As we wrap up our school year I thought it would be good to take a look back at our year using the Heart of Dakota Curriculum and share some thoughts on how the year went.
Every year it seems I change some things in our school year. History is the biggest subject I switch around on, because there are so many good programs out there and it’s not as difficult to move to a different program if you stay in the time period needed. I’ve learned to try and not switch around in math and science as much now, because those subjects do seem to build on each other.
I had used Heart of Dakota years ago when my children were younger, and loved all the books we read together. It was a lot for me to stay on top of though, so we only used it one year since I had to read everything out loud at the time.
Years later the wonderful books used in Heart of Dakota were calling my name again, and I felt that familiar tug to get back to my Charlotte Mason roots (I was blessed with a high school Charlotte Mason type education). I thought we surely could handle doing Heart of Dakota again since my oldest three are strong readers.
In a way it was a successful year. I’m glad we used the curriculum this year, but it still wasn’t quite what I had hoped for.
Here is what was successful and not so successful about our year with Heart of Dakota.
8th grade ~ We used Mission to Modern Marvels for 8th grade this year and overall I think this was the most successful guide and the best experience. I have no regrets over picking this for our son to use, and even though we didn’t use it to the absolute fullest he has learned a lot.
This guide was the most independent, and I feel that is one reason we were the most successful with it. He also enjoyed the time period and we finally let him dive into learning more about WW2, Hitler, and all the heartbreaking history that goes along with that.
We strictly did the history part, and stayed with Apologia for Science and Teaching Textbooks for math, with no regrets. He did read through some of the science books that went with the guide, but we didn’t do any of the assignments that went with it.
He loved learning about the Presidents, but the DVD set that came with it didn’t seem to match well. We had trouble finding the exact spots of where to turn it on each day.
He did read through the Basic Package literature books, and since he loves to read this was a favorite part of his day!
What we didn’t do – Hands on history projects were rarely done, as I’m not a mom that is big into crafts. My children would love it, but I can only handle so much! If it’s something that is easily done and we have the supplies, I’m ok with them doing. We just don’t plan ahead and go out and buy what we need.
Dictation – I feel like this was my biggest mom fail for the year! We didn’t use the dictation part of the program, even though I really wanted to!
Poetry – I had my son read through the poems, but we didn’t sit and discuss it together.
Nature Journaling – I bought the nature journals from The Good and The Beautiful, and he worked through that some this year instead of the one that came with the program.
I probably made the program even more independent then I should have, but it’s what worked for us. He did come and do oral narrations to me, so I heard what he was learning. We made him redo several written narrations when it felt like he just copied from the book, so it was a good learning experience to make sure and use your own words.
Overall I was pleased with the books used, with what he learned, and have no huge regrets.
6th Grade – We used Resurrection to Reformation for 6th grade, and looking back I almost wish I had gone with the Revival to Revolution one. He ended up studying the Reformation time period more than once and was really tired of that period in history. Thankfully the Mystery of History volume 3 saved the day, and he loved reading it! He told me he ended up learning a lot more in the time period (like the 100 year war), and it was mainly from the Mystery of History book.
This guide needed more of me, and I made a huge mistake of not ordering a geography book on accident. It was the book he needed to do the maps throughout the book and I should have just ordered it after I realized how crucial it was!
It felt like it didn’t take very long for him to do his assignments each day. He is a fast reader, and because we didn’t do every single box in the book I wish I would have added more assignments for him. I know some people disagree with this thought, but it would have been better for this child.
Like the other guides, we didn’t do the dictation, it was my original plan but I couldn’t seem to pull it off.
Overall my son felt like the year was just ok. He said it wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t his favorite, I think due to the time period and that he had read several of the books before. It’s a struggle to keep up on what books he has read!
4th Grade – Our daughter used Preparing Hearts For His Glory. Depending on how you look at it, this was the biggest flop in our school year, or it was ok. I’m choosing to say it was ok.
We started out trying to do the guide together. As the year went on I became less and less involved (pregnancy, and trying to stay on top of the younger girls school and being hands on in grammar with the oldest three). We made the decision to just have her read all the books included in the guide, but we didn’t use the guide.
She would come and tell me what she was learning, and I was pleased with how I saw her being stretched in her reading this year. She turned 10 in March and is reading through the Anne of Green Gables book (her choice) and loving it! That’s my end goal, to have a child who loves to read because I feel they can learn anything then.
As with the boys we only used this guide for history. She read an Apologia science book and used the notebook with it, and went through Teaching Textbooks for math. I’m hoping her math skills continue, she gets upset if she gets anything less than 95% each day!
I love knowing that I don’t feel like I need to screen the books they read with Heart of Dakota. The books are carefully chosen and always align up with our reading standards.
Do I regret using Heart of Dakota for this school year? No, not at all.
Am I going to use Heart of Dakota next year? No.
It was a hard decision because I thought for sure we would do the world geography program for 9th grade. With a baby coming in August I’m choosing curriculum based on the fact that the newborn will need mama, and I’m also considering the requests of my children. My daughter wants something more textbook like, which fits her personality.
I’ll be sharing more about what we are using later, but for now I wanted to give you all a summary of our year with Heart of Dakota.
I think that Heart of Dakota can work with a large family, but it takes a lot of dedication from the mom. I always have to remember that I’m a work at home mom and have to juggle more than one thing. The older guides are my favorite when they are more independent, and especially if you have children who love to read.