In a Sonlight education, books enjoy the widest swath of the spotlight. It’s a literature-based education, so this makes sense. But what about that big blue binder? The Instructor’s Guide is a tidy compendium of
- memory work,
- vocabulary, and
- discussion questions.
In short, it’s a homeschool mom’s command central.
1. The Instructor’s Guide Allows Me to Teach When Tired
Let’s be real. The ability to teach when tired is a real perk! Some days it takes a whole lot of brain power to remember what chapter is next and which lesson we last completed. I love how the Instructor’s Guide lets me flip open to this week’s tab and immediately see what’s on tap for the day. I don’t have to look through a stack of school books to figure out where I am. And on days when I don’t feel like doing school, the Instructor’s Guide keeps me going.
2. The Instructor’s Guide Shows Me How Much I’ve Accomplished
The Instructor’s Guide allows me to see progress. On the left of the three-ring binder, I can see how many pages we’ve already completed, and on the right, I know exactly how far I have left to go. In a role which sometimes feels like I’m a hamster in a wheel leaving no visible progress in my wake, this is beautiful. It’s easy to forget just how much ground we’ve actually covered. But glancing down at the tabbed Instructor’s Guide—and looking at that towering stack of Sonlight books—I can see our progress. How empowering!
3. The Instructor’s Guide Provides a Solid and Steady Framework and Rhythm
In the days before electricity, the human experience shared a collective rhythm. Now, work stretches from pre-dawn to post-dusk, and we no longer operate in sync with the natural rhymns of sunlight. Yet deep down, we still crave a certain semblance of structure. And we crave ways to transform daily tasks into truly meaningful experiences, too, rather than simply completing mundane tasks by rote. I view my Instructor’s Guide this way. The steady daily rhythm of
- a Scripture song,
- memory work,
- readers, and
anchors our days with tangible and purposeful milestones, and provides a solid framework, amidst long and sometimes hectic hours.
And there’s still more to love about my Instructor’s Guide, even beyond the structure designed to keep me on track. The Instructor’s Guide enables me to integrate
- cultural literacy, and
- navigate controversial topics, too.
4. The Instructor’s Guide Offers Me Easy Access to Vocabulary Words and Definitions
I love dictionaries more than the average person—I have a small collection—but I also love simplicity. When we’re reading a Sonlight book and encounter an unusual word, being able to flip a few pages in the Instructor’s Guide and immediately have the definition at my fingertips is so, so wonderful.
5. The Instructor’s Guide Shows Me the World through Mapping
Would I map as consistently if Sonlight didn’t make geography so simple? In all honesty, probably not. But the Sonlight team has already gone through all the books and made note of each important geographical location mentioned, prompting me with a globe icon (and coordinates) to mark the location on the Markable Map or the reader activity sheets. I really haven’t found an easier way to integrate geography, history, and literature.
6. The Instructor’s Guide Provides Context for Dates in History
If I were to tackle it on my own, creating and maintaining a timeline would be substantial extra project to take on. But with all the notable figures and events already marked in my Instructor’s Guide, tracking people and eras in the Timeline Book is not a burden. Even when we forget to work on it daily and play catch up (let’s call it review), Sonlight makes it easy, with a wide selection of timeline figures already provided in History / Literature / Bible bundles A-H.
7. The Instructor’s Guide Notes Paint a Rich Backdrop for each Book
We enjoy the wide variety of books included in a Sonlight education, but the notes in the Instructor’s Guide provide context to give the stories an even bigger impact. Through the notes, we learn the Pagano family’s attitude toward exploring the cave in Red Sails to Capri accurately reflects historical beliefs during that time. We also realize the feud between the Boyer and Slater families in Strawberry Girl actually reveals a larger cultural truth about early immigration in the southern United States. And when Brother Like mentions matins or terce in Door in the Wall, we can refer to the chart in the Instructor’s Guide to realize he means midnight and nine in the morning. Without referring to the guide, we’d still enjoy the cadence of the stories, but we wouldn’t have the information to fully appreciate the cultural and historical significance of each.
8. The Instructor’s Guide Helps Me to Tackle Controversial Issues
Since a Sonlight education is built around real books, kids and parents tackle real issues together. And sometimes, individual families might want to address these topics in individual ways. At various points throughout a school year, my Instructor’s Guide alerts me to upcoming content—like the birds and the bees, or a creation vs. evolution mention— and prepares me for the discussion which will follow. I love how Sonlight encourages me to have deep, authentic, and meaningful conversations with my daughter.
As I help my daughter navigate this big world, I’m so thankful for resources like my Instructor’s Guide and our Sonlight books. Combined with prayer, these are such invaluable tools in guiding her through learning discernement and critical thinking necessary to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)—which, after all, is the ultimate goal.