Heart of Dakota

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  • 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.


  • Reviewed on Thursday, December 27, 2012
  • Grades Used: K and 2nd
  • Dates used: Aug 2012-present
I am using HOD Little Hearts for His Glory this school year (2012-2013) with my Kindy DD and my 2nd grade DD. We are about halfway through the program. I was hesitant to use HOD because my older DD is an advanced reader and I wasn't sure there would be enough "meat" to this curriculum. It has been a great fit for us. The parts of the program that I, as an adult, thought we would probably not do ,such as the rhymes in motion and the music, are my DDs favorite part. I forget that they are kids and do not work on a gett'er done mentality. There is just enough history, Bible, stories and science that I feel we are covering everything but not getting bogged down in the details. My Kindy DD uses McRuffy for math, All About Reading for learning to read, and Explode the Code for phonics work. My 2nd grader is using CLE for math, Rod and Staff English, explode the code, Apples and Pears spelling, Sonlight Readers 2 and she also takes a science class at co-op. I like that we have time to add in extra art, science, or nature studies as we desire. I was also hesitant about the amount of Biblical content in HOD. I didn't desire for us to be too Biblically centered in our schooling...I have since changed my mind. The content has been great and we are all more positive in our schooling as well as God focused in our family. HOD has been a good fit financially too. We will continue with HOD!


  • Reviewed on Monday, December 24, 2012
  • Grades Used: pre-K, K, 1st, 2nd
  • Dates used: 2009-2011
We have used Little Hands to Heaven, Little Hearts for His Glory, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, and Bigger Hearts for His Glory. I love the curriculum. I like the way it is layed out, I like the way Carrie Austin breaks it down. Unfortunately my boys found the history, science, and bible boring. And since we use our own LA and math, there's not much else left.
Specifically, here are some of the things they didn't like. They like to make their own crafts when they find one they like in a book. They don't like to be told which ones to do. The history reading selection in Bigger was boring for my boys and they had a hard time paying attention, let alone narrating. The science was okay and I like the gentle introduction to nature. My kids needed more science. I understand why Carrie wrote such a gentle program, science can be very overwhelming as a homeschool mom, but for this family, we LOVE it. The more science, the better. So that was a real deal breaker.
I liked the pre-K program, Little Hands to Heaven. The only problem with it was the songs, I didn't quite understand all the fingerplay instructions or what tune I was supposed to be singing.
Little Hearts For His Glory was great, but we breezed through it and skipped a lot of it. Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory was my favorite because it was my kid's favorite.
One thing we loved consistently is the reading selection. We love the read alouds and we did the Beginning Readers program in first grade.
I have heard the Preparing Hearts for His Glory is really good, but we are currently using Five in a Row. The kids needed a break from HOD. We have also tried Weaver and Sonlight for short periods of time, but Five in a Row is working really well this year.
I own MFW ECC and we'll begin that once all 3 of my boys are old enough, so we can do it together. We'll be using FIAR until then. Heart of Dakota was a sweet program, but like everything else, not a perfect fit. I made it work for us, until Bigger when we dropped it a few weeks in because of the boredom (my kids, not me).
Hope this helps!


  • Reviewed on Wednesday, June 27, 2012
  • Grades Used: K-3rd
  • Dates used: 2008-2012
After four years of using HOD we are both just as happy as the first day.

The best parts of it are:
It's all laid out, very little if any teacher prep time...perfect for me b/c I am not great at pulling crafts or science experiments out of thin air.
4 days instead of 5 days starting in 3rd grade
Carefully chosen books that are Christ centered (including science and history)
The history repeats for the first few years so if they don't get it the first time, it comes back around and builds on what they learned the first year
Singapore math, better than I remember learning math and at a quicker pace

Things we tweak:
We skip the devotionals and substitute with Awanas (verses, games) and Bible reading at night

This is the first year we tested and dd scored above average in almost every subject including math, which is her least favorite subject.

I am convinced that HOD keeps her ahead of the game academically and reinforces the godly character that we are trying to instill.

Thank you, Carrie Austin! Hoping that she continues to write great curriculum that will take us through our high school years.