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Placement for Switching to Homeschool with Heart of Dakota Mid-Year

Heart of Dakota Pondering Placement
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Pondering Placement

Please help me with placement for my 3rd grade daughter, as I switch to Heart of Dakota’s homeschool curriculum mid-year.

I am switching my 9 year old daughter to Heart of Dakota mid-year. We did Little Hearts for His Glory for first grade, and Beyond for second grade. Then, I thought I should try something else – not really sure why because we liked what we were doing. Now we are in week 18 of a different homeschool curriculum for 3rd grade. We are miserable. My daughter hates to write, and we have not done much notebooking or narrating this year. I am reading books to her, but we are not doing anything else with them. We’ve done a little copywork, but not much. We are doing math and spelling with other programs than Heart of Dakota (HOD). We’re also using BJU’s writing/English program a few days a week, but I am not seeing the growth in her like I did with Heart of Dakota (HOD).

The only two things I have liked this year are from Heart of Dakota.

I loved the look of HOD’s Emerging Reader’s Set, so I did get those. However, I am not having my daughter do any kind of literature study with them. I also liked HOD’s recommendation for R & S English 2, so we are doing that. Really the only two things I have liked doing this year are from HOD. She reads well and is really enjoying the books in the Emerging Reader’s Set. Right now, she is reading Tornado and can’t put it down! But then when she finishes reading, I don’t do anything with her. I feel like I’ve wasted this whole year. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize it.

Should I switch my daughter to full-speed Bigger Hearts or half-speed Preparing Hearts?

So, now I know I want to make the switch back to HOD. But, I am wondering if I should just stop what we are doing now and switch to Bigger Hearts for His Glory? But then, she won’t finish all of HOD’s high school guides. So, would it be better to have her go half-speed with Preparing Hearts for His Glory? Help!!!

Carrie’s Reply:

Thank you for sharing about your daughter!  From what you’ve shared so far, I would lean toward placing her in Bigger Hearts. The jump up to Preparing with the struggles you mentioned in writing and narrating would be very challenging. Bigger is such a foundational year in helping kiddos grow in the areas of writing, reading, copywork, and spelling. I wouldn’t want your daughter to miss that. So, placement in Bigger Hearts makes good sense.

I would recommend finishing R & S English 2 and dropping BJU.

Whenever you head into Bigger, I would just finish Rod and Staff English 2 and move into Rod and Staff English 3. I wouldn’t use both BJU and Rod and Staff for English as you go up, because you’ll be double-dipping.  We don’t want her worn out from writing for grammar when we want to get her copying daily for practice. You wouldn’t need to continue on with BJU for writing either, as Rod and Staff will include writing in the coming levels when she is more mature and ready for it.

I would recommend using studied dictation for spelling, and I’d keep going with your math if it is working.

For spelling, I’d be inclined to switch her to studied dictation (as included in Bigger‘s Appendix). If you would rather continue with the spelling you are using, you surely could! However, I will say Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation is a very effective method for teaching spelling in a time conscious way. No matter what, I wouldn’t do both spelling programs though, as her day will get very long. If your math is working well, I’d just keep on going with it. If it is not, you can give your daughter the Singapore Primary Math placement test by clicking here.

I would finish the Emerging Reader’s Set and then move into Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

It sounds like she is doing well with the Emerging Readers, and she can just finish them out. I would have her start doing the follow-up comprehension questions with the remaining Emerging Reader’s Set books. Then, she can head into Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 2/3 (DITHR). You can have her use the DITHR Level 2 Book Pack, or books of your own choosing. The Sample Book Ideas List provides some good books to choose from as well.

Full-Speed Bigger Hearts vs. Half-speed Preparing

Believe it or not, Bigger at full-speed with daily grammar, math, dictation, and DITHR will probably be harder than half-time Preparing. It sounds like your sweet daughter would be very well placed in Bigger and be challenged by the work. Being well-placed means that she will be getting what she needs as you head into each successive guide. Shooting too high can really result in frustration and in being unsure of how much to downsize each day to suit your child’s needs. It’s so much better to be accurately placed and know you can expect your child to do all that is within the guide each day. There are many families who will not finish all of the HOD guides, and that is fine. We can make sure that your daughter still gets what she needs to count credits for graduation and for her future plans.


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