Monday, January 9, 2012

Sonlight--How's That Working For You? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I shared that even though I was still loving homeschooling, we had run across two problems.

1. My 12 year old wasn't independent with her day, and it wasn't her fault!
2. I needed to be able to spend more time with my (then) 7 year old.

So, has Sonlight helped us meet those goals?


Sweetheart with her shipment of books for the year. 
Here is how Sonlight has helped us, as opposed to the other curriculum we were using before.

First of all, Sweetheart (12) starts her day here:

Play-Doh optional.

In her room, at her desk, she is able to accomplish a lot right away without my help. Here she does handwriting, Bible reading, reading, a math practice sheet, a history lesson, and sometimes part of her writing assignment. ALL in the first hour or so of school and ALL independently. Now, at the beginning of the year there was a lot of coming to ask me questions, which I had prepared myself for. That has gone away. Also, in the beginning she would beg to come sit at the table with Little Bit and me but I only allowed it a few times. We all worked better separated for the first hour. She adjusted quickly and this part of the day flows now. It's nice to get so much done so soon.

So while Sweetheart is in her room working, Little Bit and I use our time to work on her reading lessons. I am pleased to say she is now a real-live, full-fledged reader. That was one reason I protected our first hour of  school (i.e. kicked Sweetheart out of the room). Little Bit needed to be able to work with me on this. We still spend that first hour reading, but now....she reads to me!

Little Bit and I also do Bible, read-aloud, and history during this time. Then she gets a play break while Sweetheart comes to me for narration on everything she has read that morning.

So right there, in our first hour of school, BOTH of my homeschooling problems have been solved!

There is another thing Sonlight has accomplished which I would not have classified as a problem actually. I never had a real plan for Sweetheart in reading. She reads so much we have to practically slap the book out of her hand to get her attention. We joke about who would be responsible for going to get her should the house catch on fire because she's sure to not notice.

So I have never worried much about "assigning" books to her to read. But since Sonlight comes with nice little ready-made, well-thought-out assignment sheets, she has been reading some GREAT books! This comes at a super time in her life. The better a reader your child becomes and the more they out-grow the "younger kid books", the more problems you run into! The content of many books in the juvenile section of the library is questionable. I can't tell you how many books I've picked up that deal with messy divorces, or eating disorders, or other things that my daughter doesn't deal with or need to worry about. Let's not even get into the dating, boys, or the really sick vampire love genre, OK?

Sonlight offers us good literature that teaches history at the same time. Does that mean there is nothing controversial? Of course not, but honestly we haven't come across anything that shocked me or that we couldn't discuss together. We have loved the read-alouds so much that we often can be found reading ahead just because we can't stand to wait! (And she has caught me reading ahead too!) And that sitting on the couch together and reading thing is WAY better than sitting at the table all the time. Which is why I'm glad we got rid of the homeschool room. My pregnant body agrees the couch is better too. :)

Little Bit has a few things she does on her own each day. 
Now, I only ordered the "core" from Sonlight. Our writing, math, handwriting, spelling and science are not "Sonlight" curriculum. (Although they do sell some of what we are using and I ordered some of it from them.) So we still have that part of our day that we do pretty much like we always have. But that's OK because our morning starts off with those first steps of independence I was looking for. I know as we progress through the junior high and high school grades, she will become more and more independent. And honestly I'm not looking to ever be done teaching her until she graduates. I know that seems to be some homeschool parents' goal, but it isn't mine.

So yes, it's working for us very nicely!

Next time: The Tweaks (there are always tweaks)


  1. We too are using Sonlight for the first time this year, with our 5yo (chose Core A). I love the organized structure, but we have a few problems - (1) the readings are way too long for the 5yo's attention, and (2) the books are way too advanced for him. So.... I'm worried that buying the next Core for next year will just keep those problems coming. Not sure what to do on that one, but still like Sonlight overall.

  2. Diana I agree! My daughter was 7 (now 8) on core A. I cannot imagine her 5 year old self doing this!! What about using Five in a Row for a year and then coming back to SL?

  3. I'm so glad to hear how much you are enjoying it!! One thing that has happened lately with my avid reader - I don't let him read *too* far ahead in our Core (he'd read the whole year's worth in a month if I'd let him), so what I've found him doing is going to the shelf that has last year's Core on it and pulling all those books off. He's re-read all of Core 3 in the past few months, lol! I'm thrilled because I know it's only cementing the good historical knowledge AND the books are just so good.

    Anyway, didn't mean to hijack your post! I love Sonlight excitement! :-D

  4. Erin, we don't have an old core laying around so she has already re-read some of THIS year's books! :) And I don't let her get ahead on her reading either b/c she goes too fast and can't tell me a lot of details. But on Moccasin Trail, we just couldn't help ourselves!!

  5. guess i need to research sonlight a bit more. are they considered 'living books'? their packages intimidate me... not sure where i'd start? i really want to gear their work to more independence... it's really for their own good {and a little bit of mine, too, okay} ;)

  6. We use ABEKA for all but math. My 4 girls, ages 10, almost 12, and 13 year old twins, are voracious readers and I can't keep them in reading material. I may try to find Sonlight books used for them just to have around and read. We go to the library sometimes but so often I have to preread any books we bring home and I just don't have time! Sonlight sounda like a good source for extra reading. Thanks!

  7. You know, I might do that! I need to do something, for sure, because going on with Sonlight will just be burnout territory with the work being so far ahead of our 5yo. Frankly, I'm really surprised that the literature (which is all great) is something they expect a kindergartener to enjoy. Some of the readings (like "The 100 Dresses") have been pure torture for him. Maybe if I take a year off with another program, then re-do Core A, we'd be in the right place. I'll have to look around!

    I've also slowed our pace on "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" since reading that your little girl was doing it as a 7yo (right? unless that was another blog?). We're now just doing half a lesson per day, for four days a week, and that seems to be fine. He doesn't show any interest in reading, but at least he'll have the tools to do so by the time he reaches an age of wanting to read.

    I don't comment often, but I enjoy the blog! Thanks!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)