Sonlight – waiting for box day!

So, since this is my blog and I get to write about whatever I want, today I am going to bore you with my latest obsession–homeschool!

I did a lot of research last year into homeschool curriculums, and decided that I really liked the one called Sonlight. It’s a Christian homeschooling curriculum that is based on reading, and a lot of it. Perfect for me, and for Beth, too. Hopefully it will work for the other girls as well. Sonlight has two levels of preschool, P3/4 and P4/5. P3/4 is fairly informal. You have a bunch of books to read, but you don’t really have a specific schedule, you just read the books in “trimesters” and do an activity for each book.

P4/5 is more organized and scheduled, though, which I’m looking forward to. I really need the structure in order to keep up with things. Right now, I do homeschool with Beth while the other two are napping, in the afternoon after lunch. How long we spend at it depends on what else I need to get done that day, but I try to do at least 30 minutes or so. Obviously I’ll have to change that as she gets older (she won’t always have less than an hour’s work to do). Sonlight is organized into core (history, read-alouds, literature), language arts, science, math, Bible, and electives. So my thought is that I might start doing the core, Bible, and maybe science in the morning, and do the language arts and learning to read stuff during naptime. That way Josie can sort of soak up some of the stuff as well. I’ll have to wait until the instructor’s guide comes and I get an idea of what I need to do each day before I make a decision.

Last year, when we were doing P3/4, I tried to save money by looking up the booklist and planning on getting as many books as possible from the library, then getting some used and others from Sonlight. I looked at reviews of books and substituted something else for some of them. I also just sort of let the books get mixed in with the rest of our collection. This did not work. Some of the library books turned out to be unavailable and never showed up. Some of the books were a little harder and would have benefited from a reread, but since they were mixed in with the other books (and we have a ton) we never managed to pick them up again for a reread. Some of the library books had many stories in them, and we only managed a few. So ultimately, we didn’t get through a lot of the stuff.

So when I was working on ordering the P4/5 stuff, I also went back and ordered copies of most of the P3/4 stuff that we missed. I’m going to try to have us read those first. Then we’ll get started on the P4/5.

For ordering the books, I did a mix of things. I made a list of every book. Then I did a price compare between Sonlight, Amazon, and Abebooks. I also looked for lots on Ebay, but there wasn’t much up at this time of year. I ended up getting a few things from Amazon, a lot from Sonlight, and a lot from Abebooks. I should be getting a huge box from Sonlight on Saturday (I hope!) and lots of little separate arrivals from Abebooks.

It may sound odd that I’m planning to start a new year of school in March or April. The thing is, I think that Beth is ready for some more structure in her schooling. And I see no reason that we need to follow the school year when we’re teaching at home. So my thought is that we’ll do the P4/5 5-day schedule, but I won’t necessarily expect their 5 days to align with my weeks. We’ll do a day of scheduled school when we can, and other days we’ll do other activities… play her ABC game or Hi-Ho Cherry-o, work on the dress we’re making, read some of the phonics/sight words books that I got, work on our workbooks, etc. So we’ll stretch out the year and finish… whenever we finish. And whenever we finish, we’ll start the year after that. That’s my current plan for the next couple of years, at least. Once she’s 6 1/2 (6 1/2 vs. 6 because that’s when the school year starts), I’ll have to make sure that I’m keeping abreast of state requirements, so I might have to arrange things differently. But for now, I think this will work well.

I’ve also been contemplating how to arrange things with multiple kids, once several are in school. One thing about Sonlight is supposed to be that you can teach multiple kids at once with one curriculum. You’d use, say, the K curriculum for two kids who are 4 and 5. The older one might be using the Level 1 readers and the younger one the Level K readers, and the 5-year-old might be doing the K math and the younger one not, but they’d do the same history, geography, read-alouds, etc. I might try to put Josie and Cecy together like that. While all the kids have the same age split, it happens that Josie and Cecy, because of their birthdays, would be just a year apart in school, because they usually use Sept. 1st or so as the cutoff. So Josie, born in Oct., would be one of the oldest in her class, and Cecy, born in Aug., would be one of the youngest. So my thought is that the year when Josie is 4 (almost 5) and Cecy is 3, I might have them both start on the P4/5 curriculum, and have Josie do the more advanced readers, and then keep them on the same curriculum from there on out. I’ll have to see how that would go.

Okay, so as a reward for reading all my excitement about homeschooling, I’m including a few pictures of the girls at a local play place. They had lots of fun, as you can see.

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