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Sonlight Vs. SOTW (shhhh)

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Well, here I am trying again to make the decision between the two. I like how SOTW starts at the very beginning, but here are a few things I don't care for:

The one book-I think I would like a few books to read to the kids

Jim WEiss' voice-sorry Jim!

The World view on a few things


So, my question is: Would SL be a better fit? I love the syllabus type, but it is expensive. I am sorry, I am rambling and thinking aloud. So, my quesion is:

what do you use, and what do you like about it, and what is the percentage of the people on this site that use either, do you think?


Thank you for answering!


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What age are you thinking...


I have a 6 yo DS. We started with Sonlight and switched to SOTW. I wanted something that included more activities (we use the AG), maps and narration help. SOTW provided all of these.


While everything is in one book, we also use Usborne Encyclopedias and lots of books from the library. So, I don't feel like we're only using one book. I use the Sonlight Catalog as a supplement when we're looking for a good book to read.


We like Jim, so I can't help you there. You could just skip the audio. But I thought that I'd read somewhere that a woman also did some of the audio recordings????


Hope this helps-


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Then I don't buy it, over and over.


I love the idea of it, but every time I'm ready to plunge, something holds me back.


When Sonlight 3 seemed like a reasonable fit, my thinking was that I didn't want to move through a bunch of books a teeny bit at a time. I wanted to read as long as the spirit moves me, and as long as DD wanted me to. And then I decided to just fold Sonlight 3 and 4 into SOTW 3 and 4, but was going through SOTW more slowly than I needed to to make that work--DD outgrew many of the Sonlight selections before she got to those points in SOTW.


When Sonlight 5 looked good, I failed to finish SOTW4 in time for Sonlight 5 to seem like the right level. And, some of the people here who really like Sonlight the most didn't like Sonlight 5 as much as the rest of the cores. I bought a used Sonlight 5 set, and was really glad that I had not used it as all of our social studies, but liked the books; so I folded them into our other studies as enrichment, and that was really nice. But again, I wasn't really doing Sonlight per se.


I thought about doing Sonlight 6 and 7 for 7th and 8th grades, and really didn't want to fly through history that fast, especially after having spent so much time on leisurely, thorough history so far. And I felt that we needed to focus more on science and logic than going through all that history again for those two years. Instead, we're doing a set of history topics in depth, and also doing a 1 semester course in church history from Concordia Publishing House that we have almost finished. And this is the year that DD has started confirmation classes twice a week, so there is some additional work there.


I won't be homeschooling high school, so the attractive American and British literature cores will not be options for us.


That's how this keeps working out--Sonlight looks great to me, but I just don't do it. I like more freedom than it gives me, and feel like it would be a waste of money to buy it and use it so differently than it was intended to be used. Love the company, though, and the values, and the integrity. Great company, poor fit--that's the bottom line for me.


And besides, SOTW is so good, and the AG books are so great. I would not have missed it for anything. It has made history DD's favorite subject!

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We are switching to Sonlight next year from SOTW. I like the stories in SOTW, but I feel like it's not getting done enough because it's not planned out. I'm finding out that I need things planned out for me or they don't get done as much as they need to. My kids LOVE history and I feel really bad that we aren't doing much with it. When we get to it, we usually read the chapter, discuss it, do the coloring, and do narration. That's it. We haven't done very many of the activities or extra readers. So, I'm hoping that Sonlight will help us get history done more.

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I see you also posted about Tapestry of Grace. I don't have experience with TOG (although we will probably use it for our third history rotation). But, I do have experience with SOTW and Mystery of History. I also bought (cheap!) the syllabus and schedule for one year of Sonlight, so I have looked into SL pretty extensively.


I love SOTW - especially the first two years and especially with little ones. The lessons were each just the right length for my kids when they were your kids' ages.


For our second rotation through history, we have switched to Mystery of History. As much as I love the WTM and SOTW, MOH has become a better fit for our family.


MOH may also address some of your specific concerns. First, MOH is told from a decidedly and distinctly Christian worldview. The first year incorporates biblical history, with a strong focus on the phophets, into ancient history. The end of the first year is heavily focused on Christ - who IS the Mystery of History.


It also sounds to me like you are looking for both simplicity and structure, but with enough variety. MOH fits all those desires. The MOH 1 book is both the history spine and the activity guide. I love the layout of MOH; I find it much easier to read than the SOTW activity guide. MOH is, in general, simpler for me to use than SOTW or what I saw in SL.


Part of the simplicity for me is in the structure and layout of MOH. MOH 1 has 108 lessons, in 3-lesson increments, to be used over 36 weeks. So, there is a kind of syllabus incorporated into the layout of the book. There are suggested activities after each lesson and suggested literature and/or videos for most of the lessons. Then after every three lessons, there is a timeline summary, suggested map work, and a review of some type. The reviews frequently include previously learned material, so there is constant review throughout the year. We achieved a kind of "rhythm" in our study of history using MOH, in part, because of this layout. If you already know how to use Excel, it would take you about 10 minutes to create a Sonlight-like schedule for MOH.


Another attribute of MOH that I enjoy is the CD-ROM activity guide. I can make as many copies of maps and quizzes as I want, without stepping foot into a Kinkos:).


Like SOTW, MOH offers literature suggestions to supplement the lesson. With a history spine, you can bring variety to your study of history with the literature suggestions, while keeping the story of history coming from a consistent spine. SOTW offers many more literature suggestions than MOH. If you want a lot of read-alouds to supplement your history spine, you can use MOH as your spine and use the literature suggestions from SOTW - that is what we are doing this year.


The audio books from MOH are read by the female author - I think she does a great job.


There are things about MOH that some folks don't like, and that can be useful information to know. Linda Hobar (MOH author) writes in conversational first person. I love it - it rubs some people the wrong way. THe full series of MOH is not complete - Linda has written through 1700. This shouldn't be an issue for anyone starting with book 1.


WIth all that said, I still think curriculum is a personal choice and you have to find what works best for your family.

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I use core 1. The history readings dont take us long at all. I think they are very short compared to SOTW...So...I add in SOTW with the activity guide. My kids got through chapter 16 last year...so I am very happy to be using it this year. I have both 1 and 2 for SOTW with the guides. The kids love the work. I dont find it takes long to do both.

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I am currently doing my second round with it. My older son loves SOTW. In fact, I have a girlfriend who takes a college world history class. The students think that she is a history specialist because she knows so much history for teaching her children SOTW.


I just want to say that on my first round, we did the narrations exercises. We did the crafts. We did the maps and the coloring pages, especially while I was reading. We mummified chickens. We mummified apples. We did the 10 plague cartoons, etc. We also followed the book selections. Some were advanced. Some my son could read. The funny thing is that I used Sonlight's readers to help supplement some of the readings. Sonlight can follow SOTW if you look carefully at the readings. It is one of the best complements to this program.


Currently, I am doing something very different with my older son. We are doing more written summaries, timelines, and indepth map studies to go along with the readings. I feel that SOTW is a complete history program.


Blessings in your homeschooling journey!





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When we did SL's Core 1 we replaced SL's spine Child's History of the World with SOTW 1 and corresponding Activity Guide. It was a perfect fit for us. As I was reading SOTW, my son would color the picture in the AG for the chapter. Then we would do some of the narration questions from the AG and end with the mapping from the AG and any encyclopedia readings. Occasionally we would do a craft as well, but this was rare.


As for the SL stuff, I just followed the SL schedule for most of the history (minus CHOW) and the readers and read-alouds. The SOTW AG included what pages to read in the Usborne Encyclopedia so I followed the SOTW AG for that, instead of SL's schedule.


With Core 2 we used SOTW 2 & Act. Guide the same way.


Those were two of my son's very favorite school years. He learned gobs!


If you really like the looks of SL (reading/history books, schedule), but want to also use SOTW, it is VERY do-able. ;)


[Core 3 and SOTW 3 do mesh together well so we did not use SOTW 3 with Core 3].

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I've used Sonlight Core C, Core 1, and Core 2. I prefer SOTW world view much better than SL. SL was useful because it made me more confident to do the scheduling myself. SL, frankly, took too much time switching from book to book, subject to subject everyday. I prefer WTM's schedule.


SL is worth the money but since I hooked up with a decent library system, I am doing SOTW and can get the books recommended by SOTW. Besides SL had a way of making me anxious with its schedules. Can't stand the their LA program and though science is good, WTM's plan seems more logical to me.

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I used Sonlight with my older kids. I liked the book selections but ultimately it was just too much. Way.Too.Much. IF you are teaching more than one child with a sonlight core estimate higher than their time suggestions especially if you have 1 or more children who dawdle. I found that although we enjoyed the books we just could not get to all of the schedule and had to constantly drop something just to get through the day or the week. It was guilt trip. I felt with the olders that I was too heavy on literature/history and it tended to crowd out time for other subjects.


Sonlight negatives-cost, too much scheduled,time, less time for electives

positives- book selection



With my younger kids we are using SOTW. We consistently do the reading, narration, and mapwork. The extras are just that extras and have become something we do as a family( bigger projects) or in the afternoon for fun( library books, smaller projects). We have plenty of time to pursue other subjects- art/nature study, etc and there is no guilt trip because I'm "behind" or skipping too much just to stay afloat. If there is no interest in a project or I just cannot get to it then we just skip it.


SOTW negatives- haven't found any yet.

Positives- cost, time requirements, project options, optional book selections.


I don't use the audio for school work. The younger kids like the audio well enough to listen to the cds during car rides. If there is any conflict with the book and personal view then we just address them. I found conflict with SL with our personal views as well.


FWIW, Sonlight does an excellent job of coordinating history/literature, reading, etc. BUT it also micromanages your reading to pages per day that I did not enjoy. I have found that having history/literature and reading all coordinating really isn't that important. I prefer having fewer books to read at one time and reading at our own pace.



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I too looked at Sonlight a long time(back when I first thought about HS). I never bought it. So finally it's time for history and I planned to use SOTW but something didn't feel right. My dh told me to take SL up on their money back offer....and we did.




I do use the History Pockets for 'activities'. it's not every day. but it's something. And I bought some 'coloring' sheets for Egypt when we saw King Tut. And I plan to pull other 'activity' resources from online when we need more stuff in that area.


but I love SL. we are doing Core 1. We sit on the couch and read. And discuss. And some days we have an activity.


I have SOTW and I will encourage my son to read through it this year and perhaps my daughter this summer. What I didn't like about SOTW was ALL the activities. I know you don't have to do them all....but it would be tempting to do all activities and less reading! I like SL b/c we read/discuss and then the activities are extra 'on top' of the basics the SL schedule provides.


for us it was a good balance. I need the daily schedule to get things done. they needed the cuddle time(we love read alouds). And while we haven't done a ton of activities we have done some cute crafts and they had fun. we even drove to see King Tut in Atlanta!


since SL has their money back offer it's worth it to try. I am glad we did.

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Are you aware that Sonlight used SOTW with Core 6 and 7? They have some of the issues with world view of SOTW that it sounds like you have. They include extensive notes and discussion questions to help the teacher work through with their student.


But to add a twist, I just did not care for SOTW (actually my history minded husband really couldn't deal with SOTW) so I replaced it with Mystery of History. So I am doing Core 6 and most of 7 (again she hasn't finished the last book) with Mystery of History. I love the balance. My only regret is I have too much stuff so I can't do all the activities in Myster of History with my kids.

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I had the same dilemma on using SL Core 1 or SOTW. I stayed with SL. For me, reading to my kids a lot is one of the most important things and so SL really works well in our house. I love to read aloud though, and you have to like to do that a lot because there are a lot of books. SL has introduced us to a lot of books I wouldn't have thought to pick that my dc have loved.


What I liked about SOTW, is how orderly and chronological it is. But I reviewed my goals and what attracted me to SL in the first place, and decided to stay with SL. At these ages, it's all for exposure and I think I would have gotten too rigid doing history the WTM way, I know myself, so SL keeps the fun in it for us. SL also has that fabulous guarantee mentioned previously, and so you can send it back if it doesn't work out. The readings are short in Core 1, so I have actually added books myself. It adds a missionary and cultures focus to history, which is a pro for some and a con for others.


However, I do think there are neat suggestions for additional reading in the SOTW activity guide, and it's a lot less expensive. I use the AG to add hands-on acitivities to Core 1. I don't think you can lose with either choice.

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Then I don't buy it, over and over.


I love the idea of it, but every time I'm ready to plunge, something holds me back.




That describes me perfectly, until I got sick of it and decided to just buy it already, lol. I am using SL with my younger ones, just started, but I plan to go through core 4. Unless by using it I decided I don't like it. If you continue to feel drawn to it the only way to really know is to actually use it. That is what I finally decided, I can read other peoples experiences all day long and let one thing or another talk me out of it but I just kept coming back to it and finally decided I needed my own experience with it to really know.

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