children will make great gains and strides in their younger years.  These gains often come unexpectedly after steady progress forward pays off. Take heart even if your little ones don’t seem to be “getting” everything you’d love them to take from the HOD guide. They will surprise you as the year passes in unexpected ways!


PS: In this blog post, we looked at how to enjoy your homeschool life by simplifying your school day. To find out more ways you can enjoy your homeschool life while using our guides, check out the blog post linked below!

Enjoy Your Everyday Heart of Dakota Life

Start a 5-day a week guide now to school 4 days a week later!

From Our House to Yours

Start a 5-day a week guide now to homeschool just 4 days a week next school year!

Do you find yourself searching for things for your children to do at home right now? Due to COVID-19, many families have had to cancel spring and summer plans. Increased time at home can leave parents scrambling to find things for their children to do. While older children can often find ways to entertain themselves, younger children still need parents to oversee them. In Heart of Dakota (HOD), the guides Little Hands to Heaven (LHTH) through Bigger Hearts for His Glory (BHFHG) utilize 5-day a week plans. If you find yourself looking for things to do with your younger children, here’s the answer! Try starting LHTH through BHFHG now, and you can shave time off your next homeschool year!

Why do the younger HOD guides have 5-day a week plans?

The younger HOD guides have plans for 5 days a week for many reasons. Spreading work over 5 days means days are kept shorter. Shorter homeschool days fit little ones better. Shorter days match their shorter attention spans, and they prevent fatigue and frustration. This shorter lesson format for younger children matches Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the matter. Not to mention, more days of teaching of foundational skills like beginning phonics, handwriting, and math skills gives more days to cement these important skills for a strong start to learning in general. So, HOD’s scheduling of 5-day weeks for little ones is intentional.

Why do the older HOD guides have 4-day a week plans?

The older HOD guides have plans 4 days a week for many reasons. Taking 5 days’ worth of work and condensing it into 4 days means students have a free 5th day each week. Longer homeschool days fit older students better. Longer days match their increased attention spans. Likewise, longer blocks of time help students have enough time to truly complete their more in-depth, independent work. Having one free day each week fits older students better. This format allows older students to have free time for extracurricular activities, outside interests, and work. So, HOD’s schedule of 4-day weeks for older students is intentional. (Of course, if you happen to have an older student with a shorter attention span, you can always spread the 4 days of work over 5 days to have shorter days.)

How many units/weeks of 5-day plans would you need to complete to homeschool 4 days a week next school year?

Homeschooling 4 days a week is appealing to many homeschool families. A 4-day week is especially appealing to families who happen to have older children using HOD’s guides Preparing Hearts for His Glory through U.S. II high school, as these guides utilize a 4-day week format. Little Hands to Heaven has 33 weeks of 5-day a week plans. Little Hearts for His Glory through BHFHG have 34 weeks of 5-day a week plans. This equals a total of 165-170 days of plans. The older guides, from PHFHG through U.S.II, have 35 weeks of 4-day a week plans. This equals a total of 140 days of plans.

So, if you start homeschooling your youngers only now, and you make it through about 6 units/weeks of plans, you can homeschool just 4 days a week next school year and finish your guides!  You can do this either by homeschooling 5 days a week for 6 weeks, or by homeschooling 4 days a week for about 8 weeks. I often did this with my younger sons, once my oldest son had moved into 4-day a week guides. This was the best of both worlds in my opinion! My youngers still had shorter days, had more days of school to cement skills, and had me all to themselves when I needed to be with them anyway – but, during the school year their days matched my older son’s schedule… and I loved a day off each week! Give it a try!

In Christ,



A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Teaching Tip 

A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Do you have little ones with whom you’re doing school? If so, it really helps to define the space in which they need to sit and listen while you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 2-4 year old?

When my little ones were between the ages of 2-4, I usually had them sit on my lap.  Then, I held the Bible in front of us to read the story for Little Hands to Heaven. If you have a child who is a “wild wiggler” and doesn’t sit well on your lap, then move on to my next suggestion!

What can you use as a defined space if you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones?

If you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones, use carpet pieces or large, foam floor puzzle squares to define space instead.  These pieces or squares can be used to delineate the spot where each child should sit.  This becomes the defined space in which your child needs to remain during the Little Hand’s Bible reading. As you read, hold the book up beside you with the pictures facing your child.  Read from the side, so you can show the pictures as you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 5-6 year old?

For my Little Hearts for His Glory kiddos, I move to sitting on the couch.  I “anchor” my child beside me with my arm around him/her while I read. If you have two kiddos doing Little Hearts, it works well to anchor one child on either side of you!

Try defining your child’s space today, and see if your reading time goes better.

While these sound like simple suggestions, having defined boundaries for your child during reading time can make a big difference! Try it today, and see what you think!


The child of two should be taught to get and to replace his playthings…

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The child of two should be taught to get and to replace his playthings. Begin early. Let it be a pleasure to him, part of his play, to open his cupboard, and put back the doll or the horse each in its own place. Let him always put away his thing as a matter of course, and it is surprising how soon a habit of order is formed, which will make it pleasant to the child to put away his toys, and irritating to him to see things in the wrong place.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 130)

It is possible by a little persistent effort to acquire a desirable habit