Putting together a complete year’s curriculum can be challenging for homeschooling parents.
Between researching, selecting and buying high quality curricula for every subject (and for each child), creating lesson plans and schedules, gathering all the necessary materials and dealing with all the other time-consuming tasks required to teach a homeschool successfully…well, it can be a little much.
A complete curriculum kit, also known as a curriculum in a box, can be a useful and time saving solution to this problem.
It can provide everything a parent needs to teach their kids at home, neatly packaged and delivered right to their door.
Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page are two excellent and very popular complete curriculum kit providers known for delivering comprehensive, open and go teaching solutions for homeschooling families.
As both companies provide high quality and convenient curricula, it can sometimes be hard for parents to choose between them – an important decision considering that neither option is particularly cheap.
To help out, we’ve put Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page in a head to head comparison across a number of factors so parents can better decide which is right for their homeschool.
Ages and Grades Offered
At this time, neither Bookshark nor Moving Beyond the Page are complete K-12 solutions.
Interestingly, neither are overtly linked to grade levels either, as they are really designed for more flexible homeschooling use and each divide their curriculum options up in their own way.
While this flexibility can be helpful, it also means that parents have to do a little more work to figure out if a curriculum from either company is appropriate for their student.
Bookshark, for the most part, divides its packages up according to letter-based Levels, Pre-K & A-J, which roughly correspond to pre-K to about Grade 9/10 or so.
Each curricula package in Moving Beyond the Page, on the other hand, is linked to a specific age range. The company (as of writing) produces curriculum options for kids ages 4-14, or Pre-K to about Grade 8.
It’s important to note that both companies are continuing to expand their offerings, however Bookshark covers a very slightly wider range of grades, being able to be used up to about the 10th grade or so.
That said, both companies are expanding their curriculum options into high school and so we expect this gap to close quickly and there to be no real difference in the end.
Both Bookshark and Moving the Page target very similar age groups.
In terms of cost, Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page are pretty similar, costing somewhere between $400-1200 for a full curriculum, potentially less depending on what discounts are being offered by the companies at the time of purchase.
Both companies also offer a variety of package options, which can help families save money by letting them pick and choose individual subjects or even individual learning materials.
With Bookshark, in addition to a full, year’s curriculum, parents can choose to purchase individual subjects, individual items from the companies Bookshark is associated with (Explode the Code, All About Spelling, Math U See, etc), as well as various manipulatives and consumable items.
Similarly, Moving Beyond the Page allows parents to purchase a full year’s curriculum, individual subjects, full semesters and individual items, as well as manipulatives and consumables.
Moving Beyond the Page’s individual semester offering does give it a slight advantage, as it can be actually quite useful in addition to a money-saver, allowing parents to add on 9 week topical units of study to any existing curriculum.
In terms of cost, both Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page are pretty similar.
That said, due to having a semester unit option, as well as a full year and single subject packages, Moving Beyond the Page has a slight edge in terms of purchasing flexibility.
Winner: Moving Beyond the Page
Moving Beyond the Page is primarily intended for gifted and advanced students.
In general, the program’s materials and lessons move at an accelerated pace, the concepts presented are more complex and go deeper than many other curricula out there, and there is quite a bit less review and drill than other programs.
In contrast, Bookshark can be used to teach a broader audience.
The lessons move along at a more relaxed pace, dive more thoroughly into explanations and its grade leveling is far more flexible, encouraging parents to let their kids find their own level without worrying about grade or age.
Further, due to the fact that it is more customizable, in certain subjects parents choose between gentler and more rigorous curriculum providers, or even choose a level up or down, depending on their individual student’s needs.
Moving Beyond the Page is intended for more advanced and gifted students, while Bookshark, with some adjustment, can serve both gifted and non-gifted students.
Bookshark is something of a literature-based Charlotte Mason-inspired curriculum solution. There is a lot of literature and reading involved, as well as a good amount of interactive activities suggested to parents and students.
Bookshark also has a strong history component to it, with a rather unique way of integrating geography, history and reading skill development using a lot of history books and activities.
Moving Beyond the Page is a curriculum solution that uses a more integrative, unit study approach.
The program periodically introduces a theme or topic, and tries to integrate or connect lessons in Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and, at times, even Math to that theme.
That said, Moving Beyond the Page also places a strong emphasis on learning through literature, providing a wide variety of high-interest and classic books to help students explore and understand subjects more deeply and in a more engaging way.
While both companies take a literature-based approach to learning, Bookshark offers a more of a Charlotte Mason-style experience, while Moving Beyond the Page takes more of a unit study approach to learning.
Winner: It depends on your homeschool’s philosophy and preferred method of learning.
Secular vs Faith-Based Outlook
Moving Beyond the Page is a secular homeschool curriculum provider.
As such, although respectful of all religions and points of view, it does not place any special emphasis on any religion or religious outlook, it does not really offer any religious study, and it fully teaches concepts like evolution and a naturalist view of Earth and the universe.
In contrast, Bookshark is a faith-neutral curriculum. While it does not include any religious instruction or material, it abstains from teaching concepts like evolution, creationism, and intelligent design, leaving matters up to a parent’s discretion rather than taking a position one way or another.
Moving Beyond the page is a secular curriculum, while Bookshark is more faith-neutral.
Winner: It depends on your homeschool’s philosophy and preference.
Use of Hands-on Activities
Both Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page encourage hands-on learning of their material.
Both companies offer curricula that are rich in manipulatives, explorational activities, science kits and more, making them great options for tactile learners.
Bookshark, for example, uses various science kits provided by its sister company, Sonlight, various other educational kits, as well as lapbooks and a ton of at-home activities that are deftly woven into each lesson.
In terms of math, as there is some choice offered to parents, it does vary but both Singapore Math and Math U See are well-known for their use of hands-on math learning to explore abstract concepts.
Moving Beyond the Page also provides a variety of science kits, as well as various other educational kits and supplies, and strongly emphasizes various physical and highly-engaging activities, such as arts and crafts, in their lessons.
Their math program, designed by the company, also makes extensive use of manipulatives and hands-on explorations to help teach.
Both Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page heavily emphasize hands-on learning and are great options for tactile learners.
Online Learning Option
Both Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page have introduced Online options for their curricula, allowing parents and students to access the material from pretty much anywhere.
Moving Beyond the Page Online makes all lessons and consumables available digitally through a web portal and iOS app, and allows students to more readily access links and resources mentioned in their curriculum, making the learning experience a little more high tech overall.
Beyond that, the online version of Moving Beyond the Page is identical to its more traditional, pen and paper version.
Each curriculum has an 18 month license to use, and the online version can be purchased and used as a stand alone (at a slight discount compared to printed versions), although it is also offered for free with the purchase of a regular curriculum.
Bookshark offers an online learning option as well, called Bookshark Virtual.
Bookshark Virtual is a little more like a complete digital learning platform and is a little more sophisticated, offering parents and students access to lessons, assignments, story maps, direct messaging features, automatic and manual grading, assignment customization features, progress tracking and more.
Rather than replicate the traditional curriculum, Bookshark Virtual acts as more of a digital supplement to the main package, providing useful features that a pen and paper curriculum cannot.
Unlike Moving Beyond the Page’s online option however, it is available only as a paid feature, and adding a virtual seat does add an extra cost (about $150 at time of writing) to a curriculum package.
While both programs offer online study options, they differ quite a bit in how they go about it.
Moving Beyond the Page offers a more or less identical digital version of its curriculum that parents and students can use if they are on the go or if they prefer, and freely offers it as a paid standalone product or as a free alternative option with a curriculum purchase.
Bookshark offers a more sophisticated virtual learning platform with a variety of useful high tech learning features that can help streamline and simplify teaching. It is, however, meant to be more of a supplemental tool (rather than a stand alone tool) and is available as a paid option.
Winner: It depends on your preference and desire for online learning.
Bookshark is a highly customizable curriculum kit provider.
Depending on the level, parents can choose to add access to Bookshark Virtual, choose from a variety of math packages, alter the package’s overall reading level, change science kit levels, add phonics learning, and select different options for things like handwriting, spelling and language arts programs and more.
Before checkout, parents can spend a good deal of time exploring the different options available and really tailoring Bookshark to their needs.
In contrast, Moving Beyond the Page offers relatively little in terms of package customization.
Although all the materials are certainly of high quality, what the company has for each subject is pretty much what you will get in the package.
The main customization options available for parents is to purchase select parts of a curriculum, add individual units and books, or add spare manipulatives and consumables to a purchase order.
Bookshark offers parents a wider variety of ways to customize their curriculum package, more easily letting them fit the curriculum they will receive to their needs.
Bookshark is designed around a 4 day schedule and while parents can customize it themselves, things are more or less set up to accommodate that schedule and pace.
In contrast, Moving Beyond the Page offers a little more flexibility, with five, four and so-called relaxed four day schedules, which adds on extra days at the end of a 36 week schedule to accommodate a slightly slower daily pace.
While parents can always do their own thing, Moving Beyond the Page is a bit more flexible in terms of out-of-the-box scheduling, offering a greater variety of built-in weekly schedules compared to Bookshark.
Winner: Moving Beyond the Page
Summary Comparison Chart
|Bookshark||Moving Beyond the Page|
|Age/Grade||pre-K to Grade 9||pre-K to Grade 8|
|Price||Roughly between $400-1200||Roughly between $400-1200|
|Style||Literature-based, Charlotte Mason-inspired||Literature-based, unit study|
|Religious outlook||Faith neutral||Secular|
|Hands on learning||✔||✔|
|Online Learning Option||✔||✔|
|Lesson Plan||4 day||4, 5 day|
|Intended audience||All||Gifted students|
Bookshark vs Moving Beyond the Page: Bottom Line
Both Bookshark and Moving Beyond the Page can provide excellent curriculum kits for the right homeschooling families.
Both companies offer in-depth, comprehensive, hands-on and literature-rich curricula delivered right to your door, both have interesting online options and both contain everything a parent needs to get started teaching with very little experience or prep work.
They do have their differences, however.
Bookshark is a more faith-neutral solution that covers a slightly wider age range at the moment and offers parents a great deal of choice when it comes to selecting which curricula and supplements they would like to use.
Moving Beyond the Page, on the other hand, is a secular, common core standards aligned curriculum provider aimed at gifted students that has greater flexibility when it comes to purchasing options and out-of-the box lesson scheduling.
Ultimately, the relative importance of these differences is quite subjective and parents need to examine these curriculum kits in the context of their particular budgets, philosophies and individual needs before making a decision.
So, Which Curriculum Kit is Right for You?
|If you are a faith neutral or faith based homeschool||Bookshark|
|If you prefer a secular curriculum||Moving Beyond the Page|
|If you like more of a unit study approach||Moving Beyond the Page|
|If you prefer a Charlotte Mason inspired approach||Bookshark|
|If you want greater choice in picking out the materials you’d like to receive||Bookshark|
|If you prefer to learn things like evolution and a naturalist approach to the Earth and the universe||Moving Beyond the Page|
|If you’d rather avoid teaching evolution or have your own plan for such topics||Bookshark|
|If you want a curriculum designed for a more advanced or gifted child||Moving Beyond the Page|
|If you would like to carefully choose which math curriculum you’d like to follow||Bookshark|
|If you prefer more comprehensive online learning||Bookshark|
|If you want a common core aligned curriculum||Moving Beyond the Page|
|If you don’t want a common core aligned curriculum||Bookshark|
For more information about these curriculum kits, you can:
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.
Jennifer Keenes is a writer and a new mom living in Florida. She studied education and, prior to becoming a freelance writer, worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She is a big fan of the beach, working out and homeschooling her two daughters.