Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sonlight Questions Answered

I can't remember the exact questions that readers have asked me about Sonlight, so if I don't include the information that you are wanting, please leave me a comment.  Some of these questions have been asked by people in person or email, and some of them have been asked by blog readers.

1.  Were you happy with how you organized your Sonlight binders last year?  You can click here to read how I did this.  Yes and No.

For next year, I am still using the big blue Sonlight binders with tabs.  I am still placing each week's Instructor Guide pages and the Language Arts IG and student pages behind the appropriate tab.  But, I am NOT placing the notes from the Readers, Read Alouds, and History/Geography sections behind each week's tab.  I know that if you don't use Sonlight, you have no idea what I am talking about!  I did not like moving those pages from week to week, and I don't think that I used the questions and vocabulary discussions as much as I would have if I had kept them all in one place.  The Sonlight binders have tabs numbered 1-36 for you to place each week's IG pages behind.  Then they also have tabs labeled Readers, Read Alouds, and History/ Geography.  I am going to keep all of the notes for these sections behind their tab.  The book notes are printed in alphabetical order by title rather than chronologically (in order that you read them), so I will just flip to our current book.

I am going to change my "working binder" a little bit too.  Last year (well, this year that we are still finishing!) I was using only two Instructor Guides, so I pulled out 3-4 weeks of each IG and placed them in one "working Sonlight binder".  I left the huge blue binders on a shelf in the schoolroom.  By the end of the year, I have found that as I finish a week of Sonlight, I like to put it back into the blue binder.  So, when we begin our new (4 cores!) school year, I am going to use a separate binder for each core.  In each binder I will keep the current week's IG pages plus ALL of the tabs for Readers, Read Alouds, and History/Geography.  As I finish a week of Sonlight, I will trade those IG pages for the next week's ones.

2.  How do you organize all of those Sonlight books?
In my previous post I shared how I have sorted, labeled, and stored all of our Sonlight books in my den.  For the upcoming school year, I will be doing 3 cores that will require my participation.  Olivia will be doing core 100, and the upper level cores do not require the parent to read aloud.  

I have three small baskets that I keep on a sofa table.  Each basket will be for a separate core (for us, Core pre4/5, Core B, and Core D/E).  Each basket will store its core's binder, timeline figures, timeline book, and the Sonlight books needed for that week's reading assignments.  We do most of our reading in the den where all of the books and baskets are stored, but sometimes we read outside or in another room, so having all that I need in a small basket allows us to move around easily.

3.  How do you do more than one Sonlight Core, and why do use more than one Sonlight Core at one time?

I use more than one core because I just couldn't figure out a long term plan that would allow each of my children to do all of the cores that I wanted them to in the order that I wanted.  Plus, I really don't mind reading all of those books all day!  I love to read to my children!

So, how do I actually use more than one core at one time?  Well, I literally read out loud at least 3 hours a day.  The planning for Sonlight is really nothing.  You just open the IG and do what it says.  There is time spent up front--gathering, unpacking, sorting, labeling, storing--the books and the IGs, but after you do that, there really isn't much else to do.  Well, actually there is one more big thing to do--I pre-read (skim mostly) all of the readers for my older children.  I do that for two reasons:  1.  So I will know if a certain child actually reads the book (I can discuss the book with this child if I have read it too).  2.  Some of the books I omit after reading them, for a variety of reasons.

A typical school day using multiple cores of Sonlight looks like this.
1.  Bible lesson with all 5 children.
2.  Core reading to one child, other children do independent work.
3.  Switch to core reading to another child.
4.  Switch to core reading to another child.
5.  While I am reading to one child, at first the others do their independent work.  If they have done all they can alone, then they usually come in the den to hear the books.  
6.  Sometimes most of all of the children want to hear books not in their core instead of doing their independent work.  I normally allow this, and then they get back to their independent work later.
7.  After I have done all of my reading, I start with one child and just work my way through them one by one helping them with the rest of their schoolwork.
8.  Yes, school takes us until around 3:00 or even later most days, but that's ok.  My children LOVE the Sonlight books, and I treasure all of the hours I am spending on my couch surrounded by my children listening to me read.

If I left anything out, please let me know!
I'll post pictures later--my camera battery is dead.


  1. This is a timely post for me! I just received our Sonlight books on Thursday and have had a great time looking through them (LG has already read a few). I am anticipating a great 1st grade year!

  2. Yes, moving around the notes on the read-alouds and readers was a big pain and I'm not doing it next year either.

    We'll be doing two cores next year and I'm really excited about it. I plan on working with Measle first while my two older kids work independently and then working with them while Measle does her reading. We'll all do science together next year (new for us) in addition to doing Bible and our Operation World prayer/geography time together.

    Measle is so excited to have her own core next year that she's already begging to read the books. I'm having to beat her off with a stick!


  3. I'll be using Sonlight for the first time this coming year (our 5th of homeschooling). I will be doing Core A (well, some of it--I'm just getting a used IG and getting what books I can from the library, used book store, etc.) and Core D+E. May I ask what books you leave out?