I’ll admit it; the giant blue binder that came with my daughter’s BookShark Reading with History curriculum was a little overwhelming. I remember unboxing day. While my kid flipped through her new books, excited by all the stories she was going to read, I unwrapped a ream of paper—my Instructor’s Guide (IG).
Never having had success with a boxed curriculum before, I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical. But BookShark felt different. The BookShark Science curriculum and US Elections Lap Book we had already used were a hit with both my daughter and me, so . . . deep breath . . . I needed to give this history curriculum a chance. I’m so glad we did!
Not only does our BookShark curriculum reduce the amount of time I need to prep for our lessons, it provides us with countless opportunities to read and learn together. I’ve found the teacher’s guide is just that, a guide. We can easily choose which lessons we follow, where we want to take a deeper dive, and which ones we skip or return to at a later date.
Feeling overwhelmed or a little uncertain about the plethora of materials in a BookShark curriculum? Never fear! You don’t have to do it all. Here are ways to pick and choose from your BookShark curriculum so it’s a perfect fit for you and your homeschooler.
Let BookShark Be a Flexible Guide
When it comes to curriculum, I can get caught up in thinking I need to do it all exactly the way it’s laid out. The problem with this is sometimes my homeschooler wants to do things a little differently or needs a lesson altered. Sometimes she needs more time to read a book or buzzes through an activity and is ready to move on.
What I’ve found, thanks to BookShark, is a good curriculum offers options and ideas I can easily take and make my own. Below are the ways I adjust BookShark curriculum to meet the needs of my homeschooler.
The Weekly Schedule Pages
One of my favorite parts of BookShark curriculum is the weekly schedule grids. (See samples here.) Easy to read and modify, they lay out a concise plan. You can follow it as is, working down the assignments for each day. Or if your child prefers to stick with a book rather than skipping about, you can work across the page, reading the full week's worth of passages at once. It's up to you!
Here's how I use the IG pages. Each week, I flip to the new week’s plan and skim through what is suggested. Then I go back to the previous week and check to see what we are still working on. I cross off the things we’ve completed so it’s easy to see which lessons, pages of a book, or activities we have yet to finish.
To keep track of what we’re working on, I put a sticky note on the weekly schedules we need to complete. There’s plenty of room on these sheets to write down other things we’re doing or any modifications. On the rare occasion we are going to skip an activity or reading, I just cross it out.
36 Weekly Dividers
The weekly dividers are useful guides in that they help me keep track of the units we’re working on, but I don’t worry about what week we’re on or push my homeschooler to finish everything listed in one week’s time.
When we started our BookShark Reading with History curriculum, she was not a confident independent reader. We used the independent books as Read-Alouds, so it took us longer than was suggested. This was okay! I homeschool because I am not interested in flying through lessons just to get them done.
Now, just three months in, my daughter reads on average a book a week independently. Her remarkable achievement is a testament to how reading awesome books and discussing them does, in fact, grow readers. Moreover, it’s possible that by the time we’re in the second half of the curriculum, she could be ahead of the weekly schedule. This is also okay!
BookShark curriculum is organized in such a way that we can easily adjust the lessons and move at our child’s pace.
So you can follow the weeks as they are outlined in the IG. Or you cand do what I do and just work through the material in the order laid out but not necessarily in the time frame (week by week) that it's laid out.
The number of books provided with the BookShark curriculum is impressive yet can be overwhelming due to sheer quantity.
Remember this: The great thing about a book is it doesn’t expire.
Again, I had to remind myself of this when we started our curriculum. It’s okay if your child doesn’t read every single book provided or if they don't read it at the exact time it’s suggested.
Guess what?! We have skipped a book here and there, and it’s okay! Why? Because my daughter was ready to move on or we wanted to take our time with a book she was really loving. We can always go back and read the books we skipped later.
Permission to skip books is fully granted!
My daughter is learning all about the Eastern Hemisphere. She loves filling in the maps, reading and discussing the novels, and exploring the different countries and cultures. Taking notes is challenging however, since she is listening to me reading about a country’s history or reading about it herself. We use the history text provided as a guide as well. We use it for its maps and pictures, skim it for information, and supplement the text by finding documentaries and videos. We also use the notes provided for me in my IG to help her write down notes. She’s learning all of the information she needs to learn in a way that works for her and that’s what matters.
No one knows our kids like we do, so finding a perfect curriculum that meets every one of their needs is unrealistic. BookShark clearly understands this, so their curriculum’s provide learners with an organized Instructor's Guide and tons of resources that can easily be adapted to fit the needs of each learner. Nowhere in the curriculum does it suggest you have to do it all. Our children will get a well rounded education no matter how we tailor it to meet their needs.
- Follow the plans weekly or as you see fit.
- Read all the books or read some now and others later.
- Choose which books your homeschooler reads independently and which ones you read together.
What’s important is your child has a guide (that’s you), and you have a guide—your BookShark curriculum. With both of these in place, the love of learning happens over and over again.
About the Author
Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.
Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.