Friday, May 22, 2009

Sonlight

Okay, I said that I would post about the Sonlight curriculum that I am planning on using next year with Treyton - I don't know the official title of what type of schooling it is (classical, unit study, etc) but if I were to label it myself I would say that it is a literature based unit-type study. Now to be fair the unit-type study part may be more from how I plan on teaching it, but even still.

Now what I know about sonlight is only from my research on the preschool and kindergarten curriculum but I'm sure it's similar for most grades.

The whole focus of sonlight is on reading - which is what attracted me to it - I personally love reading and Treyton can't get enough of story time (what could be better?). They have selected a wide-variety of reading for the year, and when/if you buy the core curriculum you receive a not only the instructor's guide but the books you'll be reading as well (another reason I liked it - WE LOVE BOOKS). They give you a reading "plan" on certain days either a 4 or 5 day plan (depending on your preference) but they are also adamant on suggesting that you take it at your own pace - if your child wants to read a book 50 times in a row - do it, if your child wants to skip a book for now, go ahead, if they want to read a 3-day book in 1-day or 5-days that's fine... everything is meant to be customized for your family and child.

The book choices that I have seen, and the reviews I've heard from other parents regarding them is phenomenal! They have a great variety and touch on incredibly meaty topics at the child's level!!

As you read the books, you pay special attention to the detail of the story - where does this story take place (you may look up on a map where that place is), what is the timeline of the story (you may pull out your calendar or clock and discuss it). There are also some fun ideas to go along with the story, for example with a story about planes you may make paper-airplanes.
Once you get to the kindergarten level, the child has their own readers which they are meant to read on their own, while read-alouds are still done together. It is a Bible-based curriculum meaning you will be focusing on some Bible stories, have memory verses and more.

Jess at Making Home, who also uses this curriculum wrote a post on it a while back - I encourage you to read her post if this is a curriculum you might be interested, but I wanted to include part of her post here (just in case you don't click over):
Here's an example of learning history through good books, from our Kindergarten year-- Instead of memorizing the dates, places, and people of WWII, or doing a word find, or coloring a page with pictures of parachute men, we read an engaging, award-winning historical fiction novel written at a level he could understand about orphans living in an orphanage on the French countryside. Together, we experienced and discussed WWII through their eyes... learning about ration cards, Nazi soldiers, the scarcity of things like oranges and chocolates, where the Alps are, the role that clergy and people of faith played in assisting the Jewish people. These are all concepts that we discussed together and were not only grasped, but retained, by my then-5-year-old because we looked at the war in an emotionally-engaging way rather than through a coloring sheet or a list to memorize.
I decided to go with sonlight because for me, it seems like the best fit right now for Treyton - it takes the pressure off of me to convince Treyton to learn, he loves reading, and the little extra's really help him retain what he is reading so with the books and subjects that interest him I plan on pursuing with as much attention as we can and those that we aren't interested in we will move past.
For me, this is the beauty of starting with him now, I really feel like there is no pressure and that we can spend our time having fun learning... and if this doesn't work.... we'll find another way to learn that's fun for us!!

Sonlight can be pretty pricey, but for what you are buying it isn't a bad price, and you can buy it however you would like. If money is an issue instead of buying the complete set (with the books included) you can get the books from the library for free and just purchase the teacher's guide and aids (if there are any).

3 comments:

Shannon said...

Thanks for this review. I am always interested in how a curriculum works. This sound ver similar to what I know about Five In A Row.

Jessica said...

I was also going to mention Five in a Row. Have you looked into that, Amber? I have the books if you want to borrow them and look them over.

I agree that the Sonlight lists of books are great, so I am checking many out of the library this summer to keep learning going on in a "non-school" way!

We also have been doing "read-alouds" where I read a chapter out of a book, usually as they are finishing lunch. Some that my girls have enjoyed are Heidi, All of a Kind Family (series), and the older chapter Pooh books. I also plan to get into Little House books and American Girl books next year and following.

This is a great way to learn about things, as the reviewer in your post suggested. For example, the All of a Kind Family books take place in 1914 New York with a Jewish family. They talk a lot about Jewish holidays and customs, and life back then was very different (the girls could buy candy with 1 penny!). It brings up things I wouldn't normally think to teach them, so we've really been enjoying it!

Like you said, though, Sonlight is expensive (though I have a weakness for new, shiny books!), so I've been just getting books from the library--I LOVE our library system!!! :-)

Luke said...

Amber, welcome to the Sonlight family [smile]. May Sonlight be a perfect fit for you and your family as you begin on the amazing journey of homeschooling!

~Luke