I count it a privilege to be part of your family's ongoing journey as you learn together. As we do every year, we again took a critical look at our program in light of your homeschooling needs. Accordingly, as we considered each update to our curriculum, we prayed for wisdom, knowing that you've entrusted your children's education to Sonlight. Based on your feedback and innovations offered by our team, I'm thrilled to share some new and improved curriculum changes with you here.
New for P4/5: 101 Favorite Stories From the Bible
Bible reading and memorization have always been a foundation of Sonlight studies. As parents, we can instill a lifelong love for God's Word by helping our kids hide Scripture in their heart from an early age. It's my desire to put in young hands the books they will treasure and return to, time and again. The Bible selections I've chosen for your children are no exception.
You may remember 101 Favorite Stories From the Bible in past, when it was offered in our P3/4 program. I believe, as many of you have shared, that it's actually better suited for slightly older children. And though it's harder than you might guess to find a children's Bible that tells the stories accurately, respectfully and succinctly, this one does just that.
I think you'll find this Bible to be a spiritually and developmentally-appropriate resource, with pictures and stories that delight and invite dialogue with your children.
Core H and Core W updated
As you may recall, we made some major improvements to Cores A-G last year. This year, we implemented similar innovations across Core H: World History, Year 2 of 2 and Core W: One Year World History. New questions and answers will aid your reading discussions and help gauge your children's comprehension. More notes will help you talk about tough topics. We've added behind-the-scenes rationale to reveal the "why" behind activities. Consolidated maps provide a quick reference and are easier to use. I believe you'll find these improvements let you teach with greater effectiveness and confidence. Cores H and W updates include:
- More intuitive Instructor's Guides
Everything you need to teach – schedule, notes, discussion questions, teaching tips, laminated color maps and more – all consolidated together in one place for each week. Take a look inside Sonlight Instructor's Guides.
- New books
I reread all the books in Cores H and W and evaluated whether they're still the best choices for the programs. As a result, I swapped out some and you'll see these marked "NEW" in the title listings. Like those they replaced, the new books are Sonlight "All-Stars" (see the criteria a book must meet to make the grade). I hope your family enjoys these as much as I did.
- Language Arts enhanced
In both Cores H and W, we've strengthened the Language Arts program. You'll find an Instructor's Guide with more specific parent instructions, and an overall better balance of creative writing, grammar and writing mechanics. Each week's Language Arts content is located right after the Core content in one easy-access place. I think it's our best Language Arts curriculum ever!
Two-volume Landmark History revision better accommodates Cores D and D+E
We've worked to make a great American history book even better! We spent this past year transforming the primary text used in Cores D and D+E. Many kudos to my husband, John, who worked untiringly with the family of former Librarian of Congress and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Daniel Boorstin to completely revise The Landmark History of the American People – a daunting task, to say the least! I'm very pleased with the result. I believe the revised text will be easier to use and will help you teach more effectively.
By way of background, we've long included this book in our curriculum. I like it because it reveals the unique spirit that is America – our "go-getter" attitude, the diverse backgrounds from which we come, the drive for westward expansion and more. While we appreciated the information and breadth of history, we've found the text, originally written for adults, to be a stretch for some students. In keeping with my desire to provide you with open-and-teach solutions and eliminate any learning obstacles, we revised the book to offer you a better experience.
The revised Landmark History comes as two separate volumes, with an age-appropriate level of writing. It includes many new, full-color illustrations and a host of maps, which provide context and aid understanding. Additionally, the updated Instructor's Guide includes helpful notes. I'm excited to hear how the "new and improved" text enhances your teaching and invigorates your children's interest in and study of history!
Children's Encyclopedia of American History new for Cores D and D+E
While Landmark History covers some traditional American history (e.g., the Pilgrims), it focuses more on America's unique history (e.g., the invention of elevators). Along with the massive revision to Landmark History, we found a marvelous new title, the Children's Encyclopedia of American History, which provides a more traditional historical flow overall. This book replaces the four-volume Story of the US.
The Children's Encyclopedia offers a two-page spread for each historical event, more than 1,000 stunning photos, a running timeline and the text of some of our nation's most important documents (e.g., the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address).
I think your children will enjoy this fascinating, visually enticing book that appeals to even the most reluctant readers.
(Note: If you used Core D last year and are continuing with Core E, you'll still be able to use the Landmark History and Story of the US texts you received last year with your Core D package.)
Customizable high school Cores offer flexibility for a robust transcript
I believe that as our children grow, we must increasingly equip them with the tools that allow them to independently chart their life's course. To that end, we chose to modify all our high school programs so that your students (with your help) can customize their coursework and build the experience that best fits their unique needs and goals.
Our recommended Cores work well for most families. Should you choose to create a unique Core experience, you'll find it easy to do. We broke down each high school Core into two separate "chunks": a History and Bible course, and a Literature and Language Arts course. To customize, simply select a History and Bible course from any high school level and combine it with a Literature and Language Arts course from any other high school level.
Whether you use the recommended Core or choose the "mix and match" approach to build your own Core, you'll get a Parent Guide and Student Guide for each course selected. All Core benefits will still apply to your unique Core.
This flexible approach to course selection will better allow your students to create a plan of study that is tailored to their interests. They can fulfill basic requirements in some subjects and "load up" in those areas for which they have a real passion. It will also help you more effectively fulfill your state's graduation requirements. And finally, your students can build the transcript that meets the entrance requirements of the college they want to attend, should they choose that path.
Core 400 completely revised and updated
We also made large-scale changes to our Core 400: American Government program. My daughter, Amy Lykosh, read a pile of titles and chose a new collection. We decided to keep Carson's Basic American Government, which I really like, and added additional titles to clarify the various branches of government. As I reviewed the material, my understanding of how our government works grew by leaps and bounds and I believe your students will have a similar experience. Here are some of the specifics:
- New 18-week American Government course, with 18-week Economics pairing
We previously scheduled American Government for an entire year. In an effort to sharpen the content and focus, we have updated the government portion and condensed the course into 18 weeks. Studying American Government for one semester, as required by a majority of school districts, allows your students to complement and complete their year with Economics, also an 18-week course and college prep elective. Together, these two 18-week courses, along with the 36-week American Literature and Language Arts course, comprise Core 400. Content-wise, the new one-semester American Government course offers a thorough, enjoyable tour of U.S. government, from the colonial days, before the United States was a nation, to current Beltway issues and practices. You'll discover the roots of our government through the Basic American Government spine. We supplement this with an additional overview text and have also added books on each of the government branches – all of which I believe will engage your students and cultivate informed dialogue.
- New Bible additions
Is the Bible still relevant today? I think we all know how it has influenced us individually, but to see the broad impact it has had is both insightful and compelling. Our curriculum writer and Bible scholar, Robert Velarde, discovered two fresh texts that I believe will challenge your high schoolers. Truth and Transformation demonstrates the impact the Bible has had on society. While we are often aware of the Bible's power on a personal level, this text shows how an entire culture is positively affected by Christianity. The second, God and Politics, features more than a dozen contributors and offers an in-depth exploration of how we as Christians can integrate our faith with civil government. We have included extensive notes and questions for both books in the Instructor's Guide. Take a thought-provoking ride through these Core 400 Bible newcomers with your high schoolers and see where your perspectives fit in the scheme of current thought.
- New literature focus
Core 400 American Literature remains a 36-week course, with an increased emphasis on learning to read literature with greater understanding. Using How to Read a Book as the primary text, students are exposed to a wide range of American literature classics. You'll find new notes to aid your instruction, with a roster of literary stars that boasts 13 new award-winning books and authors (including Pulitzer, Nobel, Hugo and Nebula winners)!
Put it all together, from the Constitution to Civil Rights, economic theory to actual trade practices, Christian faith to cultural application, and Core 400 is an invigorating adventure in learning you won't want to miss! Click here to read the complete Core 400 description.
Computer programming courses your children will understand and enjoy
Do your children like to play computer games? Are they fascinated with the latest technology? Could there be a future programmer among them?
I'm excited to get the word out about a new Sonlight partnership and product offering called Homeschool Programming. The KidCoder™ (for 4th-8th graders) and TeenCoder™ (for 9th- 12th graders) courses are designed specifically for homeschoolers. What I like about these courses is that they build on each other, and the natural progression results in real-world skills. Windows Programming, for example, introduces younger students to Visual Basic, where they learn to write actual Windows programs. From there, students move to the next course, Game Programming, where they create their own Windows games from scratch. Talk about fun!
Similarly, older students have access to a two-semester series, Windows Programming/Game Programming, as well as a two-semester Java Programming/ Android Programming series. As always, I want to offer you and your children educational options that open doors to the future. Homeschool Programming is no exception. Learning Java, a popular technology with many applications, for example, will help prepare high schoolers for the Advanced Placement (AP)* Computer Science A exam.
Hands-on professional programming that kids and teens easily understand and really enjoy, and that nontechnical parents can readily teach – what could be better? If you'd like to add computerrelated technology to your children's studies this year, I think you'll find these new programming courses an excellent opportunity. Click here to get started with homeschool programming.
Interactive, web-based BibleMesh brings Scripture to life
I love a great story, don't you? Of all the books I've shared with my children over the years, I most wanted them to know the epic narrative of the Bible – the Greatest Story Ever Told! Which is why I'm delighted to let you know about a challenging new Bible course for both high schoolers and adults.
BibleMesh is an interactive, web-based course that makes God's Word come alive. Imagine inviting the world's best Bible scholars into your home – internationally known and respected teachers like Tim Keller, Alistair Begg, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Vaughan Roberts – for ongoing discussion. You'll explore evangelical theology driven by the story of the Bible. You'll make connections between the Old and New Testament that you've never seen before. Ultimately, you'll see Christ in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
The course is designed to be self-paced, so you or your high schooler can easily follow the 36- week lesson plan laid out for learners and/or teachers. Students can track personal progress independently, with helpful interactive quizzing tools. Or, consider making this a family affair: Set the example, learn alongside your teens and quench your spiritual thirst, too! The included Parent Guide will certainly spark meaningful discussions.
Cultivating your knowledge of the Word and giving your teens the tools to stand strong in their faith is a worthwhile investment and pursuit that can yield far-reaching, life-changing dividends. If you'd like to experience Scripture in a dynamic new way, start the journey with BibleMesh.
Coming soon: Core 500 …
Finally, please look for an upcoming announcement about a new high school Core offering that is in the works. It's not available in the catalog yet because we haven't finished all of the notes and questions. Lord willing, it will be available sometime this summer.
I particularly want to give you a preview of the History and Bible component, which I'm calling World History and Worldview Studies. This new course will cover ancient history to the present, interweaving the philosophies and worldviews that have arisen throughout. My goal is to help your children better understand history and to provide the background that contributed to the rise of the particular philosophies that came into vogue during the various historical periods.
I've been involved in many new projects over the years, but this one truly fascinates me. I believe that you and your high schoolers will be equally intrigued by the ideologies that have significantly influenced our world in all areas – religion, science, literature, fine arts, education and more. I can't wait for you to see and experience the final product.
I pray that these improvements will help you love homeschooling even more this year.
*AP and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.