This post is sponsored by BookShark.
We are heading into our second year with BookShark, and couldn’t be more excited about it! There are so many considerations that go into choosing the best homeschool curriculum. If you’re considering whether a literature-based curriculum will work for your family, check out these reasons why we love using BookShark.
You might still be in the beginning stages of figuring out what the different homeschool methods even are. Basically, instead of drawing lessons from textbooks, we are able to use real stories to learn from. In the younger levels we’ve done so far, this looks like reading Mother Goose, lots of Richard Scarry books, a variety of Usborne books, and so many fun read alouds!
Having a literature-based homeschool through BookShark has been great for our family, here are a few reasons why!
1. Pre-planned lessons for easier days
Something I learned very quickly after beginning to homeschool is that it requires a lot of planning and forethought! If you decide to make up your own curriculum, then that workload gets even bigger. Having a set curriculum outlined ahead of time makes the process so much smoother, which is something novice and veteran homeschool families can agree is super helpful!
BookShark plans out what books we will be reading through that year, gives us a schedule to follow, and even includes specific points to reiterate or expand on from the readings each day. Of all the different types of “open and go” curriculums out there, I’ve noticed that BookShark is especially convenient in this area because it literally is open and GO. There isn’t any prep required ahead of time since all we are doing is reading through interesting and engaging books together!
2. I can include all of my kids at once
Many of us start this homeschool journey with our oldest child, only to find it extremely difficult to manage the younger ones while we work! I am thankful that my kids are excellent at independent play, but that isn’t something that can be consistently relied on day after day. After all, we are still expected to parent the younger kiddos while teaching the older, and kids are unpredictable!
Something our whole family has come to appreciate with BookShark is how easy it is to include everyone in the lessons. As I’m reading the stories, all three of my children can sit around me and listen if they so choose. Sometimes the younger two wander off to play, which is ok, but when it comes time for them to need me again, they are perfectly content to listen to me reading. And since much of our learning is like this, it’s easier to get in the hands-on activities when the other two are occupied with other activities!
Even beyond the convenience, it is so beneficial for kids of varying ages to hear great stories. Your younger kiddos will more easily absorb the info since it’s through a fun and color story rather than facts listed in a textbook. So not only does it make your day easier, but gives your younger kids a head start as well!
3. We can complete lessons in a shorter period of time
Does this one feel like a cop-out? It’s not! We definitely have shorter days at home than kids do at school, but that’s because homeschooling is more efficient! Thanks to the easy schedule laid out by BookShark, we typically spend an hour or less each day on structured lessons. This gives us time to get all the work in and then let the kids pursue their own interests or learn naturally through play.
As they get older and lessons become more involved, we will definitely have longer days ahead. But it will still be hours shorter than a day at school, and they won’t be spending the evenings working on homework! This flexibility lets my kids learn to love learning and not see it as a burden, since we only spend the time we need to on it. It also helps that BookShark picks out amazing classic books that get my children hooked!
4. We read high quality books
One of my favorite parts of BookShark in particular is their book selection! Anyone can follow a literature-based curriculum, or even make up their own, but with BookShark we have high quality books chosen for us. Not only are the books greatly loved classics, but they are chosen with each age group in mind!
This is something I *know* I would struggle with if I had to plan it out myself. Since these books are used for teaching specific subjects and not just general enjoyment, it would be so hard to find the right books or remember which topics are covered in them. I think I would be tempted to get more strictly informational books for the different topics, which counters the whole point of a literature-based education! I love that BookShark did the digging for me and paired up the best books for each age and subject.
5. Learning from real stories helps with information retention
This last point I am coming to appreciate even more as we advance from the Pre-K All-Subject package to their Level A Reading With History package. Especially in terms of history, kids (and everyone, really) learn SO much better through engaging stories. Rather than listing facts about a period of time, reading a story that is set in that time will have a much greater impact.
With this package in particular, there are some books that present facts in a fun and colorful way, while the longer read aloud books touch on different time and location settings. I could state facts to my kids about World War I, or we could read Mary on Horseback to see an inside look at one woman’s courageous journey during that time. I guarantee you they will retain the details of the book much easier than listed facts!
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BookShark’s level system is set up similarly from Level A to Level J, so each level has its own Reading With History curriculum, among others. Here’s exactly what was included with ours to give an idea of how extensive these programs are. We certainly had a happy box day in our house!
Reading With History Package
With our package, we received history books, read aloud books, a level K readers course, and additional resources that will help us along the way. Here’s the exact list:
- Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend
- Mary on Horseback
- The Llama Who Had No Pajama (this has become a fast favorite for my daughter!)
- Out of Darkness
- The Story of Dr. Dolittle
- My Father’s Dragon
- The Story of Exploration
- A Grain of Rice
- Twenty and Ten
- Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You
- Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia
- Wild Places
- The Hundred Dresses
- The Light at Tern Rock
- Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose
- Living Long Ago
- Dolphin Adventure
- Dolphin Treasure
- The House at Pooh Corner
- Here’s a Penny
- The Boxcar Children
- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
- No Children, No Pets
- Beezus and Ramona
- Little House in the Big Woods
Manuals and Other Resources:
- History A Instructor’s Guide
- Level K Readers Guide
- The Timeline Book
- Timeline Figures (to paste into Timeline Book as we go)
- Fun Tales
- Markable Map with markers
- Large 3 ring binder to keep everything in place
- Hands-on History Kit (we are super excited about this!!)
I mean, what more could we possibly need– right?! While that list may seem like a LOT (and it is!), it’s not at all overwhelming. They are simply providing you with a ton of amazing books to read through together throughout the year, rather than simply giving an instructor manual with ideas you have to go out and get supplies for yourself. It’s all right here, and their schedule keeps it running smoothly with no confusion whatsoever.
If you are interested in a literature-based education for your kids, I highly recommend checking out BookShark. I’m not just saying that either– this is really the curriculum I use and love for my own children! We have loved them and will continue to use them for our homeschool.