Note: Our family is no longer using Sonlight, but I am keeping these posts available for those who are interested. For more information on why we have changed course, READ HERE.
Part 4 – Every Curriculum Has It’s Cons
Originally, I had entitled this post, “Not a No-Brainer” because frankly, that sums up the majority of my “concerns” surrounding Sonlight. However, that title could be a bit misleading as Sonlight doesn’t require extensive hours of preparation. What it does require is a homeschooling parent willing to think.
Several years ago, I was not willing to think. I hoped someday I’d find a curriculum that did all the thinking for me. Told me what to think would be more like it. Year after year I searched for the perfect curriculum that either believed precisely what I believed or told me what to believe when I wasn’t sure of a subject. Imagine my dismay at NEVER finding such an animal.
I know it seems like I bring nearly everything back to this, but losing a child changes everything…even homeschooling. I realized I could no longer take other people’s opinions/theology/identities and make them my own without doing my own homework first. I used to listen to one homeschool speaker and Amen him all the way to the next homeschool speaker where I would find myself Amen-ing that speaker even when his or her theology or ideas were in direct contradiction to the previous speaker! I was wishy-washy (and I still am at times because God isn’t finished with me yet!), but being forced, by the death of a child, to face what I believed head on, I came to the understanding that I could not check my brains at the door and ask a curriculum to do the hard work for me.
Do I agree with everything I encounter in Sonlight? No.
(Sonlight handles some tough topics. I would love it if Sonlight would include Scripture references in their discussions because the difficult subjects brought up in their books require further discussion, and I am not always able to find the Scripture references I need to fully discuss the subject matter. I don’t need Sonlight to tell me what to think, but I could use the time saver of having the references readily available.)
Do I keep a running commentary with my children on every single book they read? Yes.
(Until they can see false doctrine and systems for themselves, I have to “Salt” them myself.)
Do I read the materials and give my own opinions, encouraging them all the while to formulate their own opinions? Yes.
(Steep them in the Word, folks!)
Are there little things I wish Sonlight would do that would make my life a whole lot easier? Yes.
(the Instructor’s Guide tells you when there is map work to be done, but not when there is timeline work, and tabs on each section of discussion questions would be rather handy–I’ll be adding these myself, by the way. And once again, great discussion questions, but I would love for Scripture references to be given. All of these are little things that would save me time and energy.)
Is it ridiculous to think I should only use a curriculum that is “perfect” and one that I 100% agree with? Yes!
(I don’t even expect that from my closest friends!)
It is also ridiculous to think I should use a curriculum that does all the thinking for me. I might as well send the children to public school if I’m looking for that. I don’t care what curriculum you use (or even if you’re children ARE in public school!), you CANNOT detach yourself from what is being taught and allow the curriculum to have the final say.
Sonlight forces me to have deep theological (even in the 3rd grade!) conversations with my children. It forces me to talk WITH them and not AT them. It teaches me that there are many sides to an issue and we cannot ignore those sides just because we would rather they didn’t exist.
I have learned a ton in six weeks. I have grown in my homeschooling in six weeks. I am excited to see what the next six weeks and the next six weeks after that bring.
So, now it’s your turn…
Got more questions about our experiences with Sonlight? Want to share your own experiences–good and bad? Head over to my Blog Frog Discussion. Like I said in Part 1, I’m not an expert, but I am a real homeschooling mom who cherishes honesty and openness. If I don’t know the answers, I’ll try to send you to someone who does.