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sonlight users: what you like/hate about it

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I have found that advice from forum members at MDC to be pretty spot on when it comes to curriculums. So for all you sonlight users, what do you like or dislike about the program...

I am interested in starting off next yr with the core 1 world history and science (im skipping the read alongs as the boys LOVE to pick out their own books on library day) we were previously using k12 thru our charter school but frankly i cant take all the needless paperwork and "face to face mtgs" I mean thats why I HS for the FLEXIBILITY!! They basically make it feel like PS in a box. so Im moving on...maybe to sonlight. I have looked at abeka (not for us), k-12 privately (too expensive) alpha omega (very simplified (the boys would get horribly bored) and other christian sources.
post #2 of 31
How old are your children? I have a 6 yr old who will technically be 1st grade next year, but I am currently doing P4/5 with her and her 4.5 yr old sister and it's such a perfect fit! We will probably move onto Core K come winter. But, I can honestly say that for now, Core K history was way above my 4.5 yr olds head. We tried it for a week, then decided to go back a level.

Most Sonlighter's will tell you that it's pretty accurately a grade level high. So, if you're planning to use it for a 1st grader, I'd do Core K, make sense?

We are also doing Core K Language arts with the optional Explode the Code books and my girls are very much enjoying it! I love that they offer different ideas for teaching the concepts, not the same thing every week, and not just lots of worksheets/handwriting.
post #3 of 31
We are Sonlighters, and I really like it. We've done Core 1 this past year, and will do Core 2 next year along with Core P4/5 for my son, which has already arrived. I don't adore every single book, but many of them are gems, and there enough books that I would never have learned about or bothered to read but are fabulous new favorites that it's kept me hooked. I've made a few changes to Core 1 as the year has gone by (the biggest one being that I switched history spines from A Child's History of the World to Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.) I don't pay too much attention to the schedule, other than to read books in roughly the recommended order. And I cannot recommend the Language Arts Guide, at least not the one that went with Readers 2 Intermediate.

But everything else has been great; good, interesting books, lots of time spent reading and discussing, and their website, forum, and customer service are very competent and well-run. Totally worth the money, in my view, and simplifies homeschooling a good deal.
post #4 of 31
Hello! Chiming in with Birl girl

My favorite thing about Sonlight is their reading selections. I have always been an avid reader but I have read some extraordinary books to DS this year that I would never have just picked off of the shelf. So I would say, think about reading the read alouds. there is not so much that you can't read anything else. We took breaks to read many books of our own choice throughout Core 1. things I hate....LA....cross referencing the SG and MAp and Timeline. I love them in concept but only followed through 2-3 times in the entire core. We are adding Story of the World w/ activity book. I think History Odyssey would be great but I am borrowing SOTW at no charge so we are gratefully using that instead....Looking forward to a little more hands on activitied wherever I see fit....

DS 8, DD 4, twin DDs 2
post #5 of 31
We did most of Core K this past year for first grade. Many of the books were great, a few were just so-so. I can't say I LOVED it, but we enjoyed a lot of it. There is a LOT of reading. Also, quite frankly, if you're not going to do the read-alongs, I don't know why you'd pay money for the curriculum? Sonlight is all about the read alouds, they are the heart of the program. Without them, you are just overpaying for a bunch of subjects you can buy elsewhere...the only part truly from SL is the Core, which is made up of read alouds, bible if you choose to do it, and I guess technically their language arts but you don't even have to get that (and many don't really recommend it, it seems). At any rate, we used the Core K, 2 easy readers (we used FLL instead of the LA), RightStart math (not offered by SL), and HWT.

So overall, good books, we enjoyed reading most of the time, hated a few of the books...the LA didn't work for DS bc he was too advanced for grade 1 reading but not advanced enough for all the writing involved in 2nd. Next year I will skip the IG and read the books while using SOTW or HO as our history course, and likely choose some reading books for DS from their 2 advanced chapter books.
post #6 of 31
We have done Core 1 and have 11 weeks left of Core 2.
We are secular homeschoolers. We have not used SL science.

The book selection is very good.
Love the Usborne books.
I like the Instructor Guide.
Fast shipping.
You can order items individually if you don't want the whole package.
Free to use it how you see fit. Some people follow the schedule strictly and some use it loosely as a book list.

Several of the books are older. Not a huge deal to me but there have been as few books dd found it hard to relate to because of their age.
I'm not a fan of A Child's History of the World. We still use it. Other people love it and have issues with the Usborne books.
Cost. It's still worth it to me and you can save money buying used or whatever.
We did not like the language arts.

I would advise getting the read alouds and let your dc pick their own readers. I'm not sure if that is what you meant. (You read the read alouds to your child. They read the readers.)
post #7 of 31
We've used Science K-4, and Core 1&2, and Core 3. We'll be using Core 4 next year.

-the Instructor Guides are VERY helpful. I love having everything planned out, ready to go. We stretch the 4 day schedule over 5 days, and it's just enough work to feel challenging, but not so much to be overwhelming.
- Most of the books are great! There is the occasional dud, but you'll get that with any curriculum
- Sonlight science has lots of fun activities, and they send you most of the supplies. I really like the Usborne internet-linked books.
- You'll end up owning a lot of really good books if you buy a Core!

- Sometimes they can get a little too... Protestant-y. We're Catholic, so occasionally I ignore some of their book selections and sub my own.
- It can be a lot of hands-on time, with the read alouds. If you feel that you must be married to the Instructor Guide, and not deviate, this could be a problem. So sometimes we stretch a read aloud out (ie... we don't read as many pages per day as the IG asks for) and skip others. But I wouldn't recommend skipping the read-alouds entirely. There are some good books in there!
- You must feel free to edit the IG. If you try to do everything they recommend, you'll be overwhelmed. (They even say this on their website, under "Reasons not to buy Sonlight.") What they put on the IG is a recommendation, not a requirement. YOU'RE in charge.

All in all, I really, really like Sonlight. And that's why we keep coming back to it!
post #8 of 31
We have used core 1, core 6, science 3 and brit lit. I have also pulled form the books lists for cores 2, 3 and 4. We have never used the LA.

What I like:

Most of the books
the way the science IG is set up
how the older cores are written to the student
the math selections

What I don't like:

Too much stuff to do if you follow everything-this is actually why we stopped using SL after core 6. I couldn't stop worrying about reading every book on schedule and doing everything in the IG. This year I managed to get over that and we really enjoyed SL.

Not enough hands on stuff for my youngest. Once I got over my obsessive following of the IG I was able to add in some other stuff.

They get more *christian* in the upper cores and if that isn't something you want (I don't) then you have to be dilligent about weeding it out. Of course the older the child, the more they can recognise it themselves.

Next year I will be pulling books from cores 3, 4 and 6 for my DS as well as using science 4 and will be pulling books from American Lit/Civics for my DD as well as continuing with High School Biology (we don't have the IG for that but are using the book they use).
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Tassy View Post
So I would say, think about reading the read alouds. there is not so much that you can't read anything else.
When I looked over the books for the read alouds the kids have actually read most of them. The boys are all about *no repeats* which has really fostered their love of having books read to them. So Im not sure how that will go over if they have books they have already read, Im thinking of subbing out the books they have with other selections. I just know for my kids it wouldnt work to *re read* them.
post #10 of 31
We are pretty new to Sonlight. I'm glad that some here mentioned not liking the LA. I recently ordered Core 3 and did not order the LA. I was wondering if I should go back and order it. What is it that you don't like about the LA?

For those that have done Core 3 did you use the time line and/or the map? I ordered the time line but didn't order the map and markers. We have both a huge US map and a world map already. Can we use those? Thanks.
post #11 of 31
I'm going to start with Sonlight in the fall; the most common complaint I've run across in researching is that some people don't like the LA. It's not quite as rules-oriented as other LA programs. The philosphy is based on Ruth Beechick methods of LA (and she was hired as a consultant). They use dictation, some narration, and weekly writing assignments.
post #12 of 31
post #13 of 31
We're in the midst of core 1 currently. I'm using it as 1st grade for my son and will continue into the first part of his traditional 2nd grade year if we were in PS. He is age 6/7 during this core. We did P4/5 and core K with him, and I picked up P3/4 for my younger son this year.

- The books. Many selections we loved that we wouldn't have chosen on our own/didn't think we would like.
- Instructor Guide. It's a bit chaotic here sometimes with 3 kids, the oldest being 7 this week. I really NEED something that just lays it out and I follow it, not always to the letter but I can if if it's crazy. Or I can use it as a base and get creative when I'm feeling inclined.
- Forums. I like the forums at Sonlight. They are helpful, and it is sooo nice to chat with people who are or have used what you are using to teach your kids.
- I think the customer service at Sonlight is top notch, helpful.
- If money is tight, I get some of the books from the library and/or used.

- We aren't Protestant and some of the book selections are way too much evangelical for us. Sometimes we read them as a survey in other religions/world views. Sometimes we just read a little and skip the rest as really not our thing at all.
- I don't think the LA has enough grammar or explicit basics. My son needs that.
- Again with the LA, there is a HUGE, HUGE discrepancy in each level of reading versus writing level. We are doing LA 2 - My son can read Harry Potter fluently so the readers are a joke to him. But he struggles mightily with the writing component. He just isn't there yet. Anything lower in LA and he just really can't be bothered with the books. But we can't go any higher to suit his reading interest level because the writing is too hard. How many 1st graders do you know who can write a dialog paragraph but are reading books 20 pages or less of big print/beginning chapter books? That is my example from this week's LA for us. If your kid reads well but doesn't write well, get something else for LA. If your kid can write well but doesn't read well? Sonlight LA is for you.
- Their science is kind of all over the place sometimes topically, repeating itself, skipping, and the student worksheets have had some page # errors, mismatches and typos in them. I'm not all that impressed so far with their science.

post #14 of 31
i plan to start sonlight 4/5 in the fall. i know 2 people who use sonlight and they both love it....and their kids love it too. they havent had a need to supplement with anything else so far. they seem like a good company, and their approach makes a lot of sense to me.
post #15 of 31
Yes, the Language Arts program is for kids who are reading at say, level 2 and writing at, say, level 10. It was totally opposite for my 6 YO, who's reading at middle school level but writing maybe two painful sentences at one go. I did order the LA guide after a few weeks at the start of the year, but basically it just forced her to dig in her heels and me to experience dangerous high blood pressure! We dropped it in favor of Modern Curriculum Press' Plaid Phonics program and Michael Clay Thompson's level 1 Language program (the Grammar Island level.)
post #16 of 31
Love this thread! We are starting with core 1 later this month. We are only using the core and have compiled other resources for LA, Science & Math. I hope it holds true, but the deciding factor for us was the global view and great literature. Fingers crossed we love it as much as we think we will. Opening the box and loading the shelves felt like Christmas.
post #17 of 31
I don't know anyone that uses it either. I looked at it when we first started for K but did not go with it.

Currently I am looking at and will probably go with Core 1+2 for dd (she is 8) and see if we like it. I do not think we will use the Lang. Arts as I have not heard good things about it "generally speaking".

...so I am taking notes
post #18 of 31

I am using Sonlight 3+4 which is one year condensed American History with my 9, 11, and 12yos


My youngest is disabled so we have to go to therapy several times a week. I like that when I buy a newcomer package it's all there. I don't have time to get materials like I used to when my SN child was a baby.

The only con I have is when you buy on-line the system tells you if you may be buying a duplicate but doesn't remind you to get more than one math workbook if you are teaching more than one child. I was told I was getting "Story of the USA" duplicates but not that I needed more than one consumable math workbook so I had to make copies at home until the extra workbooks came in.

We used to use Alpha Omega Lifepacs. They were a little boring for my children. We are avid readers so Sonlight is a real treat. I used the pay in 4 installments plan which was more convenient than paying in one lump sum.

Debra, homeschooling mom of 4 ages 6, 9, 11, and 12
post #19 of 31
for those who arent using or dont like the sonlight language arts, what are you using instead?
post #20 of 31
We are using Catholic Heritage Curricula LA.
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