Homeschooling…What We Use (Part 2…Winter Promise and Sonlight)

In the last post, I talked about using K12 as a part of our curriculum.  You can read about that here (and see a related post here).

As I mentioned earlier, my kids started to really dislike the K12 curriculum as they got older.  In particular, I noticed that they were not developing a love of reading and they were not getting a very good overview of really enjoyable books using the K12 program.  Middle Child, especially, did not like to read and dreaded Language Arts.  Both older children were not seeking books to read during their free time, and it was clear that this was only getting worse as time went on.

It was hard financially, but well worth it to switch to a curriculum that fosters learning through excellent books. Sonlight has always been a leader in this area, and we had done a year of Sonlight once before and enjoyed it.  When I started thinking about buying a new curriculum, Sonlight was my first thought.

However, a friend of my was using a new curriculum by Winter Promise, and as  much as I love Sonlight I have to say that my family enjoys Winter Promise even more!  Winter Promise is very similar to Sonlight, but has several advantages (in my opinion).  The first advantage is that they have packaged their Humanities Curriculum in such a way that you can homeschool many levels with just one core.  This allows all the kids to study the same thing during the year and sit in on the read-aloud novels and history books together, but have separate readers and Language Arts aimed at their grade level (but all tying into the core).  For example, we used WP’s “Quest for the Ancient World” as a Humanities core for all 3 kids.  Middle Child did the Sixth Grade Language Arts and Literature package, Eldest did the High School package, and Youngest did K12 phonics and reading.  That year, we also did K12 History because it happened to be studying the same time period as the WP curriculum, and we had many age-appropriate readers and read-alouds from K12 to add to Youngest’s experience. Even though we had to make modifications to the WP Core for Youngest (and we let her color or play with beads or blocks while I read aloud), we were able to do one core program as a family, which really builds up sibling relationships and makes my job much easier!

Another thing we love about Winter Promise is that it includes many, many projects, hands-on experiences, and suggestions for further reading, videos, and websites.  Sonlight also does a good job with this, but in my experience WP is a stronger curriculum for children who enjoy exploring learning physically, doing projects, and learning through artwork and experimentation.  The program includes Notebooking, which gives students an opportunity to record what they have learned in their own words and pictures (making their new knowledge “stick” much more effectively).  Maps were included to color and label as we studied different world regions. It also offers a nice Time Line, with two options for pictures to glue to pages in a time line notebook.  Other themed WP programs include lapbooking projects that produce a beautiful record of each child’s learning through the year.  You can purchase all the printed material to do the lapbooks, which cuts down on your printing and supply-hunting time.  My kids love this approach…we were able to do cooking projects, work with clay, watch videos about what we learned, write down our thoughts, and do many other activities together.  Eldest had material above and beyond what Middle Child and Youngest were expected to do, and I felt that the curriculum kept each child challenged at their own level while allowing us to enjoy working together.

I also like the History text used in WP better than the one used in Sonlight.  Mystery of History is engaging, fun, and solid both Biblically and Historically.  Sonlight uses the Story of the World series, which is a great alternative to a traditional History textbook but does contain some historical errors.

Sonlight is a solid program and we did use it last year (long story as to why, the main reason was that it filled a time-gap in our history timeline so that we could start on American History this year).  We enjoyed the reading we did last year using Sonlight and their Bible Study was great.  However, we missed the projects from WP and it was harder for us to accommodate different grade levels in our studies.

Over all, I can’t say enough good things about Winter Promise.  Sonlight is also great, has been around for a long time, and if you have kids who are not really into project-based learning or you don’t want to combine age groups with one curriculum, Sonlight is a great way to go.  For families with a wide age range of active, creative learners though….Winter Promise is wonderful!  I am happy to say that my kids really enjoy reading now.  Middle Child went from a reluctant reader to an avid reader in less than a year, and I credit the excellent literature selection of the curriculum with that change.  Eldest read many, many books he would otherwise never have read due to WP and Sonlight, and I am very glad we chose to go this route. Literature-based learning is a lot of fun, and I have to say that in the last few years I have learned more about History, Geography, and World Cultures than I learned in College!  Both Winter Promise and Sonlight

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