The following post is from Roan of Joyful Always:
My children and I are in our fifth year of using Sonlight. I considered using Sonlight for many years before I actually became brave enough to buy curriculum and commit to using it for one school year. In fact, for the first eight years of my homeschooling, I frequently used the Sonlight catalog as a booklist for my children. I chose books to read aloud from the pages of my Sonlight catalog.
As I seriously perused the Sonlight website and catalog, and as I embarked on using my very first Sonlight Cores, I discovered that I was needlessly intimidated by the curriculum. My only regret with using Sonlight is that I didn’t begin using their program earlier in my homeschool.
Five Things I Didn’t Know about Sonlight Before Using it
You don’t have to read every single book listed in the Instructor’s Guide.
In fact, the Instructor’s Guide is just that, a guide. I consider it a menu, and just like I don’t order and eat everything on the menu when I am dining at a restaurant, neither do I read and do every single thing listed on the pages of the Instructor’s Guide.
I use a completely different Bible curriculum than what Sonlight suggests. I sometimes omit a history, geography, or literature book, or I will substitute a different book. I also occasionally use audio books. My children are still hearing the book, but it saves my voice and my time when we listen to a book in our car.
You don’t have to buy and use the Sonlight “extras.”
Language Arts used to be sold separately, and I usually did not buy that because I preferred the language arts resources that I had used for years. I have used Sonlight’s science program, but normally I use something different. My math and handwriting curricula differ from what Sonlight suggests as well. But that is okay. You can still reap numerable benefits from Sonlight by using their history, geography, and literature recommendations only.
In the long run, Sonlight is really not as expensive as it seems.
Almost all of Sonlight’s resources for history, geography, and literature are non-consumable. You can use the same Instructor’s Guide and all of the books year after year. I mark off each day’s block with the initial of my child and the date we completed it. Even when Sonlight updates its Instructor Guides, I still use the ones that I have already purchased. Since I have five children, the cost of Sonlight per child is not that expensive. Plus, each year as I have purchased new Cores, I have found that I already owned at least one-third of the books.
Core letters do not necessarily correspond with grade level.
For the first two Cores, (Pre 3/4 and Pre 4/5), two ages are suggested. For the remaining Cores, three ages are suggested. For example, Core A, which you might automatically think of as Kindergarten level, has the age suggestion of 5, 6, and 7. In our homeschool, I have used Core Pre 3/4 for my four year olds; Core Pre 4/5 for my kindergartners; Core A for 1st grade; Core B for second grade; Core C for third grade, and so on.
You can use multiple Cores at a time.
Like unit study curricula, Sonlight recommends that you put children close in age in the same core. This does make sense, as it will save you time. However, in our homeschool, I have kept each child using Sonlight in his or her own Core. Yes, that does mean that I have taught three cores at one time, but only for two years. Typically, I am doing two Cores at a time.
Currently we are using Core B for my 2nd grader and Core D for my 4th grader. I do spend a lot of time reading aloud, but I really don’t mind. Sonlight reading is the best part of our school day!
I only require the child whose Core books I am reading to sit with me and listen, but more times than not, two or more of my other children join us. In fact, when my daughter went to college last fall, she asked to take several of the Sonlight books that I had read aloud over the years with her. She said she had such fond memories of my reading them aloud to them.
If you have considered using Sonlight but were intimidated by the time or the cost required, I hope that you will reconsider. Reading books aloud to my children for hours (yes, hours) each day has created a bond with them that I will always treasure. I plan to keep my Instructor’s Guides and books for my children to use in their homeschool some day.
|Roan is currently in her 13th year of homeschooling. Her oldest child is a freshman in college, and her remaining home schooled students range in age from 8-16. Roan blogs regularly on her personal blog, Joyful Always. She writes about her interests which include family, homemaking, homeschooling, running, planning, and organization.|
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