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Friday, September 3, 2010

4 Ways to Pick the Right Homeschool Program for Multiple Kids

Sonlight's curriculum packages are ideal for combining students of multiple ages. In fact, Sonlight has produced materials on combining Cores for multiple students again and again and again and... well... again.

But you don't have time to listen to two hour long podcasts on the subject right now, do you? [Part 1, Part 2] If you don't, I've tried to synthesize the process of choosing the right Sonlight Core(s) for your students down to two simple steps with one of four approaches.

To begin, you could just grab the Core that has a level that corresponds to your student's grade. But over half of the people who responded to a recent query said they use a Core at least one level below their child's grade. Since Sonlight's Cores are robust and work for a span of ages, you may do well with a Core a level below your students' grade. So... how do you decide which program is right for your family?

It is important to remember, as you consider your options, that Sonlight's homeschool programs will take you through the span of history a full three times:

Sonlight's Cores Cover the Span of History 3 Times

With that in mind...

1. Decide what part of history you want to cover.

Did you just finish a year of American history? If so, you may not want to repeat that. So find a Core that covers World History.

2. Decide which of the following methods you want to use:

4 Ways to Pick the Right Sonlight Core for Your Students

  1. Pick a Core that fits your Oldest student and supplement for the younger
  2. Pick a Core that fits your Youngest student and supplement for the older
  3. Pick a Core that falls toward the middle of your students and tweak where needed
  4. Pick two "complementary" Cores which cover the same period of history but at different depths appropriate for your students

I know what you're thinking:

'Well, of course those are my options! My question is: Which is right for my family and how do I actually decide that?'

Since each family is different, I can't give you a more specific answer in a general blog post. But I can point you to those who can help you figure it out:

The Sonlight Choosing Forum is an excellent resource for finding the right homeschool program for your family. Glean the wisdom of families who have been there and done that.

And Sonlight Advisors are an incredible resource if you want to chat with someone one-on-one about the options you are considering.

If you've combined multiple students with Sonlight, how did you go about doing it?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Greg and Farrell Clark said...

Will be watching the comments as I am trying to make my decision on this for next year - my oldest (9yo) will be doing Core 3 next year, and will have a 6yo, 4yo, and 1.5yo following behind. Can't decide whether to just add in the 6yo to Core 3 with some easier supplements, or start her on Core K.

Monica said...

I love sonlight's multiplicity and flexability, and I'm one of the ones doing several cores at once. I have to, I have a slew of kids! :-) Last year, I did core 5 with my 11 & 12yo, core 3 with my 9yo, and core K with my 5 & 6yo. The 3yo, 1yo and newborn just get to listen in. This year we're doing alt 7, 4, and 1. When my kids were younger, I did the oldest 3 together, basically till we hit core 4, when I decided my youngest of the 3 was just not ready for some of the American history. doing multiple cores is hard, I'd rather combine if I can, but sometimes age ranges necessitate multiple cores.

Debra said...

I picked a core a number below my oldest son's grade, and I adapt it for every one else. That worked up until about Core 6. So, for instance, I did Core 5 with my 6th, 4th and 2nd graders (and the 4 and 2 year olds listened in too). Didn't work last year with Core 6. This year, my 8th grader is doing Core 7, and the rest are doing Core 3 (6th, 4th, 1st and K4) with a fair amount of supplementing for the 6th grader.

Jennifer said...

I choose by age. I did Core K with my oldest when he was 6. My middle child was 4 at the time. The next year, I discovered at that Core K was for 5-7 year-olds, and my sons were 5 & 7, so I did Core K all over again with both boys. (They do math, LA, and writing on their own levels.) This year both boys are on Core 1, which is best for 6-8 year-olds. This is working out really well for us, and I hope to keep them on the same core throughout!

Celee said...

I'm doing core 3&4 with my 11, 9, and 7 yr olds this year, but using core 2 readers that are related to American History along with some other individually selected readers for the 7 yr old. (She'll repeat core 3&4 in a few years with her younger brother when her older siblings are studying core 100.) I'm using FIAR with my 4 yr old, but he also listens in to our read-alouds and participates in map and timeline activities. Next year my 12, 10, and 8 yr olds will study core 5. Again, I'll have to gather some easier readers for my 8 yr old.


Amy said...

One thing I've learned with Sonlight, is that it is a different approach than traditional grade school. I have learned so much just from the kindergarten core! I have a 8 year old in core 3 right now. If I could do it over, I would have dropped it down a core with him. I think he would have picked up a lot more. The second time around (I have a 2 and 4 year old) I plan to start core K when they are 5 and 7 and correspond the matching core with my older son.

se7en said...

And then you could also let each child do their own core... I find it easier to have everyone doing their own school... So we have a 12 yr old doing core 7, eleven year old doing core 5, nine year old core 3, six year old doing core 1, five year old doing core K. I do all the reading for the core K and core 1 and history and science reading with 3. I help the grade 5 and grade 7's whenever they need help but mostly just supervise them and see that it is getting done... usually by asking them about what they have read and otherwise by reading through their journals. I rotate doing read-alouds with the older three... we never just read one chapter a day in any book - rather great chunks!!! And they all do their own workbooks at their own grade like most kids do...

se7en said...

Just a bit more: I wouldn't want my kids to miss a single Sonlight book ever - (well maybe the Wizard of Oz !!!). So they all have to do all the cores - no skipping!!! Starting at the bottom they will be reading their way to the top... word by word, page by page and book by book through the catalogue!!!

Luke Holzmann said...

Farrell, I highly recommend that you chat with an Advisor after reading through these comments. The Advisor will be able to help you figure out what will be best for you and your family.

I love the comments and insights here, friends <smile> So many different ways of tweaking and adjusting and combining. Good times.



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