17 Reasons to Choose Sonlight
Will Sonlight be a good fit for your family?
With homeschool curriculum, it’s important that you choose the right program that fits your unique family the best. Sonlight is not your average homeschool curriculum! In fact, new Sonlighters are often surprised at just how easy—and pleasant—homeschooling can be, thanks to the fully planned Instructor’s Guides and fantastic books. Here are 17 of the more common reasons why Sonlight families love and continue to use our curriculum year after year.
You have (or want to develop) a love of reading.
Sonlight’s programs center around books. You’ll read forty or so books in most Sonlight programs in a given school year. If your kids already love reading, this probably sounds like great news! But if your children don’t like reading, be encouraged: for many families, the superb Sonlight books transform their reluctant readers into book lovers. Sonlight books are that good.
You don’t want to be tied to a computer screen.
Sonlight parents are involved with almost all their children’s schooling in the elementary and middle school years. We believe Sonlight books spur far too many topics for discussion to leave the teaching to someone online. You get to offer your thoughtful input every day.
In some subjects, you might choose to supplement with a screen-based teacher. In Math-U-See, for example, a video companion helps you teach the basics. In science, you might choose to use the Discover & Do videos for some science experiments, rather than do them all yourself.
Overall, screen time is limited and face-toface time with your kids takes top priority. This is possible because the Instructor’s Guide has done so much of the preparatory work for you, allowing you to focus on interaction with your kids. Sonlight programs require about two hours a day of a parent’s time—less in the very early elementary years, a bit more in the middle elementary years, then fewer hours again in high school.
Academics are important to you.
Sonlight is highly academic. We believe that parents have a responsibility to help their children acquire wisdom, knowledge, and a foundation for future service. A well-rounded liberal arts education in elementary, middle, and high school is valuable preparation for almost any posthigh school pursuit.
Sonlight graduates have gone on to college, trade schools, full-time missions, the military, and the work force. Sonlight parents share regularly that their children’s professors report that they are the best writers, the best thinkers, the most wellread, and the best-informed students in the class. And students who transition to Sonlight after a several years in classroom school regularly see their test scores rise substantially. (Visit the Sonlight scholarship page, to learn more about these gifted Sonlight students.)
And, you don’t have to wait until high school for stellar academics! Many parents are surprised by how much they learn when teaching even their kindergarten students.
You don’t want the hassle of lesson planning.
Erika Evans wrote about her experience with lesson planning.
[Before Sonlight,] it took me hours to collect ideas and organize materials. If one of the projects didn’t work as planned, I felt I had wasted a ton of time and effort." But she hesitated to use a pre-planned curriculum because she feared "that it might sterilize our experience, that it might limit what we could learn and accomplish, that it might include too much busy work, that it would not allow for child-led learning, that it was a lazy mom cop-out which would lessen the home school experience for me and my children."
What she found was that, with Sonlight, the reality was the exact opposite.
Having resources at the ready meant that we were always able to find interesting books to read and projects to do—right out of the box. There was always more material to cover and more ideas to discover. Not having to organize our entire day on my own meant that I was more available to the kids and actually had more time, not less, to help them explore their unique and individual interests. [Pre-planned] curriculum wasn’t holding us back! It was giving us structure to zoom ahead in freedom!"
Having ready-to-go resources will make your homeschool days easier, provide increased freedom, and add to the amount of time you get to spend with your children. You may be surprised that structure gives you more freedom.
You want to try before you buy.
If you’re able to attend a homeschool convention near where you live, you’ll be able to see curriculum and get your questions answered by experienced Sonlight parents. If you are unable to attend a convention, you can download the first three weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide to get an idea of what a day with Sonlight will look like.
Remember; Sonlight backs your satisfaction 100% with the Love to Learn, Love to Teach™ Guarantee. After your first 18 weeks with Sonlight, if you are unhappy with your History / Bible/ Literature or All-Subjects Package, simply return it for a complete refund.
If you want to speak with someone who knows the ins and outs of Sonlight, our Advisors are available.
You want to read impacting literature.
Sonlighters describe our books as poignant, heartwarming, powerful, deep, and thought-provoking. Read Sarita’s 7-point criteria for Sonlight books here. Excellent books offer a strong emotional connection with the characters. From an educational perspective, students remember much more of what they read when they have an emotional connection with the story and characters. Depth of emotion also helps your children develop moral imagination. As your children begin to understand, through stories, how the world looks and feels to others, they develop the capacity to empathize with others and to understand how their actions affect the lives of others.
You want to raise children ready to navigate the "real world".
Sonlight books are funny, touching, exciting, and interesting books that deal with real life in thoughtful, gentle ways. They are not meant to be shocking, aggressive, or inappropriate. And yet, they do deal with real life.
Some families with especially sensitive children find that there are certain books they set aside until the child is older. You’re the parent, and you get the flexibility to control your child’s education. However, most families find that Sonlight helps ease their children gently into stories that help them process the world around them: the beauty and joy, and yes, sometimes pain, that is involved.
You want a curriculum with room for flexibility.
Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guide (IG) is merely a schedule, not a taskmaster. Many parents pick and choose among the suggested assignments. Even if they read most of the books, they might ignore some of the comprehension questions or skip some of the writing assignments.
Some people don’t get to the timeline figures during the school year and spend a few hours during the last week of school putting a full year’s worth of timeline figures onto their timelines all at once—a year-end review! Some parents allow their children to drop a few Readers a year, so their children only read fifteen or so books. Some will use the Discover & Do videos in lieu of science experiments in the early years. Or they will do the Read-Alouds at night, as bedtime stories. Or they will read some of the Read-Alouds during the summer to keep their children from getting bored.
Give yourself the freedom to make modifications. The IG is a guide, not a rule!
You want to learn at your own pace.
In the early grades, you can be assured that students in one school will have learned some things that their peers in another school have not. Different curricula follow their own scope & sequence. But notice the qualifier: in the early grades. Over time, the differences disappear.
Because Sonlighters become such eager learners, you are likely to eventually tell a story like this one from Christy H of Galena, MO. She had sometimes wondered whether her children were learning enough:
When my kids randomly bring school into conversations with others—for example, when my 8-year-old discusses ancient Egypt and Rome with my cousin who is a history major in college, or when my 6-year-old explains to her fisherman grandpa why his boat floats…Then I know we are doing okay!”
When you consider the wide range of books your children will read with Sonlight, it shouldn’t be surprising when they readily and knowledgeably engage with people on an astonishing variety of topics. With a Sonlight education, your children will not merely absorb basic information, but, far more, they’ll develop an inquisitive spirit and love for learning. With Sonlight, you set the stage for your students to continue learning even after they have completed their formal education.
You want the Bible to be organically woven into learning.
Sonlight academics are based on and intentionally related to Scripture. We believe that Scripture is the Word of God and is effective for teaching, correcting, and instructing in righteousness. Each Sonlight HBL program includes Bible reading, Christian teaching, and memory verses. In levels G through high school, rigorous Bible study (including apologetics and Church history) is part of the Sonlight programs.
But not every page in the IGs has a Scripture quotation. When a passage of Scripture provides insight or understanding to a subject, the IG will often mention it. But in general, the Sonlight approach is to provide rich materials that help you engage in more natural, organic conversations about Scripture with your children.
When you read The Hundred Dresses in Sonlight A, for example, the story itself presents wonderful opportunities to discuss Biblical principles in real-life settings. Why should we care for others? What does kindness look like? How do we stand up for what is right? Instead of specific Bible lessons, Sonlight allows you to guide your own discussion as you pass your faith to your children.
You want to encounter viewpoints different from your own.
Some of the books in both the Sonlight History and Science programs include an evolutionary/old-earth perspective. Usually, when a book has evolutionary content, the IG offers notes, so you can discuss a Bible-based view on the beginning of the universe with your children. This is one of the ways Sonlight helps your children encounter complex issues in the safety of your own home – and from a strong, biblical perspective.
You want to study cultures around the world.
Western culture—and American society in particular within the last 150 years—has enriched the world in many ways. With Sonlight, you’ll learn about America’s unique contributions during five thorough years of U.S. history and culture.
But Sonlight also devotes eight years to the rest of the world, including not only Western history and culture, but the cultures and histories of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and indigenous peoples elsewhere around the world. With Sonlight, your children are prepared not only to think about, pray for, and serve Americans, but peoples and cultures around the world— wherever God may lead them.
Of course, from a secular perspective, we live in an increasingly globalized world. As international commerce increases, you may have practical reasons for your children to study the cultures and peoples beyond America’s borders as well, offering them the knowledge and capacity to transcend national boundaries. See Sonlight’s complete Scope and Sequence.
You’re ready to say goodbye to traditional testing.
From its foundation, Sonlight was designed to capitalize on the efficient, tutorial environment of the home. Because you’re in daily, personal, one-on-one contact with your students, you’ll be able to evaluate the progress of your students through means other than quizzes, tests, and graded worksheets.
When you’re reading a book, you’ll likely discuss it with your children: “Why do you think he wanted to do that?” “What does ____ mean?” If your children are able to answer your questions, you will know exactly how much they have understood. Such methods for gauging progress give you the feedback you need to be confident in your children’s day-today progress.
But what if your children need to transfer to a classroom, or need to take the SAT or ACT in anticipation of attending college? These are good questions. Two possible answers:
- Some math programs, and all the Apologia Science programs, include tests. As you anticipate a transition, you can give your children practice with these kinds of tests.
- Depending on where you live, your state may require annual or intermittent standardized testing. And whether required or not, you can have your children complete standardized tests on an occasional basis so you know if you are missing any key skills or subject matter. The standardized tests will give your children practice at test-taking, and may actually encourage you about how well you are doing!
You want to incorporate hands-on activities into your studies.
Sonlight does include hands-on activities, but hands-on has never been our emphasis. We believe that the educational value of many activities often aren’t worth the hours of preparation the parents must complete. So, more often than not, we encourage you to let your children decide for themselves what activities they want to do. A box, after all, may become their time machine, a cave, an airplane, or a house.
With Sonlight, you’ll find suggestions for hands-on activities in the Science Guides, along with Science experiments. Some books include suggestions of crafts. Many elementary students incorporate hands-on manipulatives with their math. And almost all of the elementary programs include hands-on activities, lap books or notebooking pages, either as an integral part of the program or as optional add-on. View all of Sonlight's Hands-On options here.
You’re tired of worksheets.
"My son just does his work and can get on with his day!” Worksheets are so appealing, aren’t they? How much easier to solve the basic math problem 6-4=2 than it is to solve a word problem. That’s because, with word problems, you actually apply what you’ve learned to something more like the real world. And that usually takes more time and thought.
So, too, with education.
A Sonlight education deals with real-life, practical things that take time and effort to think and talk through. When, for example, you read the book of Luke with your children, they’ll hear Jesus say some really unexpected things: the story of the man who commended the dishonest manager; the worker who hid his money and then gave it to the man who had multiplied his already. And it will take time to work through what Jesus means. That’s not as easy as answering a catechism question, like “Who was Jesus?” with a memorized answer “God the Son.” But it is meaningful. Not easy, but worthwhile.
And for worksheet-loving children, they can enjoy Sonlight’s Language Arts and Science worksheets, and additional worksheets for math, vocabulary, grammar, and handwriting. Even with a Sonlight education, you can still use plenty of worksheets, just not in history, Bible and literature, where the depth and breadth of the information requires more discussion and thought.
You’re teaching multiple children.
Great literature appeals to a span of ages. At a certain point, the difference in maturity becomes too great and you might find you are not challenging your older students, while at the same time, the younger children are overwhelmed. But for children within about three years of age difference, Sonlight makes it possible to combine multiple children into the same program.
You can use one Sonlight History / Bible / Literature program and one Sonlight Science program for a range of children, with skill-based subjects (math, language arts, perhaps reading instruction) customized for each learning level. This allows you to keep Sonlight’s broad focus, the great literature base, and the depth of discussions, while moving everyone forward at their appropriate levels. Read more about how to teach multiple students with Sonlight here.
You want an interesting trip through history.
Many homeschoolers like the idea of teaching world history in a four-year cycle, repeated three times over the course of twelve years. It makes sense that history should be taught in chronological order, and that’s why every Sonlight History / Bible / Literature package emphasizes geography and incorporates timeline activities. This ensures that your students will understand the flow of history.
But rather than following a consistent four-year cycle three times over, Sonlight breaks the pattern by including additional focus on certain places, eras, and types of history that a regular four-year cycle might skip.
So, in addition to studying World History over a two-year period in both the early elementary and middle school years, with Sonlight, you’ll study:
- a total of four focused years on American History;
- a one-year intensive course on the history of the Christian church;
- 20th century World History – an important century for understanding the world today;
- a year spent on the Eastern Hemisphere, learning about the cultures and practices of the majority of people on earth;
- a year covering a set of common prerequisites for college: studies in civil government and economics.
Do these breaks in the chronological study confuse children? Not at all. We’ve found that just like a properly filled in back-story only helps the narrative, so too, your students’ understanding is enhanced when you see and talk about parallels and contrasts with peoples, cultures, and events of other times and other places. There are true, compelling reasons to take time to focus on additional studies.
While you decide if Sonlight is the right fit for your family, we are with you every step of the way: from helping you determine your school plan, to encouragement and prayer throughout the year. If you need assistance, contact a Sonlight Advisor.
Whatever program you choose, from whatever supplier, we at Sonlight pray God’s blessing on you in finding the best homeschooling materials to meet your needs.
For even more reasons why families love Sonlight, visit this article.