Heart of Dakota

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  • Reviewed on Tuesday, December 29, 2015
  • Grades Used: Beyond, Preparing, CTC, & DITHOR
  • Dates used: 2014 - 2015
Heart of Dakota is a complete curriculum that was written and put together by a home school mom, Carrie, who is a former public school teacher. Carrie's sister, Julie, edits the program for her.

The methodology of this program is primarily Charlotte Mason with a Christian influence. It also focuses on catering to the younger children while growing the other children, ages 9 and over, towards independent learning. This independence includes having the child read history on their own starting in 4th or 5th grade, having the child read science on their own starting in 3rd or 4th grade, following directions in the guide, and working on their assignments on their own. The problem with this idea is it makes children dependent on Carrie's guide instead of learning from mom.

Each guide presents a set of skills the child is to master throughout the year. For example, Preparing teaches them to write a 3 - 5 sentence written narration and then practices that exact length the rest of the year. Similarly, CTC has them do a 5 - 8 sentence narration. I looked ahead and RTR continues with 8 - 12 sentences, Rev2Rev with 10 - 14 sentences, and MTMM with 12 - 16 sentences. I personally found as a teacher these sentence limitations, which are required due to the size of the boxes on the notebook pages, to be very limiting for a child's academic growth. It did not, and will not, take my children 5 years to learn how to write a 16 sentence written narration. The part that surprises me most about this scope and sequence is that Rod and Staff English, which we have used for years, requires more writing then this by 5th grade. I think CTC would have been much stronger if it was using the writing being taught in Rod and Staff English in the history instead of a short easy written narration.

The Charlotte Mason skills taught in Heart of Dakota include oral narrations, copy work, and written narrations of specific lengths, poetry, painting, short scripture readings, short history readings, and literature. The public school elements would include age limits to each guide, hands on history activities, and the idea that one box will fit all children of a certain age.

Carrie does point back to Scripture for history and science. I did appreciate this element to the program.

We personally found this curriculum to be too easy for my children's ages and abilities. I did use the board and placement chart to place each one of them. The lack of growth within a guide was problematic. For example, in CTC where the notebook pages dictate the week day by day exactly holds a child back from academic growth and stretching their wings and abilities. I saw an increase of skills between Preparing and CTC, but I did not see any increase of skills within the guide itself. We found that our children could learn the required skills, for the entire year, within a few weeks and then did not have anything else to strive for all year.

Like a previous reviewer I did find ecumenical statements in one of the main HOD history spine that were not commented on in the very limited key ideas in the guide.

I also found an inconsistency between the main CTC history spine and the excellent Diana Waring CD that is also scheduled in the program. There are elements to this program that need revision.

I think the biggest problem for me in Heart of Dakota though was the impact it had on my children. They have always had parts of school they don't like or enjoy and they just have to do in order to get the work done. These elements though usually haven't been in the content subjects of Bible, history, and science. These three subjects have generally been my children's favorite subjects that they look forward to. HOD attaches an assignment to every short reading in CTC, and since these assignments don't require real thinking they become busywork and take much enjoyment out of real learning. Beyond has some great history spines, and that was probably my favorite part of the year. The rest needed growth within the guides, history spines that were compatible, better directions that didn't talk down to my children, much higher expectations in the area of writing, and more thinking required rather then rote learning.

I think when home school moms make plans for other home school moms there are certain problems to the idea of undertaking such a task. On one hand it helps us learn to home school early on. On the other hand it becomes very limited since it becomes a one size fits all education instead of a home school tailored education that allows intelligent kids to fly. This one-size fit all education is what many of us want to avoid by not putting our children in school. I didn't enjoy the public school elements to this program.

Lastly, the Bible in this program is very light and incomplete. If you can find the time with HOD I would encourage adding to it during non-school or school time or both.

In Christ,

Bethjoyt

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, June 2, 2015
  • Grades Used: 4th
  • Dates used: 2014-2015
After researching and reviewing Heart of Dakota for a couple of years we finally decided to try it with my daughter. We chose Preparing Hearts for His Glory.

This curriculum has been the fit that I have been looking for. I love the unit study aspect of how everything, besides grammar and math, is weaved together in one learning sequence. One of the things that I appreciate the most is the independent study boxes. My daughter can learn science and history independently because of the way the curriculum is set up. She can also work on her timeline, and her story time can be done independently as well. This is a huge benefit when you are home schooling more than one child. The curriculum is played out in such an organized manner that there is no guessing. my daughter knows exactly what she is supposed to accomplish, and feels quite proud of herself when she is finished with her independent work.

We sound the readers to be fun, yet rich in content. we never grew tired of the stories that we read together. One of the books was named Grandpa's Box, and my daughter cried when we read the last page. To me, that is what homeschooling is all about. I love it when my kids are enjoying something so much that they don't want it to end.

I am a planner and organizer by nature, and this curriculum is perfectly organized and laid out. The boxes in the daily lessons are easy to understand, and even easier to accomplish without compromising a solid education. I couldn't be more happier then I am at the end of this year.

One thing that was also an encouragement to me was that I "like" Heart of Dakota's Facebook page... I had a specific question about whether or not I should finish this book of curriculum in the fall (because we did not complete it all inoneItearr) or if I should start the next book in the fall. It was so encouraging to me to get a response within 30 minutes giving me good advice to just continue the same curriculum in the fall, and to not skip ahead until I finish that guide. They encouraged me that this is a common practice with their study guides. The fact that someone wrote me back so quickly was a huge blessing. They put quotes on Facebook from time to time, and also educational tips.

I am very thankful that we found Heart of Dakota.

Tommygirl

  • 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!

dianeh47

  • 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.
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