What I always recommend for new homeschoolers is Sonlight (http://budurl.com/sonlight). It's a literature based curriculum. You can group your children together into one level, and only use grade specific curriculum for math and language arts. All the history and literature is done together. We LOVED it - and it really "held my hand" as a beginner. It comes with a great schedule that I used to help me along. I really feel like Sonlight taught me what I was doing, especially in the early grades.
Do you use Sonlight? Please add a comment and let your friends know what you think of it!
I have several kids that require more time to accomplish a day's work. We have adopted kids. We take two years to get through a core. That way it is not only cheaper, but we can bring in other things like nature sketches, study of art,Wordly Wise, etc, a nonfiction book report,etc.- and it works wonderfully!
Good job! Lee is always pleased to hear when mom's trust themselves and decide on a pace that works for their children. She says that YOU are The Best Guidance Counselor your child can have. You love them and you know them best.
Keep up the good work!
Assistant to The HomeScholar
Hi there Lee,
I smiled when I got your email update with "The HomeScholar Recommends: Sonlight!" I do too!!
I've always homeschooled my children, but we made the decision to start using Sonlight three years ago. I'm still really glad we made the switch. We really love the excellent literature suggestions, and we often add other relevant books and dvds we find from our local library.
For the writing component in the high school years, we've started using IEW. Once we started to get the hang of how that program worked, we've used some of the material learned through history to write up research papers, practice note-taking, and we're working on an historical fiction write-up now.
I have used Sonlight for 5 years, but last year I took the year off- I was concerned about continuing with the literature/unity study approach into high school, and how that would translate into high school credits- it seemed a pretty "untraditional" approach to high school. That one year off was the most stressful school year of all for us, because I was having to pull it all together- so we are back to Sonlight now, including for high school! I felt the LA portion was not my favorite at times in the past (I did not do all the "option" books which could be why!), and tried other things, but with the rewriting of the LA potion that Sonlight has done, I am confident now that I have all the necessary pieces. The kids were all so happy to go back to Sonlight too!
Here are a few articles that may help:
High School English: A "Grouch Free" Guide to Grading
Homeschooling High School: Favorite Writing Curriculum
I think English is mostly about DOING it, and so your job is to find the least painful, most enjoyable way to practice reading and writing each day - and that varies so much by child
I hope that helps!
We are in our fourth year of Sonlight and we love it here too. My kids are three years apart and so I ended up splitting them into their own cores. It is a lot of work in some regards, but overall it works for us and I am confident they are learning a LOT!
Lee, I would love to hear more of your experience with LA . . . or maybe see a post on it from you sometime. I have tried just about everything, including Sonlight for one year, but can't find a groove and am getting worried my kids aren't getting a good solid grasp on writing in particular. I felt that Sonlight often didn't offer enough instruction. I would love to know if you used Sonlight LA the whole way through and if you found it to be comprehensive or if you supplemented or switched to anything else. I am trying to make curriculum decisions for my 7th grader next year who has had woeful writing instruction because of my indecision!!
In response to the comment above that Sonlight is very expensive, I would say that if you compare it with other products that provide that much material, it is not expensive. My sister once talked me into buying a curriculum that required going to the library to get the books we needed. (Or buying them.) That didn't work out well for us at all! I paid $300 for a small box with a little teacher's guide and a list of books I needed. Oh, the tears I cried!
Sonlight saved my sanity the next year. It is wonderful because they send it all! I LOVE getting everything in one box and knowing that I don't need anything else (besides math), unless I want to add to the already wonderful SL books!
We have used Sonlight for 4 years and I recommend it to anyone just starting out homeschooling. We occasionally add books, movies or trips to our Core, because we'll find something that goes great with it. And on the forums, you can find out what other moms are using to supplement, as well as share what you have found.
Oh, and as Lee mentioned, you can use one core for several ages at once. My kids are in 5th, 6th and 7th grades and we do our cores together, with appropriate Language Arts and maths for each child.
I've used Sonlight with my two girls since my older daughter was 3 1/2. I did take a 2-year detour during her 6th and 7th grade years - and found myself regretting it big-time! Sonlight knows how to pick the very best books, and they put them together in an order that makes sense and works for all of us (a heavier read followed by a lighter one, etc.). My older daughter is highly gifted (she got a 29 on the ACT at age 13 1/2, for example); my younger is dyslexic - Sonlight is ideal for both. Because so much of the curriculum (Bible, history, and literature - and science if you use that) is read-aloud at the elementary level, kids can absorb far more than they could with an elementary school reading level. My older daughter could stay "on grade level" and still get far more out of the material than most kids would; my younger can learn what her 10-year-old brain can absorb even though she only has an early 2nd-grade reading level.
Not only that, Sonlight provides some of the best customer service I've ever known. They ship within a day or two of your order. They have wonderful online forums to provide support, advice, and encouragement. And they LISTEN when customers have feedback - there's an evaluation form in every teacher's guide, and there's a special section of the forums dedicated to talking directly with them.
When my older daughter was in Kindergarten, I spent three days going through all the booths at our large homeschooling conference. I found nothing that compared with Sonlight. Today, with a daughter using their high school material and another using the material for the second time (which now costs me next to nothing since I already bought it the first time around), I am 100% convinced there's nothing like it.
We are trying sonlight for the first time this year so we will see how it goes. It is very expensive though.
Love SL! I've been using it for 10 years now, reusing cores with my younger two. It's always fun to re-read books, like a visit from a treasured friend. As I get older they seem to touch me more, making me weepy, but I persevere
Ditto here. We started with Sonlight right from the PreK level 10 years ago and I never had to switch to anything else. We are starting highschool and I have been looking forward to those years when I get to use the upper Sonlight levels! Yes, Sonlight taught me all I know.
Hey, Lee! Yes, we're still using Sonlight and plan to keep at it. We love to read, so it's a great fit for us. I wish we had started back at the beginning. I always make sure we get read-alouds done since it's the only reading I get to do! I love the books.
I notice that since Sonlight was a good "fit" for our family, that the supplements they suggested were also usually a good "fit."
Linda, I've heard that some people don't like the Language Arts program, but it worked for us. I usually changed the topic that was required, but used the basic outline of what they should be writing about. That's the joy of homeschooling, that you can change things to make them work for your family, and you don't get stuck with one kind of curriculum. Yippee! Freedom!
I have used all levels of Sonlight from Preschool (not including the new level they've just added) to Core 100 over the past 10 years. Although I'm not thrilled with the LA program, I have LOVED everything else about SL. I find their recommendations to be right on for our family. My children love to read and be read to, thanks to Sonlight.
I have used Sonlight almost from the beginning with my 11 year old and from the beginning with my 9 year. I'm just now starting it with next set of preschoolers too. I could go on and on about what is so great and unique about Sonlight, but one thing that stands out to me is that I can trust Sonlight, without any supplementing, to be more than enough for my kids in History and Literature. History is my second weakest subject, second only to grammar, and by using Sonlight I am confident that my kids will not only understand more History than their peers, but they will enjoy and appreciate it too.
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