Learn the dance.. Live the dance.. Teach, talk and dance the dance!

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Homeschool product review: Sonlight Curriculum

Hey guys!  Just to start off, this isn't anything I am being paid for, this is just my honest, open opinion on the parts of the Sonlight Curriculum that we have used.  A dear friend of mine suggested it to me close to a year ago when I was struggling with having my son in public preschool.  She suggested I get the catalog, and start reading up on what they had to offer.  I am definitely grateful to her for that suggestion (and also for the beautiful example of motherhood she is).  :) 

We have 2008's version of Core P 4/5.  This can be used as preschool, kindergarten or first grade, depending on the added in things you use with it.  The core itself included the Bible (which isn't included anymore, for some reason- you now have to buy it seperately), the books for Geography/World Cultures, Language Arts, Read Aloud Classics, Poetry and Art, and Science. The classics are in The 20th Century Children's Treasury, and we LOVE this book.  It has some great stories in it.   Since the core was given to us, it was missing several of the larger books, but I was able to get them from Ebay at fantastic prices.  We have switched from doing all of the read-alouds each day, and instead, we do the classics and poetry on the weekends.  This frees us up to read for enjoyment, instead of the kids seeing it as just another subject we have to cover.  Coming from me, an avid reader, I want them to love reading, simply for the stories right now, and for the lessons they can learn later on.  My husband hates to read, but he still reads to the kids at night when he can.  Each core Sonlight sells also has an Instructor's Guide (sometimes with the core purchase, sometimes seperate) that has a 36 week schedule already laid out for you.  The schedule is not something that you have to abide by, it simply suggests which books you start with, which part of the year you read certain books (The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science is a good example, the book starts on the first day of the year, and so that's when its scheduled in this core).  You are free to mix and match, do all of the reading, or only some of it.  But at least you have a guide for what you can accomplish.  Some of the books are scheduled 1-2 pages at a time each week, all 36 weeks, but some are only there for a couple of weeks for the entire year. 

We use Sonlight's LA K program for language arts.  So far (at week 18) it is working so well!  I can really see a difference in his handwriting at first to his writing now.  When you buy the program, it comes with the worksheets that are used each day.  Each worksheet has 3 different types of lines on it, one for each of the three handwriting styles that can be used.  We have chosen to use Handwriting without Tears, because it most closely represents our child's handwriting.  He zipped right through the HWT K book, so now they are erased and waiting for Princess C to use when we start her up next year.  I plan to try HWT 1 next year, too, just to see if it will give him a better grasp of writing.  This program goes up to 6th grade, I believe. 

Horizons math K is what we use for Big J's math.  He is 2 lessons away from being completely finished with the first book.  The books are 80 lessons each, so he's about at the halfway mark with math.  I like it because it builds on what has already been taught, and slowly introduces one new thing at a time.  He has learned so much this year.  In my opinion, for this child, I wouldn't use anything else right now.  As time goes on, that might change, as he develops different styles of learning.  But for now, Horizons fits us.  Just the other day, he began to learn what the perimeter of something meant.  The second time he had to add up the perimeter of a given rectangle, I asked him if he remembered what it meant.  He said, "  Yeah, Mom, I know that, its 14!  I already did it!"  I counted it up, and sure enough, not only did he remember it, he had done it correctly already.. lol.. He definitely amazes me sometimes. 

Developing the Early Learner is a set of 4 books that is recommended for use with this curriculum, but not necessary.  It is scheduled, though.  It helps you figure out what type of learner your child is, and helps them learn in different ways.  It is basically like critical thinking skills for younger children.  We just finished book 2, and can't wait to get settled so that we can dig out the next book. 

Explode the Code is another set of books that are recommended.  Actually, with the P 4/5 curriculum, they recommend Get Ready, Set and Go for the Code (set of 3 books).  Those are geared towards children that have not learned the alphabet yet, so we moved on, since Big J is already reading and writing well.  ETC goes from 1 to 7, I think , and there are 1/2 books in there as well.  We are almost finished with ETC 1, and are looking forward to starting book 1 1/2, so we can see what he will be learning.  They teach  vowel sounds, matching pictures to the letter it begins with, etc.  Phonics and rules of writing are sprinkled in, too (capitalization is what we've seen so far).  Big J really likes this book, and often asks to have it be in his first workbox of the day.  The instructions are written so that a child who has begun to learn to read can read them by himself, instead of having Mom or Dad have to stand there and read them each time. 

Well, that's about all we use from Sonlight.  Hopefully, this made sense to anyone who read it.  If I have forgotten anything, or there was something you had a question about, please feel free to email or comment.  I hope that this might be a help to someone who is just starting out.  I will attempt to follow this up on Monday with another review of a different product we use in our homeschooling.  If you have something you use in your own homeschooling journey, that I haven't mentioned, drop me a comment- we are always looking for new things to try out!  Thanks for readin!