What is literature-based homeschooling?
Literature-based learning is an educational philosophy based on children's natural curiosity and love for stories.
Literature-based homeschooling is a highly academic approach that uses outstanding books and delightful stories as the centerpiece for learning. Real books make learning come alive and these stories give context to the information, create an emotional connection with students, and help the readers retain the information.
Reading is the foundation for comprehension and critical thinking in every arena, from history and language arts to math and science. Because humans are wired for story, we believe the most effective way to learn is by reading stories. Why use great literature – the best books ever written – as the foundation for learning? A single book can distill the wisdom of an entire lifetime in a few pages ... offer insights and perspectives unlike our own ... and open doors to delight and discovery, where curious minds are inspired to roam and grow. The result of a literature-based education? Individuals who are highly inquisitive and invested in learning for life.
Sonlight's literature-based homeschool programs build a love of learning that continues even when school—both school days and formal schooling— is done.
Literature-based education is also surprisingly efficient. You read the best literature available to your children. They absorb the information. You talk about what you read and then move on to the next book. No stressful studying for tests. No boring lectures. Just enjoyable reading and interaction.
When it comes to literature-based curriculum, Sonlight wrote the book.
Children love stories. Imagine a storyteller with eager children gathered around her. What would happen if she stopped at the most exciting part?
The children would beg her to keep going!
That's what happens with Sonlight Curriculum. Students naturally want to keep learning.
Sonlight is the industry-leading literature-based, Christian homeschool curriculum. In 1990, no company scheduled real books into a complete course of study. But when Sarita Holzmann started to homeschool her children, she did just that: scheduled books she loved, and read them to her children. She enjoyed it so much, she wanted to allow other families to experience the same benefits that she did, so she started Sonlight and pioneered literature-based homeschooling more than 30 years ago.
Books are at the center of Sonlight. A Sonlight education is built around great stories— referred to as living books. We utilize good literature (like historical fiction, biographies, award-winning titles) to teach subjects such as history, Bible, and science. Students learn about a concept, event, or character through these stories. The academic growth occurs with open-ended discussion questions that provide context, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the event and circumstances around it. Literature-based homeschooling is proven to be highly academic and provides students the communication and critical thinking skills to excel.
Sonlight also offers academically excellent products for subjects such as math, handwriting, language arts and electives.
These materials are organized and scheduled for you in our customer-renowned Instructor’s Guides.
What's Sonlight's Secret?
Children respond more positively to great literature than to textbooks. And because quality literature is not age-specific, you can teach multiple children with one program!
Why choose a literature-based education?
- Literature makes learning information enjoyable.
- Literature conveys information in a format that is easy to remember.
- Literature encourages you to interact with your children.
Until you've experienced literature-based education, it's hard to believe that there is another type of education out there.
But at Sonlight, we hear stories like these:
- The daughter who woke her mother at 6am so they could get started with school.
- The three siblings who staged a picket (complete with signs) in early August demanding, "Do school now!"
- The siblings who begged their parents on Christmas morning not to open presents but to keep reading their Sonlight books.
These extreme stories actually happened, but they don't happen in every house.
In a typical Sonlight house—a house like yours—this is what you can expect to find:
- A regular plea to "Keep reading!"
- Struggling readers who learn to love books . . . even if they have reading delays or an established dislike of books.
- Parents who enjoy the school books at least as much as their children. (And often more — whether because of greater life experience, or more sophisticated thoughts. The books that children enjoy will often touch parents deeply.)
- The parent who does not do the bulk of homeschooling starts to hang around in the evening to hear what happens in the school book stories.
- Children who incorporate what they are learning into their play.
- Over time, shared memories of favorite books that extend back for years.
- Increased family connection, between parents and children, and between siblings.
What kinds of books do Sonlighters read?
A huge variety, in a wide range of genres. Biography and autobiography, historical fiction, nonfiction, school stories, mysteries, classics, novels, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, devotional, and more. There are about 1000 titles across all the Sonlight programs, so you'll get a wide-ranging and varied education!
Sonlight includes many thrilling biographies of missionaries and great heroes of faith. When your children read these biographies, they connect with great examples of real Christians living out their faith in both everyday and extraordinary circumstances. Your children will discover Christian heroes like William Wilberforce, Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and many more who truly lived out their faith.
You'll also find books that aren't written by Christians. Sonlighters have found that reading great literature from a variety of viewpoints is tremendously valuable for their children. Students learn to think critically, and they enjoy many moving, informative, and beautifully-written books, even if they're not written by Christians.
We believe that parents are children's true teachers. Your Instructor's Guide carefully equips you to talk about what you're reading with your children. If a book mentions something against a Christian worldview, for example, your Instructor's Guide will usually point it out and help you talk about it with your kids. You can read the questions and discussion directly, or talk about points of your own choosing, making the Instructor's Guide both highly structured and extremely flexible
Sonlight's Christ-centered, literature-based curriculum teaches from the perspective of God's truth and his love for all people of the world. It gives parents tools to guide their children in the way of Christ as they learn about their own faith and heritage and interact with a wide variety of ideas and cultures.
As you read real books and discuss them with your children, you gain a huge privilege. You get to have many natural conversations with your children about things that really matter: character development, faith, citizenship, our role in the world, politics, and God. What an honor for you to guide your children!
What does literature-based learning look like?
Your school day connects in rich ways. For example, let's say you're studying World History with your second-grader, and you're covering the Vikings.
- In History, you read a narrative from A Child's History of the World that describes some of Viking history.
- You also read from several illustrated books. These give you a visual of Viking culture. What did they eat? What did their houses and clothes look like?
- You place the Vikings on your timeline and locate the Viking homeland on your map, to emphasize the chronology and geography.
- You read a short biography about some of the most famous Vikings, Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky, the intrepid travelers who reached Greenland and North America.
- In your Read-Alouds, you enjoy an adventure in 20th Century Denmark, with some exciting Viking connections in the customer-favorite Sticks Across the Chimney.
- And in your Language Arts, some of the assignments come from the reading.
It's possible that this description leaves you unmoved. Fair enough. But this overview is sort of like trying to summarize basketball: two opposing teams try to get a bouncing ball into a metal ring, to score more points in a given amount of time. That description is correct … but it misses all the drama of a game, all the excitement and emotion of a March Madness tournament. It misses the adrenaline rush of your team's come-from-behind win, or the crushing disappointment of a close defeat.
Not a sports fan? Have you ever read the Wikipedia summary of your favorite book or movie? "A wealthy man proposes against his better judgment to a girl who needs to marry well so her family won't be destitute. She dislikes him, though, and turns him down. But in the end, they happily marry!" Pride and Prejudice is one of the high points of Western culture, but told in summary, it sounds melodramatic and silly. Summaries can be useful, but they miss the essence of the thing.
Like a good game or a good book or a good movie, you have to experience it.
Why do Sonlight children beg their parents to keep reading? Why do Sonlight spouses start listening in? Why do Sonlight moms end the school year feeling soul-fed?
Some things you have to experience. Sonlight is an experience, a lifestyle. I invite you to give Sonlight a try and discover a delightful way to learn, centered on love for the Lord, love of great stories, and innate curiosity.
How do Sonlight's Christ-centered, literature-based programs work?
1. Start with a History / Bible / Literature program.
Sonlight's History / Bible / Literature programs are the basis for your Sonlight experience. Each program includes a year's worth of history and geography, Bible and Literature (called Readers and Read-Alouds).
Each level is crafted around gripping books. A particularly great story-based history book or series (such as The Story of the World) serves as the "spine" for each program. You'll gradually read this book throughout the whole year; it's your chronological guide, moving you logically through history. As you progress through your spine, you'll also read numerous biographies, historical fiction, and novels that dig deep into the historical-cultural topics you're studying. Since quality literature reaches kids of various ages, you can use your History / Bible / Literature program with multiple children at the same time.
2. Let your Instructor's Guide show you what to do.
Your curriculum is far more than a stack of books. It wouldn't be Sonlight without our award-winning Instructor's Guide. Your easy-to-use Instructor's Guide weaves your books and materials into a cohesive, full-year curriculum. You'll be equipped to teach and instruct, and to pass on your family's values and Christian faith to your children.
With flexible weekly and daily schedules, discussion questions, teaching tips, hands-on activities and experiments, and insightful notes to prompt deeper discussion, you simply open up your Instructor's Guide and teach with confidence each day.
Come experience literature-based learning—the way you wish you'd been taught!
What about science, math, and electives?
Sonlight Science programs complement the Christ-centered, literature-based History / Bible / Literature programs, and help you teach from a Christian worldview. The A-G Science programs start with fascinating, gorgeously illustrated books. Your children read about the natural world, listen to stories about scientists' lives and discoveries, and enjoy regular hands-on activities and experiments. Sonlight's complete Science kits and experiment DVDs supply teaching tips and materials so you can actually do the experiments with very little stress!
The upper-level Science programs offer great college-prep courses, including full lab sciences like Biology and Chemistry, along with all the supplies you need.
What makes a Sonlight book?
Every book in Sonlight has to pass Sarita's seven-point test:
- Real/realistic characters.
- Solid character development.
- Content that adds to the reader's cultural literacy.
- Intriguing, multi-dimensional plot.
- Emotionally compelling.
- Beautifully written.
Learn more at sonlight.com/sonlight-books
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Can I see a sample?
Yes! Check out free samples of any and every Sonlight Instructor's Guide.
What if I have questions?
Simply contact a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor, free of charge. A friendly and experienced Sonlight mom will happily answer your questions without pressure.