Heart of Dakota

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  • Reviewed on Sunday, September 21, 2014
  • Grades Used: Bigger Hearts through World History
  • Dates used: 2008-present
I would like to post a review of the World Geography guide. My family has used and enjoyed all the guides from Bigger Hearts to the brand-new World History guide. I cannot say enough about how much this curriculum has blessed our family!

In particular, the World Geography Guide was such a wonderful beginning to our high school years. We used it last year with our 10th grader and are using it again this year with two 9th graders.

The World Religions and Cultures study is our favorite part of the guide. We saw great growth in our children's hearts for the Lord and for people from other religions. The way that it is designed is such that you read about a religion's basic viewpoints and then you read a true story (autobiography or biography) about someone who left that religion and came to Christ. Each story is truly inspiring and faith-building. I read them all myself and even recommended them to others after I finished because they are so good! My own faith was greatly challenged as I saw the courage and the faith that each one of these individuals displayed as they left their false religion behind to follow Christ, many times in the face of great danger and even death. This study is not meant to be an in-depth study of each of these false religions, but an introduction into their beliefs. The point of the study is for children to learn that each false religion does not lead to God and will not satisfy or provide salvation. To read real stories brings this fact to life in a life-altering, memorable way. I still draw on these stories for inspiration and encouragement.

I feel the need to comment on a previous review that was very critical of this study. Some quotes were taken out of a book that is used about Jesus and His Jewishness. The quotes were taken completely out of context. For instance, this quote from the reviewer:

"That Jesus expected the hearers to be a sieve opposed to a sponge that would soak up everything he taught to (a sieve) filtering to remove the dross of what he said to take ONLY the treasures of his teaching. They claim our call is not to be "parrots" unquestionably repeating everything we learn from our favourite teacher, but to "Explore and experience" to be able to extract the treasure from the dross in His teachings. (Being Jesus) (Excerpt from Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus)".

In actuality, that quote is referring to people who had listened to a rabbi's teaching - not Jesus' teaching. And it is saying that no Christian teacher's words should be accepted without comparing them to the Word of God. In no way does the book suggest that Jesus' teaching is not absolutely infallible and completely true. And I would say this is right on - only God's words are to be taken as 100% true and everything else needs to be compared to the Word of God.

The curriculum always points everything back to the Word of God and has many, many Scripture references throughout that always point the student to God's Word to see what it says about a particular subject. This is something that I especially appreciate about HOD.

The previous review also states that HOD (or books that HOD uses) teaches there is more than one way to heaven. Again, nothing could be further than the truth. HOD consistently points to Jesus as the only way to heaven. In fact, that is the whole point of the World Religions and Cultures study. I believe the reviewer was referring to a particular book that had a controversial statement in it. It was noted in the guide and the students were told to compare it to Scripture and discuss with their parents. We will not always agree with every author and it is a wonderful skill for our kids to use to go to Scripture immediately when they sense that an author is saying something contrary to the truth. The book as a whole was a very helpful book that taught us a lot.

What I appreciate about this study the most is that it was written to prepare our kids for all the religious viewpoints out there that they will come across and that they can be assured that there is only one true religion - only one way to God and to heaven - and that is through Jesus Christ alone!

OK, enough about that! We have many favorites with this guide. The Literature study is fabulous! It takes BJU Lit and intertwines it with truly great novels. For us, it was the perfect balance and kept things mixed up enough that the kids really have enjoyed seeing what reading is coming next. I read them all and I really loved it!

The Logic study is a great mix of two interesting resources. My kiddos have definitely grown in seeing the fallacies in the world all around them by using these books.

I have also found the Bible study to be a great tool in developing their faith. It is not fluff at all and has led to great discussions about some topics that often are not really covered unless we make time for them. This is something that I would not expect your kids to do just on their own. The discussion time with them is really valuable. And the way that they pray for a people group around the world each week really ties into the Geography focus.

All in all, the World Geography Guide is very balanced and covers all needed topics and then some. I felt very reassured that my children were getting everything they need for high school and becoming prepared for college, if they so choose. The best part is the way that it is all planned out for me and that I do not have to do any scheduling work. It all flows so nicely and each day has a good mix up of readings and assignments so that you don't get into a rut. I am so thankful for HOD and the way that it has made homeschooling possible for us over the years. It is a truly Christ-centered, academically rigorous, living book-filled, balanced, doable(!) curriculum!


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
  • Grades Used: 9th
  • Dates used: 2013-2014
I really enjoyed Heart of Dakota World Geography for my ds first year of high school. I did not have to plan a curriculum, schedule his school day or search for books. That was all done for me. Even how to grade the different subjects and the credits were included. All I had to do was teach and have a wonderful year. The living books were amazing. We are looking forward to next year with World History.


  • Reviewed on Monday, September 15, 2014
  • Grades Used: 5th, 7th, 10th & 11th grades
  • Dates used: 2013-2014
We have used the following HOD guides (some of them twice)

Bigger Hearts
Preparing Hearts
Creation to Christ
Resurrection to the Reformation
Revival to the Revolution
Missions to Modern Marvels
World Geography

I would love to comment on the World Geography Guide! We LOVE it. I learned so much by reading the books myself. I wish my education was as deep when I was in school. I have a son and a daughter who used this guide together, both with different learning styles, and both enjoyed it. My son would rather be out doing manual labor than inside doing academics, my daughter is gifted (verified by testing), and the guide works well for both of them. They both like the independence that the guide gives them. They beg me when I go to any homeschool conference NOT to change their HOD!

I've asked them both to give me some comments on the World Geography guide and here is what they said:

"I really enjoyed the World Geography books. I never thought I'd say that about any books, but the books Mrs. Austin picks are really thought provoking. I can get into them and they keep my attention. I see how everything I am learning ties together and it makes the learning a lot more interesting. R 17, has used Rev. to Rev., MtMM & World Geo. with beef-up's for Highschool. Looking forward to using the World History Guide for my senior year!!

"I loved the whole World Geography package this year, but my favorite part was the World Religions and all the books that went with it.! I learned about so many cultures and religions, and in doing so can see how understanding World History next year will make so much more sense! Every year with HOD gets better and better." O 15, has used Rev. to Rev, Missions to Modern Marvels & World Geography, looking forward to World History!

My husband and I have read many of the books in this curriculum with our children and that has led to very thought provoking discussions. We have done different math and science, only because this guide is targeted for 9th grade, so we have already done the math and science levels that the guide has. This is a very full guide, and if done as written, is very well rounded. We have always loved the education that HOD has helped us to give our children and the ease with which to do it. I also love the biblical basis that everything is taught from.


  • Reviewed on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • Grades Used: 9 & 10 World Geography
  • Dates used: 2013
We bought HOD World Geography for this year. I wanted it mainly for the World Geography and because we were making a long distance move, so I thought it would be easier to buy an all in one. It was not a good fit for our family. HOD was not a new choice for us, we used it in their younger years (Bigger and Preparing) but we had gotten away from it in favour of other courses. My dc 13 and 15 found the work too easy and too light. I found that I had to supplement to many things for my liking. Some of the books were good choices and others while gave us some food for great debates, I was not impressed with some of the beliefs in the books we were discussing. My husband was even less thrilled. I would prefer not to support those authors with my $$ as their books do not line up with my beliefs when I look with the light of the Word. Not every book, but more than one. I am not trying to dissuade you from HOD. I do suggest that you look up the books and read up on them before purchase. The Austin's are really nice people and very helpful. I don't want to offend anyone, I just wanted to share our experience.
I understand that the author expects these to be taught or directed by the parent as well as discussed. The notes are not in-depth to say the least in my opinion, especially in regards to Independent Studies, mostly it is a summary of the days reading. Many of these books are very inclusive/ ecumenical in their viewpoint. The portrayal of the different religions (Buddhism, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish etc.) are very generally taught about but there are many inconsistencies and incorrect views. The books chosen agree amongst themselves, but are different to mainstream teachings of those religions. Where this bothers me the most is in the explanation of the different religions and how "Similar' they are in areas, and what the apparent differences are. For example the attempt to explain Jesus' jewishness, yet the books chosen are very incorrect in their views of the Jews and their faith and ways. If the so-called expert is wrong, what are we supposed to be learning? There are references of what Jesus did or would have did, yet the same author claims that "Jesus was indeed a Pharisee not rebuking the other Pharisees but polishing himself as a refined thinker and excellent student with his brethren, and he gave sophisticated contributions to the high level of conversations that was going on among Rabbis of his time". Or that Jesus was not the only Rabbi to teach in parables, they all did, and that everyone who knew the Scriptures would understand. That Jesus expected the hearers to be a sieve opposed to a sponge that would soak up everything he taught to (a sieve) filtering to remove the dross of what he said to take ONLY the treasures of his teaching. They claim our call is not to be "parrots" unquestionably repeating everything we learn from our favourite teacher, but to "Explore and experience" to be able to extract the treasure from the dross in His teachings. (Being Jesus) (Excerpt from Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus) Sadly this is one example of many picked from a random page of one of the book choices. Yes I am a conservative Christian. I believe that every Word of the Bible is true. I teach my children through this world view, and expect that when they hand in a report that they have credible sources and give reference to them. But how do I explain when I require an essay or report regarding books read, information given in this study, that does not coincide with 3, 4, sometimes 5 other credible sources (Wikipedia doesn't cut it) including speaking to the members of the community of these religions whom are in leadership roles. When more than once in different situations, by these same leaders I have been told "This book is incorrect, we believe...." and the guide says next to nothing about the fallacies that are being presented in the daily material, do I continue to support the value of the guide? It is my responsibility to teach my children to live in this world and not of this world I agree, but by the renewing of our minds and lining all teaching up to the Word of God. I do not expect the guide, books, etc. to be perfect and thats OK, I already have THE perfect book and use it as the measuring stick. I did not comment to bring strife or say that we are only using the books. I have followed the guide and used it in my teaching and preparations, but there is an inconsistent amount of information compared to mis information. Especially when every touch, kiss, killing, violence is noted in the said guide. Therefore I understand that this is a literature based study, to teach WG using various books. Here is an excerpt from the back cover of another... "It's a tale of plots and war like machination among the Abysinian Jews-well, not them, exactly, it's more like he heard there were such a thing and had to write a novel about them, but misplaced all the details." Speaking of Queen Sheba's Ring. To have books explain that there is no literal hell, that there are more than one path to Heaven... My children KNOW better and would daily point out the fallacies they read in the pages. I'm GLAD! Glad they know and recognize for themselves, but I am NOT impressed that I paid good $$ for this curriculum (Its not cheap) and in turn ended up supporting these authors with my funds. As for the light work of the study, yes we follow the guide, we are close to done, but I have had my children write more reports, compare the readings to many other sources, interview people of those religions and write about it.
Mapping with Art has some fun games, but I wish I had done this when the dc were younger.(Age 7/8) The bookmarks, the book summaries, the prayer chart, the handout sheets are not what I would expect for high school. Maybe in the public sector, where there are 30 kids in a class with a no left behind theory, but based on my previous experience with HOD I personally was expecting more, a higher quality and higher expectation relevant to their age and abilities. Other people may love it. For what its worth I can only share my personal experience and give you some food for thought.