Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thinking & Rethinking…a New Plan for School

I *thought* I had settled on using Visual Learning Systems (online) for the next few years for Haylee’s science.  That is, until I stumbled upon BookShark’s new 7th Grade Science program!  It is set up in the same format as earlier years of Sonlight Science with the same kinds of experiments and worksheets.  It has a nice assortment of books on a variety of science topics that include “build-it-yourself” types of hands-on labs once a week. 

Haylee was immediately interested, because she really likes the books we’ve had for Sonlight science up until now, even though we never do the experiments.  But these look fun!  It has weather, environmental topics like what happens to garbage, robotics, technology and engineering, etc.  I’m so excited for her!  I hate spending money that I don’t *need* to spend, but like my husband said, part of homeschooling is choosing curriculum that’s right for each kid and not necessarily making do with what you’ve already got.

I was also a bit unhappy with Core H for her once I started looking at the book selections.  I remember Hayden getting pretty bored with the books, too.  We are proudly a Christian family, but I feel like Sonlight puts too many religion books in 7th grade.  If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that the fastest way to turn someone away from anything is to shove it down their throats.  There are SO many of these books in Core H, like How to Stay Christian in High School, BBC Manual, Live Like a Jesus Freak, etc., etc.  I just think it’s too much for her at this stage.  I really want her to enjoy her reading assignments, because she is nowhere as astute in general as Hayden was, and getting her to do her reading is like pulling teeth if she is not into the books she’s reading.  I’m not looking to set ourselves up for a year-long battle.  So I took a look at BookShark’s 7th Grade History program, and it looks wonderful!  I have most of the books already, it’s a 4-day schedule (which is what we like, and Sonlight has announced they are doing away with all 4-day schedules this year), and the reading list is lighter, which she will really appreciate.  I also love that they put their schedules online, too! 

I won’t get to take advantage of the online schedule for the 7th Grade History IG, though, because I went ahead and bought it used from someone, and the online access is tied to the original purchaser.  Too bad.  But I got a pretty good deal.  I got the IG with two of the books I needed for $52 shipped.  I figured I probably wouldn’t find a seller for the 7th Grade Science, just because it just came out in September, so I went ahead and ordered the IG and supply kit directly from BookShark.  I ordered all the books for less at Amazon, since BookShark charges a lot for shipping.

Anyway, I’m very excited for our changes for next year!  This morning, I also decided to switch Holden over to BookShark, as well, just because he’s not as good of a reader as the other kids were, and his attention span is very short, so I think he’ll benefit from a lighter reading schedule, as well.  He’ll use something like 14 fewer books with BookShark’s 3rd Grade History with regular readers than with Sonlight’s Core D, and I only needed a couple of new books.  I worked out a deal with someone for a used 2014 version of the BookShark 3rd Grade History IG and one of the history spines for $65 shipped.  I got the other books either from Amazon or Sonlight.  Otherwise, I’d have ended up having to split his reading with him like I did for much of this year.

So if you’ve used Sonlight and BookShark, what are your thoughts on how they compare?  If you haven’t taken a look at BookShark, you might want to see what’s going on there.  They said they’ll begin adding high school cores this year, one each year, until 4 are offered.  I like the look of their 8th Grade History, too, which is like Sonlight’s Core 100.  But I understand they will be changing that to 9th Grade History this year and replacing it with a new 8th Grade History of Science program. 

I think I’m *almost* settled for 2016-2017 school year now.  I just have a gap for Holden for Spanish that I’m still trying to figure out.  But I’ll save that for another post…probably next week!  I’m still weighing my options.  If you have suggestions for 3rd Grade Spanish, though, please leave them in the comments.