We own ALL 12 of the Cores – 1st through 12th grade! We've used them for all three children and loved every single one.
Our eldest was given an academic scholarship to Taylor University and graduated this past spring in only three years, with a degree in Professional Writing. Our second is a freshman at Purdue University studying Engineering. He, too, received an academic scholarship. Our youngest is a freshman in high school and we're still using (re-using) our Sonlight materials.
It's so fun to hear them reminisce about favorite books from their earlier years. Something will trigger a memory and off they go discussing some character, plot or theme. This inevitably leads to another conversation about another book and another with laughter and arguing about the best part or book. There are just too many to have ONE favorite. They are all fantastic.
Some of my most precious memories are of us all together on the couch listening to the Read-Alouds. I can't tell you how many times I heard, 'Oh, Mom, you can't stop now! Pleeeaase keep reading.' We would've missed out on so many wonderful discussions and teachable moments if our kids had gone away from home for school.
My husband recently asked when we were going to begin downsizing our schooling materials. My eldest overheard and said, "I want all of those books to homeschool my kids some day."
Terre Haute, IN
When we began our homeschooling journey with our son in kindergarten and our daughter in first grade, we determined that Sonlight would be a good fit for our family's needs and preferences. We had no idea just how much impact Sonlight would have. We envisioned they'd receive a sound and thorough education from a Christian worldview that would allow them to think critically and develop their talents to serve Christ faithfully. We feel we are getting that and so much more.
Before we started Sonlight, our views were mostly one-sided with no interest in hearing other viewpoints. Many of the notes and discussion in the study guides forced us to consider opposing viewpoints, as well as possible areas of error in our understanding. Sonlight taught us not to be afraid of discussing multiple sides of an issue, along with developing much more humility in speaking to those with different perspectives.
Sonlight's emphasis on world studies has created in us a love for and an interest in other cultures. We've broken out of fear and have developed relationships with people from multiple ethnicities and belief systems. This more than anything else has affected our family's focus.
Looking back, I'm so thankful for the hours spent reading captivating stories together. We are almost always deeply impacted by the literature choices, and we often compare experiences in our daily lives to those of the characters in the books. Spending so much time together has positively affected our relationships, forcing us to get along with one another and to become great friends. As we continue our high school journey, we're excited to see the kids enthusiastically pursuing learning in their own areas of interest. What a thrill to see them enjoying their education!
Our best tip to families just starting out at what seems a very long road ahead is to remember Galatians 6:9: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
We've used Sonlight going on 15 years now. We live in the country and some of our favorite Sonlight memories involve reading and being outside. I always loved that we were meeting our school requirements by just enjoying ourselves.
I also love Sonlight because the books make homeschooling portable. We had time for trips because we weren't tied down to someone else's schedule. The kids were always thrilled to see and experience a place they'd read about. Sonlight makes holistic learning possible through the environment their great books create. And trips don't cut into planning time for Mom, since the teacher's manual lays everything out.
The memories Sonlight books instill continue to create a family language years after they're read. As we hiked together on a vacation that included the Grand Tetons, we joked that we couldn't have any young lausbubes holding us back. Zach is our very own lausbube [from Banner in the Sky]. This is one of many times our own lives reminded us of a character or situation we met in a Sonlight book.
I've always enjoyed reading out loud, and used to read endlessly to my stuffed animals when I was a child. So reading wonderful books to my children was a dream come true. Sonlight books made history come alive and gave so much joy over the years we've Sonlighted. I'm now reading books with my youngest son and last student, and it's hard knowing this is the last time. Thank you for all the memories you've helped us create!
Sonlight has definitely influenced our family in a positive way! The wonderful stories and rich history have spurred my children's imaginations such that they often incorporated what they've learned into their play. My oldest put together her own Robin Hood costume when she was young and wore it everywhere. My middles have made their own medieval costumes and one daughter even writes her own historical fiction, inspired by all the great books she's read in Sonlight.
The Bible reading has made the greatest impact on our family. My husband and I grew up Christians, but not with the kinds of daily exposure to the Scriptures my children have had. My own faith has grown exponentially just by reading children's devotions and apologetics. I find myself understanding the Word of God in new ways all the time!
My children are definitely closer to us and to each other for having homeschooled than they would have been had they attended public school full-time. They enjoy each other's company and play together well. They share so many wonderful memories of times together throughout our schooling days. At ages 18, 15, 13, 11 and 9, they all possess an intense curiosity for the world around them, a trait that further binds them together.
That said, my oldest opted to go to public school in 6th grade. But even she noticed that she learned for the sake of learning, as opposed to her peers who learned for the test or the grade. While in public school, she'd come home excited to share something interesting she'd learned. She graduated second in her class, earning nearly a full year's worth of scholarships to her college. She has just completed her first semester with straight A's and is planning to teach high school science.
My second dd wants to be a missionary to a country of a billion people. To that end, she'll be studying abroad her senior year. She can't wait to experience daily life in a country where she might one day live. She's also a prolific writer and is self-publishing her novel.
My youngest three children are all still using Sonlight as their older siblings have. They are die-hard bookworms and consumers of great literature and quality classic books.
If I had to pick the Sonlight elements that have most influenced our children's education, these would be (in no particular order):
- Singapore Math, to which we were exposed via SL
- SL Bible books, especially in the younger years
- Quality classic and wholesome children's literature reminiscent of what I read as a child, many of which we wouldn't have found without SL
- A consistently quality curriculum that constantly evolves for the better
Sonlight was the first curriculum I found when we made the decision to homeschool 17 years ago and I immediately fell in love with the great books. Overall, it has not disappointed through the years. Thanks, Sonlight!
We hoped our children would grow up to be confident, kind, intelligent, responsible, hard-working Christian people. We wanted them to be able to face the challenges to their faith without fear.
And I wanted them to love reading as much as I do!
But by the end of our son’s second grade year in public school, our daughter’s first grade year, we could see that they were discouraged and stressed, with no confidence in their academic abilities, let alone any love for learning. We knew homeschooling would be our best option, and when I saw the Sonlight catalog with all those books, I was hooked.
Our children were classmates for six years. Sonlight allowed them to study the same topics, each at their own level. We read a lot of great books. We studied other cultures and explored other people’s beliefs. We enjoyed hands-on math lessons -- little sister eventually caught up to her brother in math -- and science every day, which was unheard of in the test-driven school down the street.
With our 4-day schedule, we had time for her violin lessons and his drums, and took Fridays off to enjoy time together. Their dad has a flex-time schedule that means he’s off every other Friday, too, so we made wonderful family memories.
They went back to public school when our son began ninth grade, and even though I was going through cancer treatments that whole year, they both made straight A’s in advanced classes. No one ever had to ask them if they had their homework done; they were already in the habit. Best of all, when they were in high school together the next year, their friends could not believe they were related because they actually loved each other, and showed it.
They are now both attending the University of Arizona, on academic scholarships, both with STEM majors. Braelyn is living in the dorm and just completed her first semester; Brason is living off-campus as a sophomore. They both are making excellent grades, having just conquered the dreaded Calculus 3, together again in the same math class.
Both have jobs on campus working in science research labs. Even after a tough semester at the university, half of the items on their Christmas wish list this year were books. (Our daughter wanted classics, or anything related to Biology or Chemistry. Our son wanted books about Physics or Astronomy.) They are both active in their campus Christian group, but have friends from many different backgrounds. And the family bonds we forged in homeschooling remain: Braelyn likes to drop by her brother’s house, or bring friends home to relax away from school. Brason volunteers as an assistant Scoutmaster with his dad, and comes home to visit as well. We are all looking forward to a family camping trip before their Christmas break ends.
Thank you, Sonlight, for being a wonderful part of our family experience!
I’m well into my 5th year of homeschooling our three boys. This has been the most challenging and rewarding five years of my life. Our intention was to send our boys to the Lutheran school my husband attended; unfortunately they closed after our oldest son completed preschool there.
We tried the public school and I noticed a big difference in their personality. The worst part was they didn’t want to talk about their day and there were many days when my 5 and 7 year old would come off the bus in tears.
God put in my heart to look into homeschooling.
I searched online for quite a while at curriculum and always ended up on Sonlight's website. I loved the idea I could teach the core subjects together. I also loved that I could read stories to them as well, instead of a lot of book work.
I had no idea how much more I would fall in love with Sonlight as the years went on. There is no doubt homeschooling has its good days and its bad days. I don’t always see what a great thing God is doing, but whenever I get complements about my boys, or that we homeschool, I am so grateful.
I do see three confident and happy boys, who talk to us about everything, have a close relationship with each other, and above all have a heart for God. Sonlight teaches the whole family, and we all are ‘in’ on the conversation.
We try to plan a vacation or day trip every year that goes along with what we learned. This past summer we went to Gettysberg, PA, and they finally got to see where President Lincoln made that speech they had to memorize last year.
My one wish would be that all parents could experience what Sonlight has allowed us to experience. It’s togetherness, learning what it truly means to be a servant of God, and to love learning.
Children are a treasure . . . I feel so blessed that God has allowed me this opportunity with them. Thank you Sonlight, for being such a huge part of raising up children of God!
Being homeschooled my entire academic career helped me establish a firm Christian world view from a young age that stood me in good stead when I began my education at a thoroughly secular university.
Growing up overseas meant that, for the most part, our school books were our only books. Even now, the readers and read-alouds from my younger school years are still my favorite books and seem to me like old friends for how often I've pored over them.
Homeschooling with Sonlight was a joy and I can see now how blessed I was to be raised by parents who felt called to teach us.
Callie is employed as a bilingual customer relations representative. She graduated cum laude as a Rucks Fellow from Louisiana State University with an undergraduate degree in Business Management and a minor in French. She was presented with a cash award upon the termination of her studies as one of the top 10 management scholars of the year.
As the story goes, I never would have thought I would have ‘home schooled’ my children the Sonlight way.
When my oldest was only 4, I had a friend recommend Sonlight with my response being “Oh, I don’t know about THAT.”
I got the catalog and answered most of the 27 reasons NOT to use Sonlight. Didn’t think about it for a while. As I researched homeschooling and dug deep into what it really meant for me and my children’s future, my perspective shifted — not only to include amazing literature but a hunger for more of the story of people’s lives — the you’s and me’s of the world.
A year after that first encounter my sister-in-law began using Sonlight and recommended it. An emphatic NO was my shield of defense.
I probably gave her the shock of her life when I called her two years later to tell her we were 12 weeks into our first core.
Oh, the journey! I love being taught this way! I mean, I love teaching my children through literature—living books.
Even after reading some of the books for the 3rd time, I still cry, they still possess the same power of gripping me to enter into the adventure. For that is what life is with Sonlight: Seeing the story, being IN the story, traveling thru time with the characters themselves. This is more than cultural literacy, but a true appreciation for life, daring to be bold, to live on the cusp, to create a world of truth, ideals, morality, love, belief and dreams.
What I see it has done for my children entails ABILITY…to know a good story, think critically, and identify people for who they are; AWARENESS…of culture, time periods, thoughts, vocations, vocabulary, geography; LOVE…for others and their struggles, differences, challenges and what or who empowers them; APPRECIATION…for reading, because through reading we have created memories, ideas, dreams, togetherness.
I had such grandiose ideas of what school should look like, but after 9 years of SONLIGHT, the bigger picture of life filled ‘it’ in. We all started thinking out of the box.
I do love that ‘it’ comes in a box with a schedule and suggestions — a plan. But, so much life happened while ‘schooling’ my children. My plan in the midst of more babies, major moves, sickness, and loss of life, morphed into thinking about “what fires am I lighting in my children’s hearts? What seeds have I planted? Are they discovering who they are and how to fit that into their world?”
Reading stories has certainly encouraged us as parents how to teach our children to be more prepared for life, not just a job. My kids haven’t known any other way. “READ MORE” became quite a popular phrase. Comments from family members changed from ‘what do you think you are doing?’ to ‘keep doing what you are doing’. The prize jewel recently came from my oldest son who is now attending a school to earn high school and college credits. “Mom, these teachers teach, but they don’t care about my heart.” WOW.
He pulls Moccasin Trail out of the box to reread every year.
When my first son, Silas, was small, we were living as missionaries in another country. My teammate was teaching her kids through Sonlight, and everything she told me about it really appealed to me, so we started with the preschool core in 2001.
We loved the time spent reading together, and I was sold.
A couple of years later, I added Victoria, and it was a hit with her, too. I wanted to put both of them on the same core, so I stretched out Silas' Core B over two years (adding some other materials and studying more in-depth), and then the next year we did Core C together.
This worked well for us. We have really enjoyed reading, discussing and learning together (and yes, I have learned a heap through teaching my kids with Sonlight!)
Our next daughter was three years younger, so I decided to keep her on her own core (although I know people who have successfully taught a wide age-span with one core). She also thrived, and loved Sonlight. I have known others who use different programs, and I respect their choices. Some programs may be less time-intensive for the parents, but they don't appeal to me.
The time we've spent together has been very precious, in bringing us close, and giving us the opportunity to talk through issues.
Since I'm reading along with them, and also learning as I go, we can discuss different ideas and viewpoints, and I'm not just telling them the facts. Also, the non-textbook approach helps history and science to come alive more, and helps us to look at things from various perspectives. For example, we read about King George's perspective on the American Revolution, and the Native Americans' various perspectives on the settlement of North America.
Some programs have strict schedules, and require homework and exams be mailed in. I can understand the value of this for some people, but I like the flexibility that Sonlight gives me. It seems to me that parents using this approach spend nearly as much time on school as I do, but instead of interacting with their kids, they are organizing and grading work, and mailing things in.
Plus, with Sonlight, I get to keep all of my materials! Our kids have read and re-read most of the books on their own, and I can use them again for the next child.
Some people like to pick and choose their curriculum from various companies. I respect their ability to do that, but for me, it was great to have everything I needed from one company, especially since we live overseas.
I trust Sonlight's literature choices, and you offer options for math, handwriting, etc. that give me enough flexibility with different kids' needs. There are other companies that offer great literature, but I've never seen one with a complete schedule like Sonlight's. I'm not a trained teacher, not a very creative or very disciplined or organized person; I need the schedule so I know what to do, but I don't feel like a slave to it - it's just a guide, and I'm in control.
There have even been times when my husband took over school while I was sick or away, and the schedule made it possible for him to do this. He has a different teaching style - he's stricter and more "by the book", so it was good that our kids were able to have some of his influence in their schooling.
Our fourth child came along after another three years. He also loves being read to, but when it came time to do other work, he was resistant and difficult. I started to feel really overwhelmed and worn out with home school, mainly because of discipline issues with him. We were in the U.S. during his kindergarten year, so halfway through, I enrolled him in public school. This turned out to work very well for him and for all of us.
Although I regretted that he would not get the same benefits of home school that the others have had, I know that each child and each situation is different, so I didn't regret the decision overall.
After that, our lives changed drastically because we moved to another country. My husband and I were in language school so we had to put all of our kids into the adjoining school. They integrated very well, and were all at or above grade level in their work. They then spent a year in a local private school. This was a big challenge, taking classes in a foreign language, but they have done well. They did complain about how boring it was - the system here is based on copying from the board and memorizing facts.
After experiencing Sonlight, this was quite boring indeed!
People have commented to me about their character and their maturity level. They interact with adults better than non-home schooled kids, and also have no trouble making friends among their peers. I know this is not because we were extraordinary parents, but in part because we have been blessed with the opportunity to home school them.
We are now getting ready for a new school year (we're on a different calendar here). My oldest, who is going into 11th grade, and my third child, who is going into 5th, have asked if we can home school again, so we've got our Sonlight materials ready.
Victoria, who is in 9th, likes being in the classroom with peers, so she and Simeon, the youngest, will continue on in local schools. I will miss the home school interaction with the two of them - it's so much harder to read together and have quality time when they are bound by school schedules and homework. But I feel that we're on the right track with each of them, and I look forward to getting back into the books with my other two!
I can honestly say that Sonlight has been a huge blessing to us. I can't imagine how different our home school experience would have been without it. And in addition to the books themselves, I've never dealt with a company that was more helpful and friendly! Many thanks, Sonlight, for giving us this rich experience.
Honestly, I don't think I would be nearly as successful if I hadn't been home-schooled through Sonlight.
It provided me with materials I could use to teach myself, which has proven invaluable both in college and in research. Furthermore, this ability to teach myself developed into an ability to think very independently, and uniquely; something that research demands, and that I can thank Sonlight for.
Caleb is finishing his senior year of college with a 4.0 GPA and plans on going to graduate school for research in computer security. He’s had several opportunities to get involved in research and enjoys the process. He worked with Dr. Charlie Kemp at Georgia Tech on a project to program a Willow Garage PR2 so that it can safely feed a quadriplegic man, who would be unable to protect himself if something were to go wrong. He is currently working on a project with Dr. Richard Brooks at Clemson University involving internet freedom in West Africa.
Sonlight instilled in me a love of learning that has made all my following academic studies both easier and more enjoyable.
My broad and in-depth education meant I was better prepared for college than most of my peers and enjoyed my work more.
I also believe Sonlight is part of the reason I can understand and get along with people from a variety of cultures. Their curriculum instilled in me a desire to explore new things and not be afraid of difference – key qualities in making friends with people from other backgrounds.
Finally, Sonlight's rigorous content with a spiritual emphasis has meant that I never thought I had to choose between faith and good scholarship.
Grand Rapids, MI
Maria is finishing her senior year at Calvin College. She is a tutor in Spanish and in Academic Services, mentors for a freshmen scholarship program, and is researching her thesis in preparation to graduate with honors in linguistics. She is applying for a Fulbright scholarship and plans to eventually pursue graduate school in linguistics.
Oliver graduated with a degree in Biology from LSU (4.0 GPA,) as a University Medalist, Summa Cum Laude.
He also graduated from LSU's Honors College, having successfully defended an undergraduate thesis entitled “A Study of Biliverdin, Serum Albumin, and Hemoglobin in the Scincid Lizard Prasinohaema.” The thesis was a result of much research and experimentation.
He continued piano studies, worked in a lab, played numerous intramural sports and was on the leadership team of Reformed University Fellowship where he led Bible studies and planned activities.
He was able to do mission work with orphans both in the U.S. and abroad. After graduation he spent the summer as an intern with Mission to the World in Kilkenny, Ireland, doing evangelism, community service and sports programs.
Baton Rouge, LA
Oliver is thoroughly enjoying his classes as a first year student at LSU's School of Medicine in New Orleans.
The only shouting matches that ever happen in our family are about WHO gets to take WHICH Sonlight books with them when the kids are grown.
"I get The Gammage Cup!" "I get The Sherwood Ring!" "No fair!"
With 13 full Cores in the house, plus lots of upgrades from over the years, there are LOTS of favorites.
These friendly shouting matches can go on and on as our five kids affectionately remember all of the awesome books they've read.
Thank you, Sonlight, for bringing us the best of the best!
We were serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Republic of Congo as Kindergarten crept up on us. We'd been praying for a schooling option ... and nothing had come up with one month left to get some materials together.
I was in shock, still unable to believe that God had not provided a way for my daughter to go to school. We knew we wouldn't go back to the States, the only English-speaking school was astronomically expensive and even if it weren't it wouldn't have been a good option.
The French school was not an option as our daughter was a late speaker and still didn't know very much French.
The local schools had 60 kids in a classroom and often the teachers did not show up because they weren't paid very often, so the teachers had second jobs elsewhere. It was all such a mess!
So we begged and borrowed books and pieced Kindergarten together - it went alright, but it felt like we were trying our best to imitate a public school, with 1 student. It made things feel lonely for both of us.
As we finished Kindergarten I was praying for something better. At that time God recalled to my memory someone telling us about Sonlight. It had been a couple of years back, but the name came as clearly as if it had been yesterday. I Googled it and took a look at your website and fell in love.
Everything that I read just fit our family like a glove.
I was so excited that Sonlight had a way to ship to Congo, amazing really! It felt like someone knew we were there and cared about our family.
It was so exciting when the box cleared customs and we got a look at all of those wonderful books! I cannot tell you the difference Sonlight made in our lives! I felt some relief from all of the planning, and the books were *so* good! Not just to my daughter, but to me too.
Sonlight's emphasis on the world, rather than American history, made us feel included even over in Africa. The countries that were important to us were right there in the curriculum. I was able to work on my Geography right along with my daughter.
Sonlight made homeschooling make sense for me. We were no longer imitating public school, but instead we were doing school in a whole different way, and one that fit our family and lifestyle.
We are back in the States on furlough and our daughter chose home school when given all of her schooling options. At this point, I look back and have come to believe that home schooling is a calling. It's not just something to do for lack of a better option. It is the best option for our family. Both my daughter and I love to home school and never even think about any other curriculum - for us Sonlight is the one./p>
We had no idea … but God did!
When we began our homeschooling journey in 2003 we were excited to enter this unknown world that God had clearly directed us to delve into. As a mom of a five and a three year old, I quickly began to cherish the time learning with my children and also realized that God was using homeschooling to refine my heart and to depend on Him at an even deeper level.
In 2007, God called our family to something the world would call “radical obedience.”
My husband resigned from a 17-year business career and we became support-based missionaries, traveling around North America, literally living in an RV on church parking lots, and coming alongside churches helping people understand what it truly means to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ.
This huge life change for our family happened over the course of just a couple months, so having been homeschooling already for four years made the transition to homeschooling “on the road” that much easier.
For the next six years, we travelled from coast-to-coast, saw God’s amazing creation and flourished as a Sonlight homeschooling, missionary family who was crying out to God for revival in this land.
The blessing of ministering and learning together as a family has been immeasurable! (God even orchestrated our schedule to be in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for two weeks at the exact time we were studying the Civil War!)
The joy of learning has come alive in us all and the relationships within our family have been strengthened in a marked way because of God directing us to homeschool with Sonlight.
Back when we started, we had no idea the figurative and literal journey God would take us on … but God did!
Our current season of life includes two parents with life-threatening illnesses.
Because of that, we are now back home serving with the same ministry, but in a different capacity. Homeschooling is helping us to walk this journey of cancer and Alzheimer’s with our parents with the flexibility, wisdom and grace that God has been building in us all these years.
Our children are now seventeen and fourteen. We see the homeschooling finish line in the distance. It continues to be a journey that brings joy and God’s refinement into our lives on a daily basis.
Our son just began an internship with the worship pastor at our church. Christian shared with me this week that he sees how God has protected his schedule (through homeschooling) to allow for this internship. And I see how God has used homeschooling to prepare his heart and mind for this internship as well.
Sonlight has been an integral part of our family for twelve years now. We so appreciate the way God’s world and Word are unashamedly proclaimed throughout the curriculum and the Sonlight company. God has used Sonlight as a tool to shape the hearts and minds of our son and daughter, and truthfully ours as well.
I decided to homeschool my first daughter when she was 4. Others were sending their 2-4 year olds off to preschool and I was sitting on my couch reading books with my daughter, something I had done since she was a newborn.
It was a natural shift to begin more intentional reading when we bought our first Sonlight core when she began Kindergarten.
My husband and I agreed with his ministry schedule that it would allow for the optimal time with him and together on his Mondays off.
Now, with four children aged 10-18 mos, we continue to homeschool using Sonlight cores.
In my lowest moments, my husband tells me to keep going, and the Sonlight podcasts and webinars have given practical help to make it happen. I feel privileged to be able to homeschool with Sonlight. My kids have friends, but they are closest to their siblings. I get to see what they learn and have a part of each of their days.
My husband continues to pastor, and his Mondays off remain everybody's favorite day. While we make more efforts to teach them structure or time commitments that they would learn at public school, we have the freedom to identify those needs and work on them. We have freedom to minister in our home, and let the kids sleep in the next day as needed.
Each year as I pray about schooling, it is my husband who quickly says, let's get the next Sonlight core!
Our family is loving it!