Sonlight: My Thoughts

by GfG on February 12, 2013 · 11 comments

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This is the second in a series of reviews on core curriculums I have used.  Part 1 was BiblioPlan: My Thoughts.

This is our thirteenth year homeschooling.  From the beginning, I knew I wanted a core curriculum that had living books at its core.  That was non negotiable.  First of all, let me clarify what I mean by core/spine curriculum: this dictates the main “theme” of our year.  For us, this means history, reading, read aloud, and geography are all connected.

I am guiding children at every end of the education spectrum and that fact dictates a lot of my decisions.  Know that from the get go.

Sigh.  Let me say that, even though Sonlight is no longer a fit  for me, it will always hold a dear place in my heart!  It is the first curriculum I used and it was an answer to prayer in many ways.  I fell in love with homeschooling using it and think it’s great in many ways.

Be sure to check out Sonlight’s site  for better info, but Sonlight describes their curriculum in this way:

Sonlight provides complete Christian Homeschool Curriculum. With literature-rich, Christ-centered programs, your family is guaranteed to love learning together.

I used Sonlight for eight years, enjoying Cores 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, which I think are now called D-H (remember, I had Daniel for six years and we did some of those cores with him before I started homeschooling our bio children).  I LOVED them!  Truly.  While I will share issues I had on why I stopped using Sonlight, I am far from hating or even disliking it.  It’s just not my fave and it doesn’t work for us now.

Core 5/D is so beloved by me and so unique that I insist each of the kids do it twice, once at a young age and once at an age old enough to do the Eastern Hemisphere Explorer (middle school or high school).

Ok… on to my thoughts on Sonlight!

This post covers the core currics (and touches on language arts), but not their science programs.

While I did use Sonlight for eight years, I haven’t bought a core program in five and a half years, so there may be changes that address the cons I list. For that matter, there may be changes that negate the pros.     😉

sonlight-logo 2

Pros for Sonlight, in my opinion: 

  • Almost all historical fiction reading choices leave lasting impressions.  This has to be Sonlight’s trademark.
  • Read alouds are amazing.   I actually supplemented or changed TOG and BiblioPlan’s read aloud schedules by putting in “Sonlight books”.
  • We loved our time together reading.
  • The books were often ones I would never have come across.
  • Missionaries are included in the cores.
  • It can be an easy purchase- buy the core and your work is done for many subjects.
  • The IG (instructor guide/lesson plans plus teacher notes) is incredibly user friendly.
  • Because the IG is set and plans are done, SL is easy for first time homeschoolers.
  • You can open the IG and start with no prep (except pre-reading, which I highly rec because Sonlight has a few books that are questionable as readers).
  • You can buy the IG separate and get the books however you want (this is a pro for those with great libraries and little money to spend on books).
  • The prices for their individual books is competitive.
  • Having a core curric (5/F) that has a theme that no other company offers is a perk, especially when it is on the eastern hemisphere and the least evangelized people groups.
  • Customer service is terrific.  I especially like their honesty in “27 Reasons Not to Buy Sonlight”.
  • Previous purchasers get a discount on updated IGs.
  • The guarantee they offer is one of a kind.  Stellar.

catalog

Cons for Sonlight, in my opinion:

  • The nonfiction books are often dry.
  • It is heavy on the fiction, losing some important aspects of historical facts.
  • It is work to use with two kiddos (unless they are on the same reading level), requiring you to find books on your own to supplement.
  • It is nearly impossible to use with more than two kids and a five year age spread (SL says you can, but I tried.  Seriously.).
  • The nonfiction spines were all secular and some anti-Biblical.
  • Replacing books with similar ones is do-able, but then you can not use the comprehension questions.
  • Choosing what other SL subjects to use with the core curric can be overwhelming.
  • SL’s language arts is not as easy of a fit to the cores as it seems.
  • It requires a lot of one-on-one time with the parent until high school.  A lot.
  • There is not help in checking/reviewing information gleaned (SL admits this is not a part of their curriculum on purpose, so…), but is dependent on discussion.
  • It is expensive to use for just one child.
  • Little to none in the church history and theology category.
  • Little to none in the Biblical application discussion area.
  • There are some books that are questionable for the age in which they are placed (I highly rec prereading SL’s books because of this.  I often got a heads up from being on the SL forums and I think the IGs often have notifications about many of the books, but I’m not 100% positive.)   I switched books from readers to read alouds to handle my concerns.

 Summary: 

Pros: fabulous books, open and go, Core 5/F is special, amazing customer service

Cons: not a good fit for large families, secular texts, dry nonfiction, lots of mommy time

Sonlight works for many families. It worked for us for awhile, until my needs and wants changed.  I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks.

Have you used Sonlight?  Do you see your pros & cons here? 

 

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