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Secular Sonlight?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

The very short form- if you secularized Sonlight, how did you do it?  Were you happy with the result?  Did you/would you do it again?



The longer form ;)

We're expecting a new babe in the first week of Sept.  We're also homeschooling our dd1 (6yo), and dd2(4yo) will be joining her this coming year.  We've been using Moving Beyond the Page "1st grade" but I think it'll be too much work given the jumble we're likely to face in Sept/Oct/Nov.  Since dd1 and dd2 attend a 2 day/week Waldorf style homeschool enrichment program we're leaning towards Oak Meadow but again, it looks like a lot of prep/planning on my part.


Several people have suggested Calvert (too much for us!) and Sonlight, adding that they know people who have happily "secularized" Sonlight and to be honest the super detailed Guides are appealing!  However, when I went to their website I couldn't figure out how the program could be secularized.  I'm looking at Core 1 (for both girls together) and it looks like several of the read alouds are about Christian missionaries and the LA lessons focus on reading Bible stories?  We really like RightStart math (our girls love it too), but we need a Science and I can't tell from the site if the Sonlight science books are religious in tone/content/presentation.  Despite the amazing Guides and "school in a box" ease, it's a pretty big price tag if we'd be ignoring or customizing a significant portion of it.


So.... I'd love to hear how secularizing Sonlight has worked for you.  Or if it worked.  Or if you use Sonlights and can't imagine secularizing it.  Really, any info would be great.  :)


post #2 of 14

We did Calvert for a year and I really think you'll find it's not too much. If anything, it's a little light on academics. It LOOKS like a lot when the boxes come but it's really, really basic.


So if secular is really important to you, don't rule Calvert out.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'll give calvert another look... I remember thinking it was out of our price range and very "consumable" heavy (so hard to re-use for the younger kiddos)?  Oak Meadow would "blend" with the girls' homeschool enrichment program (which is Waldorf based) but is really light academically and pretty heavy on the pre-planning/prep, and while Sonlight seems tempting (little prep, ability to teach while nursing/rocking) I just can't figure out how to make it work for a Pagan family. 


I wish NY was more laid back about hs... I "need" (ok, "really want") a complete curric to make the hoop jumping as easy as possible.

post #4 of 14

My son just turned 5 and we've read a lot of the Sonlight preschool books. We unschool so I haven't bought the instructor's guides. We just have the books around and read them when we want to. I select the books by looking at the Newcomer's list online. I read about each book on amazon and decide if I think it will work for us or not. I don't necessarily rule out all religious books (though so far I haven't chosen to purchase any.) Just like I don't buy all the secular books--some just don't work for our family. So far we really like the books. The preschool and K science books are not religious, though you won't see a hint of evolution anywhere.


There is a yahoo group for secular users of sonlight. You might find them a good place to get your questions answered. I've always found good comments there.

post #5 of 14
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post
There is a yahoo group for secular users of sonlight. You might find them a good place to get your questions answered. I've always found good comments there.

This.  The group has some neat ideas for additions here and there.

I've only got a full Core K so far, and there's only one missionary story book I've completely set aside (Gladys Alward?), the bible (I switched from Egermeier to one better suited to my childrens' shorter attention spans) and one other book so far (Grandma's something - it's fairly mild) with religion/God in 'em.  The other ones like My Father's Dragon and The Apple and Arrow and such are just neat/fun books.  :)  I myself don't mind mild religion in what we're reading/doing, but don't like being clubbed over the head with it, if that makes sense. 

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Makes total sense.  :) 


We're a Pagan family and happy to discuss different religious beliefs but obviously our family has a different "take" on missionary activity and we don't plan on introducing the Bible as literature for a few more years.  I ordered the print catalog since someone mentioned that each book is identified by publisher, making it easier to tell which ones are potentially "too much for us".


And thanks for the yahoo group suggestion!  I'd already seen the "secular homeschool" group (which is where Sonlight was suggested, but always in a friend-of-a-friend-did-this context) but a secular sonlight group does sound more to the point!  I'll check them out.


I'd love to hear more experiences though.  :)

post #7 of 14

I really like sonlight ...my nieghbour used it, but they moved before I got a chance to look more closely at it :(


we will be watching this thread too....


oh, and congrats Wombat..noticed you are expecting again in Sept...I remember you from August '09...we are expecting #3 i October

post #8 of 14

I did it for Kindergarten/Core K.   It actually wasn't bad at all--but then again, there wasn't much there that was religious IMHO.  We used Right Start math and I used their Kindy science.  It came with a DVD of lab experiments--I don't know if they still do it that way or not.  I think in retrospect, I probably just would have bought books off the book list and done my own thing as I didn't find the IG very useful for K.  Now for other grades, it might make more of a difference.  We used HWTs as well.


If you're looking into Calvert, today is the last day of their 30% off sale.  I don't think you'd have any trouble selling the program if you decided not to use it though.

post #9 of 14

I'm doing core 1 now and I can tell you how to secularize it (which we're doing to a degree).  You will want to drop the bible (which we did) and there are 2 read alouds that you will want to drop or sure most likely (Missionary Stories with the Millers, and From Akebu to Zapotec- or something like that).  Those 2 books are only read from once a week though, so it isn't too bad.  The spine for the history in this core is a couple of Usborne books, and the core guide actually skips one page in the World History book because it refers to millions of years ago (we added that page in, as well as dropping the very books I suggested you drop).  Also, I don't use parts of the lang. arts program.  My oldest is doing their LA 2, and she loves the bible so she is doing the 27 weeks of reading from The Beginner's Bible.  When you reach that level though, the bible book is slighly more difficult than the other books in that level of lang. arts so you can easily substitute other books (like magic treehouse, Junie B Jones, or whatever) instead.  I use the Sonlight lang arts for spelling words and grammar lesson guidance, along with the reading schedule.


Secular Sonlight at this level isn't really too difficult honestly, and I've come across people who have taken out books from the cores because they talk about magic or witchcraft and stuff.  That modification is much more difficult IMO than removing the majority of the Christian content.  In the parts where they are talking about the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, you may want to approach it as the stories of another faith and incorporate some stories of ancient Egyptian mythology to show how they have different beliefs.  But I don't find it too much difficulty to secularize it how I did so far, I'm tweaking as I go.


ETA: I just looked again, it is a different Usborne book they skipped a page of because of the references to millions of years ago and living in caves.  That book is Peoples of the World.  The other Usborne books used are secular in nature and fairly simple to work with I think.  And I can't really comment on their science because I do NOT like it one bit, it is far too jumpy for me.  Instead, we do monthly unit studies on different topics (right now we're doing dinosaurs) and I keep little mini-unit stuff around for the months that our topic isn't one they want to really dig into much, and some months the topic expands beyong the month (like this dinosaurs one, we are on week 6 of it now)

post #10 of 14

We have secularized sonlight really easily.  I have used it for 3 years now (cores 1,2, and 3) I get annoyed occasionally that some book I have looked hard for is one we won't read but that is really infrequent.  I went into it knowing that although we don't teach christianity, I was happy for my kids to know about it.  The christian selections are too, too biblical for us to read them from that perspective.  So we just skip them....simple as that.  I have to say at this point...  I LOVE sonlight.  DS 9 and I have had amazing experiences with the books that were selected.  There are some that I KNOW I would not have ever selected that have been some of our favorite read aloud books. Their science is nice and easy to use.  We don't use their LA and it really isn't a problem.  I am getting ready to start it with my daughter who turns 6 soon....  can't reccomend it highly enough.


PS- my spell checking isn't offering corrections and I am in a hurry....please forgive mistakes but I wanted to respond to you....

post #11 of 14

Oh, I forgot.  If you do buy the full core, the bible packages are optional from core aK up to uhhhhh core 5, so you can buy any of those cores without it or with it.  It is scheduled in the guide, but I just popped out my trusty pen and marked those boxes all off so nobody will pick up and include those sections that we're skipping if I'm unable to do the teaching.  The couple books you'll want to skip, if you are buying the full core just stick those on a shelf and if your kids want to read them later in their own time then that's their choice (that's how I'm handling it) or you can donate them to the local Goodwill thrift store or gift them to a Christian family that would enjoy them.  But I wouldn't try to piece the core together unless you own many of the books already just to avoid a couple missionary books, the difference in pricing because of their discounting program (if you buy a full core you get 10% off your entire purchse and free FedEx or UPS shipping, if you don't you have to spend $500 to get 5% off and free shipping on your order if it is over $150).

post #12 of 14

i use oak meadows as a spine but we do use most of sonlight. I have used p3/p4, p4/p5 and the world history one for 6th grade.. 

we are also a pagan family so defiantly use it secularly. I only have the instruction manual for p3/p4 & p4/p5 So i can't speak to the older instruction manuals.


there were only a handful of religious books and everything else was secular already. The preschool manuals were pretty secular once you took out any religious books and ignored the bible section.


 really the book list is fabulous either as stand alone or along with other curriculum. I bought all mine used from amazon and find it very easy to use. 

post #13 of 14

Hey there, Wombatclay!  I haven't "talked" to you since a bit after Ian's birth (7/07), and am so excited to see you are expecting again in Sept, as well as had another little one in betweenst-- congrats!  I am going to pm you in the next few days, as well as connect here)....

  I was glad to see you post this question, as I was going to write you a couple of weeks ago when you shared you were using RightStart and MBTP... We just switched to RightStart 6 weeks ago and love it.  We were using Enki, and I love the LA part of it, but the math was not doing it for us.  Anyway, I am considering using Sonlight secularly next year.  I have 2 friends who use it that way, just leaving out the parts already suggested by other mamas here, and they loved it.  They loved the simpilicity of using the daily structure, no matter the space they were in (emotionally, etc), and found that really reassuring.  They said their kids love the reading time together, and that it has actually enhanced their family time a lot.  They also loved the HOTW, and said their kids request reading it other times of the day.  They weren't thrilled with the math part, but found it adequate.  They did not care much for the science part.  I am looking into R.E.A.L. Science, which is secular and looks great... there is also a history program thru REAL that utilizes HOTW and has "history pockets" that go along with it, which got good reviews.  Not sure if I am going to go with that or just  read thru HOTW.  I am wondering how helpful the instruction guides for the LA are... Oh, and if it helps, one sister's kids are 4.5 and almost 7, and the twin's kids are 9 and 5. 

  I hope this helps a bit.  I can relate to wanting one curriculum that can be plugged in to, but am trying to figure out how to get the best of all worlds (like everyone else, lol), while still keeping a thread of sanity :).  I will continue watching this thread, and to send you lots of good thoughts as you continue with your pregnancy and parenting your other little ones!  Take care! 

post #14 of 14
Hi Bluebird68

I read about the REAL science etc. You wrote this post a while back. Did you use REAL science and/or history in the end? What are your thoughts?
I am considering using Sonlight for my 8-year old, but was also concerned with the huge amount of Bible bashing! And dinosaurs with humans in Science?!
Thus, the REAL science sounds interesting. I will appreciate your comments!
Did you use any of their other books?

P.S: I have read something about a new branch of Sonlight that they are working on that is more secular, called Brightflash. There is not a lot of information online. Does anyone have more experience/ knowledge?
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