Archive for July 22nd, 2011

July 22, 2011

Finding the Right Tool for the Job

by Belinda Letchford


A few months ago I decided to go with Sonlight for my son, Daniel.  I’m quite excited about this.  I have been aware of Sonlight for many years – in fact my sister in law was using it and recommended it when we first started homeschooling.  I have looked at it many times and just couldn’t get my head around how it worked.  I did use it as a guide for a book list though and we have many of their titles in our library.  When I was thinking over where to go next with Daniel, Sonlight came across my path again and I checked it out again.  And this time it all made sense!  I don’t know why I was confused for so many years, and not now… all I can think of is that it is God’s timing.

A friend asked me – why have I gone to Sonlight – why this change fromwhat I’ve done with the others.  Simpey answer – the way I did it with the others wasn’t working for Daniel!  If we are to truly give our children an individualised education, fitted to their uniqueness, we must allow ourselves to do things differently as the years go by.  Daniel is in a different place than the other children were at 12years old, I am in a different place and our family is in a different place.

The things that attracted me to Sonlight:

  1.  It was story based – I have had a hard time giving up Five in a Row – this resource has shaped our family, how I teach, how my children learn.  We love it.  But the picture books no longer held Daniels attention – not for 5 days anyway.  Daniel is so excited to have me read him stories.
  2. It works with the ideas of narration and notebook pages
  3. It could be tweaked – we are only doing about half of the programme and yet I still feel I’m getting my money’s worth.
  4. It had a teachers guide that mapped out bite size progression through material – though the guide is written in days/weeks I am secure enough in my family’s needs to tweak this.   This might put pressure on some families but I am seeing this simply as a progression not a weekly plan.  Having this mapped out I hope to bring some accountability (as read to Daniel when I don’t feel like it) rather than pressure to keep up.
  5. It had read alouds assigned that I hope will give me accountability to read aloud to the family.  Reading aloud to the family is something we have been spasmodic at and something I want to improve.  Hoping that this guide will help me develop the habit.
  6. I chose Eastern Hemisphere because it is a fresh subject, something that I haven’t touched on with the other kids.   I think this will help me be enthused as much as it will be interesting for Daniel.

For the first time in our homeschooling journey our children all have their own directions.  Josh is involved with university studies, Jess has her own reading list for history and science, Nomi is randomly choosing people or eras to study, one unit at a time, and then there is Daniel who still needs direction and involvement from me.  We still have a few things that we come together to study:  Family Devotions, Character, Thinking Movie (on Sunday night), and family read alouds.  Jess, Nomi and Daniel study science together once a week.  Nomi and Jess do Keepers together.  Nomi and Daniel do Living Math together.

The thing that is important for our family is that we build relationship with God, and each other, that we are available to God and others  – and that we have the skills necessary to meet needs around us.  The tools we use, such as Sonlight, isn’t the main thing – it is simply that, a tool.  Our tools need to work and be effective. Is it time for you reflect on the tools you are using?

  1.  Is it the right tool for the job?
  2. Does it need some sharpening, some attention?
  3. Does it need to be replaced?

Read more on my website:  Choosing Curriculum 



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