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 3 – Making the Curriculum Work for You (and not the other way around)
If you have more than one child and you’ve homeschooled for more than a couple of years, you’ve more than likely heard the term “multi-level teaching”…and it struck fear in your little bitty homeschooling mama’s heart.
I always knew there would come a day when my oldest was not the only child I was teaching. I clearly remember the panic I felt when I added Child #2. However, she was such an enigma (and continues to be…remember the sponge analogy from this post?) and homeschooling her has just now, at age 9, taken on something resembling “normal” schooling. (why is it I cringe when I type the word normal?)
This year saw the addition of Child #3. However, her schooling was more about giving her a love for learning than it was about formal schooling. With this in mind, I knew our Sonlight purchase would be for my older children. That was where I needed to put my energy when choosing a Core.
I explained why we chose Core 3+4, but I did not explain how we’ve made one Core work for 2 very different children.
Core 3+4 is right at Meg’s level as a 3rd grader. She is a voracious reader, but easily overwhelmed by extra busy work. She prefers to do her work orally when possible, and despises competition.
Blake is a 6th grader, so Core 3+4 is technically “beneath” him. He is also a voracious reader and loves a good discussion. He works well independently AND corporately. He’s an easy-keeper when it comes to academics, but is easily bored if there’s not enough substance to what he’s doing.
I stressed over choosing a Core that was “beneath” my oldest son, yet the books included were good books I wanted him to read. Come to find out my stressing was all for naught. The history lessons have been relevant and solid and I’ve easily been able to supplement both the kiddos reading lessons with extra books I gathered from lists found in a wonderful book entitled All Through The Ages. (Please go check out this book!)
I’ve also learned I don’t HAVE to do all the things suggested in the Instructor’s Guide, especially on the days when Megan feels overwhelmed. I do all the questions from the history and reading selections orally in more of a discussion-like atmosphere so no one feels bogged down by more writing assignments. And I use the chapter assignments listed in the IG as guidelines rather than set-in-stone requirements. Some days we read more…some days less.
There is very little extra fuss to Sonlight. No extra projects cluttering my lesson plans, no extensive books lists making me think I HAVE to force my children to read every single book or they will somehow have missed out. All of it is there, in an easy-to-read format with extra space for me to write in MY projects or extra book suggestions.
Honestly, much of my ability to make Sonlight work for me rather than the other way around has to do with maturity as a homeschool mom. There truly are no perfect curricula out there (my next and last post will deal with some of the cons I see in Sonlight and my thoughts on those), but when you gain a certain level of maturity as a homeschooler (which has nothing to do with age and everything to do with finding your niche), you realize just about any curriculum will work IF it is designed with your particular personality in mind. When mama finds a good fit, she can make it fit the entire family. But you HAVE TO give yourself permission to be the master of the curriculum and not the other way around!