Sonlight Instructor's Guide (IG)
Take a Peek Inside!
Stop planning lessons and
start enjoying your homeschool.
Fully planned. | Zero Prep. | 100% effective.
Sonlight Instructor's Guides include complete lesson plans and notes for the entire year!
Parents often rave about their History / Bible / Literature, Language Arts and Science Instructor's Guides! Take a look and see what the excitement is all about … Or skip ahead to learn more about each guide by clicking the links below:
Imagine having a personal homeschool mentor who plans and organizes your entire homeschool year. What if she gave you customizable schedules, complete, ready-to-use lesson plans, pertinent activities, and thoughtful questions to aid your students' comprehension? What if she left you handy tips and pointers to help you relax and homeschool with confidence all year long? This is exactly the support you get with a Sonlight IG.
You just open-and-go, knowing exactly what to teach each day … without any prep work!
IGs show you the way every day, all year long
Your Instructor's Guide (IG) is a road map for the entire school year ... with virtually all the planning done for you. You get:
- Complete 36-week lesson plans that integrate your children's various subjects into an exciting, unified learning experience.
- Activities, teaching tips, vocabulary, discussion questions, mapping topics, counter-balancing commentary and more to help you and your child interact with the reading and make lasting connections among the people, places, and events you study.
- Two schedule options (4- or 5-Day) to fit your needs. Choose a full 5-Day schedule, or pick the 4-Day option (where available) to reserve time for co-op or extracurricular activities.
IGs eliminate the stress of everyday planning
Imagine falling asleep tonight relaxed, with no worry about what you're going to teach in the morning. That's what an IG does for you. It does the planning for you. Put simply, these guides just make your life easier.
Curriculum experts develop each IG … so you are free to focus on your unique role: teaching, guiding, and enjoying your children.
Each Sonlight Instructor's Guide is the result of hundreds of hours of research and experience. This expert work saves you significant time, stress and frustration so you can spend time reading enticing books, teaching, and enjoying your kids.
"Don't spend your time planning homeschool lessons. With Sonlight's Instructor’s Guides, that's been done for you." - Sarita Holzmann, Sonlight
IGs turn your books into curriculum
Each History / Bible / Literature program, Language Arts program and Science program includes an Instructor's Guide. That IG weaves your books and supplies together into a cohesive full-year curriculum. Simply do the given assignments and use the suggested Discussion Questions to help you track your student’s comprehension.
"Everything is put together and organized better than I could have done in a million years. Sonlight helped save me loads of time so I could focus on teaching instead of planning. The kids have my time instead of my stress!" - Sonlighter Lois M
Sonlight Instructor's Guides Will Make Your Day (Easier)
How? Take a look at some of the noteworthy benefits you'll realize with Sonlight IGs.
Easy to use
- Get started quickly. At the beginning of your school year, read the essential "how" and "why" information for your History / Bible / Lit, located at the front of your IG. This will ensure a good start.
- Everything you need is in one place. Find each week's schedule, notes, discussion questions, timeline and map activities, vocabulary and teaching tips, all in one section. Your daily notes for subjects are all right behind your weekly schedule.
- Take school with you on the go. Want to do Sonlight outside or on a road trip? Just pull out that week's section of the IG, grab the scheduled books, and enjoy your adventure.
An intuitive setup
The IG setup makes sense. You can find what you need quickly and follow along. For example:
- Mapping helps you incorporate geography seamlessly into the school day. Younger students use their Markable Maps to locate places they read about. Parents get full color maps with answers to the assigned map points. These hole-punched, laminated maps fold into your IG and also serve as a bookmark to hold your place. With clear location names, students make a visual connection to how all their Readers, History books, and Read-Alouds relate geographically. Parent notes provide place names and coordinates, so you can easily find and check each map point. High schoolers' black-and-white maps are included in their Student Guide, while the Parent Guide has identical answer keys. Just watch your students' geography knowledge soar!
Comprehensive and effective
- Q&A format helps you focus on what's important. Discussion questions with answers for each day's reading hone in on the key points. They help your kids get more meaning out of their reading and allow you to assess how well your children understand what they're learning.
- Understand the rationale behind scheduled activities and methods. We offer abundant explanations that let you in on the "why" behind many of the suggested activities. We explain the purpose behind these activities and what your children can gain. So you're better equipped to take advantage of the ideas behind the activities and perhaps make modifications.
- Numerous notes help you take advantage of teachable moments. We want you to know why we chose a certain book or what we hope your children learn. We talk about "heart matters" (e.g., "Note the beauty of family relationships revealed in this book."). We give you warnings about specific books or about difficult content, telling you what to expect and often suggesting how to discuss it. This helps you capitalize on teachable moments and discuss important issues (such as racism).
- Science and Language Arts IGs Activity Sheets reinforce your teaching and further engage learners. A variety of activity options coordinate with your students' Science and Language Arts studies and draw on a range of skills and interests. Learn more about Activity Sheets here.
A note about upper-level IGs
For high school, you can "mix and match" History and Literature courses from any upper level. Choose the course combination to create the program that's best for your students.
The 100-500 IGs continue to offer many of the same great features and benefits found in the lower grades. But rather than a single IG, each upper-level course includes a Parent Guide and also a separate Student Guide.
Your Parent Guide mirrors the Student Guide, but also includes answers, provides extra notes about book plots and literary elements, and allows you to check their progress and discuss their reading (even if you haven't read the books). This setup lets you be as involved as you want and gives your high schoolers the tools to work independently. Learn more about Sonlight's High School IGs here.
History / Bible / Literature Instructor's Guide
Engage with History as you and your children learn together. With Sonlight’s daily readings all scheduled, you’ll read good books and talk with your children about what you’re learning. You’ll be amazed at how much you all learn, so easily and enjoyably. With notes and teaching tips along the way, the Sonlight History / Bible / Literature Instructor's Guide is guaranteed to help you love to learn, and love to teach.
What you get in a History / Bible / Literature IG:
Each IG includes 36-week lesson plans that integrate your children’s various subjects into an exciting, unified learning experience. Simply follow the daily schedule for a well-organized, balanced, complete year of learning. All your books and activities are scheduled for the year.
The IG schedules are broken out into either four or five days of material for each of the 36 scheduled weeks.
Taking a vacation for a few days? Want to enjoy the first snowfall? Take a break when you want and pick up right where you left off. Because many families end up ahead of behind in a subject—at least occasionally—the IGs are structured for maximum flexibility to meet your family's specific needs.
Sonlight’s curriculum reflects a Christian worldview and you'll find references to Scripture and Biblical ideas throughout your studies. The goal is to help you and your children read, memorize and talk about Scripture so that God's word becomes woven into the fabric of your lives.
- Discussion Questions
Your IG includes various types of discussion questions – including review, comprehension, and open-ended thought type questions – with answers for each day's reading to help you focus on the key points. They help your children get more meaning out of their reading, and allow you to assess how well your children understand what they're learning.
Extensive teaching notes help you instruct your students with excellence, and ensure that they grasp key concepts. Notes cover a variety of topics, from suggestions on how to train your children to read discerningly, to how to talk about "heart matters," such as the beauty of family relationships. Notes provide counter-balancing arguments to lopsided passages, clarification, further explanations, and commentary. These notes help you "listen to the other side" – as Proverbs 18:17 encourages – in order to hone understanding.
Additionally, your IG notes offer warnings about specific books or difficult content, telling you what to expect and ways to discuss it. This helps you capitalize on teachable moments and discuss important issues – such as racism and poverty – with thoughtfulness.
- Teaching tips
See the rationale and educational philosophy behind Sonlight’s methods and activities. Each IG includes detailed teaching tips, explains assignments, provides extra information about important topics, and provides support to discuss difficult content (e.g., racism or poverty) with thoughtfulness. With Sonlight’s IG’s you’ll get the most from the materials so you can teach with confidence!
- Timeline and Map Activities
Watch your students' geography knowledge soar! Mapping helps you incorporate geography naturally into your school day. Younger students use their Markable Map to locate places they read about.
Parents get full-color map keys with the assigned map points located. These hole-punched, laminated maps fold into your IG. With clear location names, students make a visual connection to how all their Readers, History books, and Read-Alouds relate geographically. Parent notes provide place names and coordinates, so you can easily find and check each map point. High Schoolers' black-and-white maps are included in their Student Guide, while the Parent Guide has identical answer keys.
Timeline Activities tell you when to add people, events, and dates to your Timeline Book.
- Hands-On Activities
In the younger years, you’ll find optional hands-on activities designed to deepen your students' understanding of history and offer concrete evidence of learning.
- Vocabulary and Cultural Literacy notes
Find clear definitions for important vocabulary that appears in your reading. Enjoy useful Cultural Literacy notes that add depth to your reading and explain things students probably don't know (e.g., what a hoop skirt looks like).
- An easy record-keeping system
With space to record completion dates, your student’s initials, extra notes and even extra subjects—all your records will be in one place for reporting.
Your History / Bible / Lit IG gives you flexibility:
- You are in the driver's seat. The IG is a guide, not a taskmaster. As you become comfortable teaching your children, you can skip and alter assignments as you want to fit your family's unique needs.
- You have options to work how you want. If you prefer to do a week's worth of a single subject in one day, work horizontally across your schedule page. If you prefer doing a little bit from every subject each day, work vertically.
- Day-by-day schedule does not tie you to a traditional Monday through Friday calendar. Take breaks when you want and pick up right where you left off.
Language Arts Instructor's Guide
Teach writing naturally and with confidence! Sonlight Language Arts IGs walk you through how to teach your children all the vital skills they will need. From phonics, letter formation, spelling, and reading, to writing instruction (formal, informal, poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, and more), grammar and punctuation, vocabulary, and all of the other skills that students need to communicate in adulthood, Sonlight’s Language Arts IGs have you covered.
Your Language Arts Guide includes:
Clear Language Arts instruction.
Sonlight Language Arts programs helps you get the most from your studies each day. Simply follow the daily schedule for a well-organized, balanced, complete year of learning. Assignments are as clear and engaging as possible, with an appropriate level of grammar instruction and copywork/dictation passages.
Extensive teaching notes help you instruct your students with excellence, answer questions and ensure that they grasp key concepts. These explanatory notes help you know both why to teach this way and what your goals are. (Discover Sonlight's "natural learning" approach to Language Arts.)
- Teaching scripts (in the early grades)
Read the teaching scripts in the IG when you introduce new ideas, concepts, and assignments. Great for parents just starting to homeschool or to provide extra confidence when teaching!
- Overview Summaries.
Each week, read the summary of what you’ll be doing and the concepts you’ll cover. Be ready for your assignments, week by week. No surprises.
- Copywork/Dictation assignments.
With weekly copywork or dictation assignments, children model master communicators to learn the basics of writing. Assignments are based on your child's age and ability level, and most passages come from the Readers in their History / Bible / Literature or Language Arts program.
- Spelling and Phonics Instruction.
Language Arts 1-4 includes Sonlight’s phonetic-based spelling program. Assignments and activities coordinate with your children's Readers to develop confidence in reading and spelling.
For Language Arts D-F, choose from the programs we offer and record in the provided space in your IG. Phonics instruction is included in the LA Guides for levels K-4.
- Grammar and writing mechanics.
Each week in Language Arts programs below the 100 level, you receive clear grammar instruction about specific concepts that tie into the week's copywork/dictation passage – proper capitalization, apostrophe placement, tricky homonyms, etc. Then your students complete a few exercises to practice and reinforce what they learned. Weekly notes provide answers to grammar questions.
- Effective creative writing instruction.
Step-by-step creative writing instruction encourages exploration and sets children free to develop their creative side. This helps them become superb written communicators, too.
Your IG includes assignments in a wide variety of styles and genres, including imaginative, persuasive, expository, narrative, journaling, etc. Each assignment includes instruction and a sample of what your student might produce.
The writing assignments follow a consistent pattern each week: copywork or dictation on Days 1 and 5; mechanics instruction and practice on Day 2; pre-planning for writing on Day 3; writing assignment on Day 4.
- Evaluative rubrics.
Easily determine how to evaluate your children’s work with the included rubrics in the Language Arts IG. Are they on track? What areas could use additional practice? What are the expectations in this assignment?
- Activity Sheets and answers.
Activity Sheets reinforce your teaching and provide assignments that make your children eager to learn how to write well. A variety of activity options coordinate with your students’ language arts studies and draw on a range of skills and interests. Weekly notes provide answers to grammar questions and suggested responses for Creative Writing assignments. Reproduction rights mean these sheets are good for the entire family.
- Handwriting and Vocabulary
All levels include schedules for optional workbooks. These workbooks offer your children additional practice in areas where they may struggle, such as phonics, grammar, handwriting, and vocabulary.
Your choice of a 4 or 5-Day schedule
In most grades, choose complete instruction for either four or five days each week.
How do I order the Language Arts Guide?
For levels K-C, you can add a separate Language Arts Instructor's Guide to your History / Bible / Literature purchase. This guide coordinates with the Readers Pack you choose and integrates your Readers' Schedule and Notes.
For levels D and higher, the Language Arts Schedule is separate from your History / Bible / Literature IG. Your Language Arts notes and assignments come after the other notes and assignments each day.
Science Instructor's Guide
Prep time? Zero. Educational value? Immense. Science lessons made easy (and fun)! The Science IGs schedule engaging and age-appropriate content. They also include question prompts, explanations, additional notes, hands-on activities beyond the experiments, and Activity Sheets.
Your Science IGs (for Science K-J) provide:
- Complete, ready-to-use lesson plans.
All your science books and experiments are fully scheduled for the entire year. The IG provides the framework for what books to read and when, what experiments to do and what videos to watch. No need to create your own lesson plans!
- Detailed teaching notes.
Weekly notes help you get the most from your materials. Notes explain each assignment and activity, point out fun facts about your reading, include question prompts, explanations, hands-on activities (beyond the experiments), and additional notes to enhance the reading and reinforce what your students are learning.
- Organizational tools to help you plan ahead
See at a glance the supplies you need for experiments this week and in the coming week. Know what supplies you’ll find in the Sonlight Science Kits, and which typical household items you’ll want to have ready.
- Weekly experiments and activities.
Engaging weekly experiments tie directly to that week’s reading material for a more linear progression from reading to doing. Experiments provide hands-on learning and reinforce and apply the concepts studied in the days previous so you can see your child’s developing mastery of particular science concepts.
Most of the experiments can be done with common household items, but to minimize prep time, we’ve created a Science Supplies Kit that includes many of the supplies, templates, and worksheets you need to conduct each experiment. No planning necessary and minimal prep time!
Your children will relish the discoveries they make throughout the year. And you’ll love that they are actively exploring STEM concepts, and making their learning stick.
- Interactive Activity Sheets
Your Activity Sheets–with hundreds of activities, illustrations, charts and pictures–help students remember what they've learned. A variety of activity options coordinate with your students’ science studies and draw on a range of skills and interests.
Activities progress with children's abilities: From cutouts, matching, circle-the-answer and dictation to fill-in puzzles and sequencing analysis.
Reproduction rights mean one guide is good for the entire family.
- Complete Answer Keys
Separate Answer Keys mirror your Student Activity sheets for easy grading. No need to test–you have ongoing, reliable insight into your children’s comprehension
Download the first three weeks of any Instructor's Guide!
Ready to take a look inside a specific IG? You can download the first 3 weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide by selecting the IGs you're interested in on the 3-week Samples page.
Convinced that an IG is what you need for your school year? Find your homeschool curriculum today!
Homeschool Scheduling FAQ
There are so many options for how to make a daily homeschool schedule template. Ultimately, it has to work with your family style and daily flow. Everything from the ages of your children, to their learning styles, to how many children you have will impact your daily homeschool schedule. A kindergarten homeschool schedule looks different from a high school homeschool schedule. A kinesthetic learner will need more hands-on time than a visual learner might. A large family homeschool schedule might take more work figuring out than a smaller family’s schedule would.
Before you start scheduling your day, however, you need to know what kind of a year you are planning. Do you want to follow the typical school year, follow a six-weeks-on-one-off schedule, or just keep homeschooling year-round? Planning your yearly homeschool schedule can change your daily schedule, so have an idea of that first.
Once you have your year’s plan and have given your family’s specific needs some thought, you can tackle the individual homeschool day. Start with a homeschool schedule template that you can adjust to your family. Don’t force something that isn’t you. If your family is full of morning people, you can start your day bright and early and knock out most subjects by noon. If your kids hit their stride more like 10 am to 2 pm, you can start the day with Read-Alouds and ease your way into the day, hitting the real thinking subjects when you know your kids’ brains are awake and functioning. If you have younger kids, you’ll plan lots of play breaks throughout the day; if you have older kids, you’ll probably have more outside-the-home activities to plan around.
If you’re working from scratch, modeling after sample homeschool schedules is a good practice. Use the Sonlight IG samples to see a sample homeschool schedule for preschool, for first grade, for high school — for any grade at all. By looking at these homeschool daily schedule charts, you can get a better idea of what a homeschool day looks like and how to customize a plan that works for you.
One of the best ways to make sure you are hitting all your subject matter is to have a weekly homeschool schedule ready so you can establish routines and expectations. Then adjust as you go. Using the Sonlight Instructor Guide (IG) is a great way to simplify this step.
There is no such thing as typical when it comes to homeschooling. That’s what’s so great about it! Examples are helpful, however, so here is a sample homeschool schedule for elementary-age students.
- 7 am: Wake, breakfast, small daily chores (home economics!), picture books/easy self-reads, puzzles
- 8 am: Poetry, family devotions, rotating favorite subject (art, history, favorite science book, read-alouds, etc.)
- 9 am: Math/number games
- 9:30 am: Guided physical activity break (i.e. get the wiggles out)
- 10 am: Science/science activity
- 10:30 am: Snack, short play break
- 11 am: Language Arts
- 12 pm: Lunch and play break
- 1 pm: History / Bible / Literature
- 2 pm: Self-guided reading or activity
A middle school or high school homeschool schedule can be based on the same template, but will probably take longer on some subjects and therefore go later into the afternoon (or have shorter breaks).
Many families love using a loop schedule for their homeschool schedule, especially with multiple children. Even if you have only one or two children, a loop schedule can give you the flexibility to dive into the subjects your students love, while not leaving anything out in the course of a week.
In a nutshell, loop scheduling means that you move through your subjects in a set order, but if you don’t finish the whole list on a given day you simply pick up where you left off the next day. This allows you to ensure that subjects like music and art don’t get crammed out of the busy daily schedule.
A modified loop schedule might mean that you do the 3Rs every day (reading, writing, and math), but then loop all other subjects (music, art, history, science, etc.) so that you get to everything within a given week even if you don’t do it every day.
This may depend on where you live. Different states have different laws about how many school hours you need to finish in a year and how you need to document this. Make sure you know your state’s laws before you plan your homeschool day.
For elementary ages, many homeschool parents are able to finish all subjects in a dedicated 2-3 hours a day, spread out with breaks. Middle school and high school will likely increase to 4-6 hours a day to incorporate more subjects and more time on some subjects.
Most states that require a certain number of school days, don’t say how many hours that needs to include. If you students are learning and progressing, you don’t necessarily have to calculate your hours, though always make sure you know your state’s laws.
If you really want to know how long to plan for a given subject, however, there are a few good approaches. You can make a daily schedule template to start and then see how closely you stick to it, making adjustments for reality. Or you can go the opposite route and track a typical day to see how long each subject takes and use that as a guide to making your daily schedule.
Almost everything! Is your student helping bake cookies? That’s math, home ec, and science. Is your student reading a story to a younger sibling? Language arts and even drama and art appreciation are covered in that. Are you visiting the annual hummingbird festival or taking part in a citizen science project for kids? All of that counts!
In short, the beauty of homeschooling is that your student is always learning. Sometimes you need to purposefully take advantage of those opportunities. For example, let the 7-year-old learn to measure out the spices for dinner instead of just turning on a show while you do it. Not all learning happens via books and pencil to paper activities.
Trial and error. Plan a half-hour for your core subjects and intersperse with breaks depending on the ages of your children. You can adjust if you need more time; if you finish early that just means more time for extra activities. Start the day with a favorite subject or activity so that everyone wants to begin the school day, then you can move into the tougher subjects. Saving another favorite subject or Read-Aloud for the end of the day is also a good strategy to encourage productivity during slumps. Don’t move too many things around after day one; give it a week or so to get into a rhythm before you decide if major overhauls to your daily homeschool schedule are needed.
First decide if you want a 3-, 4-, or 5-day school week for your homeschool. Do you need a specific day open for co-ops or field trips? Once you have that decided, put the core subjects in first, taking your own children’s strengths and weaknesses into account. Do you need to do math every day? Perhaps you’ll do structured language arts three days a week and more laid-back reading games the other two days. Are your kids really into science and will be sad to miss a day of it, or would it be fine to do just a couple of science days a week?
Using the Sonlight Instructor’s Guide (IG) is a great way to simplify your weekly homeschool schedule. It provides a framework you can easily modify. Many parents use the grids as their weekly homeschool schedule template, adding extras, appointments, and outings to the lesson plans. Yes, it can work as a homeschool schedule template for multiple children as well since you can combine more than one child in a History / Bible / Literature level.