I’m new to homeschooling and noticed you use Sonlight for part of your curriculum. I’ve looked into that a little, as well as TJEd and Well-Trained mind. I love the idea of a classical education that is literature based. I just wanted to know why you chose Sonlight as well as any other curricula you are using. There are so many options, and I’m just trying to weed through them to find what is best for my family.
I was just wondering how you liked Switched on Schoolhouse? I am thinking of using that for my 4th grader and 6th grader next year, but wasn’t sure about it. Which courses do you use? I was a little leary about the bible course not knowing if it is King James or what. Just would appreciate your input as an LDS homeschooling mom.
One of the wonderful things about homeschooling today versus ten or fifteen years ago is the plethora of homeschool curriculum options that are available now. Almost too many options! It is something I look at every single year for every single child. It takes a lot of prayer, pondering, and listening to do this. As much as we know our children, there is One who knows them more. They were His before they were ours. The Lord will guide you to find the right tools to teach your child.
Each child learns differently. My oldest does best just reading, reading and more reading on her own. My second daughter is very hands on and visual. What worked for my first daughter absolutely did not work for my second daughter. We learned this the hard way with math. My oldest did well with Saxon math while it felt like Armageddon was starting whenever my second daughter had to do math each day. It was because she didn’t understand the concepts and couldn’t understand them the way they were taught with Saxon. After much research I bought Math-U-See for her and she literally flew by leaps and bounds with her understanding of math. Because of this experience I take a hard look at the curriculum every year to see if it is still working and to make sure that it is the best option for each child.
I grew up in a family that LOVED books. And really, who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Some prefer to listen to one, or write one, rather than read one but the love of a good story is there. With that in mind I was drawn to literature based curriculum. When my oldest were little it wasn’t hard to utilize free resources, make up my own lesson plans, and create my own unit studies. It was fun and I enjoyed it! Then, about 4 years ago that changed. It wasn’t fun anymore. After taking a hard look I figured out it was because so much time was required for me to thoroughly plan for each child. With all of them being on different levels in each subject it was taxing on my sanity trying to keep them all straight. That’s when I did what I had vowed I’d never do – look at a boxed curriculum.
I use Sonlight with my children that are still in what is considered elementary school (we don’t go by grades around here). I do the Core History package with all of them. LOVE their read alouds! Then they each do whatever reader package is right for their level. The great thing about the reader packages is being able to use them with the next child so the cost is spread over many children. The main attraction for me besides the literature was having it already planned out day-by-day. This freed up so much of my time! It also took away a lot of the stress I was feeling and was able to put the energy being used for stress into mixing up their learning by still doing unit studies here and there. We also use Sonlight for science because it too is already planned and we can buy all the materials for the experiments in one kit. All of my children have benefited from using Sonlight for their history, science, and reading studies. Math is a different story. I’ve already illustrated that above.
Sonlight is expensive but in my book it is well worth the money. The great literature and already planned days far out-weigh the cost of the Sonlight curriculum for me. The first year I purchased directly from the company. This past year I bought the guide used off of Ebay and then used my PaperBackSwap credits to get the read-aloud books. Can I tell you how much I love PaperBackSwap? 😀 Instead of shelling out $550 dollars for everything I spent only about $100. My SIL also uses Sonlight. To defray the cost we order different packages then switch the next year so we don’t have to buy very much – just a new kit of science supplies since those are consumable.
Other curricula I use with my children to supplement the history, science, and reading from Sonlight are Easy Grammar, Sequential Spelling, Handwriting Without Tears, Drawing with Children, Meet the Masters (Classical Music), Scriptures, and various lapbook and unit studies.
Bon Bon (14) is now in high school. She is taking courses through BYU Independent Study. When she is done she’ll have also earned at least one year’s worth of college credit. Before going on to college she also plans on taking as many CLEP tests as possible to test out of college generals – saving money and time.
Semisweet (13) will start that route next year. This year we decided to try Switched on Schoolhouse picking and choosing courses from 8th grade on up. We didn’t get the bible course as we already study scriptures together as a family. We did buy the World History and Geography, Spanish I, General Science II, and 8th grade Language Arts. I love being able to go and create a calendar for her marking school days and vacations. The computer will then automatically generate the schedule of lessons for each subject. Most of her school work is done on the computer. When she takes an exam most of the questions are automatically graded but there are always several essay questions that require me to read and grade. For math we are trying the D.I.V.E. cds which seem to be working well. She likes being able to watch how to do the math problems as many times as necessary for her to understand it. I’m glad I’m not having to repeat myself over and over again explaining them.
Next school year Brownie (11) will start Switched on Schoolhouse. It helps my kids transition from my teaching them directly to them taking the initiative themselves which prepares them for the rigors of high school then college. With Switched on Schoolhouse you don’t have to buy the grade package. You can pick and choose which courses to order depending on what level of learning your child is on.
Even though I now use a “packaged curriculum” for my children it really is only a base. I still take quite a bit of liberty changing things here and there. The trick is finding what method of teaching is best suited for my children’s learning styles.
If you are new to homeschooling and trying to figure out how to choose a curriculum, I highly recommend reading this article from Home School Curriculum Advisor. It outlines a very useful approach to choosing what curricula is right for you and your children.