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Hello all!


So we homeschooled this year for the first time. To get the hang of it, we didn't settle in on curriculum or anything...we just plucked ideas out of the sky and ran with it. My oldest is 5 1/2 and is a super strong reader (according to the books he is reading 2nd grade I guess although chapter books, even the illustrated ones, he reads and understands... he just prefers other books) and has a knack for math.(He is doing carry over addition and subtraction already which I don't think I did until 2nd grade.) I am not great at planning ahead or keeping records. Hopefully as we evolve as a homeschool family, I will be able to more customize what the kiddos are learning but for now, I want to have preplanned curriculum until I gain confidence. I was wondering what experience anyone has had with Sonlight. I work from home and we are intensely involved with other activities so I was wondering how much time was involved. My youngest is 4 but I'd like to teach them together as much as possible. My only concern is as far as I can see with Sonlight's 1st grade program, my son is beyond the reading, writing and math portion. I don't mind a good review because we weren't operating systemically when he was first learning those subjects. Is it easy to supplement with Sonlight or should we look at something all together different?


Thanks for taking the time to help out this first time homeschooling mama that's nervous and scared!


Be well!

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We did Sonlight at those ages and we loved it, but it was a lot of reading. For sonlight I'd suggest not getting the whole all-in-one package and chose the math on your own. I believe you do still have to get their LA with the package, but you can chose the appropriate grade level from what I remember.  Also with Sonlight, I would look over the books that they have in the packages and make sure they are a good fit for your family.  We loved the books, but some dealt with tough ideas, so it would depend upon the maturity of your child and what you'd like them exposed to.  With the ages of your children, if you were to go with Sonlight I'd suggest looking at the P4/5 or Core A.  P4/5 has wonderful books and my older children are loving hearing them be read again with their younger brother.  P4/5 has less of a focus IMO on history where as A would have more of that focus (I believe they consider this K, but it would be well suited for older children.  We used it for 1st.).  Also kept inmind which level to choose if you are wanting to combine your kids.  


 I'd suggest taking a look at Cathy Duffy's book 101 top curriculum.  In the front there is a survey which helps you find out what type of teaching philosophy you have (classical, unit study, Charlotte mason, etc), what your children's learning styles are, and then suggests all different types of curriculum.  It'll show how it rates based on your teaching philosophy and children's learning styles.  There are so many great ways of learning and this may help you find what may work best for your family.

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We are longtime Sonlight users (from the old "pre-K" up through Core H).   I highly recommend that you NOT purchase a "full grade" package at all.   The SL Cores (which are being changed to be called "History/Bible/Literature" or "Levels" on the SL website) are appropriate for a range of ages and are not grade-specific.   Core/Level A, for example, is recommended for ages 5-7;  the website used to read something like, "This is perfect for 6-7 year olds and advanced 5-year-olds."   My opinion is that Core/Level A is perfect for 1st grade, or a 6 year old, even an advanced 6-year-old.  (My DS was reading chapter books like Magic Tree House by age 5, and we did Core A for 1st grade when he was 6.   It was perfect for him.)   Unfortunately, the Sonlight complete 1st grade package contains Core B, which is really intended for ages 6-8.    Core B, IMO, is much better for 2nd or 3rd grade.


My experience over 9 years of homeschooling (using Sonlight all but one year, when we put together our own state history study) is that ALL of the children need to be in the recommended age range for the Core/Level you are considering.   The older child will always get more out of the material.   If using separate levels for each child, aim to be at least in the middle or at the upper end of the age range.   So for a 6 year old on his own, I wouldn't choose anything higher than Core/Level A.   If you wanted to combine your 5 1/2 year old and 4 year old together, I wouldn't choose anything higher than P4/5 (which I think is now called "pre-K").   If you wanted each child to have their own Core, I would choose Core A for your 6 year old and P3/4 for your 4 year old.    Those two Cores combined would involve about an hour of reading per day.


When choosing a SL Core/Level, keep in mind that reading level, math level, etc., have no bearing on which Core is appropriate.   As you progress upward through each Core, the length of listening time increases, as does the complexity and maturity of the subject matter.   Cores D and E contain content that can be very heavy for younger children - death, suffering, extreme poverty, etc., - which is much more age-appropriate for a 10-year-old than a 7-year-old, for example.   Even Core A has some books with some themes that involve Nazis (Twenty and Ten), bullying (The Hundred Dresses), and poverty (Mary on Horseback), that are too heavy for a 4-year-old to grasp, but are appropriate for a 6-year-old.   The Cores are intended for the parent to read everything TO the child (or children) except the Readers, which the child reads to the parent until he/she is reading fluently.


As far as Reader levels, there are flexible options for Readers up through Core/Level C, because kids read at different levels during those early years.   From Core/Level D upward, the focus switches from "Learn to Read" to "Read to Learn."    Working backwards with a strong early-reading child, Core/Level C would go with the 4th/5th grade Readers, Core/Level B would go with the 3rd grade Readers, Core/Level A would go with the 2nd grade Readers, and Core/Level P4/5 would go with the 1st grade Readers.   Up through Core/Level C, the Readers do not correlate with the history at all, so you could just use your own if you don't like SL's choices.   The Readers from 3rd grade and up are full-length chapter books, while a large portion of the 2nd grade Reader package is reading through the Beginner Bible.


For math, have your DS take the placement test for whatever program you want to use.   Every math program has a completely different scope and sequence, so he might test into Beta in Math-U-See while testing into Horizons K or Singapore 1 (not that these are equivalent levels - just an illustration - DO NOT go by "grade level" for any math program).   Read up on whether you think he'll need a spiral approach vs. mastery, whether you want brightly colored pages vs. lots of white space, or lots of problems vs. a few.    Look at samples online, choose the publisher you think will be best, then have him take the placement test before ordering anything.   


Handwriting is not as critical as math that you get the proper level.   Just look at samples online and choose what you like best.


Hope this helps - and sorry if this is TMI.  :)

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