Sonlight is easily one of the most popular homeschool curriculums currently available. It has an amazing reputation as one of the most comprehensive programs and SO many homeschoolers I talked to recommended it. I did some research, I read their 27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight® as well as all the reasons to buy it. I fell in love! I loved that their lessons were all planned, I loved that it was literature based, I loved the idea of snuggling with my kids on the couch learning together through reading a book, and I loved the prospect of doing school with all my children together. It was a VERY appealing program!
The reality is that I am really a gung ho kind of person. Once I set my mind on something, I tackle it full throttle. I wasn’t just a Sonlight advocate, I could have been their spokesperson. Box day was so exciting! I spent the whole next week setting up my instructors guide and learning about the curriculum. I purchased two Core’s that first year, Core P 4/5 and Core A. I planned on doing the P 4/5 with my younger two and the Core A with my older 2. About one week in, I was starting to feel overwhelmed.
The Top 5 Reasons Sonlight Didn’t Work for Us.
1. Sonlight didn’t work with our large family time restraints (there’s only so much of me to go around!).
We have a brood of children in multiple grades. While I can pair certain children together, I simply can’t do all of them in one Core program. I need to purchase at least two and do it in stages with the kids. The curriculum is incredibly teacher-intensive. Language Arts, Bible, and History all needed me to be reading multiple books and chapters and lessons, etc. While I loved the idea behind this, I found it really hard to keep up. I think a lot of this was that my kids are so young! If they were older and doing the reading themselves it may have looked different, but with young children I just couldn’t keep up. We were doing school all day long!
I have a kinesthetic learner, need I say more? Okay, maybe a bit more… My daughter is a kinesthetic learner. She doesn’t listen to stories, she doesn’t like to look at pictures, she doesn’t enjoy sitting calmly or cuddling on the couch. She jumps, she fidgets, she looks around and sings songs. You ask her at the end of the story what it was about and she looks right through you… she’s got nothing. She approaches learning in a completely different way. She cried when it was time for Sonlight, the reading time was pure torture for her, and the amount of work associated with the language arts (copywork/writing/etc) was just ten steps above what she could do in Kindergarten. It was so completely overwhelming for her that I felt that I was pushing something that just wasn’t working. We found the Core P 4/5 was a lot of reading with no pictures and my two little ones just couldn’t stand it. My visual learner was beyond himself with boredom as there were no pictures really, even in the preschool read alouds. It was a lot of reading at that age and I would much prefer to inspire a love of learning than to force my kids to read with me books that they were not enjoying.
3. Sonlight didn’t meet any of our learning outcomes in Canada for History/Socials.
This was a tough one for me, despite the difficulties we were having with our little two, my eldest son was doing really well. He is an auditory learner and responded well to the reading, he retained a ton, and seemed to excel! But the Socials Studies/History didn’t really meet any of our learning outcomes in Canada. While we don’t want to be a slave to learning outcomes, it felt like a lot of money to be paying for just LA and Bible.
4. Sonlight is an expensive program when you need to use it with multiple children.
Sonlight is expensive! To do it right, because of my kids’ different needs I would want to get three separate years worth and we simply can’t afford it. I have looked into doing the entire program (math, science, the whole shabang) but I am not super fond of the math they use and I much prefer to have the flexibility to choose my own Socials Studies/Science/Math, etc. I really like to create our curriculum based on what works for the kids. They all have different learning styles and being tied down to one specific math curriculum just doesn’t work to me. At the end, it just felt like I was paying a ton of money basically for the read alouds in which case, I can get those from the library.
5. I want my children to have some say in their education.
What I mean by this is that while I choose our core program (math, LA), there is a lot of flexibility with us. I often let my kids choose what to write or what to read. I think these little things help them feel more in control of their education and allow them to learn about what they are interested in. TELL my kid to read this book or let them choose any book and their attitude on the subject is completely different. A lot of the read aloud books were fantastic, but some of them were downright boring for my kids. And I have had a lot more success going to the library and letting them choose whatever they want than forcing them to read books because mommy spent a lot of money on a program 🙂
So, do I recommend Sonlight to others?
I still do recommend it in certain situations. I recommend it to parents with just one or two kids who could do just one Core. People who are completely overwhelmed and want a really well laid out teachers guide. Parents of children who are very auditory learners. I want to make it very clear that :
Sonlight is an amazing program, it worked wonderfully for my auditory learner, but it just didn’t fit with our family dynamics. This does not mean it won’t work for you! Tweet this!
If you are still interested in Sonlight, I encourage you to do your research! Take the learning style quiz to see what your child’s learning style is and take some time to find if sitting and reading with them for 30 minutes straight will work well for them. How do they respond with reading chapter books with not a lot of pictures? Do they enjoy learning this way? Read reviews, pay attention to your child, take a look at the different Core levels available and do a live chat with a representative.
The best thing about Sonlight is there 1 year guarantee, I have returned 2 of the 3 Core’s we purchased, and held on to one of them (I just couldn’t bear to get rid of it!). I got a full refund nearly a year later so in the end, it wasn’t much of a loss for us! I still have 2 other littles I want to try it with when they get a bit older, and I may try it again with my eldest auditory learner when he is old enough to do all the reading himself (as this would solve the family dynamic issue/time issue).
Check out my live chat today on Periscope, and if you want to chat live with me, download the periscope app (it’s free) on your phone and find me! @hhomeschooling! I chat every day and you can ask your homeschool questions, say hi, etc. It’s SO FUN!