Sonlight

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therichersons

  • Reviewed on Wednesday, August 28, 2013
  • Grades Used: 1st grade (Core B)
  • Dates used: 2013-2014
I am in the second week of teaching core B with 2nd grade readers. I love the curriculum, it's a great fit for our family. I have had a couple issues though that I feel are worth mentioning. When I received the Big Boxes in the mail I went through the checklists to verify that everything was there. Well...it wasn't. I got the HWT instructors guide instead of the actual workbook (which I did not order) even though it had been "verified" that I got the correct book (the student book). I was also missing two items from the science box that had also been "verified". In one simple phone call, they apologized for the inconvenience and re-sent the items. I thought that was fine until I got the package and noticed that there was STILL 1 item missing that I had called about. So I called again and they told me they would send the item out. Fast forward to two weeks into the school year, I'm in the middle of teaching and my daughter begs to get out the math manipulatives. I agree and am excited to use them. However, as I look through the lesson and see that we need a number chart and number line, neither of which are in the box, it becomes clear that yet again I have missing items. I make a call to Sonlight (this is the 3rd call now for missing items) and they say they will get them shipped to me promptly. Now all that being said, I do love the curriculum and so does my daughter. This negative aspect has nothing to do with the curriculum itself, more with the organization and detail in packaging of the company. While they are friendly when I call and helpful in getting the missing items to me without hesitation, as many of you homeschooling parents know, this is quite a hassle especially when you don't realize something is missing until you are trying to teach with it! I wouldn't have said anything about it if it had just been the 1 mistake up front, but seeing as how I've now had to call 3 times for 3 separate "missing item" incidences, I thought it worth mentioning. On a brighter note, related to the curriculum itself, I have thus far found it to be very enlightening and I love the well rounded "world-view" from which it teaches. My daughter enjoys all the read-aloud time and I like that everything is laid out for me clear as day. All I have to do is show up and teach! We are both enjoying homeschooling much more with this curriculum and I would definitely use it again.

Christy4

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, July 31, 2012
  • Grades Used: PreK-2
  • Dates used: 2011-2012
Sonlight has been great for us.

Here are the positives: Sonlight has a great multi-cultural, missions focused approach. I did not want a curriculum that only presented one worldview. (Especially if that worldview is some sort of recreated 1950’s world where everyone is white and all women wear aprons and heels and bake cakes all day.)
We love the book selections. They are great. The read-alouds sometimes challenge their attention spans, but it is up to the reader to make it interesting and I really enjoy all the reading out-loud with the kids. I like the mix of classics and fun modern selections. I like that they add new books from year to year and it is not a set in stone program that has been the same since I was homeschooled in 1985. I know they are constantly evaluating what is available and picking the best –the tried and true, and the new and innovative too. I love Usborne books and so do the kids. I don’t know why some people hate them.

My husband and I both do linguistics work overseas for a missions organization. We both do the homeschooling. The IGs are so organized and straight forward, we can easily switch off between children and know what is going on and we spend no time prepping. We go at the pace that works for the week given the situation we are in, we just check off what we get done.

I appreciate that the curriculum is not preachy or dogmatic and you as the parent are free to emphasize your values and what is important in your particular faith tradition.

The customer service has been great. One time I complained on a review on their website that a book had fallen apart. Several others had the same problem so they had it reprinted with a different printer and sent us new copies totally unsolicited. They were also very helpful when I had problems with an international shipment stuck in customs. I have never had problems returning anything. I also love that they give away a huge chunk of their profits to missions around the world. I will happily spend a few extra dollars to buy from them because of this.

Here are my couple complaints: The LA does not match the reading level it is sold with (The LA being significantly harder.) While I agree with the theoretical approach (Ruth Beechik and Charlotte Mason being the prevailing philosophy behind it all) the mismatch makes for a lot of omitting, modifying, and supplementing. We actually got the most out of the “optional” Explode the Code and MCP Phonics and Wordly Wise workbooks. The grammar based on the copywork is hit or miss and I will add Winston Grammar next year for a more thorough grounding in parts of speech.

Sonlight did some significant revisions on their IGs this year and they are much more user-friendly (No more flipping around between seven different appendices and maps and question sets and vocab lists, it’s all in one place.) They rehabbed the Bible program too, and it is better, but I’m still not super excited about it. It seems to be a bunch of Scripture reading selections with no real scope or sequence. We do the memory work. We don’t use the CDs for memorization though, since they are all different versions. At one point in Core A we read through Genesis and Exodus straight. I had to explain circumcision, incest, and rape, all in one week, not to mention bore my kid with all the tabernacle specifications. I am going to get “Telling God’s Story” for next year and skip the Sonlight Bible.

Overall, we love it though. Read the Reasons Not to Buy Sonlight article they have on their website to see if it sounds like a good fit for your family. That was what sold me on the curriculum and they have delivered what they promised.

loughridge

  • Reviewed on Thursday, March 1, 2012
  • Grades Used: 1st
  • Dates used: 2011
This curriculum was not a fit for our family. Saying that it was absolutely wonderful company!. They were so helpful and very gracious during the returning process of the entire curriculum. If you have been thinking about using Sonlight. I would say give it a try. You can get 100% of your money back for an entire year.

kmtreu

  • Reviewed on Friday, April 30, 2010
  • Grades Used: K-3rd
  • Dates used: 2008-2010
I couldn't disagree more with the negative reviews about Sonlight. I believe the strength of this curriculum is its use of real literature, not books written by the curriculum authors. The highlight of each morning at our house is curling up together on the couch and reading together. We can't wait to find out what is going to happen next in each of the stories. We love the Usborne books on history and science (in fact, when we are finished with one my children argue over who gets to keep it in their room). A Child's History of the World is geniusly written to make history interesting and memorable instead of just presenting dry facts.

The only downfalls I've encountered so far are the language arts and writing portions. They grammar instruction seems too hit-and-miss and writing assignments are not laid out in an organized manner (i.e., there isn't much instruction in where or how to begin the writing process). My youngest child did not like the "I Can Read It" books because they were contrived to the point of being confusing. She could read the words easily but did not understand the stories.

The science worksheets are now in a new format and are very easy to use. No more jumping around to find the correct pages.

The instructor's guide is wonderful. I spend *maybe* 10 min. each day reading through it. Some days I just open it up and off we go.

Let me address the Christian issue that someone else brought up: There are many, many opinions (just as many opinions as there are Christians) on what it is to be a real Christian. I do not want a curriculum that preaches to me and my children with every word read or written. I have confidence as a parent to instill my Christian values in my children and I don't need to be guided every step of the way by a curriculum.

We are already looking forward to next year's curriculum!
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