We needed a change.
Homeschooling can become quite dreary if you are constantly doing the same things over and over again. After five years of doing the same thing with my kids, I decided we needed something new to get us excited about school again. After much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, I decided to give Sonlight a chance. Sonlight is a history-based, Bible-oriented Christian curriculum, started by some homeschoolers in 1990. It is now one of the most popular curriculums on the market.
There isn’t much thinking that goes into ordering and planning with Sonlight. You browse their website, take into consideration what era of history you’d like to study with your kids and find a Core that matches their age range. Voila!
Once you receive your curriculum, all you have to do to get set up for teaching is put your Instructor Guide (IG) in its binder and your books on your shelf, maybe sharpen a few pencils. Every day has marked in the IG what you should do for Bible, reading, language arts, history and there is space to write in your spelling, math, science and grammar plans. This year we are studying American history. Sonlight has three cores for Am. Hist. D, E and D+E. Core D covers American history up to the Civil War, Core E covers up to modern history and Core D+E covers both those condensed into one year. This Core is being used as history for a 7-, 9-, and 11-year-old. The 9YO is reading the regular readers and the 11yo is reading the advanced readers. I am handpicking books for the 7YO.
The curriculum is very literature heavy. It comes with the IG for teaching, of course, and at least a dozen (depending on the age of your student) fiction, nonfiction and biographical books written about or during the era under scrutiny. Some of the books are readers and some are read-alouds.
Currently, we are reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond aloud and the readers are Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims and The Thanksgiving Story. Before reading we go over unknown or difficult vocabulary; after reading I ask content and retention questions – these are scripted so you don’t have to think up the questions yourself, unless you want to. There is a worksheet for every week which has copy work, dictation, questions about the reading and language studies – similes, antonyms, synonyms, poetry, etc. I like the worksheet, but it is not a suitable substitute for grammar or spelling, and Sonlight says that on their website. You will need to purchase/use a separate grammar and spelling curriculum.*
Bible is also included with every Core. We really enjoy the Bible portion. I read aloud from the New Testament, the student(s) reads aloud from the Old Testament after which I ask them questions and we talk about what we’ve read. There is scripture memorization through song, which the kids love, and prayer. It’s a really sweet time and I’ve gotten some excellent questions from my kids during this time.
With six kids, I think it’s a good investment, but others with fewer kids might think it is a little on the pricy side. If you buy the whole package deal, with the Core, grammar, science, math, spelling, everything, the cost is up in the $800 range. Since I’m always looking for a good deal, I bought the Core and shopped for used books in the advanced readers list. I think I spent $600 on curriculum, readers and supplies for 3 kids.
Overall, I think it’s been a huge success. We are having fun in school again.
*For spelling I highly recommend Sequential Spelling. Spelling Workout or spellingcity.com are pretty good also. For grammar I recommend First Language Lessons.