Choosing a homeschool curriculum is such a personal process. What is your child’s learning style? What is your parenting style? What are your educational goals? What is your budget? What are your child’s giftings and abilities? What is your commitment to the curriculum and to homeschooling in general?
On top of that, there are (blessedly!) many, many options for homeschooling parents today! Homeschoolers two generations ago could only have dreamed of the abundant choices we have today! But it can make the decision challenging when there are so many different curriculum choices.
Because it is such a personal decision, I am often hesitant to tell people which curriculum to go with when they ask me for advice. I can’t tell you what will work well for your child(ren) or your family, but I can share my experience with what we have used this year (and love)!
This year, we have used Sonlight for Bible, History, Geography, Science, Literature, and Language Arts (including Reading and Spelling). We have used Handwriting Without Tears for handwriting and Math-U-See for Math. (I purchased the HWT and MUS through Sonlight’s website.) We have had a wonderful year so far (we are starting Week 30 this week, so we have seven weeks left to go!) and will be choosing Sonlight again for next year.
In case you are thinking about this one, I thought I would share a Sonlight review: what we’ve loved about it, as well as reasons why it might not be a good fit for your family.
Just as a side note, this year we have been using History/Bible/Literature B, Science A, and Language Arts 1.
What We’ve Loved About Sonlight (But What You Might Not)
It is literature-based, so we spend a lot of time reading together and talking about the books we are reading.
With four kids six and under (and next year, five kids seven and under), I do not have it in me to be a Pinterest-crafty-mom. I do not have the time or energy to collect one quart of sand, brick-colored modeling clay, miniature palm trees, blue food coloring, and a shallow dish pan (repeat each week with different supplies) to create some spectacular unit study diorama. Some days I wish I did, but I just don’t. A curriculum that required me to use that much glue and/or glitter would just make me feel stressed. But books? Lots of snuggling and reading? THAT I can do. I love it.
You might not like this if: you want something more hands-on (building Nile River dioramas, etc.). But if you do want that, you could still use Sonlight and add in some hands-on stuff of your own! Knock yourself out, mama! I’ll be cheering you on.
It uses a huge stack of real books (historical fiction, classic literature, biographies, Usborne history & science books, etc.) instead of a few textbooks.
I LOVE books. My husband loves books. My kids love books. We buy new books several times a month. Everyone gets books for presents at all gift-giving occasions. So it’s no wonder that Tad and I were drawn to a curriculum that relied heavily on a HUGE box of books! As much as I love books, I’ll admit it was a tiny bit overwhelming to receive that enormous box of books last summer. Exciting, but a little daunting. I quickly got over my sense of overwhelm and got excited about diving into all of these amazing titles! And, as we near the end of our school year, I can say that it has been WONDERFUL to read so much together!
You might not like this if: you don’t want an influx of books into your house or don’t have room on your bookshelves. If that’s you, you could consider loaning out some of your curriculum or books to your other homeschooling friends so you have space for this year’s books!
It is all meat and no “fluff.”
This year we took no quizes. No tests (other than spelling). We did no drill sheets. And did zero busy work. Instead, we read real books, discussed what we talked about, and reviewed at lunch/dinner for comprehension and retention. It’s been so great having a curriculum that is RICH but not filled to the brim with tests and busy work.
You might not like this if: you want worksheets, busy work, history tests, science quizzes, and time-fillers for your kids.
We finish our official school work by mid-morning.
This affords our children ample time to PLAY, draw, look at books, write, and engage in other creative pursuits! It also gives them time with their Daddy on the days he’s here during the day but working evenings. My kids have had so much fun working on art projects and stories, reading library books, and building with LEGOs and marble runs. They learn so much through play at these ages! (Note: as each level of Sonlight progresses, I would anticipate that the daily time commitment does as well!)
You might not like this if: you want a school curriculum that will keep your kids busy 8AM-3PM. There are a few out there, but this is not one of them.
We can do most things together.
We do Bible, Scripture memory, Geography, History, Science, and Read Alouds with all three of our older kids all sitting on the couch together. Even though this year’s curriculum is for ages 6-8, all of our children have enjoyed it and learned from it! Certainly things have gone over a few heads at times, but overall it’s been such a blessing to do so many subjects together!
You might not like this if: you want a different level history/science book for each child. You could order different Sonlight packages for everyone, but that could get expensive quickly. Don’t let the age levels throw you too much. There is a lot of wiggle room in what kids can learn about together!
It introduces your children to different belief systems and doesn’t shy away from the “uglier” parts of history.
In history this year, we have covered idol worship (Egyptian, Greek, Roman), slavery, Emperor Nero, wars, Christian persecution, suicide (Cleopatra, etc.), and many other topics or belief systems that don’t reflect what we believe to be true or right. This has led to great discussions, and it is helping our children form a biblical worldview at a young age. Sonlight doesn’t use exclusively Christian books, so these topics will come up. I’m glad we can talk about these things with our children and train them in what the Bible teaches. The curriculum provides great starting points for discussion!
You might not like this if: you want to wait to expose your children to some of these issues and concepts. In that case, there are chapters you could skip.
It has a thorough instructor’s guide that breaks down the entire year by day.
This was a huge selling point for me! I love that the instructor’s guide is so structured to keep ME on track, while the curriculum doesn’t feel rigid for the kids. They’re just having a great time reading books each day, but my manual keeps me organized and from getting behind! We’ve stayed on track in every subject the whole year, and I mostly credit that to the organized and helpful instructor’s guide!
You might not like this if: you are super Type B and want to change up things on the fly. The instructor’s guide might feel too rigid for you, so you can let it just be a guide. It is there to serve you, not the other way around.
Well I think that’s about it! We have LOVED using Sonlight this year and are excited about using it again next school year! Do you have any questions for me about Sonlight or homeschooling in general? Leave me a comment and I’ll either answer it there or possibly write a Q&A post!
If you do decide to purchase Sonlight curriculum this year, I’d love to share my referral link with you! This code will save you $5 off your order of $50 or more. I know that’s not a lot, but every little bit helps when you’re shopping for curriculum! Use code AC20330563 for a $5 discount!
Disclosure: Sonlight has no idea I’m writing this post. I was not paid to write this review! If you use my referral code in this post, I will receive a discount on our curriculum for next year when I buy it this spring! Thank you!