Heart of Dakota Blog

Switching to HOD: How to choose guides considering the history cycle?

Heart of Dakota Dear Carrie
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Dear Carrie

My first attempt with Charlotte Mason didn’t go well. Can you help me with switching to Heart of Dakota and with choosing guides considering the history cycle?

Dear Carrie,

I LOVE the look of Heart of Dakota!! It seems to incorporate all that I was wishing to do this year in our homeschool, being our first Charlotte Mason attempt. Unfortunately, we’ve kind of lost our way. I’m hoping that maybe HOD can get us back on track.  I don’t know if it will be completely possible. This year I have a 15 year old son (9th grade) and a 10 year old son (5th grade). Can you help me with switching to Heart of Dakota and with choosing guides considering the history cycle?

We are up to the year 1700 in our studies, in our 22nd week. Revival to Revolution looks like it could work for us, but we’d have to stop what we are doing for history and pick it up for next school year. Is that even advisable? Could I add to it for the then 10th grader, so we are in the same time period? I would love any advice you can give!


“Ms. Please Help with Choosing Guides and Considering the History Cycle”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Choosing Guides and Considering the History Cycle,”

I am glad you are switching to Heart of Dakota, as I believe you will love our Charlotte Mason-inspired plans! Our guides are complete, easy-to-use, and full of wonderful living books for a solid literature-based education.  As you think through what would be the best fit for your two kiddos, I’ll encourage you to do a few things that will really help make it clearer as to where they fit best.

Put aside thoughts of the history cycle and the science texts your students have covered and look at each as individuals.

First, put aside any thoughts of which history cycle your students have covered, except for perhaps your high school student only if certain history requirements must be met for credit. Next, set aside any ponderings about which science texts your students may have already used. Last, place your students as individuals, putting aside any thoughts of combining.  Use the first page only of the placement chart to place each student.

Correct placement in HOD is based on the skills shown on the first page of the placement chart. 

If you do these things, you will truly see where each child fits best and in which program. Correct placement in HOD is based on the skills shown on the first page of the placement chart. These skills are required to complete all areas of the guide. So, if you place a child based on the history cycle or on the science program, you may have an inaccurate placement. This makes all of the rest of the guide a poor fit. Not to mention, it would be compounded in the years to come, as one guide prepares a child very well for the next guide in line!  So with that in mind, for a link to the placement chart, click here.

Skills are important in placement in Heart of Dakota.

I know this will feel different than the approach used for placement found in other homeschool companies. The reason for this is that, at HOD, the skills are very important in placement. This is because CM type skills build from guide to guide (as well as the difficulty of the material and how the skills are applied). Even if you end up reusing a science text or a history text that you may have already read, you’ll find that when the text is done in the CM style used in our guides (and likely is read independently by the student), it will feel completely different!

Our oldest son had to repeat a history cycle when we switched to a more CM-style curriculum, and it still worked well!

We have had this experience ourselves with our own oldest son, as have other moms on the message board who have repeated a text. I had my oldest son repeat a history cycle he’d just done when we switched to a more CM-style curriculum. I found it still worked well, and he gained so much!  If you get a chance to pop back and share where each of your students fit as individuals on the first page only of the chart, then we can help you fine-tune their placement!  Just give us a call for our placement specialist to help, or post on the Main Board of our Message Board, or order our catalog for further placement help! We look forward to hearing back from you when you get a chance.


P.S. To read more about answers to commonly asked questions about how we approach placement and why, click here!


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