Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keeping Sonlight Simple

This year we are continuing the Sonlight Cores we started last year. Grace (11) and Christopher (9) are working on Core D. James (7) is studying Core B. And Rose (4) is reading books from Core P 3/4. If you prefer secular materials, as I do, click on my secular Sonlight tab. I've been working on a master list of Cores we have used and how we made them secular-friendly (it's very easy to do this, at least with the Cores we have done so far!).

One of the common complaints about Sonlight is that it is just way too much reading. And I agree, that if a child doesn't like to read, Sonlight is not the curriculum to choose. Luckily, while we do have many issues in our house, reading is not one of them. So this curriculum really works for us. But there are still some things I do to make it easier to do 2-3 Cores every day.
My "Command Center"

  • I do not follow any sort of schedule for  P3/4. If I had only a younger child, I imagine I may find it fun to do so. But I don't buy the Instructor Guide for this level or plan it out at all. I bought the books I wanted, put them on the shelves, and we read them. I do list "read with Rose" on my daily checklist and I try to include a P 3/4 read-aloud every day or so. That's all we do for this Core.   
  •  I pull out just the weeks we are working on from the big blue Sonlight binders and transfer them to a regular 1" binder. This makes it easier for the kids to find their own reading assignments. I do not pull out all the separate book notes in the back of the big binder, but I try to make a point of having those big binders out at my "command center" so we can refer to questions, vocab, map assignments, etc.. Having the notes separate is a major pain, but I believe Sonlight changed that this year. I will be looking forward to using the new version of the Instructor's Guide with the notes right in the week tab! When we finish a week, it goes back into the big blue binder and the next week comes out.
  •  I delay starting the Cores just a bit. Rose will do Core P 4/5 next year (though we have already read some of those books this year) instead of starting Core A in her kindergarten year. James is doing Core B as a second grader, not a first grader. Many people start Core A in kindergarten, but I have found that by delaying just a year, my kids have been able to read much of the Core independently, rather than needing it read to them. Which brings me too...
  • I have the kids read as much of the Core to themselves as possible. James can easily handle the science books in Core B, and really they are better read alone because they are heavily illustrated and he likes to study all the pictures. Same with the supplemental history readings. I do read the main literature book aloud, as well as Child's History of the World, when it is scheduled. Otherwise, he reads on his own and we discuss. For Core D, same thing. Grace and Christopher read everything to themselves, except Landmark History and the main literature read-aloud. 
  • I keep discussions pretty brief. I do use the notes in the Instructor Guide for ideas to focus on. Our discussions are mostly Charlotte Mason style. I figure as long as I can tell they read and understood, I don't need to re-teach them everything. We don't discuss the science much at all, but I do have them answer the questions on the worksheets Sonlight provides, because most of the questions are good, thought-provoking ones- and the kids don't complain about doing them:).
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, I limit my Sonlight teaching time. We do not finish everything in one day. Our school day generally runs from 8:45-12:30. We stop at 12:30 regardless of whether or not we have "finished" a day.  We just pick it up the next day where we left off. I often use our lunch hour to go over any discussion points we didn't get to.

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