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Heart of Dakota: good fit or no?


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My oldest is going into 3rd grade this year and we've been pretty relaxed up to this point. We've mostly focused on the 3 R's and read through several books from AO. I guess I would define my style as relaxed/CM/classical with a dash of waldorf/Beechick in the early years. :lol:

 

But now I feel he's ready for a bit more rigor and I need a bit more guidance.

 

Through the years, I've looked at all the literature-based programs out there (AO, SCM, Sonlight, MFW, HOD, LBC, TWTM, WP....on and on...) and none ever seemed like just the right fit. But this year, I'm feeling drawn to Heart of Dakota's "Bigger" program. I like the layout of the guides and most of the book selections. I like the idea of doing American history this year, a one year history overview next year and then a 4 year chronological cycle. I like the idea that it's planned out to include projects and all the subjects. I like that it's designed to gently guide students into more independent learning as the years go on.

 

My hesitation is the "Christian" content. We are Christians and I want my kids to learn about scripture and the history of the church, etc. However, I am not a hard line young earth creationist and do not want to teach only from that view. I do not believe in the "Providential" history of the US and I do not want "character training" with a punitive slant. Those of you that have used HOD... is this sort of teaching really pervasive? Or is it fairly neutral/easy to change?

 

My other hesitation is that I won't be able to stick to the schedule. How easily tweakable is HOD? Is it easy to fall behind? And if you fall behind, does it feel like you are behind? :tongue_smilie:

 

Any thoughts you have are appreciated! :001_smile:

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You probably will not like the resources provided by HOD. I purchased their curriculum Little Hearts but hated the resources my views don't line up exactly.

 

Thanks for your feedback. I did get that impression for the younger guides and that's a big reason I stayed away in the past, but now that DS is ready for Bigger, I wasn't sure if that was still an issue. None of the books in that program specifically raise red flags based on reviews I've read, but I wasn't sure what the TM was like.

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My hesitation is the "Christian" content. We are Christians and I want my kids to learn about scripture and the history of the church, etc. However, I am not a hard line young earth creationist and do not want to teach only from that view.
In the guide, Carrie adds notes such as "If you are not from the YE position, you may wish to skip reading such and such pages."

 

I do not believe in the "Providential" history of the US and I do not want "character training" with a punitive slant. Those of you that have used HOD... is this sort of teaching really pervasive? Or is it fairly neutral/easy to change?
I have yet to encounter any punitive type of character training in HOD. So far, any character training has been quite positive in nature.

 

My other hesitation is that I won't be able to stick to the schedule. How easily tweakable is HOD? Is it easy to fall behind? And if you fall behind, does it feel like you are behind? :tongue_smilie:
It depends on what you want to tweak. Some areas are conducive to tweaking and won't be affected by doing so. Others areas (especially on the left side) are interwoven and are thus not as easy to tweak. You could, of course, skip areas and just read the history, but IMHO you'd miss the richness and fullness of the curriculum if you did so.
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In the guide, Carrie adds notes such as "If you are not from the YE position, you may wish to skip reading such and such pages."

 

I have yet to encounter any punitive type of character training in HOD. So far, any character training has been quite positive in nature.

 

These are good to know, thank you!

 

And about the tweaking... I don't want to tweak, but sometimes I just can't resist! :lol: But if it is a good enough fit, I hope I can leave well enough alone.

 

I use MEP with great success and that is quite scripted. But I am able to just take out what I like, put my own spin on things and forget the rest. I love having the framework there, though, so if I can just let myself do the same for HOD, I think it could work well.

 

One more question about the layout... each day is a two page spread, yes? And there are 5 days to each unit? And 34 units to the program? How hard would it be to just do 4 days per week? If each day is all-inclusive, could you potentially do 2 days one week, 5 the next week, etc.? As long as all the units get done, does it matter if you complete them each within a week?

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I have similar beliefs and concerns as you--I'm Christian, old earth, non-providential history, and have a belief background that has some issues with punitive teaching as well among other things.

 

I used the Little Hands and then Little Hearts. I liked Little Hands and the first half of Little Hearts but aspects of the history in the 2nd half bothered me enough that I quit most of the program (I kept the literature). It was the providential flavor mostly though the church history bothered me too. I think, though, it was the resources from CLP that gave that slant and not Carrie specifically. I did get a little bit of a "God is watching you so be good" feel from some of the devotional materials but, again, I think it was the resources used. That and I think I'm super sensitive to that feel in spiritual training. I just didn't use the things I had issues with.

 

I purchased the spine books used in Beyond because I really loved much about Heart of Dakota and wanted to use it again. I had problems with some of the history books there too. So I didn't purchase the guide/use the program that year. I actually loved American Pioneers and Patriots though and it's CLP! I used that book as I made my own program that year. On the other books if I recall I was mostly bothered by what I felt was an American-centric if not providential slant (and portrayal of Native Americans through that lens) but I can't remember and I packed up those books. I was probably a little leery generally because of my Little Hearts experience.

 

All that to say that I am planning to use Bigger for 3rd. I have looked at the resources that are available online because they are out of print (though not in depth) and I think/hope I'll be ok with it. I really feel drawn to HOD right now. So I'm where you are and can't speak as to whether Bigger will fit or not--for either of us. I do believe you can return the materials within 30 days if you decide not to do the program after you receive it. In that sense you'd only be out shipping if you decide to try and it won't work.

 

It's possible each week is a specific history and character focus. I suspect it is though I've not seen the program in whole. So to do it in 4 days I'd be more inclined to look over the week and cut what I felt I couldn't cover/what I didn't think was as important to make it fit rather than carry a day to the next week. I tweak everything and I did tweak HOD as well without issues but, again, I can't speak about tweaking Bigger specifically. I don't think Bigger will have an issue with Young Earth. If this year goes well I want to do Beyond next year. I will not be using some of the resources (particularly dinosaur/man stuff) because of the YE teaching. So I'll be doing my own thing initially but I think that part is not a whole lot of the program. If you are not as strongly old earth you might have an easier time with it than I will. I think the average fourth grader should be able to be told this is one view point but it's not certain and this is another belief without an issue.

Edited by sbgrace
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One more question about the layout... each day is a two page spread, yes? And there are 5 days to each unit? And 34 units to the program? How hard would it be to just do 4 days per week? If each day is all-inclusive, could you potentially do 2 days one week, 5 the next week, etc.? As long as all the units get done, does it matter if you complete them each within a week?

 

No, it doesn't matter if you complete them in a week. You just simply do the next days plans whenever you pick HOD back up. There are people (Carrie, including, a few years ago) that use Bigger and other younger guides four days a week, leaving Fridays open for other activities. At the end of the school year, they stop and then in the fall, pick back up where they left off. As a side note, the guides from Preparing on up are already designed to be 4-day a week guides.

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Does anyone know how prevalent the providential view is in the upper levels (starting with Creation to Christ? I've never been completely sure what providential means since it seems to vary but I don't seem to agree with programs that people label as providential (i.e. I believe that God is in control but I do not believe that God had picked America to be His chosen nation or in some way values America over the rest of the world). I was checking the HOD website today and I saw their state study. I started looking into it and the description says how great it is to be able to study each state joining the union 'From a Christian point of view'. Comments like that confuse me and make me wonder if I really don't understand their point of view. Exactly how can a state study that is supposed to cover facts, trivia, nicknames etc be from a Christian point of view? Is there a non-Christian and a Christian view to state facts?

 

I am keeping HOD in mind for my youngest when we get to our next history cycle but I really think this could be a problem for me but I want to understand it more fully before I cross it off our list (or put it at the top of the list).

 

Thanks

Heather

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It is young earth. It does have direction to leave off dates if you are not young earth in the history time lines, but beginning in Preparing and CTC...there are definitely young earth books used for the science (The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible, Dinosaurs of Eden...) It is also very much a reformed Protestant POV interwoven in all the subjects. I had no problems with Bigger and below, but starting in Preparing I began to have issues. In CTC, I had a lot of issues with the Biblical history b/c it was one point of view.

I think you would enjoy Bigger and it would help your child get used to doing more, but I don't think from your description of your needs that Preparing on up would work without significant tweaking.

CTC is the main reason that I realized that I couldn't tweak and change it to fit our beliefs in science, history, and religion. CTC is really Biblical history for about 75% of the year. So there was a very reformed Protestant point of view about it all. Since it was meant to be independent, it was very hard to keep up with things we needed to omit or change.

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Does anyone know how prevalent the providential view is in the upper levels (starting with Creation to Christ? I've never been completely sure what providential means since it seems to vary but I don't seem to agree with programs that people label as providential (i.e. I believe that God is in control but I do not believe that God had picked America to be His chosen nation or in some way values America over the rest of the world). I was checking the HOD website today and I saw their state study. I started looking into it and the description says how great it is to be able to study each state joining the union 'From a Christian point of view'. Comments like that confuse me and make me wonder if I really don't understand their point of view. Exactly how can a state study that is supposed to cover facts, trivia, nicknames etc be from a Christian point of view? Is there a non-Christian and a Christian view to state facts?

 

I am keeping HOD in mind for my youngest when we get to our next history cycle but I really think this could be a problem for me but I want to understand it more fully before I cross it off our list (or put it at the top of the list).

 

Thanks

Heather

 

There was a definite reiterating in Beyond with the CLP history readers that people came to the United States to be free of religious persecution. It may be something similar. I have not done the state study as we ceased using HOD midway through CTC. I think from the sample week it does talk about Pennsylvania and William Penn from a religious perspective. You could download the sample week and see if it gives you a better idea.

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There was a definite reiterating in Beyond with the CLP history readers that people came to the United States to be free of religious persecution. It may be something similar. I have not done the state study as we ceased using HOD midway through CTC. I think from the sample week it does talk about Pennsylvania and William Penn from a religious perspective. You could download the sample week and see if it gives you a better idea.

 

I didn't know that the idea that there are groups of Europeans who came to the US for religious reasons was a religious idea. That idea is even taught in the public schools where you are barely allowed to say the word God. But it sounds like there are other problems if you want to avoid the providential perspective. Hmmmm....

 

Heather

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My hesitation is the "Christian" content. We are Christians and I want my kids to learn about scripture and the history of the church, etc. However, I am not a hard line young earth creationist and do not want to teach only from that view.

 

My other hesitation is that I won't be able to stick to the schedule. How easily tweakable is HOD? Is it easy to fall behind? And if you fall behind, does it feel like you are behind? :tongue_smilie:

 

Any thoughts you have are appreciated! :001_smile:

 

 

Your hesitation is completely logical.

 

I used HOD for 3 years, and almost a 4th (bought it then forced myself to switch).

 

I love being able to homeschool and that includes a BIBLICAL, Christian view and curriculum. HOWEVER-- big however, I always felt that HOD just crossed that line into preachy. There's SO MUCH of it, that --to me-- it was a bit overwhelming. Almost like overload.

 

 

That sounds horrible. There is always room in my life for Jesus, please don't misunderstand... it's just that does EVERYTHING have to be a lesson on religion? Cant an english or art project just be a regular project?

 

Towards teh middle to end of the year, I would just start skipping ALL of the religion extras because it was too much.

 

I think having prayer time, maybe studying 1-2 verses, a small Bible lesson is just fine. It doesn't NEED to go so overboard and all-inclusive into everything. Honestly, sinple is better (in my opinion)

 

I'm sorry. I LOVE HOD. I LOVE the scheduling boxes. It made my day sooo easy because it was all planned for me, and we had no problems with the schedules at all.

 

If we missed the second page of lessons due to a doctor appointment, no big deal. We just did them on the next day. I checked off a box as it was completed and always knew where to start back up. If we were having a crazy week, it was not hard to double up on lessons, or eliminate something that I felt didn't need covering.

 

 

Now-- a few other of my observations... I now obsessively despise ONE SMALL SQUARE books. Dang, I hate those books now. Too many years of those in her curriculums. Seriously, hate those things... :P

 

I never felt the science was educational enough. The kids never felt it was interesting. NEVER. By year 2 or 3, we always ended up supplementing the science or doing our own thing.

 

And my boys hated the poems. But that's probably just my boys, because I have yet to find ANY poems they like, even the silly boyish ones.

 

Never was crazy about the CD's, but again-- probably just us.

 

I never could get DITHOR to work. No matter how many questions I asked, it never clicked in my head, so we skipped that, but did often use the reading books.

 

 

I really DO like HOD's format. Of all the boxed curriculum I've tried (and I've tried ALOT!!!) it's still my favorite. It was very organized yet simple for me to follow.

 

I have actually considered going back to it to do Creation to Christ (Crazy, I know....) for my younger two boys (ages 9 and 10) but would have to do some tweaking.

 

I'm trying to make a list right now to see if all the tweaking I'm doing makes it worthwhile or not... It might not be worth it.

 

I have SOTW set complete here for history (and love it)...

I have TT here for math

I have Easy Grammar for grammar

We already have an awesome art program.

 

 

Ok, guess it's not worth it. Darn! Darn! Darn!!!!!

 

I miss having those daily subject boxes to check off though.

And not thinking or planning.

I miss that alot. :D

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Oh dear. I really, really want this to work for us, but I does sound like the religious stuff is going to be too much. :crying:

 

I wonder how crazy it would be to try to arrange AO into the HOD format, adding in projects and activities... :tongue_smilie:

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Oh dear. I really, really want this to work for us, but I does sound like the religious stuff is going to be too much. :crying:

 

I wonder how crazy it would be to try to arrange AO into the HOD format, adding in projects and activities... :tongue_smilie:

 

 

Based on your original post, I don't think you would have a problem with Bigger. I have not found the history to be providential.

 

She deals with the history books used in a very even-handed manner. The book talks about Columbus being a Christian. She puts in the notes to talk about how Columbus did not act very "Christian" toward the native peoples he found.

 

There are no YE leanings in the science. She does warn you if a page in the book has references to evolution so you can read it or skip it depending on your personal convictions. She does give you Bible verses to copy on your science notebooking pages and for some people that's too much religion mixed into science. If it bothers you, then don't have your child copy the verse.

 

The Bible portion of Bigger is all about different character traits taken from the book of Proverbs. The character trait is usually drawn from who you study in history. When you are studying Benjamin Franklin, you learn about thriftiness (penny saved, penny earned). The Bible in Bigger has started some really awesome discussions between my dd and I, especially the week on stewardship.

 

If there are any more specifics you would like to know about Bigger, please feel free to ask.

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Thank you for that, Chelli. Have you used any guides above Bigger?

 

I have not, but some of the books used in Preparing are definitely YE. I have heard amazing things about the Preparing year. We will be doing it in two years.

 

There are quite a few HOD users on the board. Hopefully they will see your thread.

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Based on your original post, I don't think you would have a problem with Bigger. I have not found the history to be providential.

 

She deals with the history books used in a very even-handed manner. The book talks about Columbus being a Christian. She puts in the notes to talk about how Columbus did not act very "Christian" toward the native peoples he found.

 

There are no YE leanings in the science. She does warn you if a page in the book has references to evolution so you can read it or skip it depending on your personal convictions. She does give you Bible verses to copy on your science notebooking pages and for some people that's too much religion mixed into science. If it bothers you, then don't have your child copy the verse.

 

The Bible portion of Bigger is all about different character traits taken from the book of Proverbs. The character trait is usually drawn from who you study in history. When you are studying Benjamin Franklin, you learn about thriftiness (penny saved, penny earned). The Bible in Bigger has started some really awesome discussions between my dd and I, especially the week on stewardship.

 

If there are any more specifics you would like to know about Bigger, please feel free to ask.

 

:iagree:

 

I have read other materials that are quite providential and HOD hasn't felt that way to me. HOD definitely integrates the Bible into many areas of their guide, but I've never felt it was in a providential sort of way. Rather, it is designed with many open-ended discussion questions which allow you to lead the discussion. FWIW, my dh did not like "The Light and the Glory" because of its providential slant, but he thinks HOD is a great choice for our homeschool. We're also not diehard YE folks and we still enjoy HOD. As a disclaimer, I only own through Preparing, so I haven't used the upper guides.

 

I think it's great to get feedback from others, especially when you are making your decision. I've always been the type to research to death before choosing. However, from experience, I would suggest that once you find something that works for you, try not to let others opinions sway you. I can't tell you how many times I've been very pleased with a curriculum, then I start reading other folks' criticism of it and then start second-guessing my choice. :tongue_smilie:

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:iagree:

 

I have read other materials that are quite providential and HOD hasn't felt that way to me. HOD definitely integrates the Bible into many areas of their guide, but I've never felt it was in a providential sort of way. Rather, it is designed with many open-ended discussion questions which allow you to lead the discussion. FWIW, my dh did not like "The Light and the Glory" because of its providential slant, but he thinks HOD is a great choice for our homeschool. We're also not diehard YE folks and we still enjoy HOD. As a disclaimer, I only own through Preparing, so I haven't used the upper guides.

 

I think it's great to get feedback from others, especially when you are making your decision. I've always been the type to research to death before choosing. However, from experience, I would suggest that once you find something that works for you, try not to let others opinions sway you. I can't tell you how many times I've been very pleased with a curriculum, then I start reading other folks' criticism of it and then start second-guessing my choice. :tongue_smilie:

 

:iagree: Ain't that the truth!!! This happened for me this spring with HOD, but it works so well for my daughters that I'd be crazy to change at this point.

 

We'll see how my son turns out....:D

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I definitely agree about the second-guessing, which is why I like to research throughly before I invest in a program. But I think I need to start thinking less about the long haul and more about what will work for us this year. This year, because I have a baby, a toddler and a 1st grader who needs to learn to read, in addition to my 3rd grader, I really need something planned out for me. So for this year, it sounds like Bigger might be a good fit and we can re-evaluate continuing HOD next year.

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I definitely agree about the second-guessing, which is why I like to research throughly before I invest in a program. But I think I need to start thinking less about the long haul and more about what will work for us this year. This year, because I have a baby, a toddler and a 1st grader who needs to learn to read, in addition to my 3rd grader, I really need something planned out for me. So for this year, it sounds like Bigger might be a good fit and we can re-evaluate continuing HOD next year.

 

Bigger is a really good year. Since your 3rd grader is a boy, I can't recommend enough the boy titles for storytime.

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