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anna.mullenax

If I (mostly) like Sonlight...what else might I like?

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This is my second year of homeschooling, we are doing Sonlight Core A with my Kindergartner and 1st grader.  I picked Sonlight years ago when my kids were tiny, because I loved the idea of it and it seemed so true that it was "the way I wish I'd been taught!" so while I did do some research here and there and looked at other catalogues, Sonlight was the obvious pick for my first try at this. 


 


We use it for History/Bible/Literature/Science.  I picked a different LA and Math and supplementary Bible.  We don't do electives except a sprinkle here or there and they do an enrichment co-op. 


 


Now that I'm starting to think about next year I'm thinking maybe I should make a more intentional choice instead of just moving forward with Sonlight because we mostly like it. 


 


Here's what I like


1.  All the books (duh) - my kids are obsessed with the readalouds and hang on my every word even on the ones I don't love to read (I'm looking at you Pooh Corner)


2.  They tell me what to do and schedule it all out


3.  I don't feel pressure to do crafts/projects


4.  I feel security in knowing that this was put together by reputable educators


5. The timeline that comes with stickers of all the people 


6.  Combining my Kindergartener and 1st grader in everything except Math and LA


 


Here's what I don't love


1.  The science - my kids love the science books and I like them as well,  but it just feels like we just move so quickly through topics with very little depth. And the experiment video doesn't match up with the topics which has been weird, but my kids don't care, they LOVE the videos.   I think its cool that my kids will be semi-familiar with a lot of things by the end of the year but I have wondered if it wouldn't have been fun to go more deeply into a smaller number of topics. 


2.  The instructor guide notes - I rarely use them as discussion starters.  I read them but I pretty much only use the schedule


3.  The geography - my kids don't retain it.  (it's just writing each location on a map as it comes up in literature.  I could probably review it more often but since it isn't systematic -- could be norway one day, oklahoma the next -- it feels clunky and half-hearted to me)


4.  Expensive!!!


5. If I buy Sonlight's options for Art and Music as well (which I want to add in a more structured way next year), this will be even more expensive. 


 


 


So...is there something else Sonlightish that might not have come across my radar yet?  I kind of feel silly paying so much for a schedule of readings and a box of books...or maybe that's what all curriculum is like??  I haven't actually had any other curriculum in my hands to look through, so I really don't know what I'm missing!!


 


I have friends who do Memoria Press and the catalog intrigues me, but don't really feel compelled at this time to teach Latin.


 


I'd love to have language arts woven in with the read alouds or readers (for copywork and narration, etc) and more systematic geography and deeper science.  And maybe a simple but solid music and art program to go along with it.  I know I could pick and choose and get all this stuff, but part of why I picked Sonlight and another reason I like it, is how I can pick pretty much every subject from all from the things they either produce or "curate" and I don't have to take a deep dive into comparing/contrasting every curriculum for every subject.


 


For the record we also use WWE and I really like it, except I do think my daughter would LOVE to do some creative writing assignments.    We tried Sonlight's LA for Kindergarten and I wasn't a big fan because she could read way better than she could write so the reading component was useless. I think it makes more sense for phonics instruction/writing instruction to be split up.


 

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What about my Fathers World or Heart of Dakota. You can ask for catalogs off their websites and then poor over them for a few months.

Heart of Dakota would be my first suggestion for you.

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I would look into Wayfarers if I were you.  I love/hate all the same things you do about Sunlight.  I bought PreK but never fully used it (just read through the books).  But I LOVE the book selections of Wayfarers and the schedule is nice too.  I like that I still have options, but not too many.

 

Now, for the science, I'm not sure I would use Wayfarers, but since you are just buying the guide and not everything else, it is easy to fit in your own science on science days.  We are currently using Mystery Science and my boys are loving it!

 

 

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I'll second the recommendation for Heart of Dakota. It's chock full of really great book choices. In the 8 years I've used it, I've not had one book come along that I felt was inappropriate at all. (As a side note, I've used Sonlight -which we really liked for lots of reasons- but I had to pre-read books as quite a few were not appropriate to the age group intended, or contained elements i did *not* want them reading. Don't get me wrong, we loved SO many of their books, but wanted our studies to have more depth than just surface reading and comprehension questions.)

 

Heart of Dakota *can* be an all-in-one type curriculum, as their guides include lesson plans for every subject, but we found it overwhelming to use that way. Instead we pick and choose the parts we enjoy most, like Bible, history, geography, music and at times art. It's a great program, but just remember that it's a tool to help you teach your kids, and not a master! Best wishes! ;)

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Sounds like you might be ready to ditch the box. So do you truly need a reading schedule or can you make yourself set a time a day and read for 10 minutes here and there? Some people do need to see the schedule, but if you don’t, you may not need any schedule telling you what to do. I’d find/make a great booklist and work through it. Buy or check out the books as you go.

 

Grab MP’s Kindergarten Enrichment guide sample and see if it appeals. You can use MP and not worry about Latin. And if you like schedules the Enrichment comes with it and is still extremely meaty- imo even for a 1-2nd grader. MP also sells blank schedules if you want someone else’s template.

 

Piece together the rest of what you want. Math, Science etc. You’ll save so much money over SL.

 

I get it I think. We started with SL our first year. And it was a good first year. But ithen you get your confidence and start finding what you like. At which point I think it’s impossible to find a set that had everything. Or maybe that’s just me! But I look at the gorgeous catalogs with the pretty box sets and I miss them in theory. But piecing works better for us. I chafe under a schedule. You could use the money you save on SL (or another box) and join something like The Read Aloud Revival Membership and get classes and communities and things that appeal to the read aloud lover in you.

 

Also- if you break it down on paper- what you pay for each. What you will use and what you will replace in a box versus crafting yourself, you will probably be shocked. Boxes cost a lot.

Edited by texasmom33

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I'll second the recommendation for Heart of Dakota. It's chock full of really great book choices. In the 8 years I've used it, I've not had one book come along that I felt was inappropriate at all. (As a side note, I've used Sonlight -which we really liked for lots of reasons- but I had to pre-read books as quite a few were not appropriate to the age group intended, or contained elements i did *not* want them reading. Don't get me wrong, we loved SO many of their books, but wanted our studies to have more depth than just surface reading and comprehension questions.)

 

Heart of Dakota *can* be an all-in-one type curriculum, as their guides include lesson plans for every subject, but we found it overwhelming to use that way. Instead we pick and choose the parts we enjoy most, like Bible, history, geography, music and at times art. It's a great program, but just remember that it's a tool to help you teach your kids, and not a master! Best wishes! ;)

 

I have the catalog for this and I don't know why I didn't really consider it much.  So is it like Sonlight in the sense that the History is wrapped up in the readalouds?  I love that about Sonlight.  It is so hard without actually seeing it to really understand how it works and what it comes with.  Can 2 grades be combined in a level, as in a Sonlight Core?  Because that is also important to me with my girls only a grade apart!  

 

Sounds like you might be ready to ditch the box. So do you truly need a reading schedule or can you make yourself set a time a day and read for 10 minutes here and there? Some people do need to see the schedule, but if you don’t, you may not need any schedule telling you what to do. I’d find/make a great booklist and work through it. Buy or check out the books as you go.

 

Grab MP’s Kindergarten Enrichment guide sample and see if it appeals. You can use MP and not worry about Latin. And if you like schedules the Enrichment comes with it and is still extremely meaty- imo even for a 1-2nd grader. MP also sells blank schedules if you want someone else’s template.

 

Piece together the rest of what you want. Math, Science etc. You’ll save so much money over SL.

 

 

Literature readalouds I totally could just get a booklist and read a little every day - but its the History and Science that I feel like I truly do need it all laid out for me so I cover an appropriate amount of material and have confidence in what I'm doing each day.    How do you think MP is in the History and Literature and Science department for a 1st- 2nd gradeish level?  Could a 1st and 2nd grader be combined as they could for a Sonlight "Core"?   

 

MFW with additional read alouds and readers.

 

I honestly had never considered this but I will look into it for sure!!!  

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I second Biblioplan.  We did 6 years of SL and my dd opted to move to Biblioplan.  It's just the history/Bible/geography though.  You would need to pick another science.  If you want to spend more time in a subject go to Apologia.  Or just spend more time with SL science going to the library for more books about the subjects you like.  

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I have the catalog for this and I don't know why I didn't really consider it much.  So is it like Sonlight in the sense that the History is wrapped up in the readalouds?  I love that about Sonlight.  It is so hard without actually seeing it to really understand how it works and what it comes with.  Can 2 grades be combined in a level, as in a Sonlight Core?  Because that is also important to me with my girls only a grade apart!  

 

 

Literature readalouds I totally could just get a booklist and read a little every day - but its the History and Science that I feel like I truly do need it all laid out for me so I cover an appropriate amount of material and have confidence in what I'm doing each day.    How do you think MP is in the History and Literature and Science department for a 1st- 2nd gradeish level?  Could a 1st and 2nd grader be combined as they could for a Sonlight "Core"?   

 

 

I honestly had never considered this but I will look into it for sure!!!  

 

Personally, I think Science and History for 1st and 2nd graders gets a bit overblown. I don't think it's necessary to have any formal science curricula at this age- or actually cover it much at all besides talking about things you naturally experience. (Although the publishers don't want you to think that.) You can go outside and talk about all sorts of things for free. If you need to do something, for that age, I might get some Magic School Bus experiments, or Mind Blowing Science and let them "play" experiments. My kids love that, but it's always for fun. Never formal or scheduled. Go on nature walks. Watch documentaries on animals. There just honestly isn't that much to lay out for this age. You don't have to spend a dim. They aren't going to be able to write lab reports or anything else in depth and they don't need to understand the scientific method yet. For history if you want, get The Child's History of the World, or Story of the World 1 and read a chapter a week aloud while they play with Playmobile, color or something. 

 

Honestly I think 1st and 2nd grade is still mostly about cementing reading skills, starting some copywork and narration, beginning basic math, and having lots of fun. I know that is not the tact a lot of people chose to take, but I'm more of the better late than early camp and a huge believer in play. You have so much time. So much left to cover the heavier things. I'd save my money. Get a bunch of great books, do the minimum and let them play and have fun. If they get an interest, go to the library and check books out on it. They'll enjoy that more than any scheduled text. 

 

No child has gotten or not gotten into college because his mother did not have a science or history curriculum in the 2nd grade. Don't let Sonlight, Apologia or anyone else tell you otherwise. :)

 

I hope this post doesn't sound dismissive or anything- that isn't my intent. I'm simply coming from the point of someone who initially thought I needed "full curricula" like the public schools have.  I wasted so much money on things that were not age or education appropriate for early elementary. They're just not. I've read so much and shifted my thinking so much on this and just don't want to see anyone think they "have" to have anything. You don't. Unless you are convicted you do, and that's fine. But otherwise, don't feel you're obligated to have 7 subjects and 7 texts for kids this age. It's a crock we've all been sold for too long. You don't need it. 

Edited by texasmom33
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There's wayfarers and build your library. They are both literature/read aloud curriculums.

 

I think overall I sometimes wish we'd just stayed with sonlight. I went to a WTM approach because I just didn't have the money for it at the time but in the long run I spend just as much piecing curriculum together as if I'd bought that expensive box year by year.

 

My only gripe with it is they start story of the world way too late. I wish they scheduled it from the beginning.

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I have the catalog for this and I don't know why I didn't really consider it much. So is it like Sonlight in the sense that the History is wrapped up in the readalouds? I love that about Sonlight. It is so hard without actually seeing it to really understand how it works and what it comes with. Can 2 grades be combined in a level, as in a Sonlight Core? Because that is also important to me with my girls only a grade apart!

Yes, the read alouds connect to the history, and if your kids are only one grade apart, I'd think you could easily combine them. I'd give a look at their placement chart too, but as long as you're willing to adapt if needed, it could work. Best wishes! :)

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Honestly I think 1st and 2nd grade is still mostly about cementing reading skills, starting some copywork and narration, beginning basic math, and having lots of fun. I know that is not the tact a lot of people chose to take, but I'm more of the better late than early camp and a huge believer in play. You have so much time. So much left to cover the heavier things. I'd save my money. Get a bunch of great books, do the minimum and let them play and have fun. If they get an interest, go to the library and check books out on it. They'll enjoy that more than any scheduled text. 

 

No child has gotten or not gotten into college because his mother did not have a science or history curriculum in the 2nd grade. Don't let Sonlight, Apologia or anyone else tell you otherwise. :)

 

 

I am going to mull this over because I really think I agree with you for the most part.  When it comes right down to it I really do think that even if we just went to the library and got science and history books as interests or holidays come up and watched some videos on interesting science things that it would be "enough" history and science.  BUT I find these subjects the most fun to teach and the part of the school day where I feel the most excitement from my kids as well.  I know education isn't 100 percent about excitement and believe me, I spend a majority of our school day in exactly what you said...reading, copywork, math and yes tons of play. But I just love how they clamor for history and science and that readaloud time.   So I value that a lot (and clearly have been paying a lot for it...).   But you have made me stop and think how lopsided it is that I pay the most money for those subjects and do SO much research on curriculum for these, and spend so much less time money on the materials for the 3Rs, when the skill subjects are more important at this age than the content subjects.  Hmm.  Maybe I COULD read our way through just a few good age appropriate booklists for literature and history and science and not do them officially as "subjects"?! That is a mind blowing thought...

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I am going to mull this over because I really think I agree with you for the most part.  When it comes right down to it I really do think that even if we just went to the library and got science and history books as interests or holidays come up and watched some videos on interesting science things that it would be "enough" history and science.  BUT I find these subjects the most fun to teach and the part of the school day where I feel the most excitement from my kids as well.  I know education isn't 100 percent about excitement and believe me, I spend a majority of our school day in exactly what you said...reading, copywork, math and yes tons of play. But I just love how they clamor for history and science and that readaloud time.   So I value that a lot (and clearly have been paying a lot for it...).   But you have made me stop and think how lopsided it is that I pay the most money for those subjects and do SO much research on curriculum for these, and spend so much less time money on the materials for the 3Rs, when the skill subjects are more important at this age than the content subjects.  Hmm.  Maybe I COULD read our way through just a few good age appropriate booklists for literature and history and science and not do them officially as "subjects"?! That is a mind blowing thought...

 

:) What I like with the core subjects is that a crazy amount can be accomplished in 10-20 minute snatches leaving the rest of the day to do the fun stuff- at least at this age!  And you're doing that as you say, quite economically. So you definitely can do the others that way too. And I do think excitement is important, and  if science and history are what get you super excited, I would take that and run, because I am of the belief that the mother's passion will show through and as at least as important as what the kids are passionate about. They'll pick up on it and you'll inspire them and teach them that passions are good things to have.

 

If you like projects there are a ton of places to find great history and science projects for free too and you can take them as you wish, or even buy something like Homeschool in the Woods for some hands on stuff. But then you aren't stuck with a box and you have all of the flexibility that you would want. 

 

I am not an unschooler, but after spending five years reading on these boards and consuming everything I can get my hands on about education and children, I've really mellowed as to how involved I see elementary education as needing to be. :) 

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Personally, I think Science and History for 1st and 2nd graders gets a bit overblown. I don't think it's necessary to have any formal science curricula at this age- or actually cover it much at all besides talking about things you naturally experience. (Although the publishers don't want you to think that.) You can go outside and talk about all sorts of things for free. If you need to do something, for that age, I might get some Magic School Bus experiments, or Mind Blowing Science and let them "play" experiments. My kids love that, but it's always for fun. Never formal or scheduled. Go on nature walks. Watch documentaries on animals. There just honestly isn't that much to lay out for this age. You don't have to spend a dim. They aren't going to be able to write lab reports or anything else in depth and they don't need to understand the scientific method yet. For history if you want, get The Child's History of the World, or Story of the World 1 and read a chapter a week aloud while they play with Playmobile, color or something. 

 

Honestly I think 1st and 2nd grade is still mostly about cementing reading skills, starting some copywork and narration, beginning basic math, and having lots of fun. I know that is not the tact a lot of people chose to take, but I'm more of the better late than early camp and a huge believer in play. You have so much time. So much left to cover the heavier things. I'd save my money. Get a bunch of great books, do the minimum and let them play and have fun. If they get an interest, go to the library and check books out on it. They'll enjoy that more than any scheduled text. 

 

No child has gotten or not gotten into college because his mother did not have a science or history curriculum in the 2nd grade. Don't let Sonlight, Apologia or anyone else tell you otherwise. :)

 

I hope this post doesn't sound dismissive or anything- that isn't my intent. I'm simply coming from the point of someone who initially thought I needed "full curricula" like the public schools have.  I wasted so much money on things that were not age or education appropriate for early elementary. They're just not. I've read so much and shifted my thinking so much on this and just don't want to see anyone think they "have" to have anything. You don't. Unless you are convicted you do, and that's fine. But otherwise, don't feel you're obligated to have 7 subjects and 7 texts for kids this age. It's a crock we've all been sold for too long. You don't need it. 

 

FYI, through 1st grade, for sure (And through 2nd for kids that stil need reading help) even public schools spend most of their time on reading and math.  They throw in some science (mostly animal-based or Magic School Bus) and community focused "Social studies" -- or teaching the cultural stories.  But only when there is time. The focus is on learning basic math skills and getting fluent in reading and comprehension.  Some writing, yes -- but even that is back burnered in favor of reading.  The goal is for kids to enter third grade ready to read to learn instead of still learning to read.  In 3rd grade is when they start making history, science, etc more daily subjects (or at least weekly.  My son's current class seems to alternate focusing on History or focusing on Science -- spending more time on each until the topic is complete instead of spending a little time on each every day)

 

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I think you might like the Simply Charlotte Mason guides. Geography sticks with one continent per year too. They have great samples available online you can look at. Science is nature study during grammar school... if you want more I think you can just get a book of experiments and have fun for another couple years.  They have a great book list but you can always supplement with good books from Sonlight's list (or WTM list or Mensa list or Read Aloud Revival's List :) , and do Sonlight's summer reading which I've heard great things about as well. 

Oh and you can get the full timeline from home school in the woods... You'd just print what you want on sticker paper - label paper, not sure what to call it. 

(edited to add info on timeline) 

Edited by Moncha
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We use Sonlight for History and read-alouds. I have never purchased it new, but usually get the IG from Ebay or homeschool classifieds and purchase the necessary books that go with it throughout the year. I combine my third and fifth graders too. I did add Spectrum Geography to improve their map reading skills. Sometimes I think about changing, but we all love the books (The House at Pooh Corner makes me choke up at the end. Every. Single. Time.). Good luck in deciding!

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We are longtime Sonlight users, and after the first year or two, I never bought brand-new whole Cores.   Once I knew what I was doing and figured out what worked for us, I bought used IGs and bought used books piecemeal, then spent a year pre-reading the books myself.   (So, for example, the year that we did Core B as a family, I was buying and reading books for Core C.   Because I had read all of the books myself before my kids, I could discuss them without needing the discussion questions from the IG.)    After we finished a Core, I'd re-sell the IG, usually for the same price I paid for it, since I had purchased it used.    Some of the books are still sitting on my shelves because my kids (now 15 and 13) begged me NOT to sell many of the books.

 

We tried SL's LA and Science, and they didn't work so well for us, so we used other things (BJU for English, then a combo of BJU + IEW; mostly Apologia for science, but not until around 3rd grade or so).   My kids were combined until they were in 7th & 5th grades, then we separated them.  By then, they were both ready to be working separate from each other.

 

I even put together a year-long study of state history, modeled after Sonlight's style, when my kids were in 4th & 2nd grade. 

 

Just wanted to let you know that if you do want to continue with Sonlight, there are much less expensive ways to make it work.   If you want to look at other options, however, I'd consider My Father's World, Heart of Dakota, Simply Charlotte Mason, or other literature-based curricula.   Bookshark is the secular equivalent of Sonlight, with almost all of the same books, minus the Bible portion.

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I have gone over My Father's World, Heart of Dakota, Sonlight.  My favorite one was Heart of Dakota, second is My Father's World and last be Sonlight.  Heart of Dakota is in the middle, in my opinion, for the reading. There are not as many books as Sonlight but not as few as My Father's World.  I did HOD with my first and MFW with my dual. I switched to Sonlight and it was too much.  I have dipped and dabbled with what I could find used this past two years but next year going back to HOD.

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I have been a long time Sonlight user, at least I call myself that, my use of it over the year has changed and probably doesn’t really represent it anymore but it is my base.

The books! Yes I love the books!

Schedule! Yes it brings confidence

Timeline! Love it

Combining! Wonderful

 

I totally agree with almost everything on both your love and don’t love list! These are some ways I have adjusted.

1.Science -we have chosen NOEO, it is similar to Sonlight in someways, but I think it schedules MUCH more coherently. Experiments kit are great to have on had because the exp. actually get done! It is not over kill, it is just enough so that we get the content but it is very doable when I have a lot on my plate, (this year I’m actually wishing for alittle more) but I am very pleased with the prep my kids have after the 6th grade using this program

2. I rarely use the IG discussion, but I don’t feel guilty about it

3. Geography I agree , I have added maps from sotw for 6th and 7th and map trek for 8th,

4. I don’t pay full price for a core, have once or twice , but generally I will find a used copy of ig , just have to make sure it’s not too old, then buy books from our local used books store or thrift books, better world books. doesn’t work for everything but I save lots of money that way, I still by timeline figures from Sonlight, and maybe I’ll just skip some books , too hard to find or too expensive

 

We don’t use the LA either we use FLL, WWE, rod and staff English, iew. This year added plaid phonic , more to get the spelling and writing going , not so much the phonic for reading

 

So yes after all that it sort of looses some of the greatness of being all in one, I agree, but I’m honest with myself that I’m not going to find anything I will be happy with anyway, I’m always going to be tweaking

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Long time Sonlighter, at least for the elementary years.

 

I love the books, used to use the schedule, but now just read the books.

For science in elementary - I tend to read lots of science books and buy lots of Usborne books.

Geography - various

Language arts - I tend not to use Sonlight, but do a mix of things

 

I started all with Sonlight with my oldest. Over the years, I keep what I like and change what I don't like. I don't know of any provider that would suit me as all in one.

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