I almost feel guilty admitting that last year I tried to talk my children into attending our local government schools. I was finishing up a degree in Computer Science and working part-time (from home) myself, and I felt ill-equipped to be able to homeschool and also keep up the house and other commitments.
There are times in life when you just can’t do everything, you know?
I’m glad now that my kiddos refused. They all promised me that they would work more independently without making me nag them to death, and they did a pretty good job most of the time. In the end, I feel like we all learned a lot and grew tremendously.
But we did have to make several changes.
Previously, we usually participated in one of many homeschool co-ops in our area, taking advantage of fun, extracurricular offerings. Not last year.
We also had multiple serious conversations about each of the activities in which my children were involved. Two of my children had been complaining about orchestra for years. I let them quit (gasp)!
My son was no longer enjoying his gymnastics classes or his debate class or his cello lessons. I let him quit them all (gasp)!
I fundamentally disbelieve in quitting as a rule. Just ask my older children and they’ll tell you (very vehemently) that their mother never let them quit anything. But sometimes families need to make changes, you know?
Another change we made was that my kiddos needed to work more independently where school was concerned. Math works so well for us and we all thrive with how it is currently structured, so we wanted to continue with math, which meant that every other subject needed to be entirely independent.
BookShark Virtual makes that possible for parents!
(I was compensated for my time, but all of the opinions contained within are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosures for more information.)
What is BookShark Virtual?
BookShark Virtual includes history, language arts and science. It’s an online Learning Management System (based on Canvas) that enables students to access their daily assignments, take assessments, and receive immediate, auto-graded feedback. Parents can track and review student work and customize their assessments directly from the parent dashboard in the app.
Math-U-See is also fully integrated into the BookShark Virtual platform, making it an all-inclusive curriculum for busy parents who need that. Saxon, Singapore and RightStart math are also partially integrated within BookShark Virtual, so students can upload their assignments based on schedules provided by the platform.
Benefits of BookShark Virtual
Benefits to Parents:
- Someone else is doing the grading for you
- Independent learning
- You can easily see at-a-glance what your child has turned in and whether she is understanding the material
- Lesson plans are provided
- You can customize plans and grade manually if you choose
- Provide direct feedback to your child if you want to
- Record keeping is made easy because student work is documented
- PDF portfolio of student work can be easily exported
Benefits to Students:
- Access on mobile and/or desktop
- Keeps them organized
- Provides a schedule and deadlines
- Immediate feedback increases engagement
- Multi-sensory learning through visual Story Maps
- Personalized education
- BookShark is still and will always remain a literature-based, hands-on curriculum (yay!)
- My kiddos like that it is much less verbose than me and thus quicker
One of my children tells me that she actually prefers using BookShark Virtual to me sitting down and completing science with them because she says it is quicker for her to complete on her own without me getting in her way. That same daughter also prefers to work WAY ahead and is already about 15 modules ahead of where the rest of us are.
However, my other children reassured me that they preferred me being involved. It’s just good to know there is a good option for the times that I can’t be involved, and it’s also nice that kids who want to can work at their own pace.
How Does BookShark Virtual Work?
Honestly, BookShark Virtual feels a little to me like having a virtual classroom in our home for which I don’t have to take responsibility. Someone else has compiled the course, assigned the work, scheduled the deadlines and provided the assessments. I still have full access to all of the curriculum and control over what my children are learning, but I don’t have to oversee everything on a daily basis.
BookShark Virtual provides intuitive, user-friendly dashboards for both students and parents. As a parent user, you can configure your dashboard however it works best for you.
I like to have Canvas send me notifications so I don’t have to remember to login and check on my children’s progress. BookShark Virtual also provides quick, simple tutorials demonstrating basic navigation. Subscribe to their YouTube channel if you want to see all of the tutorials in one place.
You can purchase a deeply-discounted package that includes all subjects, or you can purchase a virtual seat for one subject at a time. If you want to try it before you buy it, just create an account using the link below and get access to a three-week trial.
My biggest worry about online classes is that my children have a hard time staying on task and inevitably end up watching other children play with their toys on YouTube. Sadly, I’m not kidding. What a waste of time!
BookShark Virtual, however, is not an online curriculum. It’s more like a daily planner for students and a way for parents to track progress.
Your children will just log in to view assignments and grades, and take assessments. They’ll still spend their days reading engaging books (hard-copies provided in each BookShark package as always), discussing ideas and working on hands-on projects in real life.
If you’ve used (and loved) BookShark curriculum previously, rest assured that your child’s learning will continue to look like that. If you haven’t used BookShark curriculum, you are missing out! Let me tell you about it.
What is BookShark Curriculum Like?
We’ve been using BookShark Science curriculum this year and my kids love it as much as I do, which says a lot. Read my review here.
My kids love two things: reading (anything and everything) and hands-on experiments. In past years, I’ve used various science kits to give my children the benefits of experiments and help them learn and understand the scientific process, but the kits never came with actual lessons, let alone interesting readers.
BookShark Science has created exactly what I always wanted! They’ve taken excellent literature and turned it into a thorough, standards-based curriculum, complete with a huge box of science supplies for experiments to accompany the science readers!
We haven’t yet used BookShark for other subjects, but if they are even half as great as BookShark Science I’m sure we will be thrilled with them.
How About a Free Trial?
The best way to truly understand the benefits of BookShark Virtual is to try it yourself. The first three weeks of every Virtual course are available for free. Watch the demo videos to get your bearings, and then take it for a spin. Let your child take a peek, too!