Six (and a half) years ago we began our homeschool journey. I was scared. I had no idea if this was something I could do, obviously many reservations.
But my husband believed in me. And this is what he really wanted for our kids.
I had a close friend who had used Sonlight for years for her family. I knew it was literature based learning. I trusted her love for their curriculum, but I still wanted to know what my options were.
Let me share our journey to getting started with homeschooling and how Sonlight became the spotlight and it’s a decision I’ve never looked back on. You might see this as a Sonlight homeschooling curriculum review, but it is our story.
When our twins turned five (they are now 12 and a half) I was not ready to make a curriculum decision. I was still very overwhelmed about making a choice. We waited an extra year and my husband agreed schooling would start when they turned 6.
We spent time researching and reading up on everything we could find. We would ask other homeschool families what they used and loved and get as much feedback as we could. We live in Texas and the homeschool population here is pretty high. You find someone every where you turn who homeschools in this great big state. I asked lots of questions.
In the spring when our twins turned 6 it was time to really come to a decision. I just felt like I needed to touch and feel different options.
That spring there was a Homeschool Convention in North Texas and someone had mentioned it would be a great thing for me to attend. Different curriculums would be set up with their products allowing us to get a hands on feel for them.
I knew Sonlight would be at that event, but I wanted to see them last because I felt like I already knew a bit about them from my close friend who had homeschooled. While I never watched what a day in the life was like for her homeschool life from morning to evening (she lived almost an hour from me), we talked a lot about the ins and outs.
I went from booth to booth asking lots of questions. Finally, after a full day I arrived at the Sonlight booth. And do you know who was there? Luke, the creators son who grew up being homeschooled with Sonlight, and a set of homeschooling parents who had just wrapping up their first year.
Of course I took the opportunity to chat with the family. I had so many questions. I wanted to know if they went into this overwhelmed? Was it hard to keep up? How did they manage? How did they know what to do?
The mom said, “Take a look at these instructor guides. They map everything out.”. The IG is essentially 36 weeks of lesson plans all done for you. Everything is broken down by subject. This mother was so nice and answered every question I had. We were strangers, but had a common connection. We both genuinely wanted what was best for our kids.
I then spent some time chatting with Luke. Remember, he was raised on this curriculum and if you don’t know the story of how is parents created it while being missionaries overseas I encourage you to look up that story. It’s amazing.
I walked out of that booth KNOWING what I was going to do!
A deeper look at the Instructor’s Guide shows step by step what to do and even what to say on some levels if you need that.
Now, these pictures are from D+E curriculum which focuses on an American History theme, but you get the idea.
I can tell you that first year of homeschooling Kinder was one of my favorites. I felt like I learned more that Kindergarten year learning with my kids than I did when I was a little girl in school.
To give you an idea of what a school year looks like, Sonlight homeschool curriculum is a boxed set. Yes, you can buy things ala carte, but what helped me in my journey was the fact that I could buy an entire school year as a boxed set. This brought me peace.
If you want, you can buy all subjects at one time. This includes Bible, Language Arts, Spelling, History, Geography, Math and Science.
Like I said earlier their curriculum is literature based which means this is a learning style that focuses a great deal on reading. The stack of books in my first image is just some of the great books you get in one year of learning. What an amazing way to build your family library, but also these books can be read again and again for years to come. Some of these books are readers and read alouds.
There are books you will read together as a family- these are called read alouds.
There are books the kids will read independently, those are readers. Everything is outlined in an easy to understand way in your guide. The way the guide is set up, you do not have to read all of the books your kids are reading to know if they are on point. The Instructors Guide tells you what you need to know about each book. They do a great job speaking to you as the parent and also as the instructor.
In our new home we have a loft upstairs. This is where we do our homeschooling. There is a sofa and a love seat (that we bought used on Facebook) that make the perfect spots for curling up with their read aloud books. My kids love this space!
I also acknowledge that each of my children have different gifts. While Luke loves to read, his twin brother loves to tinker. Science and Math are subjects that bring him joy.
Everything I need to teach Science is all in one place. The books and the manipulatives… plus all the details of how to teach it are in the Instructors Guide.
This is so helpful especially for a mom with many kids who is pulled in many directions. I don’t have to have a teaching degree to teach my children.
Can you tell Science excites him? This is the kid who has literally taught himself stop motion, taught himself how to create a youTube gaming channel and more. Sonlight allows me to foster these gifts in my children.
What about Math?
Here is the deal- a few things that scared me when we were in the process of deciding on homeschooling were teaching them to read and teaching them things like multiplication.
Sonlight offers multiple options for teaching Math. You can see the teachers lesson book below.
It’s easy to follow along.
This year I am hack to using Horizons for all of our boys, which is what I started with our very first year.
For a few years we did use Teaching Textbooks. I personally loved using them. All of the instruction is done by a teacher via CD and then the book work is done by the student.
Our high school age son loves learning this way.
Our twins did not.
That is the beautify of using Sonlight. I can get everything delivered to me in one large kit, but it can be customized according to our needs.
And because I am a hands on learner and my kids are hands on learners, the manipulatives for Science and Math are amazing.
Remember, learning does not always happen inside of a book or on a worksheet. Using our hands is just as important, I have found.
What would I tell a mom who is scared to homeschool or has reservations?
I would tell her Sonlight is what helped me understand I could do this.
They make it manageable and took the overwhelm and pressure out of taking on being the primary educator for our children.
This is why we have stuck with it year after year. Even after adopting two boys. Moving across Texas. Being a mom who runs multiple businesses from home. Sonlight makes it something I can be successful at.
I want to leave you with this….
That alphabet written on the chalkboard was not done by me. That was done by Luke, one of my 12 year old twins, who wanted to teach our 2 year old his ABC’s. He took it upon himself to want to teach Jack. I love the love for learning that he has. This same boy has learned how to play the guitar. He has sat down and tried to teach my husband (his Daddy) how to play. To hear him teach his dad, encourage him, celebrate successes and gently critique, is one of the sweetest things I have possibly ever witnessed. I tell you this because I see that even Luke at the age of 12 knows he can teach his dad a skill that some might see complex or too hard. Luke who struggles with anxiety and overwhelm is teaching his dad at 51 a new skill.
I tell you this because I want you to remember, we are born to learn. Inside of us is the ability to teach others what we know- maybe it is guitar, maybe it is math. No matter what I want you to remember you are your child’s first teacher. And someday they just might be teaching you.
You can do it!!