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(Doing a science experiment with Oreo cookies. What fun!)

It’s a strange season of life I find myself in.

Having been home schooled all of my life, I’m pretty comfortable in the homeschool world. When someone talks about curriculum, different methods of homeschooling, and varying thoughts on scheduling, I nod my head in understanding. As a high schooler I read “A Charlotte Mason Companion” as I was so interested in the Charlotte Mason way of teaching. I was convinced that I would be the perfectCharlotte Mason homeschool mom, with all my little students gathered around me in a lovely little homeschool room complete with our schedule on the wall and my perfectly compiled homeschooling notebook. It sounded like a perfectly lovely way to spend my days.

Hah! With five young children surrounding me, I’ve woken up to reality.

In truth, I spend most of my days juggling teacher manuals trying to find what page I’m on, three children asking me all at once to “come help me mama”, the toddler is at the kitchen counter eating a stick of butter (why do all my children like to eat butter?), the baby needs nursed, it’s 11:00 and we are only on our first lesson. My homeschool room is our dining room, which normally is full of crumbs under the table, and laundry that is spilling out of our laundry room onto our dining room floor. The Charlotte Mason idea is a dream in my head as we open a textbook which I have a love/hate relationship with.

I was the youngest of three children and spent my high school years alone with my mom. Life was quieter and slower. My mom needed a quiet house with her illness, and as children we learned to adjust to that. With five children eight and under life is anything but quiet now. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll be honest and say it’s been a real struggle lately. School has lost it’s joy and has become more of a drudgery routine that we must endure. I have a child who does not like math, language arts, well, basically anything involving a textbook he does not like. It’s not that he can’t do it, it’s just not his favorite thing to do, and he lets me know this frequently. I finally woke up recently and realized something had to change. I couldn’t just keep forcing the textbooks without adding some joy into our school again.

After searching online, I’m delighted to have discovered Heart of Dakota curriculum. It seems like the best of both worlds! It is a christian curriculum based on Charlotte Mason with lots of reading – which will interest my oldest who adores to read. Normally curriculums that involve a lot of living books clash with my list of what is acceptable for our family. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that almost every book that is on the Heart of Dakota’s reading schedule will pass my approval! I’m very excited to start this and create a fun school atmosphere for my children again. I also am aware that if my mom was still alive she would totally support me using this curriculum, and that is nice to know.

My goal in teaching my children is not just that they will learn how to read and write. I want them to love to read and write.

โ€œThe most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading.โ€
โ€•ย Charlotte Mason

I want them to truly have a love of learning, a passion for life, and a desire to serve God through the things they learn.

โ€œThis idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God-we do not merely give a religious education because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection.โ€
โ€•ย Charlotte Mason

Growing Home

38 Comments on Homeschooling as a Second Generation Homeschooler

  1. I so needed to hear this today!!! Knowing that I’m not the only one that feels this way sometimes. I have 3 children, 7, 4, and 2 and I baby-sit a 1 year old all day. So sometimes I feel like I’m chasing myself trying to find where I left off last. I also am encouraged to hear you are going with Heart of Dakota. We just started our second year with it and love it!!! I met Carrie Austin at the convention this year and she was so nice!!! I too am thankful for a “good wholesome” reading list!

  2. I am an avid supporter of Charlotte Mason and her education approach. We use it, never heard of Heart of Dakota but sounds like a good one. We use Ambleside Online…you should check it out. It is a free curriculum, you have to supply the books though but the reading lists and schedule are all laid out. I have noticed a huge improvement in my children’s love of learning since using it. Blessings! โ™ฅ

  3. I am glad you found something that you like. It took me a long time to find what I like for homeschooling.

  4. I also often struggle with what I thought homeschooling would look like compared to the reality of it. We joined a Classical Conversations community last year and that has been a help. I’m always juggling with 4 kids age (almost) 7 and under – reorganizing, adjusting my priorities, and remembering what goals we had when we started homeschooling in the first place. I really appreciate that my husband set about (recently) to make a list of goals (in general, not just schooling) for our family. We use those to guide us in scheduling, curriculum, and so many other decisions based on what we believe God wants for our family.

  5. My kids also eat butter… and will sneak in the fridge to get sticks of it to run away and munch on! Well, the 3 year old does that anyway! I don’t get it, lol.

    We will be using HOD next year for preschool with my littlest, but are going with MFW in the older grades. It looks more doable to me as far as combining ages together, since my children are more spread out and aren’t very close together (in 9 years of being open to God’s blessings, we have received 3, with the littlest one being due in July). I’m excited to start! =o)

  6. I’m a second generation homeschooler and I have four children between the ages of 4 1/2-9 years! I can SO relate!!! We do tend to lean more to a CM type, but we also have times where we seem to be unschoolers, school at home, and even (dare I admit it) nonschoolers! Thankfully those moments aren’t often! I’ve heard great things about HoD and had considered using it!

  7. Thanks for this! I did not grow up in a homeschool family– in fact both sets of grandparents disapprove of our decision– and I’m a bit overwhelmed at times as I begin this process with my five year old. How is it I stay at home all day and can’t find time to spend 45 minutes for working one-on-one with him? Why does he not like the amazing lessons I spend so much time finding and preparing? So many blogs show the perfect schedule with perfectly behaved kids exicted to learn. Not us!

    Thanks for being so real!

    • I understand! So many blogs also show the perfect school room setting, and children looking adorable and happy doing their school. That’s just not real life around here, and I have a feeling it’s that way for a lot of families! I understand about trying to find the time to sit down and do the lessons. When the laundry, dishes, and multiple other things are calling your name, it’s hard to stop it all and focus on lesson time for a while. I’m sure you are doing great though!

  8. I was also homeschooled almost all the way through and have been frustrated with how little my teaching resembles my mom’s. But our situations are so vastly different. I’m a single mom with 3 kids under 8 and a baby due today!! I have heard good things about the HOD program but have fallen in love with My Father’s World. It reminds me of the way I was taught, but I don’t have to do all the planning!! It’s been so much fun to watch my kids enjoy the weekly trips to the library that I remember with such fond memories. Were you in a Homeschool support group when you were a kid?? I can’t seem to find one like what I grew up in. They’re all “co-ops” where the mom’s rotate teaching actual classes. That just seems like the anti-thesis of homeschooling as I see it! When I was a kid we got together once or twice a month and did field trips and craft projects, etc. And the moms had a moms only meeting once a month to talk about curriculum and what worked, etc. I guess nobody needs that anymore . . . weird.

    • I understand what you mean about homeschool support groups being different. I was not involved in many support groups growing up, but I do see the difference in them between when I was younger and now today.

  9. I was in a very similar place last year and we also found HOD and we absolutely love it! It’s been a great fit for our family. We do use our own math choice (MUS) and we choose Easy Grammar over Rod and Staff English, but everything else we use HOD choices and love it.

    Thank you for sharing your heart on this matter that most homeschool moms face.


  10. I have a butter eater too! And I often find bite marks in the cheese…

    Homeschooling has definitely been different from my vision. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  11. I’m beginning my homeschool experience. My oldest is 4 and youngest 2. I’ve read of the different methods and loved charlotte mason and was leaning toward unschooling for now, but because I’m new at this I need a guide. And my friend talked to me about Heart of Dakota and I got their catalog and totally loved it. Last weekend we went to our first homeschool conference and we were so encouraged and although Heart of Dakota did not have a booth, another booth had one preschool curriculum! I was so excited, now I can’t wait to start! I love that the Bible is center and that you can group ages together cause that was something i wanted to mantain. … It’s exciting to know more people that are using it and love it.

  12. Oh, I am so excited for you! When I found myself in much the same scenario as you, God blessed us by directing us to Heart of Dakota. It is such a wonderful Christ centered, God honoring curriculum. I LOVE all the book choices and have not run into any problems with it thus far, and we’ve been using it for two years now. The author has such a heart for the Lord and serving Him through providing this curriculum.

    My children are in different guides, but it works together so nicely and everyone is met at their level, enjoying good books and growing closer to the Lord each day! It’s amazing how so many times through the day we make connections in what each of them are learning. Even when we did a program that taught all the children together, we struggled because they were each at different levels and did not learn the same way. With HOD, because it incorporates several different learning styles, it works for every one of my children!

    I just want to encourage you to read the many posts at their message board. It is full of godly wisdom and encouragement. There are quite a few posts that address the reasons behind the book choices and why HOD works on so many levels to develop higher level thinking and many other skills.

    Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, I’m just so glad to hear that you’re going to be enjoying HOD! I love reading your posts here and have been so encouraged in my pursuit of modesty in my home. Thank you so much for faithfully answering God’s call for encouragement in this area!


  13. I was really blessed by your post today! We found ourselves in a similar situation, and just switched to HOD–LOVE it!! We’re 8 weeks in, and life seems to have calmed down a bit, and everyone LOVES school!

  14. Thank you — I needed this reality check! I plan on being a second-generation home schooler, and I’m right in the middle of the “reading-Charlotte-Mason-and-imagining-perfect-nature-studies-with-my-children” dreaming stage. I do love learning about young motherhood, the hard days and weariness, and holding fast to Christ through it all. (My mother adds that she’s still dreaming of the perfect CM senario, and both of us have already graduated.) ; )

    I am curious — there are some things in motherhood and homeschooling that we just can’t prepare for. But do you have any advice for young women on how they can be preparing and “toughening up” for those years? Any thing from character and book-collecting to diet and being fit, I would love to hear anything bits of wisdom you have to offer. : )

    Thank you for everything you share here.

    • Breezy,

      What a fun time of life you find yourself in! When I was your age (that makes me feel old saying that and I’m not quite 30 yet!), I dreamed up this wonderful family, and how we would look, act, ect. While I’m still glad I created a wonderful vision to aim for, having children has brought me down to real life and now I understand what an incredible job being a mother really is. I would say for a young lady who is not married yet, to keep studying and learning all you can on homeschooling, marriage, mothering, read, read, read! If possible, be a mother’s helper with a large family so you can see what it is really like. But most importantly, stay humble. Don’t look at other mother’s and think “my children will never act that way” or “We are having family devotions every single night at 7:00, I can’t believe this family skipped them this evening.” I remember passing judgements on what I observed in other families, and until you are really in it you can’t understand how hard it is to make everything happen just like you had always planned. I had always firmly declared that my children were going to be friendly and speak to people when they said hi to them, shake their hand ect. I always thought it so rude when children were allowed to hide behind their parents legs and refuse to even look at you. Wouldn’t you know it, I’ve learned you just can’t force a child to say hello, no matter how much you talk to them, coax them, encourage them, practice at home, when they are 3 and extremely shy it just can’t be forced. My children continually keep me humble as I’m reminded that child training is a journey and there will be many mistakes before we complete it.
      As for marriage…find a good guy and you will have a great marriage! ๐Ÿ™‚ At least that is how it has been for me. My husband is incredibly encouraging and forgiving of my faults, for which I’m very grateful.
      Enjoy this season of life, once it’s gone you will look back with fondness on your “waiting” days. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thank you so much, Caroline! This is very, very helpful. I’m so thankful that the Lord has given me so much time to study and prepare. I know the days will fly!

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’ll have to share this valuable advice with friends. : ) God bless!


  15. I am glad you found HOD. I will start my 5 year old in the fall, I am so excited. I have read nothing but wonderful reviews and I am following a bunch of blogs of moms that use it and it just looks like so much fun. It has a little bit of everything, after looking through their catalog and reading reviews I knew HOD was for us. I hope it will work out for you and bring joy back into your homeschool. I pretty much agree with all of their choices but will probably continue using CLE for reading since it is really working for us so far and may also use their LA and/or Math.
    Good luck with your new choice!

  16. I’ve been using Heart of Dakota since I found the pre-school curriculum back when my oldest was 2-3 years old. We’ve continued with it and find the flexibility it allows is refreshing. I haven’t looked back yet and hope that it continues to be an enjoyable experience. My third child begins Kindergarten this year and is very excited about starting school.

  17. Have never heard of Heart of Dakota but will sure check it out. Am looking at all the different curriculums out there as I’ll start homeschooling in a few years:)
    I would love to hear your ( or anyones) oppinion on the Rod and Staff curriculum.

    • I’ve looked several times at Rod and Staff, and while I’ve heard good things about it I’ve just never been interested as I thought it looked a bit dry.

      • HOD does recommend using the R&S English books. They are really good! They could be dry, I guess, but HOD suggests doing them orally together with the student, and saving the last 1/3 or so of the assignment at the end to be done written. That way it’s not too much on the student, and it’s a lot of fun to do it together. You can also explain and answer questions as they come up. The teachers manual is a great help for us moms who might not be as confident in this area! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Wonderful article! I’ve lost the joy as I drag across the finish line this year too. I do have an opinion for Abby about Rod and Staff, though. I’ve only used the English/Grammar book. I think that the 7th grade (or 6th or 8th) text is amazing. Even if you only do one really serious year of grammar in middle school, Rod and Staff is incredibly thorough and it is saturated with scripture. It has lots of diagramming and is very detailed. I think it is weak on writing, but that was ok with me. I wanted to focus 7th grade on grammar and next year we’ll focus on writing skills (but I’ll use IEW for that)…

    • HOD actually couples R&S English with a writing program in Creation to Christ (CTC) on up. And in Resurrection to Reformation (RTR), they even use IEW’s Medieval Writing Lessons. It’s really good! So that fills in any weakness in writing instruction, quite nicely!

  19. FYI, according to Dianne Craft, who speaks on nutrition and brain development at homeschool conferences, butter has long chain fatty acids. If your kids love eating it, it could show that they are needing it! Butter has long chain fatty acids similar to fish oil, so it is good for their little brains.

  20. I was just curious to find out what other Mom’s daily devotions consist of? I homeschool my children 14 & 15 and have some reaally busy days. I feel as though I am really slacking in my devotion time & that is unusual for me. I do not even know were to begin anymore I am so over worked latley! Thanks for any advice ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Being a first generation homeschooler late in the game I so appreciated this article Caroline as my daughter just had our first grandchild and is looking forward to homeschooling. I love the insight to have to share and remind her of when she is in this stage of life. I just picked up Pocketful of Pinecones and some nature books (I am a little excited) so I am hoping Grandma can have some fun and offer a little Charlotte Mason at a different pace than they can at home. I want to be an encouragement to what they are already doing and working on.

    Loving our skirts – I just ordered Amber some too ๐Ÿ™‚

    I like to have a little toast with my butter ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Such a good post! currently we are doing Christian Light Publications for Kindergarten and are really enjoying it. However, I do need a fun and more interesting hands on type of thing for my soon to be Preschooler. This HOD looks quite interesting. But tell me, how much preplanning does it require? and how much hands on stuff? is it basically reading different books on different subjects? Or is there more to it than that? just needing a bit of expounding. I like the look of it from the website but it’s nice to hear from ladies who are doing it now. everyone sound so positive on it!
    and… I have one little butter eater at my house too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ too funny.

  23. Hi, Caroline!

    You wrote, “Normally curriculums that involve a lot of living books clash with my list of what is acceptable for our family.” Could you explain this further? What do you mean by “living books”? What is your criteria for being acceptable reading material? Thank for the clarification!

    Renee Webster

  24. WOW!! I sooooooooooo needed to read this today!! I only have 3 children (10, 6 & 4 1/2) but struggle with the same things as far as my oldest not wanting to “do school” and my younger 2 picking up on her dislike…being that it’s “the end of the year” and our homeschool convention is coming up at the beginning of June I always begin looking for “new” curriculum. I had a friend that used Heart of Dakota & now you’ve shared all this!! I can’t wait to look into it! I love Charlotte Mason’s theory on schooling but I too have struggled to truly embrace it & live by it…although I have gotten better in the 4 years we’ve been schooling I’m still a little afraid to let go of the wheel, so to speak. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!!


  25. I am going to be a second generation home school mom soon and it scares me a little…ok a lot…at the thought of doing it. Thanks for this post. My mom had four of us and things were always crazy so you would think that I would not have the “perfect home school family” syndrome but I can feel myself falling into it!

  26. My daughter is in high school now, but when she was younger we tried many different curriculum’s in search of one or two that would fit her learning style. We tried Abeka (NO), Bob Jones (liked it), Teaching Textbooks (liked it), Drive Thru History (liked it), Time4Learning (LOVED it), Vocabulary Spelling City (really liked it–still use it for vocabulary), and various other supplemental resources.

    My daughter has dyslexia and ADHD so Time4Learning was a perfect fit for her, not to mention she likes using a computer. I liked it because the lessons were already prepared for me and they did the record keeping. I will also say another reason it worked for us is because they let you have access to 3 grade levels within each subject which was a big help because my DD was ahead in language, but behind in math.

    Teaching Textbooks also kept her attention and gave her extra help in math. It’s a very good program and also self-paced.

    Drive Thru History is perfect for many ages; we still use it in her high school studies. The videos are funny, yet have a solid academic basis as well as a Christian World View. They even come with a printable resource.

    Vocabulary Spelling City (www.spellingcity.com) is very interactive and provides help with not only spelling, but vocabulary and handwriting.

    Maybe a few of these might spark a little interest for your child.

    Best wishes!

  27. So on the money. I find it hard to find blog posts where we moms and real with the nitty gritty of homeschooling. I am a second generation homeschooler with 7 kids ages 8,6,5,4,2,and 14 months with #7 due around thanksgiving. Homeschooling was SO different growing up. My sister and I were homeschooled, but it was just the two of us and we were 6 1/2 yrs apart. mom had plenty of time to work with both of us. We had a quiet house. Fast forward to me with my kids and it’s totally chaos. Usually abaout 11 am I need some quiet time.

    I thought I was the only one who was doing a major before-school-starts-get-every-spot-in-the-house-clean clean. I also have been redoing chore charts and made up a new system, I would be happy to share is anyone wants to see them. It has made life so much easier to have things written out, I don’t end up expecting too much from my older kids and they know what they HAVE to do that day. I also am making sure to expect the right amount of chores for the younger ones. Sometimes I expect to little from them. I’ve switched curriculum a few times too, between seton and catholic heritage, and others. now I have found my happy place with a little of this and a little of that. I am a little bit of an unschooler and charlotte mason, but text books help me be a better teacher and mom. Also I only plan lesson plans for a short time. two weeks to a month tops. If I plan to far away we end up really behind in some subjects by the time I want our school year to end.

    Thank you for your lovely blog. It helps me feel not so alone in this isolating world of homeschool, babywearing, open to life Christianity.

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