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27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight
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Sonlight Curriculum is not for everyone. We have never pretended it could be.

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I f a Sonlight Core program is inappropriate for We’ve done as much of the preparatory work
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you, we believe you will be far happier to dis- for you as possible so you can invest almost ev-
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cover that now, while you’re reading our catalog, ery minute of your time in direct interaction with I homeschooled for seven years before
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rather than later, after you have become frus- your children. But, if you intend to do a complete
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finding Sonlight. Yes, the curricula I used or
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trated and wasted time trying to use a program curriculum in one year, Sonlight requires a time
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that’s not “you.” commitment somewhere in the range of what we had instructor’s guides and complete
The following 27 reasons why you may not suggest at the start of each Core year’s curricu-
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want to purchase Sonlight Curriculum are based lum description. programs. But we were languishing in
on feedback we have received from former cus- You can reduce the amount of time you need a desert of trite textbooks and boring y
tomers for whom Sonlight was not a good fit. to invest each day by skipping assignments and, in
So … why might you not want to buy a Son- if you have more than one child relatively close workbooks!
to one another, by combining students into one

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light Curriculum Core package? In the midst of the wandering, we
program. Many parents also stretch their pro-

1 You want a program that


requires little reading.
grams over a year and a half or even two years.
Your children will receive a remarkable educa-
stumbled upon an oasis: Sonlight
Curriculum! Our children have thrived in
g


If you decide to use Sonlight Curriculum, you tion “even” at that pace. Sonlight’s programs are W
and your children will be required to read. A plenty rich enough. qu
lot. Sonlight is thoroughly grounded in literature
its richness and depth. —Elaine B, May 2007 co
But you still need to invest the time. If you
and reading. If you don’t like to read, or you find leave your kids to their own devices, both you yo
it difficult to read out loud, or your children hate and they are likely to find yourselves disappoint- and some paint into a masterpiece? In our expe- d

a
to read—you may prefer another program. ed, frustrated, and possibly even angry at the rience, when great books inspire children, those S
On an encouraging note: many parents have results. Especially at the elementary and middle children can follow the whims of their creativity ge
purchased Sonlight in the hope that the pro- school levels, the materials are not intended for all on their own ... without the step by step direc- st
gram’s great books will “hook” the interests of self-teaching. tion of Mom and Dad. la
their reluctant readers. We are delighted to re- Families who have used Sonlight over the w
port that, in the vast majority of cases, the strat-
egy has worked! Students are hooked, and they
While Sonlight includes plenty of effective
3 You want lots of hands-on
activities inside your curriculum.
years bolster our opinions about the need for
parent-directed activities. Most children seem m
can’t put the books down. to master the material Sonlight covers without
learning activities in the early elementary Math

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regularly-scheduled, hands-on activities. el
You can’t afford to invest the programs, and while our Science programs are
time with your children. But you know your kids’ needs best. Maybe N
loaded with experiments, you won’t find us en- they really do need hands-on activities to master
We expect your children to do a fair amount ri
couraging you to make raccoon-skin caps, cre- the material you’re reading about. Or maybe you
of work on their own, but in Sonlight’s areas of th
ate playground-sized maps of the world, or cook
Articles

simply enjoy creative projects and feel energized so


unique strength—History and Literature—we Pilgrim-era Thanksgiving meals. when you do them. Based on your available time w
expect you to be involved. We choose our books We believe the educational value of most and unique make-up, we believe an activities- of
with the idea that they will spark discussions such activities isn’t worth the hours of prepara- based approach can be a legitimate option. ta
between you and your children—deep discus- tory work required of parents.
sions of values and perspectives, the kinds of In either case, please come visit www.son-
We found that, as we read Sonlight books to light-forums.com, where you’ll find fellow Son- m
discussions most parents would die for if they
our kids, the stories filled their minds with such lighters who will suggest activities to meet your si
only knew how to engage their kids.
strong mental images and challenging ideas that requirements. You’ll find moms just like you who ev
our kids were engage their kids with lots of hands-on activi- ig
able to decide ties and use Sonlight Curriculum with joy and
for themselves success!
what activities But if you want hands-on activities defined for
they wanted w
you within the curriculum itself, purchase some- gr
to engage in ... thing else, because Sonlight won’t meet your
and the kids ye
needs on its own.
prepared for
such activities
on their own
very eas-
4 You might consider Sonlight
books emotionally troubling.
As Sarita carefully selects the books in Sonlight
as
so
ti
ily. Have you Curriculum, one of her criteria has to do with the b
ever watched books’ ability to move her and make a lasting
an 8-year-old impact. As a result, you are likely to find more ta
spontaneously than a few titles that bring tears to your eyes. th
transform a If you enjoy books that are “poignant,” “heart- st
“Our family deeply appreciates the flexibility of home education with Sonlight,” writes Elizabeth
V of East Asia. “We have school all through the summers so we can take time off when we
cardboard box warming,” “powerful,” “deep,” or “thought-pro- n
need it—for new babies, family visits, and unexpected health crises! into something voking,” then you and your children are likely m
“While I was recovering from botulism poisoning, the children and I had school in bed for unique? Or a to love Sonlight. The intense emotions—what b
several weeks. Thankfully, the ‘school in bed’ idea meant our children were back at school huge sheet of
some call a “wonderful heartache”—will make vi
only two days after I’d gotten out of the hospital!” Here, Elizabeth’s oldest daughter Esther
(9) reads Sing Down the Moon from Core 4 to her younger siblings, Joseph (8), Anneliese (6
blank paper these books not only memorable but strengthen fin
months), Izaak (4), and Hannah (7). The V family has been homeschooling for seven years, your children’s broader learning experience.
all of them with Sonlight.

148 Tips, advice and friendly support from fellow homeschoolers, 24/7: Visit www.Sonlight-forums.com.

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We’ve learned, however, that some people find

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such books unpleasant. They view any books

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chronological four-year cycle. Or

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that make them cry as “heavy,” “sad,” “dark,” you want to teach all your children

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even “gut-wrenching,” They find the experience

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exactly the same material, despite

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of reading such works downright painful.

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their age span.

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If you or your children fit in this latter group,

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Advocates of the four-year cycle approach cite

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then we encourage you not to buy Sonlight.

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two primary reasons for their enthusiasm about

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Plenty of curricula avoid emotional issues and/

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the idea.

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or avoid touching emotional nerves. Sonlight is

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1) They say it “makes sense.” History should
definitely not one of them!

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be taught in chronological order, and it

5 You want a program that takes about four years to adequately cover

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demands minimal study time, so history from creation to the modern era.
your kids can focus on extracurricular 2) They say that a four-year cycle permits
them to teach all of their children—no
interests. matter the age range—one subject at the
Or... same time: Ancient History one year,

6 You feel you have to do Middle Ages another, and so forth.


EVERYTHING an instructor’s Our view: Yes, students need to understand
guide suggests. the flow of history. Yes, they need to grasp the
“time line.” But they also need to understand
We want you as a parent to have a wealth of
where things happened, among whom they oc-
quality teaching options to choose from in the
curred, and why. And in order to explain these Krystal A of Andover, MN, displays the coat of arms
course of your school year. We want to help
points, sometimes you need a separate narrative she created after reading Castle Diary from Core
you in every way we can to maximize your chil- 2. The project led to many family discussions and
e- that may be “out of order” chronologically.
dren’s potential to learn and grow. That’s why lots of historical research with her grandfather. “It’s
Is that bad? No!
a
se Sonlight’s Instructor Guides make lots of sug- fun to watch my daughter be so self-motivated and
y Think about the last movie or book you en- excited to learn something new, and then see how it
gestions about reading assignments, reports fits into our life,” writes Krystal’s mom, Kelli.
c- students might write, subjects they might study, joyed that featured a flashback scene to fill you “Homeschooling has been wonderful for our family,
languages they might learn, skills they might in on preceding events. Rather than creating and Sonlight makes it easy for us. I love that I don’t
he want to develop, and so forth. confusion, this “jump” to another time probably have to spend time preparing to ‘do school.’ I am
helped you understand something important confident that when I open my Instructor’s Guide, I
or But just because we suggest an activity doesn’t am going to have a productive day. I also love that
m mean you must, or even should, do it. about the characters and the scenes to come. Sonlight is helping me to share my love of reading
ut Compare Sonlight’s Instructor’s Guide to an Similarly, we find we enhance students’ under- with my little girl.” This is Krystal’s second year of
standing when we remind them of parallels and Sonlight and her third as a homeschooler.
elaborate Thanksgiving feast set on the table.
e Not only would it be rude, but it would be down- contrasts with peoples, cultures, and events of
other times and other places. Furthermore, you must consider the problem
er right foolish for you to attempt to eat the whole of academic requirements. For example, most
u thing. And it may not be smart, even, to sample In our opinion, chronology is important, but states require high school students to complete

Articles
d some of everything. You can however, choose not paramount! It does not trump geography and a course in civil government. If you pursue such
me what you like best from a table loaded with lots culture. focused studies with your high schooler, what
s- of delicious dishes prepared and ready for the With respect to the second idea … of teach- parallel program will you pursue with your fifth
taking. ing all of your children at the same time using grader at the same time?
n- With a somewhat similar thought in mind, the same materials: We agree with the concept Thus, if your children are spaced more than
n- most parents pick and choose among the as- and practice, as long as the kids are within a few about three years apart, we don’t believe you
ur signments Sonlight Curriculum suggests. Almost years of one another. Indeed, that is exactly what can properly teach all of them the same subjects
o everyone does all the readings, but many will we encourage you to do when you use Sonlight: at the same time. Sometimes it’s necessary to
i- ignore the comprehension questions. combine teaching your kids in as few Core pro- use separate programs in order to give your chil-
d … Or they will skip science in the early years. grams as reasonable at any one time. dren the best education.
… Or (an extremely common practice) they However, this idea begins to break down if In sum: We understand the appeal of chro-
or will slow their pace and use a Sonlight pro- you employ this approach regardless of your nology and group teaching and believe those
e- gram over the course of a year and a half or two children’s span of ages. Laying aside concern methods can be utilized effectively—within
ur years. about basic comprehension, maturity levels limits. We have a reason for presenting history
pose a problem. If the age gap between your the way we do, but if you feel you must teach
… Or (this is what we—John and Sarita—did
oldest and your youngest is too great, you will all your children together, despite their ages, or
as we were teaching our children!) they will read
either cheat the older or overwhelm the younger. you think references to other times and places
some of the Read-Alouds at night, before bed-
In our way of thinking, an in-depth study of 20th within history would confuse your children, then
ht time, or during the summer when the kids are
century history–that emphasizes WWII and the we encourage you to try another curriculum that
he bored.
murderous regimes of the Soviet Union, Com- follows a four-year chronological cycle.
ng So we encourage you to enjoy the “feast.” But munist China, and Nazi Germany (not to men-

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e take it easy! “Eat” what makes sense and leave tion the horrors of the atomic bomb)—is just too You want a program that focuses
the rest. If you tend to think “I saw it in the In- much for your 1st and 2nd graders but a critical on the “Great Books” that are
t- structor’s Guide; therefore I must do it,” then we aspect of history in which your older students part of the “Great Conversation.”
o- need to warn you: it is quite likely our options must engage. Realistically, we believe the study Sonlight Curriculum is committed to introducing
y may frustrate you, and another curriculum may of history, at some level, must be tailored more students to a large number of the most influen-
at be a better fit. If you will filter the ideas we pro- closely to the development of your students than tial “Great Books” and authors of the Western
ke vide into what fits your family, we think you will a “catch all” approach can achieve. intellectual tradition. We also desire to help our
n find the suggestions useful.
students enter into the “Great Conversation” of
Western culture. ►►►

Help: www.sonlight-forums.com/choosing/ • Orders: www.sonlight.com/order/ • Phone: (303) 730-6292 • Fax: (303) 795-8668 149

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love to learn than to have all the “right” informa-
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teaches all subjects as absolute th
truth without question or doubt. u
Though we base our curriculum on a solid,
mission-minded, evangelical Christian interpre- 95
tation of Scripture, we recognize most history is w
far too open to conflicting interpretations to be ca
presented in absolute terms. ga
We cannot possibly know “for sure” all the S
Steve H uses Sonlight to teach his daughter Elisabeth (14) Bible/Apologetics and History of
God’s Kingdom in Pensacola, FL. Mom Susan writes, “Since Elisabeth first began her formal factors in every event in history. We refuse to bu
schooling 9½ ago, Sonlight has been a joyful educational adventure for the whole family. speak as if we can. We do seek to give a fair rep- bo
Sonlight has been the map, compass, and guide. We have been greatly blessed and influenced resentation of “both sides” of any issues which p
by the Christian worldview offered by Sonlight. Sonlight has been especially instrumental to
help us see life from God’s perspective. Thank you for this tremendous service and gift.” we ourselves are in some doubt. We take this
approach in all subjects. We do this because we si

a ►
want to be fair when other perspectives merit dis-
cussion; we want students not just to know what
A
de
However, we want to introduce students to
literature at a point when they are ready to inter-
act with the material on a deep level and pursue
9 You want quizzes, tests, and
grading services.
Because most homeschool parents are in
they believe, but why; and we want to encour-
age them to think critically and act with gracious
humility toward others with different views. We
tu

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those books and ideas with interest and passion. daily, personal, one-on-one contact with their want to make sure students differentiate Scrip- an
Therefore, we typically wait until slightly later students (unlike the relationships between most ture from men’s ideas about events in our world of
than the typical “classical education” timeline classroom teachers and their students), we ex- and treat each accordingly. If such an approach al
to introduce certain works. We find it more ap- pect that–in general–homeschool parents can ef- bothers you, you may feel more comfortable with
propriate to deal with some issues in college or fectively evaluate the progress of their students another program. ei

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the adult years rather than during high school. through means other than quizzes, tests and You don’t want your curriculum on
When they reach a certain age, students who gradable worksheets. A
to address false, foolish, or
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love to learn will study—on their own—the p


“Great Books” they desire to read. We parent-
When you’re reading a book, for example, questionable ideas.
you’ll discuss it with your children. We provide Parents who object to Sonlight Curriculum on
teachers don’t need to (and, in fact, ought not
comprehension questions to aid your discus- these grounds usually either 1) believe it wrong th
to) push our students into reading such works
sion and spark ideas. As you converse, your to mention or teach about other people’s (false) w
before they are ready. Such an approach will
children’s understanding of the material should beliefs and practices; 2) can’t invest the time to
not only overwhelm them, but leave them with a
become quite clear. If your children are able to to help their children process these ideas; or 3) lig
bad taste in their mouths: “Once I’m done with
answer your questions, you will know exactly lack the confidence to discern themselves what
school, I will be so glad! I won’t have to read any
how much they understand—or how much they is true and false or provide their children with
more of these boring books!”
fail to understand. an appropriate reply. Whatever their motivation,
As one mom wrote, “The Great Books will be


We do offer a simple selection of testing they feel uncomfortable with Sonlight’s commit-
drudgery to anyone not yet taken captive by the
aids to help you gauge you children’s progress, ment to present all sides of a case.
Great Questions, the Big Ideas. If you are not
though you’ll find them much less formal (and We believe that, in the supportive environ-
yet given to pondering the meaning of life, it is
doubtful you are ready to read the ponderings of
less frequent) than a classroom school. We are ment of their parents’ home, with their parents’ b
convinced our methods for evaluating their de- help, children should be made aware of false be-
others [on these subjects]!” y
velopment will give you all the feedback you liefs, foolish ideas, and questionable arguments.
Instead of cramming in as many classics as need–without an over-abundance of daily quiz- Parents have a unique responsibility not only
one can possibly schedule in a year, we offer a zes and grading sheets—plus give your children to point out these ideas to their children, but to
S
variety of engaging works designed to give stu- all the stimulation and test-taking practice they carefully explain why the ideas are false, foolish 2
dents a taste of great literature and leave them require. You won’t find a formal testing focus or questionable. Moreover, parents must teach
hungry for more. We intersperse more chal- with Sonlight.
lenging books with light-hearted ones to give
their children how to respond to these ideas, be- k
10 You want your children to liefs, and arguments.
children a balance to their selection and avoid
burn-out. Our goal is to raise children who love study exactly as they would in Sonlight Curriculum Instructor’s Guides are t
to read and love to learn. We prefer to pursue a classroom. designed to bolster your confidence and help
this aim than check off every box when it comes We seek to offer a thorough education—more you safely walk your children through the world l
to the “Great Books.” If you want a curriculum thorough, in fact, than one can find in almost any of ideas with a steadfast faith. Still, if it is your
that—without exception—requires students to classroom school. Our primary aim is to create desire to avoid controversial material, or if you
read every title deemed “Great,” you won’t find within our students a genuine, inquisitive spirit lack the time or confidence to help your children
your fit with Sonlight. and love for learning, rather than to teach them understand these issues with our help, then Son-
everything their peers may learn in another cur- light will be a poor choice for you.
riculum or different school environment.

150 FREE Consultation! Email a veteran Sonlight homeschooler today: advisor@sonlight.com

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a- You want to focus on American Samuel Z (8) reads to his younger

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brother Isaiah (6) between events
history and culture almost all

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during a city championship swim

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ey

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13 years of school.

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meet in Portland, OR. “Samuel

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The standard curriculum devotes 10 of 13 begged to bring this book to read

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during his swim meet. He learned
years—almost 80% of its time—to the study of

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ir to read with Sonlight, and he

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American history and culture (the history of a

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just can’t put a Reader down

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nation and culture that has existed for less than until he’s finished it,” his mom,

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10% of recorded history). Jemima, writes.

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a- “Not ever wanting to be left out

Grade:
Age:

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Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. recognizes that of a good story, his little brother

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Western culture—and American society in par- Isaiah often convinces him to
read the books aloud so they can

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ticular, within the last 150 years—has enriched

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both enjoy the stories. Thank
e the world in many ways. We want to highlight its you, Sonlight, for helping me
unique contributions. give my children a love of quality
d, However, we do not wish to ignore the other literature.” The Z family has
homeschooled five years total, all
e- 95% of the world’s population or civilizations of them with Sonlight.
is with thousands of years of recorded history. Be-
be cause we believe God cares about all people, re-

he
gardless of their racial or cultural backgrounds,
Sonlight seeks to emphasize the unique contri-
butions, strengths, weaknesses, and needs—
14 You want to guard your
children from anything
“offensive”—at all costs.
15 You want to shield your
children from the world and the
world’s system, focus solely on Bible
to
p- both physical and spiritual—of the other major Sonlight has no interest in promoting unbiblical themes, and avoid broader social
ch peoples and cultures on Earth. practices or ungodly behavior. However, we do issues.
is We begin our early elementary studies out- believe a book should be judged on the value it of- Sonlight Curriculum seeks to prepare students
we side the United States so that when we look at fers, rather than the negative attributes it omits. to become ambassadors for Christ in and to the
s-
at
American history and culture, students will un-
derstand more fully how and why American cul-
As you delve into some of the greatest litera-
ture ever written, you will probably come across
world, not hermits for Christ removed from the
world (John 17:14-19). We want to train students a
r- ture is different. some words, ideas, or characters that will offend to hold onto truth as they interact with culture,
us In all, Sonlight devotes four solid years to U.S. you. and act as bold and informed witnesses in ev-
We history and culture. Due to their rich content ery area of life. While we don’t encourage you
We hope that when our customers encoun-
p- and engrossing presentation, those four years to “throw your children to the wolves,” we be-
ter truly “bad” characters in literature, they can
ld of education are equivalent to at least eight in lieve direct, biblical engagement with the world
help their children examine good and evil and
ch almost any other program. is a key aspect of maturity in a believer. Chil-
gain wisdom. We envision the literary experi-
h Beyond the United States, Sonlight devotes dren learn these lessons in small steps at a time,
ence as a joint parent-child effort that sparks
eight years to the rest of the world, including not quality discussion of values and truth; it’s a pro- not in one huge leap when they leave home as
m only Western history and culture, but those of cess of evaluating both the good and bad of the adults.
Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and indigenous world in order to gain the treasure contained in In keeping with such scriptures as Matthew

Articles
peoples all around the world. an excellent work. 6:10 and 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Sonlight seeks
Therefore, students get a broad view of the Imagine eating a nutritious fish, grilled to per- to prepare students to take the offensive against
on
thousands of years of history and culture world- fection and filled with all the flavors you love.The the strategies, tactics, and activities of the wick-
ng
wide, in addition to the U.S. story. If you prefer nutritional value and flavor of the meat make it ed one—not only at home, but in the broad so-
e)
to have American history focus every year, Son- worth your while to “work around the bones.“ cial, moral, political, economic and legal issues
me
light may not be the curriculum for you. of the day. Instead of only dealing with “safe”
3) Please consider: 1) If you want your older stu-
subjects of Bible and family, we challenge stu-
at dents never to read books with occasional pro-
dents to learn about and approach all aspects of
th fanities; 2) if you require that your children read
society with a biblical worldview as courageous,
n, literature with only wholesome characters; or 3)
wise and discerning leaders who challenge the

“bothUsingof myonlychildren
t- if it doesn’t matter to you whether a work is a
world. If you are nervous about your children
one Core each year for “literary masterpiece” or a cultural essential, if it
engaging the world at this level, Sonlight may
n- has no overt Christian themes, you’d rather not
over the past 5 not be a good fit for you.
s’ have it in your home—you may have difficulty
e- with some of the classic literature we offer. To be continued.
s.
years has been a blessing. Because If, normally, you find yourself able to read
ly around an occasional use of offensive language Please go to www.sonlight com/not-to-buy.html
to
Sonlight is literature-based, the almost in an otherwise outstanding work, you should to continue reading all 27 reasons NOT to buy
sh Sonlight and see the full treatment of these is-
ch
2-year age difference between my two do just fine with Sonlight— at least through the
sues.)
Core 200 program. (Core 300 and 400 include
e- kids is not an issue; they both bring a few raw works that we have noted in the list- We hope this article helps you understand
ings.) a bit more about the reasons you may want to
re their own experiences to the lessons and On the other hand, if occasional bad language
choose a different homeschool supplier. Please


lp know we want you to make an informed curricu-
or a wicked character (or other pesky “bones”)
ld learn at their own levels. will overwhelm your sense of propriety, you
lum decision. If what we share here (and online)
ur causes you no great concern, then we hope you
—Jeanne H, December 2007 should look elsewhere. [For a more detailed dis-
ou will give us the opportunity to serve you.
cussion of this issue, please see the article “Why
en Sonlight Uses Certain Books Some Homeschool- But whatever program you choose, from what-
n- ers Won’t Touch” on page 158.] ever supplier: We wish you God’s blessing in
finding the best to meet your needs! ■

Help: www.sonlight-forums.com/choosing/ • Orders: www.sonlight.com/order/ • Phone: (303) 730-6292 • Fax: (303) 795-8668 151

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