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Monday, May 4, 2009

Packages, Programs, and Products

Sonlight's homeschool experience is based on Core programs. These packages include History, Geography, and Literature (as well as Bible in the upper grades). To this you can add other subject options that fit your family: Math, Spelling...

Here's what I learned today: Sometimes customers swing by our site and want to purchase just our History... and they are so excited that they buy it without even reading the description of the package which alerts them to the fact that it's just a package of books and you need the Instructor's Guide for it to be a complete history program... and if you're going to shell out the money for that, a Core would be a great option for you!

They totally don't see any of that.

The same is true for our Literature packages as well.

So, lesson learned. Now we're working on making that clearer. And, honestly, I was super confused for a couple hours while I tried to sort all of this out. Thankfully, I work with great people who very patiently talked me through the steps and everything that goes into this. And, hopefully, I'll be able to do the same for you now too <smile>.

But it's going to take a little time. There's so much to be done.

And if you come across anything that is confusing to you, please let us know. I can't fix everything instantly--wish I could--but I'm always looking for ways to make it even easier to use Sonlight and our site. Thanks!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

8 comments:

Becky said...

Oh, good. This is happy news. I do remember having to figure bits of that out for myself.

Now, all I need is a step-by-step purchase guide to schooling a kindergartener and second grader simultaneously. I want someone to say, "Buy this, and this." Does Sonlight do that? (I'm guessing no because most moms want to tailor programs themselves. I just want to be told what to do. Odd, I know.)

Mrs. C said...

Becky, email a curriculum advisor on the sonlight site. I don't use Sonlight cores, but have purchased through them before and found them *super* helpful. They will literally tell you what is in each package down to the pencil if you like.

And there's a "Sonia" feature on there, too, but I've never used it.

Luke, you really should get a group of new homeschoolers a special deal if they fill out a very detailed survey and sent it back. See what was confusing or easy about the process of ordering.

One thing I appreciate about the blog (that unfortunately most prospective purchasers are not seeing) is that you are very clear that this is a PACKAGE. Actually I think it's kind of unfair to browse a catalog like yours and buy ALL the materials from somewhere else/ borrow them from the library yourself and go from there.

Really it's like stealing, because the people at Sonlight have taken other things and put them together after much research. Other providers, I think, don't probably suffer as much from this as they publish all their own stuff. I think if people go and buy used could you at least buy the worksheets new or a supplemental curriculum to go with..?

Though I wouldn't feel the same way about a used curriculum. Which maybe that's strange, but it wouldn't feel like stealing from Sonlight any more than buying a used car is stealing from GM.

Your thoughts? I'd be interested to know and ready to change my opinion... Just thinking aloud here...

Mrs. C said...

Arg. To clarify, I meant that in buying a used curriculum, you'd still need to buy "parts" like worksheets n stuff. :]

Ken said...

After six years of buying Core programs (seven Core programs total), this brought back memories of what a monster relief it was to have something to help us get started with a day to day plan. We had homeschooled one year previously without a formal plan and were a little bit fearful about starting back into homeschooling specifically because of the amount of work required to assure we covered all the material. We know many people who came around to use Sonlight after a year or two of being beat-up by trying to "do it from scratch" after reading the Well Trained Mind. Virtually every one of them felt like they had just quit hammering themselves in the foot after they got their instructor guide.

The materials are good, but the glue that held it all together for us was the plan. As we got more experienced, we did not always use the plan exactly, but I think that is kind of the point. It has a huge help to have a base from which to work. We always read ALL the books (some several times) and we generally followed the plan.

When we advise new homeschoolers and burnt out homeschoolers, we tell them that if they use the program, they can focus more on teaching and less on planning. It really is difficult to explain how huge that is. Starting from scratch is just overwhelming. We have tried to explain why the instructors guides are huge, but have not always been able to get that across until after people have tried it on there own awhile. I very much believe you are focusing on the right thing here. We still advise new homeschoolers from time to time and try to get exactly this point across to them. If you finds something to make us more successful at that, please let us know.

Amy Bayliss said...

I have no suggestions. I think the changes are excellent. You and Sonlight have done an amazing job. The site is so much better than it was even a year ago when I ordered. It is no longer too overwhelming. One thing I know for certain though is that most people tend to not read what is right in front of them. We even get replies to emails asking a question that the original email, the one they replied to, answered! There are some cool video features and stuff now that can be used so maybe that would help? I know you know how to do all of that cool video stuff. :) Just a thought.

Luke said...

Becky, because every family is different, we don't have a step-by-step guide online. However, do we have Advisors who, as Mrs. C pointed out, can do that for you. It's not odd at all. I always want people to walk me through things, and I love being able to ask questions and get clarification. <smile>

Mrs. C, you're the best! <smile>

We do have lots of ways for customers to send us feedback, and we're working on some more. That's a good idea, and I'll think about it <smile>.

Just as a note: Our Sonlight Consultants at conventions often have people ask them for a book list or talk with them about what package they should buy and then say--to their face--that they are going elsewhere to purchase the books. I don't think that's cool either. They are free to do that, but I don't think it's very nice and it is "like stealing" because it is using intellectual property we work hard to make available and try to sell and using that information to buy things elsewhere. It's legal, but not nice.

Used curriculum is different because someone already paid for it and are just passing it on to someone else. No problems with that at all--except, you won't have all those great books anymore <smile>.

Ken, we've been thinking about ways to get more people to purchase IGs from us too. I'm going to blog about that in a minute <smile>. Thank you so much for spreading the love of Sonlight with those you know and care about!

Amy, you are so right... mostly because I find myself doing the same thing <laughing>. But, yes, the video idea is great, and we've started working on it. But that is really, really hard to do well, so we may be waiting for a while <smile>.

~Luke

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I'm glad you guys are making it easier. I have bought 3 cores so far and will be getting one or two more in the fall (can I just take this moment to say that I am strangely giddily excited about being an heirloom member) and I still get slightly confused while picking stuff to put into my cart.

Luke said...

Heather, being giddy makes perfect sense <smile>.

~Luke


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