We’re coming to the end of our first year of homeschool!
(I pulled my kiddos from public school in early November. We had a later start, so we had a later finish.)
Looking back to the start of our journey, one of the most daunting tasks (at least from my experience) was finding the curriculum that is the right fit for both my children and my family. The good news is that now-a-days, there are so many options. The bad news is that now-a-days there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS! There are numerous different “types” of homeschool, too. Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, Unschooling, Classical, Waldorf… the list goes on and on. I’m not going to get into all of the “types” of homeschooling on this post, though; I’m just going to stick to the basics of how we chose our curriculum.
For my family, I knew were looking for a Christian-based curriculum. That narrowed down the options, but there is still plenty of Christian-based curriculum out there. After weeks of research and talking it over with my husband, we decided that Sonlight would be the best fit for our family. If you haven’t heard of Sonlight, they are a literature-based curriculum that is complete with every subject you need for schooling (and some great electives, too). There are several different reason why we ended up choosing Sonlight, and I’m going to share them with you in the hopes of helping other overwhelmed first time (or even veteran) homeschool mamas… because I know how you feel!
REASONS WE CHOSE SONLIGHT:
(If you’re interest in seeing the exact curriculum I chose, check on this post)
- LEARNING FROM LIVING BOOKS: I liked the idea of literature-based learning. All kids love a good story. From infancy we read to our children and use books as a resource to teach them about a variety of things on all kinds of subjects. Why would that change as they get older? While my children were used to reading and learning from boring textbooks in public school, I felt like it would be more of an experience to read a book based on a story from the time period we were learning about. Allowing the children to form mental pictures and associations from the story text would help them remember history better and in a more natural way than just reading from a textbook.
- ALL THE PREP WORK IS DONE FOR YOU: The lesson plans were all set up and scheduled for me. The Sonlight Instructors Guide (IG) is basically just open and go. This made homeschooling feel much more doable and comfortable for me as a first time homeschooler (especially since I wasn’t at all familiar with homeschooling). It doesn’t take a lot of advance preparation on my part, and with a one year old running around that was definitely a plus for me! Being able to choose all of the subjects my children needed in one place was a HUGE plus for me, too. Especially being first time homeschoolers and starting in the middle of my child’s school years, I was nervous about making sure I’d have all the academic bases covered. The Sonlight website walks you through all of the subjects you’re child will need and gives you some suggestions on possible add-ons if your children need extra practice in certain areas.
- BOTH OF MY KIDS COULD USE THE SAME CORE SUBJECTS: This means that both of my kids could use the same History, Bible, Literature, and Science curriculum. Sonlight calls these the “couch” subjects. And let me tell you, it is such a great feeling sitting comfy on the couch while reading and learning with your kiddos! You get to talk to each other and discuss opinions and ideas. Each student uses their own math and language arts based on their own academic level. Sonlight calls these the “table” subjects. Combining many of the subjects made things a little smoother for our homeschool, and it was also more cost efficient for our family. Only having to purchase one set of books for 4 subjects? Yes, please!
- SATISFACTION IS GUARANTEED: Sonlight has the BEST return policy by far in the business. They have a Love to Learn, Love to Teach policy. You have a year to use 18 weeks of the curriculum and if you don’t enjoy it or it doesn’t work for you, you can send everything back for a refund. I loved that this curriculum is risk-free. I have anxiety and making a big decision like choosing curriculum was very unnerving for me, because lets face it: not only is it a big expense, it is also my child’s education I’m working with here. In the end, I felt really secure in my decision knowing that if it didn’t work out of my family I could send it back and try something else.
- SONLIGHT FOCUSES ON CHARACTER BUILDING: This was a HUGE plus for me. In addition to great books that expose children to and influence good character, Sonlight encourages parents to share their own values with their children. Sonlight includes notes with tips in their Instructors Guide that give you so many ways to start a great conversation and learning opportunities with your children.
- SONLIGHT HAS A GREAT PARENT COMMUNITY: From Facebook mom groups to the Sonlight blog and their online parent forum, there are tons of resources to find and ways to connect with other Sonlight parents that are right there “in the trenches” with you. And lets face it, whether your a first time homeschooler or you’re on your 12th year, there are always new questions and situations that come up. In the many Sonlight communities, you’ll find plenty of been-there/done-that moms (and dads) that are happy to give advice and support. Every question or concern I’ve had has been answered with such gracious and sound advice. You also get a nifty magnet with your order that has the number to an advisor that is a wealth of information…. don’t ask me how I know ;).
Now that we are on our last few weeks of our Sonlight program, I can’t believe the progress my children have made since I originally pulled them from public school. In addition to tremendous academic progress, we have grown so much as a family. We have learned together, played together, explored together, and grown closer to one another. We’ve sat together and enjoyed reading aloud as a family. I’ve seen my children grow more academically and spiritually these past several months than I ever did when they attended in public school. And in the end (which is truly just the beginning of our homeschooling journey), I can’t believe that we enjoyed this school year so much! The only regret I have is taking so long to listen to the tug at my heart to homeschool them.
How about you? Are you a new homeschool parent? Did you feel overwhelmed when you first started homeschooling? Are you deciding now whether homeschool is right for your family? Are you currently on the look out for the right curriculum for your family? Leave me a comment and let me know!