Question About Sonlight/Bookshark Curriculum for Elementary Kids

Hi all,

I’m getting ready to compile our homeschool materials for next year, but I’m having trouble nailing down a science curriculum. I know there are several threads on here that mention curriculums that would align with an EC perspective, but I wanted to return to Sonlight science for my kids: ages 5-11 (we would likely be using two different curriculums!)

However, I reached out to their customer service to ask some questions concerning their YEC perspective (since learning more about EC), and they basically said they allow parents to interject their own ideas. The person I was chatting with online used a bunch of big words to explain it! Their higher-level science, like high school, seems to clearly indicate a YEC with their use of Apologia materials, though.

I’d really like to return to Sonlight because I’ve used the curriculum before and really liked it for elementary aged, and I’m a part-time working parent so their open-and-go method is attractive. But I tried looking at their ‘secular’ company, Bookshark and wondered if anyone here has used it. The science curriculum looks somewhat thin as far as the number of materials included. My kids are still really young so we’re more so delving into functions and purpose concerning science. But I’m pretty sure I want to eliminate any "biblically-based’’ science curriculum. I was just thinking I might use Sonlight A and D and simply skip over any mentioning of YEC if included.

Any tips, encouragement, suggestions, or criticism is appreciated! And any other curriculums you can think of for teaching a group of kids ages 6-11 because if I can avoid it, I’d like to teach everyone at one time. Thanks!!

Hi Ariel,
We also use Sonlight and I sympathize with your dilemma! Especially with kids that will be about 3 grades apart, I’m still thinking over how to balance it all (but I have only two in school at this point and they’re still young).

I’ve been happy with the Sonlight science we’ve used for kindergarten and first grade. I like that it’s literature based and since most of the books so far have been Usborne or other secular ones, there hasn’t been an issue with YEC – the notes in the instructor guide definitely seem to assume a YEC viewpoint, but those are easy enough to overlook. I think it’s one of the later grades that includes a YEC book about dinosaurs in the science.

I think it probably just depends on what you’re looking for and what kind of format works best for your kids especially if you’re using it for multiple kids. I haven’t used Bookshark, but it looks like both Sonlight and Bookshark use Real Science 4 Kids materials in core D (mentioned by BioLogos here: https://biologos.org/resources/real-science-4-kids-curriculum), and I considered going with that one because it’s basically secular, though they say it avoids age-of-the-earth questions.

But I ended up deciding on Pandia Press’s R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey for second grade – it’s biology and I’m hoping to find a way to make it work for both my 7-year-old-to-be and 4-year-old. I like that it uses appropriate scientific terms even though kids aren’t expected to memorize them. The book includes a lot of labs that cover the classification of living things, the human body, and exploration of several different kinds of plants and animals. It looks pretty rigorous for the age group, and I’m not sure I would have wanted to use it for 1st grade which is their target, but maybe I’ll put a review of it on here after we’re done. They have a series of 4 books in level one (also including earth science/astronomy, chemistry, and physics), so I figured if I was going to switch it was good to do it while there was time to cover them all. One thing I didn’t like as much about Sonlight science is that the experiments seemed somewhat “disconnected” from the rest of the books, so I thought it would be nice to try something more thematic.

Anyway, good luck in your decision making!

I’ve used Sonlight Science A-D. I wouldn’t recommend C because the Usborne Book of Knowledge, which is the spine, is hopelessly outdated and the “geology” book was young earth nonsense. (I see they have removed that from the curriculum.) The other levels were fine, if you like the approach of reading a little a day about various subjects.

I think I’m going to get the Bookshark History of Science program for next year, since I don’t use the Sonlight LA and Bible anyway. But I haven’t tried it. From what I heard on the old Sonlight forums from people who mixed and matched is that it uses a four-day schedule, so it’s less content heavy. But Sonlight sometimes goes overboard on the books, books, books. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to have space to go check out the links or do some of the suggested activities.

I think it is basically true that it is up to the parent to infuse their perspective. Almost all the books in the Sonlight curriculum are educational books produced by mainstream publishers like DK, Usborne, National Geographic, etc.