Mid-Year Homeschool Update | 2017-2018

It is hard to believe, but another year has come to an end. So much has happened this year, and I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that 2018 is about to begin. Whether I am ready for it or not, here is my mid-year homeschool update…

Homeschool Life

If you have been following our homeschool journey you know we are using BookShark for the first time this year. Since we have never used full curriculum packages before this year is quite different than our past homeschooling experiences. I will break down how things are going with each of my children below…

{Jack: 5th Grade}

Homework and Horseplay 5th GraderJack is using BookShark’s Level 3 All Subject Package as his core curriculum this year. You can read all about our 5th grade curriculum selections here. Due to Jack’s learning disabilities I really struggle selecting the correct materials and levels with him… This year is no different!

BookShark Level 3 is designed for children ages 8-11 years old, so in theory this level should be perfect for him. However, I had to make a number of changes so this program would work for him. Since reading and writing is very difficult for Jack the language arts materials simply are not the right fit for him at this time. We are only using the dictation passages from the language arts portion at this time. Instead of using these passages as a dictation assignment, I write them into his journal for daily copywork. I have noticed a considerable difference in his handwriting since the beginning of the schoolwork.

One of the things that Jack has been most impatient about is the lack of science experiments/labs included in this program. There are labs included in Level 3, but they do not start until about half way through the program. Hopefully the wait will be worth it!

We selected Teaching Textbooks 4 for his math curriculum this year. We are both enjoying this program way more than what we were using in the past. He feels like one of the big kids completing his math on the computer. I definitely plan to stick with Teaching Textbooks for the rest of our homeschooling years.

Final thoughts for our 5th grade selections…

Despite the challenges we have faced with this program, Jack has really enjoyed most of the books included in the package. I read all of his books aloud to him because he is not quite ready to use the readers on his own yet. Sometimes I wonder if I should have gone with a lower level for him because of his reading struggles, but I know he would not be as interested in the books included in those levels. For a child without learning disability this is a fantastic package!

{Julia: 7th Grade}

Homework and Horseplay 7th Grader 2017-2018

Julia is using BookShark’s Level 7 All Subject Package for her core curriculum. You can read all about our 7th grade selections here. Level 7 is designed for children ages 12-14, so she is on the younger side of the range. Despite the fact that it is suggested to stick to the mid to upper end of the range, I think this level is appropriate for her. Some people have mentioned that this level could be used for highschool, but I strongly disagree with that idea. To me this is definitely a middle school curriculum.

So lets get to the nitty gritty… I personally have enjoyed all the books that are included in this level.  Julia not so much! I have read two of her readers aloud to her because she was struggling to make it through them. Even with me reading she still wasn’t interested, but was able to answer the discussion questions and other materials included.

My biggest complaint about BookShark’s Level 7 is the science. Although I think the books included in the package are very interesting, it just doesn’t seem like it is enough to me. Before the year started she was very excited about all the labs, but after completing a few of them she has lost interest. All of the labs she has completed so far have been robotics based, and that just isn’t her cup of tea! That’s not to say the labs are bad, just not for her.

Sadly, I am not a huge fan of the language arts materials either. Perhaps I just really like a lot of grammar work to be included in our daily schedules, and this program definitely does not include that. After Christmas break Julia will be starting Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree Book with her older brother.

At least she is still enjoying her Teaching Textbooks 7 work! Just like Jack she enjoys completing her work on the computer because she doesn’t have to wait on me. TT has turned out to be a huge time saver since the kiddos each complete it on their own.

Final thoughts on our 7th grade selections…

Overall, I think there is a lot of good materials included with this level. I’m just not sure that such a heavy literature based program is the right choice for Julia. She is my biggest reader, but she is also the most selective when it comes to books. I am hoping Julia will start to enjoy it more once she moves on to new topics. 

{Kenten: 9th Grade}

Homework and Horseplay 9th grader 2017-2018

Kenten is using BookShark’s Level 100, Friendly Biology, and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 this year. You can read all about our 9th grade selections here. I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous about our first year of highschool. I don’t know why I was so afraid because so far everything has been great! (Well maybe not always the teenage attitude, but that’s another story.)

BookShark Level 100 is designed for the student to complete mostly on their own. Kenten and I are both really enjoying this because he is able to work at his own pace, and there is way less work for me as a teacher this year. Normally this boy doesn’t like to read, but he has really enjoyed the novels included in his package. 

Friendly Biology is very “textbook” feeling to me, and I am more than OK with that! I think he is really learning a lot this year and he knows just what to expect. For each chapter we are taking two weeks to complete it. The first week he reads the materials and completes the student pages. The second week he does the lab work and takes the chapter quiz. I think if he completed the chapter all in one week it might be a little overwhelming.

Kenten has a few more lessons in Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 to complete before moving onto Geometry. I don’t have much to say about this other than we love it! I was really nervous about teaching higher levels of math, but now I don’t have to worry about it.

Final thoughts on our 9th grade selections…

I am really happy that I purchased BookShark Level 100 for Kenten. I went back and forth between a few different curriculums, but in the end I thought it was best for everyone to use the same core program. The one thing I would change for this level is to include more grammar, but that is something I was easily able to add myself. I’m sad that there is not another level available after this one.

Blog Life

About seven months ago I started Homework and Horseplay, and it has been a complete whirlwind. I can’t believe how fulfilling this journey has been for me. A big thank you to all of you for reading my ramblings this year. I look forward to continuing to share our homeschool shenanigans in 2018!

If you haven’t heard yet I have been selected to be part of the following blog groups:

  • Homeschool Review Crew
  • Timberdoodle’s Blog Team
  • BookShark’s Writing Team

What does this mean? My family will be receiving a number of homeschool materials as part of the Homeschool Review Crew and Timberdoodle’s Blog Team throughout 2018 in exchange for my honest reviews. I can’t wait to share some awesome new products with everyone. Additionally, you will find my ramblings on Bookshark’s blog once a month! Eeeek… I am so excited about all of this.

{Some 2017 Bloggy Highlights}

{2017 Guest Posts}

Thank you for joining me for a mid-year homeschool update…

How is your 2017-2018 homeschool year going so far? I hope that 2018 will be a fantastic year for all of you.


Join in on the fun and share some bloggy love…

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up