Teaching Children Practical Life Skills They Have To Know

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The more children I have, the more I realize how essential it is to teach my children practical life skills.

They can’t wait until they get to college before they learn how to do basic skills such as laundry, doing dishes, how to sweep a floor, etc.

Teaching children to be diligent in their morning chores is crucial to how the rest of the day will go for the whole family! A clean house is a much better start to our school day.

I grew up learning a lot of life skills because of my mom’s health. She had epilepsy her whole adult life, and I have early childhood memories of being with her right after a seizure. As I grew older I definitely learned to help around the house, and how to care for her when she was in bed with her Lupus.

My husband however did not grow up learning a lot of life skills. His mom is one of the most devoted mothers I have met. Her life revolves around her family, and she did a lot for Sean growing up. He was required to do some chores, but he said it would take him a day to fold some laundry.  He did put away dishes but doesn’t remember doing any dishes. (A side note, I asked my mother in law if I could share this on the blog and she said it was ok. I love her a lot, so I’m not trying to put her down here!).

When we got married, it was a hard adjustment for me to realize he didn’t know how to pitch in and help do the dishes. I literally walked him through how to fill the sink full of soapy water, what side of the sponge to use, etc. He was so painfully slow at doing it that I could barely watch. We became pregnant with our first three months after getting married, and I was really sick that first trimester. Sean was very tender and sweet, but couldn’t fix me meals – he barely knew how to boil water!

Thankfully he has come a long ways over the years, and will even pitch in and do dishes once in awhile. His biggest strength is doing laundry, which I’m immensely grateful for. He is also a perfectionist, and is way better at organizing our home than I am! So our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out.

I’m determined that my children, both male and female, will know all the basic life skills necessary to run a house, and feed themselves some proper meals when they leave my house.

Here are some things that I feel are important for any child to learn.

How to make their bed – that being said, most of my children don’t know how to do that yet. Ha! Since we had bunkbeds at our last house I took pity on them. I remember being in a bunkbed when I was little and that it was so hard to make that top bunk! Now that we moved to a new house, we have enough room to have regular beds and they will all be required to make them.

How to do dishes – This is a harder job than it sounds, but every child needs to learn how to do it! I have some children that struggle doing this task, and others that can do it more easily. However every child should know how to wash dirty dishes. I think they should know how to hand wash them and how to use a dishwasher.

How to do laundry – Some ladies do a better job of teaching laundry than I do. I’m not as picky about cold water/hot water and separating all my colors out each time. However my children definitely know how to fold clothes, and even my little ones can switch out the clothes.

How to prepare a meal – Every young teenager should be able to make a meal from start to scratch and serve their family. It can be super simple, but children have to learn how to cook!

These are just the bare basics that children need to know. There are so many other things they need to learn, like how to tie their shoes, use a sharp knife, how to have good manners, change the oil on the car, and so many other life skills.  However it can get overwhelming trying to teach everything to your children. Life can slip by and the more children you have the harder it is to teach everyone.

That’s why I’m so excited about a brand new program that just came out called Skill Trek. We are going to be using it this year, and my children already love it!

Skill Trek will step in and help teach your children an amazing amount of practical life skills through videos, and PDF guides they read through. The family behind Skill Trek has seven children and they understand the challenges involved in making sure each learns life skills. I have my 5 year old through my almost 14 year old using this program. New videos are continually being recorded and added to Skill Trek, so they can always keep learning new skills!

Our oldest son watched a video about how to check the oil in the car, something we had not covered with him yet. Sean is going to go out with him to the van this week and watch him check it. Another child read through a guide on how to fold laundry correctly, something this child really struggles with.

While I love homeschooling, it can be exhausting to constantly be the only one teaching your child everything. I love how Skill Trek comes alongside you and helps you out as a parent!

Skill Trek has monthly and yearly subscription plans, and discounts are available if you enroll more than one child in the plan. They even have a family plan that covers up to 8 children!

I plan on including this in our homeschool week. Every Friday we will cover a new skill and continue to work on the skills we have already learned.

The life of a parent can be very hectic. We focus so much of our attention on teaching our children all the core subjects in school that we often neglect to teach them some some simple skills. Skill Trek was designed, not to replace you, but to come alongside you and fill in those gaps to ensure your children acquire many of life’s most basic but useful skills.

If you are interested in Skill Trek, you can use the coupon code: MODESTMOM to save 10% off, through September 7th only! That code saves you on monthly or yearly subscription plans!

This post contains affiliate links and was sponsored by Skill Trek. All opinions are strictly my own. 





Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade – 2017-2018 School Year

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I previously shared on the blog what we are doing for 8th grade this year, but decided to just combine all the other children into one post for the sake of time.

I’m quickly realizing what a busy year we have, when you choose anything outside of a normal textbook approach it definitely requires more of mom. I just love living books so much, and want my children to experience as many books as they can while they are still in school.

First day of sixth grade

Israel – Sixth Grade Curriculum

For Sixth grade I have Israel in Heart of Dakota, in the Resurrection to Reformation Guide. I can’t say he absolutely loves it, because there is more writing involved in the guide than he realized. But overall he loves the books he is reading, he just hates assigned writing of any kind. Even though he loves to write his own stories and wants to write little books all the time.

Heart of Dakota Resurrection to Reformation


In that guide we are using books like Peril and Peace, The Story of the Middle Ages, Monks and Mystics, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, Mystery of History Volume 3, and more!


Israel has gone through two Apologia science books a school year for the past several years. We tend to do science almost every day, so we get through a science book in a semester. I can’t keep that schedule up if I’m reading it aloud to everyone, but when they get old enough to read it for themselves they like doing science.

This year he is going through the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology book, and so far he loves it! He made a human cell out of jello and lots of candy, what child wouldn’t like that? 🙂


He is using Teaching Textbooks grade 6th for math. Israel is not fond of math, but so far Teaching Textbooks has been the best fit for him.

Language Arts 

We are using The Good and The Beautiful for our language arts program this year. I’m in love so far. I had the lofty goal to double up, and have my older children use Rod and Staff and The Good and The Beautiful, but I knew my boys hated Rod and Staff grammar. The older children and I do grammar together and so far it’s working out great!

Israel is also using the IEW Medieval writing program that Heart of Dakota calls for.


Heart of Dakota has some great history books assigned for literature. Some that he will read are Forbidden Gates (he is currently reading this and loves it!!), Mystery of the Silver Coin, Illustrated book of Knights, Morning Star of the Reformation, Ink on His Finger, Leonardo DaVinci, Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, Good Queen Bess, The Legend of Squanto audio, and more!

Bible Time

He is using the book Hidden Treasures in Philippians and going through the book of Philippians for the year. He is also memorizing verses as he goes, which I love!

Other books are Boyhood and Beyond, and tackling the topic of becoming a man and the changes in his body. Should this be the time that I throw out that we are just now getting into all the details with our 13 year old son? We are going to talk to them together this year, and use the book From Boy to Men, What is God’s Design for My Body? and also using the book The Talk, 7 Lessons To Introduce Your Child To Biblical Sexuality. We have had this book for a year or two and I think it will be really good to use.


We are using The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting. It’s simple and sweet.

Character Studies 


We will continue using the Character Badges program to focus on building good habits such as kindness, respectfulness, diligence, tidiness, etc. Israel loves using this program that Sean created!


Israel is taking piano lessons this year. He is not as musically inclined as some of my other children, but I want him to have some basic skills in piano, which he seems to like.

Carrianna – 4th Grade Curriculum

Carrianna is using the Heart of Dakota Preparing Hearts For His Glory Guide. This is the one guide that I did with the boys, and she did listen in on that but it was years ago. I’m giving myself a lot of grace with her guide. There are several things that say to do together, but I’m just having her read the book and then we talk about it…or not. It just depends on the day!


She will be using A Child’s History of the World (such a controversial book, but we skip the first few chapters and then we really like this book!), Grandpa’s Box, Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption, Life in The Great Ice Age, and Hero Tales, Volume one.


I’m having her read the Apologia Flying Creatures of the First Day, and read it out loud to Olivia who is in 2nd grade, and Deborah who is in Kindergarten. I normally don’t worry about science at all in Kindergarten, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt for her to sit and listen. Carrianna is the only one using the Notebook that goes with the book, and she adores it!


We used Horizons for the first two years and then switched to Teaching Textbooks. Sometimes I wish I would have kept her in Horizons, but she really wanted to do Teaching Textbooks since her older brothers were. At least it’s one less thing I have to worry about and grade.

Language Arts

As I shared above, we are using The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts. Carrianna adores grammar, writing, vocabulary, really anything to do with words and writing. It still shocks me when she gets excited to do vocabulary because I’ve listened to the boys groan about vocabulary for years now. So funny how different each child is!


Besides all the free reading that she does, Heart of Dakota has some great books assigned. Some of the books she will read are The True Story of Noah’s Ark, Tizrah, Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables, Triumph for Flavius, Fountain of Life,  Raiders of the Sea, Door in the wall, The Wonderful Winter, The Family under the Bridge, and Twenty and Ten.

Bible Time – This is written in the guide, so she doesn’t have a specific book she is working through.

Character Studies 

Carrianna is also using the Character Badges charts, and will continue that this year.


Carrianna takes violin and piano lessons. She is in Suzuki book 3 in violin, and I look forward to seeing how she does this year!

Olivia – 2nd Grade Curriculum

I keep things more simple for 2nd grade. We still focus more heavily on learning math and reading, but I do start to add some other subjects in if I can.


I had planned to use a Heart of Dakota guide with her, but right now I’m not starting it. We are having long days trying to fit everything in, so I’m keeping it simple and using The Good and The Beautiful history curriculum. We are doing history twice a week, and I’m reading it to all the girls together. So far I really like it.


As shared above, Carrianna is reading Flying Creatures of The First Day to Olivia. I don’t have Olivia using a notebook in 2nd grade, so she just listens. She also has a Nature Journal (along with all the older children) that we will use each Friday.


She is using the Horizons 2nd grade book. I really like using Horizons for the younger grades. Math is not Olivia’s favorite subject, but she does fine with it.

Language Arts

I’m not big on doing grammar in the younger years, but at some point this year we will add in The Good and The Beautiful and see how it goes.

For reading we are in the middle of All About Reading Level 1. Taking a break over the summer was the best thing, because now that we are back at it she is doing better. I still prefer All About Reading for how easy it is teach (everything the teacher is supposed to say is written in the book) and so far it’s helped my children be really good readers. I’m hoping Olivia really takes off here soon.


She is using The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting. Looking back I wish I would have just purchased the PDF version of this, as it’s simple black and white photos and would have printed off easily to use with the younger children when they get old enough. Just passing this along for other large families.

Deborah – Kindergarten

I’ve written a blog post on how to keep a balanced approach to the Pre-School and Kindergarten years. I try to keep it simple, but Deborah has really wanted to feel like she is doing school with the bigger children, so I’ve put together some workbooks that she likes.


For reading practice, we are still just learning sounds, and are using the Pre-K level in The Good and The Beautiful. It’s pretty easy and I can see us getting through it in a few months, and we will move on to either the next level, or something else to keep getting the letter sounds learned.

I also grabbed a Kindergarten Essentials book for her to work through. It’s busy work to me, but she loves it.


She knows her numbers but needs more help in writing them, so I got her the Rod and Staff Counting with Numbers book for writing help. It’s already really helping, so we will use that book and then start Horizon’s Kindergarten math book.


We are using The Good and The Beautiful Level 1 book.

Character Studies

Deborah uses Character Badges and loves earning her coins with the program!

And that’s it! She joins us for morning devotions before school starts. Don’t ask me what my plan is for that because I don’t have a good plan right now. Sometimes we just read through the Proverbs of the day. I purchased the family Bible Study from Heidi St. John but it’s still packed up, so I haven’t started it yet.

Sophia – Two Year Old Play Time

I have never said my two year old was in preschool before, and I’m not going to start now but Sophia is definitely doing some early preschool type learning. She is quite different then our other children were at two! Sean heard her walking around the house counting from 1-12 correctly to herself!

She likes to sit and use counting bears and match up the bears to the correct color cup. She does a great job with that! She also loves to build with duplo blocks, and use the Lauri stacking pegs. She also likes number manipulatives, play dough, and watching Preschool Prep videos. I’m going to start some ABC flash cards with her to see how she does. I would love to start the Preschool Heart of Dakota guide with her, but I’m not sure I can fit it in my day!

And that’s about it! This is one of the longest posts I’ve written in awhile, so hopefully you made it all the way through. 🙂

I would love to know what curriculum you are using this year! Drop me a comment and let me know!

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Sixth Grade, Fourth Grade, Second Grade, and Kindergarten! Heart of Dakota and The Good and The Beautiful, All About Reading and More!





Our 8th Grade Heart Of Dakota Curriculum For 2017-2018

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I knew that we needed a change in our curriculum this year. I previously wrote about how switching to Tapestry of Grace was working out well for our family, and for a year or so it was. Then all the lesson planning that was required each week really started becoming a burden, and I also had to tweak so many book suggestions. We are not a classical education family, and Tapestry of Grace is more of a classical style.

We also have used Notgrass History, which has been a blessing for the busy years when I just couldn’t be as involved as I would like. Mosiah read through all of the elementary/middle school books, and I wasn’t ready to move him on to high school level. I really wanted to give him a year of literature and spending a lot of time reading.

I finally decided we needed a change, and I found myself thinking about Heart of Dakota. The homeschooling mom who was tutoring Mosiah in math last year had been using it for years with her children, so I was able to chat with her about it which helped.

We had previously used Heart of Dakota and I loved the memories we had with it. I had gone through the Preparing guide with my children and loved reading the history to them. Then it became overwhelming to keep up, and I decided to set it aside until my children were a little older and could read all the books for themselves.

Mosiah is in 8th grade this year (where has the time gone?!), so we are going to be using the Mission to Modern Marvels guide. This goes through some of his favorite time periods in history, so he is pretty excited about the books he gets to read!

Heart of Dakota Mission to Modern Marvels

We are both pretty thrilled with the books he gets to read through this year! I don’t have every single book shown in the  picture, but it gives you an idea.

History – For history he will be reading through parts of Story of the World, Volume 4, All American History Volume 2, Hero Tales, volume 2 and 3 (a must for anyone to read!), Great Events in American History, Book of Great American Speeches for Young People, and Great Events in American History.

He also will be doing a study of the Presidents this year, along with making a notebooking journal.

Bible Time – He is working through Faith at Work, which is a study of Romans, Galations and James. I’m thankful for how this walks him through step by step in his personal quiet time with God, and even gives instruction in prayer time. Sometimes it’s nice to have freedom in this area, but he is at the age where I think this will be very beneficial. He also will use the Apologia Who Am I? book, and Hymns for  Kid’s Heart (so sweet!).

Science – I’ve changed things around several times on this child, but one thing that I’ve been very consistent with is having him use Apologia science every year. He loves science and has really enjoyed using Apologia. This year he is in the Exploring Creation with Physical science book for middle school and he can’t wait to dive in! Weather has always been his particular interest, so I think he will really enjoy this year.

I’m also having him read through the science books with Heart of Dakota, but not do any of the assignments for the sake of time.

Economics – He is reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy and Common Business Sense for Kids, and doing assignments with those books. The stocks interest him (he loves looking at them each day on my phone), so I’m thinking he will really enjoy this.

Math – Teaching Textbooks is what we will be continuing, as so far it’s been the best fit for him. I anticipate us needing to use a math tutor again in the future, but for now he is doing great.

Literature – Heart of Dakota has 14 books selected for his literature, some of them include Factory Girl, War Horse, Candy Bomber, I Am David, and Mama’s Bank Account. He loves to read, so this should be a highlight of his day!

Grammar – This is one area we are not strong in (and it’s all my fault!). We will be doing a combination of Rod and Staff Grammar (fingers crossed that we can make it through), and we are also trying The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts this year for the first time. I just discovered this curriculum and I’m in love! It combines art appreciation, spelling, grammar, geography, vocabulary and reading!

The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts

I actually decided to put the three oldest together in level 3. They don’t go by grade level, just by skill. It covers a good foundation of grammar. The other parts of it will be easy for him, but he should be able to get through it quickly because of that.

If you are new to The Good and The Beautiful, they offer free downloads of their Language Arts curriculum! I purchased the physical copies because it wasn’t terribly expensive, but if your budget is super tight you can try the download!

Music – He will continue taking cello lessons, he is in the Suzuki cello book 3 and he also plays in an orchestra in the fall and spring.

Handwriting – I grabbed the handwriting book from The Good and The Beautiful, level 5 for him to work through. It’s sweet and simple, and focuses on cursive.

The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting

Nature Journaling – Heart of Dakota requires him to nature journal this year, but I also grabbed every child a nature journal through The Good and The Beautiful. We will use those on Fridays. I like how it breaks up the journaling by season, and also tells them what to look for.

The Good and the Beautiful Nature Journal

The Good and the Beautiful Nature Journal

That is pretty much everything we are doing, along with lots and lots of free reading when school is over!

I’m thankful for all the amazing curriculum choices we have to pick from! When my mom started homeschooling us in the 1980’s, the only options she knew about was Abeka. Things have certainly changed! It can get overwhelming, especially attending a curriculum fair, but choices excite me so I appreciate it. 🙂







To the New Homeschool Mom

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If this will be your first year as a homeschooling mom, my heart goes out to you. That first year or two can feel so incredibly overwhelming, and I wish every single mom had an experienced homeschooling mom to mentor her through those years.

To the New Homeschool Mom...you don't have to feel overwhelmed!

I went into homeschooling my children feeling very prepared. After all, I was homeschooled k-12th grade myself and I thought I knew what homeschooling days looked like. However, I must say they look totally different from the perspective of being the teacher versus the student. As the teacher, doubts quickly arise and you wonder if you are making wise choices for your child or ones that will hamper their education.

As parents we only want the very best for our children. We don’t want our children to fall behind. We don’t want them to not be reading when it seems like all the other 5 year olds around them are. So, naturally, we push and encourage, and spend hours reading reviews to find the perfect curriculum for kindergarten.

Kindergarten back to homeschool pictures!

The thing is, what if your child doesn’t need a fancy curriculum for kindergarten? What if it could actually do more harm than good?

I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple during the pre-k and kindergarten years. That actually goes into first grade as well.

Since I have six children, I’m now at the point that my little ones want to do a workbook because they see the older ones doing schoolwork, and they want to feel involved. So I get them simple workbooks to keep my pre-k children busy. Some of the books I’ve used are:

Rod and Staff About Three Set 

Horizon’s Preschool Book One and Two (I never get all the extra stuff that goes along with this, and the teacher’s guide is totally not needed.).

Simple workbooks from Costco (they are cheaper, but honestly not my favorite).

That is just to fill in for those times when all the other children are sitting at the table, and they want to be there as well.

My idea of kindergarten “curriculum” is one filled with snuggles on the couch while mom reads books, dancing around the house to classical music, finger painting at the table, dot markers with an activity book,  stickers and paper, scissors and paper to cut all sorts of shapes out, and plenty of outdoor time for play and nature exploration.

Preschool years are so much fun!

Learning can happen naturally at this age. Yes, the ABC’s need to be taught, but it doesn’t have to take 3 hours every day with worksheets and a $400 curriculum package. Instead it can happen while they help you bake and you sing the ABC song with them. Numbers just seem to be learned naturally, and usually by the time they are ready for a kindergarten math book, they know how to count and can write the numbers with help. But what if they’re not ready? Don’t stress about it. Give it some time and they will most likely come around!

While the pressure just seems to keep increasing that children should learn how to read in kindergarten, most of my children have been 7 before they are actually reading. Some of my children have been close to 8, but they are never “behind” because once they take off reading, watch out! I can barely keep them out of books and they devour everything they can get their hands on!

We use All About Reading to learn how to read, and I’ve been so thankful for this easy to use curriculum. I’ll confess, I really dislike teaching children to read. It’s a tedious job that requires a lot of patience as they s-l-o-w-l-y sound out each word. But then when you see it all start to click, what a joyous day!

My preschool age child loves to use the Pre-Reading level with All About Reading!

Right now you can follow along the All About Learning Blog as they offer a free series of cut and paste alphabet crafts for preschoolers.
ABC Crafts

If you are wanting an actual curriculum for pre-school and kindergarten age, I have two that I would highly recommend.

The Heart of Dakota Little Hands to Heaven is a really sweet book for children ages 2-5.

Little Hearts for His Glory is for kindergarten age, for children 5-7.

A Year of Playing Skillfully – This is an investment, but it’s one that would be worth it if you have several children close together! I stumbled across this company at one of the homeschool conventions we attended this spring with our businesses. We were set up very close to them, and my 7 year old daughter couldn’t stay away from their booth! She was totally in love with all of the hands on activities they had there, and I was so impressed with the beautiful pictures and lovely ideas that this curriculum has. You can actually use it for children ages 3-7.

So what about first grade? It sounds nice to keep it simple during the itty bitty years, but surely you have to get serious when first grade rolls around, right?

The only thing I do in first grade is reading, math, and handwriting. That’s it. And then I read to them whenever I can. Besides that I let them play, build legos, play dolls, be outside, and enjoy life as a child. The time for more serious book work is coming, but I’ve found that’s all they really need at this point. Younger children in a larger family might naturally pick up some history or science if you are reading it to the older ones, but don’t feel like you need a fancy science program. The one year I tried using BJU science for a first grader it was almost ridiculously simple and not worth our time.


If you want to spend the early years teaching practical life skills that would set a solid foundation for the rest of their life, check out Skill Trek. It’s a brand new program that just came out, and I’m excited to use it this year for all of my children! It goes through the teen years, but starts in Pre-K and has simple life skills for children to work on. Some of these life skills we just forget about teaching, so it’s nice to have it all laid out.

Learning happens in real life so immerse yourself and your children in it. Get off Facebook, shut the computer for awhile, turn off the TV, and live life. It will do your child a world of good if you bake cookies with them, read stories to them like Billy and Blaze, and then maybe set up the sprinkler for them to run around in.

Blessings on your new school year mama. It’s all going to be ok. Take a deep breath, and then go pull out a book and read to them. You will be amazed over how awesome the year will go if you focus on relationships over bookwork.



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