When you are starting out as a homeschooler or adding enrichment to a daycare or preschool program, it can be an agonizing choice to pick which of Sonlight’s most basic programs is the best fit. All three programs—Preschool, Pre-K, and Sonlight A—are full of beautiful books you will love sharing with your child. But because the ages 3-7 are so full of rapid development and because each child’s rate of maturity is unique, any one of these beautiful programs may not be the perfect fit for your child today.
Here’s help with choosing which program—Sonlight Preschool, Pre-K, or A— best suits your child.
The Sonlight catalog outlines these three levels as such:
Let’s unpack this simple summary to uncover the more complex reality.
Preschool is excellent for children who are starting the program at age 3 or age 4. But the books themselves are loved by children many years older than a preschooler. Many Sonlighters share that their 6, 7, and even 8 year olds regularly get their Preschool books off the shelf, making it one of the most well-used of all programs.
The Pre-K program is actually an excellent program for either Pre-K or for Kindergarten.
And Sonlight A is good for children 5-7, but think of that as children starting the program at age 5, 6, or 7. Meaning, if you have a child who wraps up a study of A at age 8, that’s fine.
So if you’re trying to pick between the three earliest Sonlight programs, here’s an easy way to tell. Compare the types of books included in each program to your children’s Read-Aloud preferences and abilities.
- Preschool is mostly picture books with few words per page.
- Pre-K is a mix of picture books with more words per page and chapter books with a single illustration per page.
- Sonlight A is mostly chapter books.
Choosing Sonlight Preschool
If your children love picture books, then celebrate that love of beauty and rich stories told in few words with Sonlight Preschool, a program almost entirely picture books with very few words. There are a few collections that include books with more words per page, but those are outliers, included only because the collection itself ranges across difficulty levels.
Choosing Sonlight Pre-K
Sonlight Pre-K starts to include chapter books with a single illustration per chapter, and picture books with more words per page. This program includes a series of workbooks that helps you gauge your children’s academic readiness, and reading readiness exercises. This is pretty traditional Kindergarten material (and more challenging than some programs), so consider what your children enjoy.
Choosing History / Bible / Literature A
If when you read aloud a chapter book, your children wiggle like crazy, or you find yourself saying, “Pay attention!” then maybe wait a little longer before using Sonlight A. Choose Pre-K or even Preschool first. Most of the books in A are chapter books. Enjoyable, entertaining, exciting . . . but chapter books. Not all 5 or 6 year olds are ready for chapter books.
Different Children Using the Same Program at Different Ages
The example of two of Sarita’s grandsons illustrates how children of the same age may need very different programs. One of Sarita’s grandchildren was a born book lover. At just over a year old, he would happily sit for an hour and a half, listening. “You cannot outread this boy!” she would say, and then send him off to find cars or trains or something else to do.
Another grandson was really not much interested in even simple chapter books until he was six or seven, and even then, his attention span was short. He has different giftings, different interests, and a different skill set than his brother.
Sarita’s book-loving grandson started Sonlight A as a young 5-year-old, and then read all the books and all the sequels in order to stretch the time until he started Sonlight B. Sarita’s less book-loving grandson, started on Sonlight A around age 7. Two different children both used and loved Sonlight A at different ages—exactly when it was the best fit for them.
If You Still Aren’t Sure
Still not sure if Sonlight Preschool, Pre-K, or A is best? Or are you trying to combine more than one child with one of these programs? Contact an Advisor to talk through the options. And if even that does not totally reassure you, remember that Sonlight has an excellent return policy. If you need to exchange a program, our guarantee allows for that.
If you have reservations about a program, order early. With extra time you can trial run bits of the program, to make sure that you aren’t scrambling to reorder in September or October. Not that this is bad, either—homeschooling requires many adjustments over the years. But if you had to choose whether to swap a program in May or swap a program in September, May is a less stressful month, for sure.