Should my 9th grader skip MTMM & do WG, or do MTMM with extensions?

Dear Carrie

For 9th grade, should my daughter skip MTMM and do WG, or stay the course with MTMM and add extensions?

We have had the best year with Heart of Dakota, and running three guides has gone well. My oldest daughter is really enjoying Revival to Revolution. At first she was surprised by the workload, but now she seems to just fly through it. She will be in 9th grade starting high school next year. I am considering skipping Missions to Modern Marvels and moving my daughter right into the World Geography guide. She is doing great with Revival to Revolution and is excited to start the new guide. I am thinking to have her read some of the books from Missions to Modern Marvels over the summer. She loves to read, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Does this sound like too much? What advice do you give to students doing Revival to Revolution for eighth grade? Skip MTMM and do WG? Or, stick with MTMM and beef it up?


“Ms. Please Help Me Decide Whether to Skip MTMM or Stick with It for 9th Grade”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide Whether to Skip MTMM or Stick with It for 9th Grade,”

For me, as I talk with families about what will be best in the situation where a student is headed into high school (but is coming from a younger HOD guide), it always ends up to be placement that I go back to again and again. This is what makes the decision such a unique one for each student. Each student’s “best” placement will be his/her own!

We weigh many things when considering best placement for high school.

Placement becomes trickier as a child gets older. It isn’t always as readily-apparent where a child fits skill-wise. Maturity also begins to play more of a role in placement, as does independence, and work habits. A child heading into the high school HOD guides will also have to be committed to a longer school day. Each of these areas will play a huge role in a student’s success and overall feelings about high school. So, all of these areas have to be weighed. Then, there also begins to be the state requirements and college entrance requirements to be met as students head through their high school years. So, all of these areas become a part of weighing correct placement too!

I recommend bathing the decision in prayer and going back to placement chart as you weigh your options.

So, I usually end up going back to the placement chart first to gain placement knowledge (paying the most attention to the first page of the chart) with the 3R’s heavily in mind. Next, I weigh the science, as kiddos are heading into the high school years. After that I begin weighing the other deciding factors: maturity, independence, work habits, commitment to longer days, and state/college requirements. Usually, by that point I have a clearer picture of what the “right” placement for that student might be. Then, I recommend bathing the decision in prayer and waiting on the Lord to see if He confirms the decision.

MTMM is a wonderful guide, but the decision to skip it or use for 9th grade comes down to the best placement all around.

I agree that while MTMM is a wonderful guide, in the end the decision of whether to use it or not really comes down to the best placement all around. However, in placement it is very wise not to overlook maturity, work habits, independence, and commitment to a longer school day!

I would never skip a guide if a student is needing extra time in the 3R’s or if a child is behind in math.

If a student is needing extra time in any of the 3R’s, I would never bump that child forward past a guide. If a student struggles or is a bit behind in math, I would definitely keep in mind then how much time math will add to a child’s day as math gets harder as you go up! This additional time needed to complete math each day, would make the high school guides much longer than we intend.

So, I wouldn’t bump a child struggling in math forward either. I would also never bump that child forward in the sciences (as the sciences become driven by math skills in high school). If a student did not have strong, independent work habits, or a willingness to commit to longer school days, with an increased work load (then I wouldn’t bump that child forward either, or you’ll be dragging him/her along for years to come).

I’d also consider any additional pressures caused by health issues, by family issues, and by outside commitments.

If a student has health issues or family issues or commitments in many outside areas, I would make sure to balance school accordingly so that it doesn’t add additional pressures that would overwhelm the student.   I could go on, but you’re getting the picture that placement advice is affected by so many personal factors! This makes it impossible to give pat answers.

How to Receive Personal Placement Advice

So, for those of you who are trying to make this decision for your own student, you may wish to each post a thread about your student and his/her skill-level placement chart-wise and let the wise ladies on the HOD Message Board talk through placement with you. Dialoguing specifically about your student may really help! Or, if you’d rather not visit about your student on the board, simply reading others’ posts may help. If you get a chance to give us a phone call at HOD, we can personally visit with you about your child’s placement.

Treat this as if you are brand-new to HOD and are seeking placement advice.

No matter which route you choose to go, the best advice I can give you is that you may just want to treat this as if you are brand-new to HOD and are seeking placement advice for your student. This may make it clearer to you as to what you should do! I know it makes it clearer to me as I help families.

I’d recommend making high school placement decisions when your student is on the verge of high school.

Last, I’ll say that usually when looking at high school looming several years ahead on the horizon, and wondering whether to fast-forward a child up a guide earlier in the guide sequence (i.e. like in the guides before RevtoRev or MTMM), I’m more prone to wait to make that decision until the child is right on the verge of high school. This is because kiddos can change so much in just one year and also because it is tough to back up a guide if it doesn’t go well at that point. So, this is typically the reason why I don’t advise jumping a child past a guide too early in the sequence (especially once a child’s placement seems right). However, just as is true anywhere along the HOD path, if a child seems like he/she is not well placed in a guide, then it is always wise to reassess and move that child up a guide to get a better fit.


How should I award points for the IPC labs in World Geography?

Dear Carrie

How should I award points for the IPC labs in World Geography?

We are ABSOLUTELY LOVING the whole Heart of Dakota World Geography program!!! The individual subject and grading record pages are WONDERFUL!!! These sheets are among several of the reasons Heart of Dakota is making us positively feel we can accomplish high school.
This question pertains to the IPC LABS portion of science: Integrated Physics & Chemistry with Lab. How many points are suggested to award per IPC labs? Any suggestions? Thanks, Carrie!


“Ms. Please Help Me with How to Award Credit for IPC Labs in World Geography”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with How to Award Credit for IPC Labs in World Geography,”

I am so blessed to hear that you are loving our World Geography program! You made my day! As far as the labs go, there are quite a few different ways you could look at calculating the grades for the IPC labs. You could just count up the number of total questions in the procedure and in the results section of the lab and give points to each. The points could vary depending on how much work the question involved. More involved results could get more points. That would allow some points for performing the procedure and balance it with the points given for the actual results.

Or, for IPC labs, you could give a single point per step and question, depending on your goals.

Or, you could just give a single point per each step in the procedure and each question in the results section, making procedure and results points more equal. It just depends on your goals for your student. I do think that both the procedure and the results need to be a part of the grade though. Then, you could calculate the grade for the lab based on the total points earned by the student for that lab after you correct your student’s work and turn it into a percentage. For example, if the student earns 23 out of 25 points, then you would turn that into a percentage. Each lab would then have a percentage score. All 35 labs percentage scores could then be averaged together to get a total IPC labs score.

Keep in mind, this is just one possible way to go though. You could not use percentages for each lab and instead use points for all of the labs and calculate total points for all labs completed and then turn that into a percentage instead if desired.

Or, you could just correct each IPC lab as you go, focusing on lab completion, performance, and effort.

Or, you could be much less structured and just correct each lab as you go (not giving each lab a specific grade) and focus more on lab completion, performance, and effort as guideposts. Then, at the end of the quarter or semester, you could look back over the completed/corrected labs and award a quarterly or semester grade for the labs based on the overall work in that area. Often, the grade is readily apparent when looking back at the sum total of the lab work. The only drawback is that with this method the student may not be as aware of how he/she is performing. So, if you go this route it would be important to consult with the student after each lab to help the student correct any errors and add as needed to any responses to equal better performance.



Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!


Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Alexander the Great: Brilliance and Brutality

History with Heart of Dakota

Who was Alexander the Great? 

Conqueror, explorer, leader, and visionary. These are just a few of the words that describe Alexander the Great. Born the son of legendary warrior-king Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander went on to outshine his father.  Philip transformed Macedonia from an unremarkable country to a ruling power in Greece; Alexander made Macedonia the ruling power in the entire known world. His conquests would stretch the Macedonian empire from the mountains of his homeland, to the sands of Egypt, to the expanses of Persia, all the way to the banks of the River Beas in India.

Personality of a Genius 

Alexander was a genius in more ways than one. First, his grasp of military tactics was unequaled in his day. He perfected the use of the phalanx – a tactic which his father had introduced. The phalanx was an infantry formation where soldiers grouped tightly together with each man’s shield protecting himself and his neighbor. In addition to this, each man also carried an 18-20 foot pike which he would thrust outwards from the shield wall. (Wasson) In a time where armies usually fought in a haphazard manner depending on sheer force of numbers to win, the phalanx gave Alexander’s soldiers a huge advantage. Oftentimes, enemy soldiers would simply break off his phalanxes like water off a rock. In addition to this, Alexander had distinct knack for sensing his enemy’s weakest position and massing his men to exploit it. Therefore, when his phalanxes came crashing through there was usually no stopping them.

Second, Alexander was a genius when it came to leading his men. He routinely made a point of leading the charge in battle rather than staying back in safety. Initially, he also insisted on sharing his men’s hardships. For instance, while marching his troops through the desert, according to biographer Peter Green, “…when a helmetful [sic] of muddy water had been found for him in some nearby gully – but no more was to be had – he laughed, thanked the donor, and then tipped the water out into the sand. So extraordinary was the effect of this action that the water wasted by Alexander was as good as a drink from every man in the army.” (434) Alexander lead by example, as all great leaders do. When his men saw him facing and overcoming the same challenges they faced, it inspired greatness in them as well.

Fatal Flaws

Nonetheless, Alexander was far from perfect. “Like many brilliant men,” historian John Gunther writes, “he was unstable…he ran from one extreme to another…” (46) While he could be caring and understanding, he also could be irrational and violent. He had a burning temper which resulted in him murdering some of his most faithful soldiers, such as Clitus and Parmenion. Also, during his final years he firmly believed himself to be descended from the Greek god Zeus. Those who did not acknowledge this were executed. (Gunther 138-139) Sadly, with no god to serve except himself, Alexander – once great – ended his life in drunkenness and confusion.

Lasting Impressions

Even though Alexander’s life was dramatically short (he only lived to be 32!) what he accomplished in that time has had repercussions that affect us to this day. His use of soldiers as disciplined units formed the gold standard in military tactics for hundreds of years afterward. In addition, by bringing many different countries under one empire, he spread the use of a universal language – Greek. Many scholars believe this was instrumental in spreading the Gospel 400 years later. He also founded many different cities – some of which remain to this day. (Many of these he named Alexandria, after himself.) Ultimately, much like God had used prior civilizations and kings to carry out His purpose in history, God used Alexander the Great to mold the world according to His own plan.

Which HOD guides can you find Alexander the Great in? 

Alexander the Great can be encountered in several of Heart of Dakota’s guides! You can find him in Little Hearts, Preparing Hearts, Creation to Christ, World Geography, and World History. You can also find a more in-depth study of him in John Gunther’s book Alexander the Great, which students can read in the extension package for Creation to Christ.


Green, P. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. (University of California Press, 2013).

Gunther, J. Alexander the Great. (Sterling Publishing, 2007).

Wasson, D.L. The Army of Alexander the Great. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2014). 

Is getting the World Geography guide early for science worth missing the package savings?

Dear Carrie

Is getting the World Geography guide early for the IPC science worth missing the package savings?

I will be using Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) for my son’s first year of high school. However, my son will use the science from the World Geography guide. My question is: will I need the World Geography guide to do the science? My plan is to use Heart of Dakota (HOD) all the way through graduation, but I would rather wait and buy the guide when I buy the rest of the World Geography Economy Package the next year. I love the package savings – $72!  Wow! So, I am just wondering if I can do the World Geography science without the guide. Thanks so much!


“Ms. Is Getting the World Geography Guide for the Science Worth Missing Out on the Economy Package Savings”

Dear “Ms. Is Getting the World Geography Guide for the Science Is Worth Missing Out on the Economy Package Savings,”

I wish I could tell you that you didn’t need to have the World Geography guide for the science portion, since you’re using it with MTMM. While you could certainly do the readings and follow-ups for science without the guide, you’d still have to figure out how to pace them to finish on time. Another factor to consider is the labs. While you can do the labs on your own schedule as well, in order to know when to do them to match the readings you’d need to have the guide.

It would be more cohesive and balanced to have the labs match the text.

Also, there are 36 labs, which means that even if you forego matching the text, and just did the labs independent from the text, you’d still need to determine how to get the labs in while balancing that with the readings in the text. With this in mind, from my perspective, it would be much more cohesive and balanced to do the science with our plans as written in the World Geography guide. I think it is always better to have the labs match the text, and these two programs actually ended up going very well together, once I was able to figure it all out for the plans.

You can still take advantage of the package savings the next year.

So, as you ponder what you want to do, I will share that if you do decide to purchase the World Geography guide for the science portion of the plans, then the following year, you can still order the Economy Package for World Geography and receive the discounted price and receive money back for your guide! Simply include in your “Ordering Instructions” box at checkout that you purchased the World Geography guide the previous year for the science plans, and now you’re ordering the rest and won’t need the guide. My husband will then credit you back the entire price of the World Geography guide as well as giving you the package discount! So, it is like we are loaning you the guide for a year, and then you receive all of your money back for it as part of your package purchase the next year.


Follow-Up Reply:

Thank you, Carrie!!! I am already so thankful for the curriculum you produce! Now I know your customer service is the best too! I already ordered and received my things from HOD. My son loved unpacking his things. I am SO THANKFUL to have the World Geography guide alongside the IPC plans. So worth it! Thanks!