Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Handling All the Sonlight Reading

There is a ton of reading in Sonlight. That was what attracted me to Sonlight in the first place, because my kids love books and so do I. We are regulars at the library. We bring a book everywhere we go. The kids participate in book clubs. I find my five year old literally sleeping on a stack of books when I go in to turn down her light. We really, really love books.

Getting our boxes of school books is one of the most exciting parts of our homeschool. I look forward to it  even more than the kids, I think! At least until it comes time to find that elusive shelf space to house all those books.  With Sonlight, you go through a ton of really good books every year. We have found many new favorites among those books, books I probably never would have heard of otherwise. But sometimes the reading does feel like a bit much, especially when there are other subjects to fit in and multiple Cores to be taught! I am slowly coming up with ways to handle reading through three Cores. This year we are learning with Cores P 4/5, C, and F.

The single most helpful way I have found to handle all the Sonlight reading is to keep the kids on the older side of the recommended age range for the Core whenever possible. This way, the child can often read much of the Core independently. This year, my kindergartner is doing P 4/5. She isn't reading yet, so I am reading this whole Core to her, but it is very light, reading-wise. My 3rd grader is reading most of Core C independently, except for the read-aloud and A Child's History of the World. Many of the books in his Core are heavily illustrated books that are really better read independently. He likes to take his time and study all the pictures. My 5th and 7th graders are doing Core F this year. My 5th grader is on the lower end of the age range for this Core, and I definitely notice a difference. If I had had unlimited funds and time, I would have had him do Core E instead, but I really needed to combine two kids and F seemed the way to go. He can still handle most of the reading, but I do need to help him more with some things, while my 7th grader does it mostly independently.

 The other thing I have found very helpful is giving up the idea that we will finish a Sonlight day as scheduled.  We will often take a day and a half or two days to finish one Sonlight day as written. I don't skip very much, perhaps that is my Yankee frugality kicking in. I want to make sure I get my money's worth, even if it means the Core takes longer than a year to finish. We have set school hours from about 8:30-12:30, with a shorter day on Friday. We get done what we can and pick up right where we left off the next day.

Another thing I am continuing to do this year is to create a weekly checklist for each child. It does take extra time to do this each week, but it is easier for them to follow their own list than it is for them to figure out the assignments from the Instructor Guide pages in my working binder. It also lessens the amount of nagging I need to do. I can just say, "Are you working on your list?" instead of constantly giving out specific assignments.  Obviously, I am still helping them throughout the morning, reading some things aloud, going over discussion questions, grammar lessons, etc., but having their own list means that when I am busy with someone else they (at least theoretically!) know what they should be doing.

A final thing is that some of the read-aloud sessions do get long. I will admit to having some not-so-terribly fond memories of reading Johnny Tremain for what felt like hours to fidgety kids. Now anyone who has a hard time sitting still does something else while I read. Building with blocks or Legos, coloring, or even just holding the cat on their lap helps them focus a bit more. As long as they can narrate some of the chapter when we are done, I am satisfied that they were listening.

Till next time!


  1. I just found this post while searching for some Sonlight info! Next year will likely be our first doing 2 cores, D & F, so both have a ton of reading! I like the idea of doing a work list for each child, that will help with some of the independent work!

  2. I am still using the independent work lists three years later, except for my oldest who is mostly working on her own at this point. Still working well!

  3. Thanks for this post! I just came across it from a search in TWTM forums, for bookshark and multiple. We have been using Sonlight in the past and are now switching to BookShark, but I am also brining my daughter out from being with her brother. We were in B+C together, we will finish it out together but start this summer with one in D who is not fully reading yet, and I wll be reading even his readers to him, and my daughter in F, or really 5 as BkSk calls it. I think I am going to put all the reading assignments into homeschool tracker to make it easier, and we will just take it a day at a time. Honestly... when i calculate up all the subjects, science, writing, grammar, math, geography/memory work... it feels like we, or at least I will be schooling for 8 hours a day! But maybe this is fine if we are all having fun still... is it just me or does it feel like those who school with literature packages such as these have much longer school days? Is that too much?

  4. I think you are right - I have felt sometimes that just handing the kids one book and a bunch of workbooks would make the day go smoother and quicker than reading all the different books we do. But, we are book people, and the books are my favorite part of the day. My kids are a bit older now than in this post, and this year we started doing things slightly differently because the reading did feel a bit much. However, we went many years with doing three Cores and I really did enjoy it. I think the tipping point came with high school science, my youngest getting older and needing more help, and doing longer lit discussions with my highschooler. My homeschooling day right now is about 7 hours; the kids vary from about 3-6 hours depending on age. It would probably go longer, but we have to head out to sports, so if it doesn't get done it gets pushed to the next day.

    1. Also, if it feels like the reading is taking too long, what works for me is to set aside an amount of time to read, rather than trying to check all those boxes. So, I might read to Rose for 30-45 minutes. Sometimes that lets us read a little extra, sometimes we have to put something off till the next day. It helps to skip a couple of books during the year to give yourself some extra space.


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