We have been homeschooling for about 9 years. What that means is when our first daughter (now 12) was 3, I was researching and buying curriculum. Now today, I would just tell a mama that had a 3 year old to relax, have fun and read about other homeschoolers in your spare time. Don’t get spastic about it, though honestly, when anyone is pondering this route, the idea of homeschooling is so antithetical to our culture today, that it is hard not to obsess, in the beginning, about bucking the system.
One of my favorite pictures of our big 3 back in 2003. They were 5, 2, and about 6 months. This is about as early as my digital photos go, so I couldn’t easily find a 3 year old pic of Emma. Technology. Wow!
But take it from a research-driven, type-A, past-life (before babies) TV producer mama, that has been around the block: The only thing you need to do in the beginning is read to them, train them to obey, and be a cheerful mama.
Ok, let’s get to the main point
I have looked at and used LOTS of curriculum. I have tried new things out every year on each child. The only thing we have remained consistent on is the Math we are using for Emma, our 12 year old. (Which is pretty funny, because finding math that we all like seems to have been one of the most difficult things in the curriculum arena.) She is currently using Saxon Math 7/6. She started using Saxon 5/4, then 6/5. I’ve got another post in the works about why I like that Math for her.
So We Made The Purchase
This year, encouraged by my good friend, Jennifer, we both bought Sonlight 3&4 Core. This link goes directly to the specific package we bought.
Here is the screenshot from this part on their website. I will discuss that price further down this post.
It was just something about “the schedule”
Jen and I have discussed curriculum over and over all of these 9 years. A few times we have used similar things and other times we have not. One year about 4-5 years ago she bought Sonlight and used it. For just that one year. I did not. Since then, she has always reminisced about how that was her best year homeschooling. She said it was just something about the “schedule” they gave you. And as any experienced homeschool mom knows, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE SCHEDULE. (Not just for school, but for your entire day!)
Finally I checked into it,
and this year…..it spoke to me. It said, “Yes, this is what you want to buy.” Actually, that would be God speaking to me. Sorry about that Father.
And we have loved it! Here are the 4 reason why:
1) It covers History, Geography, Literature, Poetry, Music & Bible
It is literature-based, meaning you are not memorizing facts and dates, but reading good books and biographies to learn. Learning that way sticks. The other way, the way our schools usually do it, doesn’t.
2) I can teach to all 3 of my big children at the same time.
12, 8, and 6. They all love it and they are all learning. The idea here is to teach to the level of your oldest child and the younger ones will pick up on things and be that much further ahead in their own process. They say this particular package is for 9-12 year olds or 4-7th grades. The 2 hours we spend on this in the afternoon while Luke, 3, is taking a nap, is one of my favorite parts of the day. I’m telling you, this special daily time will be a great memory for these children as they grow up.
3) The schedule.
It really is an awesome thing.
This is a 5-day weekly schedule. They make a 4-day for certain packages, but you get more for your money if you buy the 5-day and then just write what day it is above at the top of the page. As you can see, for whatever good reason :), we had some skipped days in there.
It’s all about checking things off the list. Am I right? Yes, I know I am!
So this schedule is pretty self-explanatory. WE go in order of how it is written here. Starting with the Bible reading. The amount they give you to read is really the right amount for these aged children. An entire chapter can be too much to digest. This amount, usually one section which might be 1/3 or 1/2 of a chapter, gives you an opportunity to really delve into and talk about a subject.
That next part, the American Indian Prayer guide is like a paragraph or two of a little prayer you all say together regarding Native Americans coming to know Jesus.
Then you listen to one song on the CD that puts scripture to music. It’s very well done.
Here is Emma putting the CD in for us to listen to.
Then you read some history (always facinating), listen to another song (patriotic, since we are studying American History), discuss what they read on their own, and then…..the best part: the chapter book that you read to them. Oh my, these are some good books and we all look forward to that last part the most.
One of my biggest memory of all 12 years of my schooling was in 5th and 6th grade. Mrs. Shades was our teacher and after lunch she always read a great book to us. The ones I remember most were the story of Eddie Rickenbacker and A Wrinkle In Time.
This is a great science book from Apologia.com that I just discovered through Gina, another good mama friend. It discusses science from the God perspective. It is easy and has some easy experiments. Here is a link if you want to check that out more. This one is astronomy which they recommend to do first as it is the easiest, but they have many other subjects for all ages. This is for all ages in elementary school.
And the bottom section of the schedule looks like this. There is just enough room to add other things your children are doing outside of Sonlight. It can sort of serve as a journal. You can see at the very bottom I noted they cut tons of apples for homemade applesauce and made homemade laundry detergent. I like looking back at things like that.
4) There is almost no preparation needed on your part.
I suppose you could get crazy about it and do other prep to add to what they give you, but why? There is enough there and the rest of the day needs to be spent on other things like work, character training, family life, domestic skills, oh and the list goes on.
This package cost about $450.
You receive the binder which contains the weekly schedule and lots of supplemental teaching materials, questions to ask your children for every chapter of every book you read to them AND every book they read on their own,
and TONS of books.
Here are some of them.
Also this package could easily take us through 2 years if we wanted or 1 year if we go at breakneck speed with no “life” interruptions (which we all know is impossible.) So if we use it for 2 years that means $225 / year for the core price (no extras). That’s $75 per year/per child. That’s a heck of a deal. Even if you do it all in one year, for me, this is a good buy. And honestly, even if I was only teaching 1 child, I like it so much, I’d get it. It is still a good price for a good curriculum
The Bible section IS included on the schedule, but you must buy the extra 2 books and CD separately. You COULD just do what they call for in the bible reading OR add these extras. We added the extras.
Some other extras I recommend are the timeline book and the stickers that you cut out and stick in the book. The idea is to have a timeline for each child for their entire schooling years. Only our 12 year old has one at this point. You probably wouldn’t need one until they reach that age.
This timeline book I actually bought several years ago. For some reason I always sort of drool over timeline books and finally I have a child old enough to use one. Sonlight’s looks a tad different.
And a markable map. The world map is on the other side.
We have added our own math (very minimal for the 6 & 8 year old), the science book that I periodically read to all of them during the Sonlight time, English From The Roots Up for Emma (this is easy learning of Latin and Greek words), periodic writing for Emma (reports, stories, etc – usually a page or so), and handwriting books for all 3 that they write in while I read to them.
After they finish handwriting and/or copywork while I’m reading, they then usually move on to legos, knitting, or something they can do with their hands and still listen to me.
For this year, that is our academic plan.
Let me know if you have any questions OR tips about Sonlight. One of the best things about this is I’M learning so much too. In this day and time, learning about American History and how we got here is vitally important so I’m glad this is our current history topic. Seems like we studied Ancient Egypt for eons :)