Our Educational Philosophy
Our products are a result of many years of developing our personal belief system of how children learn. With over 30 years experience in education, Carrie has been fine-tuning her educational philosophy for decades. After 11 years teaching in the public school, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership, and 20+ years of homeschooling, Carrie has used what she’s learned to write Heart of Dakota guides from preschool through high school. You can read more about the philosophy that shaped our guides below.
Engage Their Minds, Capture Their Attention
When Carrie resigned after 11 years of teaching in the public schools to come home full-time, we knew that we wanted our children’s education to be different. We did not wish to view our children as little vessels to fill with information. Instead, we wanted their learning to engage their minds, capture their attention, and spur them on to explore their interests and pursue their hobbies.
As we moved forward into homeschooling, we discovered some of the same philosophies Carrie had learned through public education and some she hadn’t. We were especially drawn to the ideas put forth by Charlotte Mason and found ourselves agreeing with much of her philosophy of education.
We mainly focused on Charlotte Mason’s concepts of short lessons and readings; selection of “living books” read purposefully over time; exposure to poetry, music, art, and nature; and her approach to language arts through narration, copywork, dictation, and memorization. Miss Mason’s philosophy meant much more to us because of her personal belief that knowledge of God and His Word is foundational to all learning.
Address the Unique Needs of Varying Ages
As we added more children to our homeschooling family, we found that much of the traditional curriculum written for only one grade level did not fit our philosophy and was too time consuming for both Carrie and our children. We also knew we did not want an approach to education that was mainly focused on textbooks and workbooks.
When we tried using multi-level curriculums to combine our children in a variety of different ways, we had limited success. We found most multi-level curriculums were aimed at our older children, which left our little ones with no focused teaching time or personal attention. Consequently, the multi-age program that was supposed to unite all of us became fragmented. As we tried to adjust the material for our little ones, our older ones lost their focus.
With our past frustrations in mind, Carrie started putting together a learning program for our own children. We realized that trying to group a wide span of age levels together often left someone’s needs unmet. This didn’t match with our belief that the younger years are very important as habits are being formed and core learning is taking place. Likewise, the older years are also important, as children move toward gaining independence and learning to work toward a goal. So, Carrie began writing her own programs, with guides that used smaller age increments and still spanned several age levels. These guides went on to become the curriculum Heart of Dakota is known for today.
Build a Love for Christ and a Love for Learning
With the variety of homeschooling materials available today, it is easy to desire a Christian education – yet end up with very few curriculum choices that are actually Christ-centered. To keep Christ at the center of our homeschool day, our guides place special emphasis on God’s Word so all other learning radiates out from there. Instead of Bible being a stand-alone subject, we keep a biblical foundation at the heart of the whole day – with Godly character training woven throughout every guide.
In line with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, each of our guides has engaging living books at the core. Carrie chooses books that give kids a heart for literature, history, science, and God’s Word. Activities and narrations are included to prompt students to dig beneath the surface of what they read, challenging them to read reflectively and with moral discernment.
Building on our biblical foundation, our guides integrate a wide array of subjects in a unit study manner with daily history readings from living books – all connected to key ideas throughout the day. A varied mix of follow-ups, projects, and discussions cater to every learning style. In this way, each day flows together in a fresh and interesting fashion with something to engage every type of learner.
Our educational philosophy is reflected in our curriculum through its distinct Charlotte Mason bent, unit study flair, and Christian worldview. This unique combination stems from our desire to build both a love for Christ and a love for learning – without sacrificing the academics.
We pray our guides may help you have a successful, God-honoring homeschool experience you can look forward to enjoying with your children!