Friday, February 13, 2009

Why I am Choosing Sonlight - Again

This is an article about why I am choosing to use Sonlight again this year rather than another curriculum. There are pros and cons of each that I looked at, but Sonlight really is the best fit for our family.

The other curriculums that I was looking at:
My Father's World Books
Living Books Curriculum

My homeschooling method is mostly Charlotte Mason with a little Classical and Relaxed thrown in. I roll with the punches and take things as they come. We follow rabbit trails (as seen by the 18 months it has taken us to get through Sonlight Core 3).

A Sonlight Catalog came to my house just after we decided to begin homeschooling. I was fascinated! I studied the poor thing until it fell apart and then waiting for the new one to come out. I didn't order though. I felt that Sonlight was too expensive for our family. My husband would have a fit if I spent that much money! I was sure that I could just as easily put together something similar using my own (not-so-frazzled-yet) brain and the library. I tried that for several years. Then I pieced together a year using Veritas Press as a base. Veritas Press is VERY classical and moved at a pace that was too advanced for us. The teacher's manual wasn't very user friendly. As a student I probably would have done well with VP but my boys were beginning to hate history, so we let that go. I ended up spending a ton of money that year on a lot of stuff that we either didn't use or hated.

The next year we used My Father's World (the 1st grade set and the 2nd/3rd grade American History). We really enjoyed the 1st grade set but there wasn't enough scheduled reading for Greg (who was learning to read). We did the American History together. The resources that they include in their curriculum were great (and many are similar to what Sonlight offers). The problem that I had with them is that there aren't scheduled reading assignments for the students to do themselves. MFW uses a "book basket". I have no doubt that this works for some families but it didn't work for us. I needed to know what they should be reading to reinforce history and science topics. By the end of the year I was weary of being "tied" to the library (we don't live in town and the library often meant a special trip - 30 mins. one way - for us).

I don't really remember what we did the next year. I was trying to put stuff together myself. I have doubts that they learned anything in history.

One day during that year the Sonlight catalog showed up again. By now, I realized that I had been spending more each year than Sonlight cost. So I jumped. My husband didn't fall over. We have had a wonderful year. Everything for history, Bible reading schedules, read-alouds and readers are laid out. The instructor's manual is wonderfully detailed and easy to use! There are reading discussion guides if you choose to use them (sometimes we do, sometimes we don't). We also used Sonlight science 3 that year, but I found the experiments tedious. We like to follow rabbit trails with science so we are going to do that this year, but if you need science laid out for you and love experiments, then you will love Sonlight science. I do like the reading assignments and discussion questions for Sonlight, but we decided to do something else. Everything that we need to read is HERE AT THE HOUSE when we need it. Trips to the library became fun again. Reading assignments weren't dictated by library due dates. School became fun again! The best thing about Sonlight was that my oldest, a self-proclaimed reading hater, loves to read the Sonlight books. He may not read anything else, but he doesn't complain about his reading assignments and frequently discusses what he is reading with me. He is finally reading at grade level. My mother's heart is so happy!

I looked at Living Books Curriculum this year. It is a pure Charlotte Mason approach. read-alouds and readers are included. The price is comparable. LBC uses the language arts books that we already use. The problem is that LBC teaches American History concurrent with Ancient History. My boys have enough trouble keeping up the way it is so I think that it would be best if we just stick with one historical time period at a time.

So we will be using Sonlight Core 4 this year. I wish, wish, wish that I had taken the plunge to do Sonlight when we first started. I imagine that I appreciate Sonlight more because of the other things we have tried though. Sonlight has a 18 week Love-To-Learn guarantee. You can try them and get a refund if you don't like them! I am pretty sure you will like them though once you give them a try. You can check them out HERE. The new catalog comes out in April..........oh, the agony of waiting!!!!

4 comments:

Sheri said...

Carie, did you receive SL for a review too? I second the thumbs up for SL. I have done MFW K, it was ok...nothing spectacular. I have done many others too-now I do not particularily like the lower level SLs due to the switch up of books that seemingly have no conection, and the use of the Usborne's stuff is a bit much-too little of focus in my humble opinion...but I love the SL 5 (Eastern Hemisphere) and up(haven't tried the SL 3 or 4, but have done K, 1+2 combo)-it is well thought out, easy to follow and you never have to guess what books are needed and when. Worth every penny they charge!!!
Nice post. Guess we're SLighers heh?

Sheri said...

I am back-
just gave ya an award-head to my blog: www.1of100toscrewreviews.blogspot.com
congrats!

Sheri said...

Ok, the correct code is now on there to collect your award (I hope!) you'll have to go to www.1of100toscrewreviews.blogspot.com to collect it.

Luke said...

Carie,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is super encouraging. May this year be your best yet!

And April is coming... [smile]

~Luke