I’m going to share a secret with you. It’s not something I usually confess to strangers for fear of backlash, but I’ve recently been convicted that maybe I should be more open. Maybe, I suddenly realized, I need to be willing to prove that people like me are normal, too.
So here goes: I’m a Sonlighter and yes, I do it all.
I do the entire curriculum as designed, checking all the boxes and reading all the books.
Can I tell you how freeing it is to admit that? In most places where homeschoolers congregate—at co-ops, in Facebook groups, at library book sales—I play down the fact that I do the whole Sonlight program.
- No, I don’t shelve science.
- I don’t automatically ax half the Read-Alouds.
- And I don’t set the Bible aside because a church program fills that need.
Barring incident (and yes, we’ve definitely had incidents!) we do a whole History / Bible / Literature program top to bottom—even if it takes extra time to get there.
Not Better, Just Different
I say all of this not to shame the homeschoolers who approach their Instructor's Guides like a buffet line, picking and choosing what fits their family, their season of life, and their needs. Instead, I say it to encourage moms who might not even take on homeschooling with Sonlight after hearing from so many others how overwhelming and book-heavy it is. I also say it to let other moms, like me, know that it’s okay to enjoy the process of homeschooling so very much that you dive headfirst into every resource available to you.
See, I think we’ve reached a point in the culture of homeschooling where it’s becoming a badge of honor to embrace such a minimalist approach to education that we cast suspicious eyes on mothers who don’t hold to the same ideas. We’re celebrating paring back, going bare bones, and simplifying so much that families like mine, who enjoy the rich banquet of a Sonlight education, are almost ashamed to admit that yes, at the end of the week, we’ve checked all the boxes.
I’m here to say that neither approach is right… or wrong.
Just like God created each individual family to reflect His glory with a specific calling to be fulfilled, our homeschools are hothouses for the background He wants to supply for our children. We’re all on a unique path. Why, then, is it not acceptable for one family to prune Readers, and another to strive to finish them all? Why is the admission that no, we didn’t take December off but instead stayed the course unwelcome in some circles?
Neither is better. They’re just different.
I’m Not Trying to be Supermom
Here’s another thing I want you to know: there’s absolutely nothing special about me that makes a full Sonlight package easier. Like you, I’m juggling multiple children, dirty dishes, and trying to get supper on the table at a reasonable hour. I’ve got a preschooler who interrupts math lessons, a husband who travels for a month at a time, and several children with learning disabilities. I have three in various out-of-home therapies, extracurricular sports for two, several in music lessons, and other obligations that mean packing everyone up and car-schooling several afternoons a week.
There’s nothing special about the way I feel on Monday mornings as I face a long week ahead, unless you count my relief at the fact that I have an open-and-go Instructor’s Guide holding my hand through it all.
I’m not exceptional in any way—trust me. I’m also not trying to outshine any one or to minimize the fact that homeschooling is hard work. I’m just doing what I feel called to do, and to do it to the best of my ability. I’m trusting that you’re doing the same, no matter what your day looks like. I’m not judging your wake up time, the number of math lessons your kids do in a week, or whether or not you count audiobooks as Read-Alouds. I have enough on my own plate without worrying about whether or not you feel handwriting is a valuable skill.
Sonlight and the Three Bears
A full Sonlight package happens to be a great fit for our family—our Goldilocks curriculum. Not too much, not too little, but just right. We tend to keep pace with the Instructor’s Guide, and don’t struggle to complete the scheduled work. We school year around. We average one program per year.
For some folks, it’s too much. They need to cut back. And, I’ve never met these folks, but I bet someone out there adds tons extra, feeling like they want even more.
And we’re all normal. We’re all doing it the right way. Be proud of who you are as a homeschooler!