Sonlight Preschool 3/4 Curriculum Review
What Is Sonlight?
Sonlight is a literature based "boxed" curriculum. Literature based means exactly what it sounds like - they teach subjects mainly through literature. Learning through story is a beautiful and memorable way to learn, a truth that applies to people of any age. Sonlight is a Christian company, but they don't write the books that are included in the curriculum, rather, they curate from a variety of sources. This means that many of the books are faith neutral, so even families that aren't Christian can enjoy a Sonlight education.
The P3/4 program is Preschool and works well for 3 and 4-year-olds, but don't be fooled, these books are excellent for all ages! Your 2-year-old will love the stories and your 6-year-old will soak them right up, too.
When you order a full grade package, you get A LOT of materials! You really don't need to supplement with anything else, unless you have some outside interests you'd like to pursue. And because you don't spend the entire day working through the curriculum, you'll have time to pursue those interests!
What follows is a breakdown of what comes in the box, and my personal thoughts on each item. We got this for our oldest daughter when she turned 3, and we have all been enjoying the books and materials together for the past two years. We enjoy the curriculum and plan to use it again with our second child.
The Instructors Guide for the Preschool year is not a schedule. You don't need to plan out your days, or cover certain subjects or books each day. You simply read through all of the books at a pace that suits you and your child. I love that approach - it's developmentally appropriate, parent friendly, and enjoyable. This is very compatible with the Charlotte Mason method of education, which doesn't recommend formal education until the child is 6, but does support reading high quality literature from birth - or before!
Throughout the IG, there are little parenting tips, which are really endearing. I like it because it is encouraging the parent to focus on creating a good home life and routine as one of their priorities in educating their child. That really resonated with me. A nurturing little nest is what I want to create, after all.
This was not what I expected out of a Bible that's made for very young children. After looking through it on my own, I decided to put it away and not read it with my children. In our family, we don't believe that children need to be introduced to the complex or violent stories in the Bible - ones that were definitely included in this book both in words and graphic imagery. I see no reason for them to learn, at just 3 or 4 years old, some of the things in here.
I encourage you to read it to yourself before you introduce it to your own children, and I question why Sonlight would include this in a curriculum for sweet young three and four year old babies.
This book is a compilation of classic fairy tales like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Jack and the Beanstalk. I'm not always drawn to these types of stories (fairy tales in a watered-down retelling), personally, but know that fairy tales are an important part of children's literature, so I have tried to include it. It's nice as an introduction before we eventually read the originals, which I love!
This book! Oh, I love this book. I felt like it was placed in the wrong grade level, because although I do agree that we should read a bit above our children's level, this has some stories that are really long and a bit too advanced for younger preschoolers. We read Blueberries For Sal and Make Way For Ducklings many times, but skipped over a few of the others during the Preschool year. We read Lentil during Pre-K, and now that my oldest is 5, we have started to dive into the rest of the stories which are absolutely beautiful! I want to read Time of Wonder over and over. It's poetic, artistic, magical.
Patricia Polacco makes such beautiful books! The Bee Tree is a really fun story, one that follows you into life with your child. When you're outside together and see a bee on a mission, you'll both laugh as you imagine chasing it to the hive.
Eloise Wilkin is one of the best children's book illustrators - ever. She may even be my favorite, as her illustrations are so nostalgic to me from my own childhood. This book is a collection of stories and poems that are so sweet and innocent and loved by children. Talk about age appropriate - this book is absolutely perfect.
Go, Dog. Go! is a simple book that is easy for kids to memorize, which they love. They can almost decode the words on the page just by observing the illustrations. As an adult, I don't love reading it (it's so boring!) but my kids love it over, and over, and over...
These Hans Christian Andersen stories are retold for young children. I sometimes feel a little wary reading them, because I'm not always sure if I love the message (the women are always beautiful if they're good, always getting saved by men!), but at this young age, they likely aren't thinking as deep into the story as I am! They will help get them familiar with the stories that we will read when they’re older.
This is a nice choice for a Dr. Seuss book. The main character shows commitment to his cause despite being ostracized, which I really appreciate.
We actually skipped this one, and still haven't read it, so I can't give you any more feedback aside from the fact that it's a missionary story! See, I told you this was an honest review!
These stories are so good - and it's nice to have them all in one book! They're all interesting, model good character, and have beautiful illustrations. They're nice to read aloud, and keep kids interested, despite being a little bit long.
Every parent needs to have this book on their bookshelves, because at some point in life, the topic of death will come up. We ended up reading this at just the right time before we had to experience this in our life, and it truly helped our 4 year old process what was happening. I like that it approached death in a way that didn't impose any specific beliefs - it was very gentle.
I could have done without this one. I just didn't know what to do with it. It's illustrated with beautiful water-colored sketches but is wordless. If your family knows the story of Noah well, and finds it important, you might like to just tell it in your own words as you go through the book! We don't, so we set this one aside.
The Maple Hill Farm books are so fun and silly. They're nice to look through and casually flip through, finding funny things on the pages, rather than reading word for word cover to cover. The animals are usually doing funny things that we love to find and laugh at together.
I found this book to be very sweet! The prayers and poems are just the kind you'd want your child to memorize and store away in their heart.
This book has been one we keep pulling back out over and over! When our 3 year old had an interest in how the pipes bring water into the house, we pulled out the book and looked over the chapter that illustrates a house under construction to see where the pipes go in. So much real information is packed into the illustrations alone!
I love this little book! The stories are fairly short and easy to read, but give a full story that doesn't feel overly simplified. The illustrations - like I keep saying for every book in the whole curriculm - are beautiful!
If you had to only own one book for your child, it should be this one. This is one BIG book, but it includes 12 children's picture books that are all truly classic for their own reasons. I can't even tell you how many times we have read Pete's A Pizza at this point!
I didn't expect this one to be interesting to my daughter, but I think it might be the one she pulls off the shelf most often! She is so fascinated by all the real-life workings of the body. This book approaches the gross or tricky topics you don't want to talk about - like how the body turns food into waste, and how babies are made! Oh yes. It goes there.
If you haven't memorized every nursery rhyme yet, well, you will. Wee Sing put together all of the classic nursery rhymes into order like a long story, using song. Kids just love it!
It's nice that they include a little pair of child safe scissors. It means you really don't need to buy much else in order to do everything you need to do with this program!
These are so cool! They are almost like an oil pastel in consistency, but once they color with them, they can paint with water and turn their drawing into a watercolor painting. A little messy, a lot of fun.
A nice big pack of construction paper comes in the box, too. You can never have enough of this stuff.
Tricky enough for a 3 year old that it will challenge them for the next couple of years as they grow and develop. My 5 year old plays with this a few times a month, and still has space to grow because it is still challenging for her!
Teddy Mix & Match
These bears are on really sturdy thick board, so they're durable for preschoolers! We play all sorts of little games with these. There are 2 of each bear, so you can have very young kids just match the bears. Or older preschoolers play a memory game with them flipped over. Or just stack them, put them in a line, or play eye spy!
I'm not a Christian homeschooler yet I chose Sonlight for Preschool. Why? Well, Sonlight doesn't overcomplicate things. There aren't 300 pages to print out. There aren't bundles of worksheets to get through. It's simply quality literature you read through at your own pace to expose your child to great ideas in the stories, and foster a love of reading because it is relaxed and fun. Using this helped me gain confidence in being able to "do this homeschool thing" by giving me the materials I needed so all I had to do was create a daily routine and rhythm that worked for us.
The few faith based book choices included were not an issue for me personally and as I mentioned in my review of individual books - if I didn't need it I just skipped it. No big deal.
We have found so many favorite authors through reading these books that I highly recommend starting out with Sonlight. Especially if you're a brand new homeschooler who doesn't know how or where to begin! It gave us a gentle, beautiful start to our homeschool journey.