The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Our Goals for Se7en Sonlight years…

February 20th, 2009 · 21 Comments

Last week I wrote about preparing for school. Continuing in the theme of how we school so many characters and how we get everyone through their own Sonlight Core I said I would write how we schedule our school day.

Then I figured if you didn’t know what we were doing for school you won’t understand our schedule. So this post is all about what we do for school…

But something came up. We have been boxed – and any Sonlighter knows what that means: We cannot move or breathe for looking at books!





OK – Back to blogging.

What do we do for school, what’s our goal and aim for each year – we actually have one! I have thought about it and I find by having my own internal goal for each child that I don’t get too distracted by the whole: We homeschool and our children must conquer every possible educational opportunity. If it isn’t part of their goal for the year I don’t pursue it and I don’t hunker after it.

So these are our very general ideas and goals for each year of Sonlight:

P3/4: We have the books on the shelf and we just read through the shelves from end to end… I don’t schedule and I don’t legalize and we add a lot of books to the pile as we go! My goal os to get as many classic picture books and stories into their systems. And certainly no workbooks worth mentioning. No matter how brilliant your child is and how desperate you are for them to “do school”. Spread them wider not higher, spend more time exploring nature and messing with crafty stuff and following their passions than getting them to get through workbooks and writing their name. They will do all the bookwork in time, anyway. I once read a pearl of wisdom, and it really applies to Sonlight where you don’t want to leave anything out: If you are desperate for your children to learn and pursue a whole lot of topics, then sign up for a course of study yourself and leave them to their own devices while you are busy. Honestly when I have found myself wanting to push a kid to learn more about something it has really helped me to back off and go and explore the topic myself. When I want them to make beautifully presented notebooks on a topic – do it myself! Takes the pressure off them completely.

These two years cause the most questions… folk say to me I love the P3/P4 books but my child is so advanced I think I will skip them and just go to the P4/5 books. And since this is my blog I will just say: Don’t be mad – skip nothing!!! Your kids synapses will connect better and they will learn more sitting in your lap reading countless stories than they will ever get being “taught stuff”. With a schedule. Filling in workbooks and doing math manipulatives.

P4/5: We also just read through the books from one end of the shelf to the other and I don’t bother with scheduling in little activities – living is full of little activities! They do a page a day of the Developing the Early Learner Series and about half a page of handwriting (HWT), and their bookwork takes at the most ten minutes. The goal is simply to carry on from the previous year with a tiny bit of school so that they get the idea of working foe school and working for pleasure – could be the same or different things depending on the kid!

Core K: I concentrate on reading and learning to read, we use Learn to Read in 100 Lessons – that’s not 100 days! 100 lessons. They do the early bird singapore math and get into the routine of reading history and science just a page a day instead if the entire book! Here I start to follow the schedule and they start journaling for real and finding interesting snippets and things to pop into their journals. They dictate to me and do a lot of drawing.

Core 1: I really concentrate on Language Arts with my kids, they generally learn to read in K, and Grade 1 they perfect the art. They need to become proficient this year and comfortable reading chapter books themselves. The jump from being a non-reader to an easy reader is so complete that when they make that jump the Language Arts 1 is not enough. So initially I sit along side them and we do the beginner reader language arts and the easy reader language arts. They soon get into the swing that school can be quite a challenge and then they rise to the occasion.

Core 2: In Grade 2, the world is their oyster, after a summer of reading they gallop through chapter books. They do Language Arts 2 Intermediate and 2 Advanced in Grade 2. I can’t stand the idea that they miss out on a single Sonlight book. They tend at this stage to go back to Core K and reread all their previous read alouds. Also in Core 2, they start to read their own history and science – its only a double page. Usually after lunch I lie down with the little guys and read their books and the core 2 person reads alongside me and asks for help when they need it.

Core 3: By Core 3 I expect them to do their history, science and readers without my attention and mostly they can’t wait for me to read their read-alouds and read them as well. That being said I have read all the books before them and when I plan for the week ahead I get up to date with what I need to stay just ahead of them. The goal for Core 3 is all about interpreting what they read – making charts to understand all those animal kingdoms. Plotting timelines and Maps as American History unfolds. Both my boys found the jump to grade 3 quite heavy because now they have history books that require filling in and I fill in the Lyrical Life Science with them, but I tell them they have only one language arts program (they didn’t realize they were doing two before) so life is easy and they generally buy it – marketing I tell you!!! We also start Spelling for real and we use Spelling Power and love it – my kids love the apparent randomness of the activities. Hood #1 started by slotting in near the end of the book and could spell everything in the book within six months of getting it – yes we call him “Spellcheck,” but Hood #2 is a regular guy and will be very busy with this for a couple of years!

Core 4: I really concentrate on research – looking things up in Atlases, Encyclopedia’s, Dictionaries. Finding books in the library on a given topic, whatever. It is all about getting that research brain into action… Lots of mini-projects and reports. Also I start to push their math brain so slightly with the Key to Math Series, just a page or two a day. I love that this series it teaches quite advanced ideas, but the day to day steps are so incrementally small that they don’t realize they are marching forth gaining mathematical finesse!

Core 5: The focus is on presentation. No more scrawling – anywhere. Beautiful mapping of the lands we visit. When you write a story illustrate it with care. Make sure everything is legible. Include contents pages and references in reports. It really ups the concentration around their projects and the jump from projects that were accepatable at the beginning of the year compared to the end of the year is enormous! Also, Hood #1, was desperate to start Latin and I made him wait till Grade 5. No one else is showing this bent! But I think it is the time to introduce a Foreign Language – beyond just in smatterings of conversation.

Core 6: I have next week to decide this one. I need to go and do a whirlwind tour.

So this is what my kids are doing for school this year, more or less off the top of my head:

  • Hood #7: Underfoot and sweet as can be.
  • Hood #6: Walking around and fiddling with other peoples things, while they are doing school. Listening in with everyone’s readers.
  • Hood #5: Core P4/5, couple of activity books so he feels like he is schooling!
  • Hood #4: Core K, EarlyBird Singapore, 100 lessons, H.W.T., Explode the code A, B, C., Science K.
  • Hood #3: Core 2, Language Arts 2 (intermediate and advanced), Singapore 2, Miquon, H.W.T. Wordly Wise, MCP Word Study, Science 2.
  • Hood #2: Core 4, Singapore 4, Key to Math Series, H.W.T., Wordly Wise, Key to Good Language, Winston Grammar, Science 4.
  • Hood #1: Core 6, Singapore 6, Key to Math Series, Winston grammar, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Latin Road to English Grammar, Science 6.

I may have omitted something crucial from the list – but do understand I am distracted by a large pile of books at the end of the table.

Actually, I may just take a month off because I have four boxes of books waiting to be read! Just kidding I love blogging far too much to stop! But I have a number of short people saying: “Can I read this book? Is this book for me? Can I just read this one? Are we starting school today?” – Aaaah joyful interruptions!!! and now they have to wait while I get their files together – hehe – nothing like building up some anticipation.

Anyway my next homeschool post will definitely be our day to day school schedule and that’s because I wrote 90% of it already, before I realized you would need to know what we are doing to get with the schedule.

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Tags: HomeSchool Questions · Organizing School · Se7en at School

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kristen Schwark // Feb 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I am in the process of returning a curriculum for precisely the problems you wrote about. "School" was already becoming very un-fun, for both of us.

    Two questions:
    Where do you "do" school?
    How much tv does your family watch?

    Thank you for the Sonlight info. It looks fabulous. Today we are off to do something new – the library!

  • 2 se7en // Feb 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Hi K, Our school is Fun!!! My kids are desperate to get started, they are just waiting for me to get my ducks in a row.

    Our school happens in the kitchen at our big table, all together – kind of the way we do everything.

    We don’t watch a whole lot of Tv! The father person does but the rest of us don’t really even know it exists. My kids would be astonished to discover you could watch Tv any time of the day or night – surely if its off its not showing anything! Also it lives in a cupboard – out of sight, out of mind. We just wouldn’t have time in a day to watch TV.

    Have fun at the library!

  • 3 Taryn // Feb 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm


    Do you also do the read alouds in Core K and Core 1 – (i.e. general story books and Science and History)?

    Soooo with you on the TV thing! Ours is hooked up to DVD player 🙂 and playstation 🙁 but no arialed TV 🙂 … and only dad is allowed the playstation… and DVDs, at most, happen once a day after supper and bath if dad is not able to join us (gives me good time to focus on baba)…but usually only happen about 3 times a week.

    For the benefit of your other commentor – we have a "school room" that is actually a playroom now – we school at the dining table which is just off the kitchen and livingroom (and playroom). The littlies play in the playroom where I can keep an eye on them through the doorway, while I school my eldest and then the littlies join us for some more hands on stuff later. Our dining table is not precious to us, thankfully, because it is marked up with scuffs, koki marks etc – but some of our BEST moments have happened around this table!


  • 4 se7en // Feb 21, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Hi T – Yup we do all the read-alouds… it isn’t that much! A double spread of history and science for each kid. A Bible story for each kid. And a story or a chapter from a book for each kid. It really doesn’t take more than fifteen or twenty minutes and we spread it through the day. I alway think a kid deserves at least that in reading time a day and so we just knuckle down and get it done (and probably a whole lot more!). When I pop up our schedule next week you will see how easy it is to fit it all in. I only let them change over to reading themselves when after they have read their work with me for ages and I really think their reading is super proficient… There comes a time when it is just too boring to wait for me to be there to get through their read-alouds – you know how good they are!

  • 5 Luke Holzmann // Feb 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Happy Box Day! Woo-hoo!


  • 6 se7en // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Hay L – Possibly the best day of every year! Woo-hoo indeed!!!

  • 7 Clarissa // Feb 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I should have started reading here. Thanks so much for the tips and insight….. I’ll order, P3/4 & maybe P4/5 too….asap 🙂

  • 8 se7en // Feb 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    C again! Just pop into my last couple of posts in the “Se7en at School” category and you will see that I have been writing a series on how we do Sonlight – hopefully you will find a couple of tips there – also in the comments I get asked quite a few questions and I answer them there or in the next post! Depending on the depth of answer!!!

  • 9 Clarissa // Feb 27, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you for so thoroughly describing things… it’s one thing to look at something from a catalog, and quite another to see it in action with an actual family that has nothing to gain from the participation of others, except maybe a better world 🙂 I’ll keep reading… oh and thanks for the pre-school tips. Sometimes I get so focused on the "next step" I have to remind myself to pay attention to where I am.

  • 10 se7en // Feb 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Hi C, So glad you stopped by. Thank you for the lovely comment. You have a great weekend.

  • 11 Lisa-Marie // Feb 28, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Hello Supermom
    What an inspirational site you have made up. Well done. I am truly inspired by your enthusiasm. I especially enjoyed your "Book Nook" very organized. I am going to read over it a few more times and get my head around implementing it in our home too. I am too quick to loan a book to a friend that I think would be helpful – then promptly forget who has what…
    We are in our 3rd year of hs and are enjoying the fruits of it.
    Thanks and keep up the wonderful site.

  • 12 se7en // Feb 28, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Hay L-M, I also love loaning books and always have heaps out… my theory is the more a book is read the less it costs (readership per page value!). I have a whiteboard in the kitchen and as a person borrows a book I write their name and the title on it. I have never had to ask for a book back… sometimes it takes years (I am not kidding) but everytime a borrower visits they see their name on the board – well it is just a gentle reminder!). To them and to me not to fill up the gaps with more books – else I could be in a bit of a jam. Literally!!! Have a great weekend.

  • 13 Se7en’s School To do List… » se7en // Feb 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

    […] and extra-murals – that all depends on our goal for the year – and I actually have one, but that’s a whole ‘nother […]

  • 14 Se7en Great Links I Will Use For School This Year… » se7en // Mar 11, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    […] and extra-murals – that all depends on our goal for the year – plotted and […]

  • 15 Lillian // Jun 12, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Do you have an update to this post for Core 6, 7, anything else? Just asking. I am upping the goals for my girls this year, and this helps. They’ll be in 5th and 4th doing core 3, I think. They’ve gotten a slower start than my boys, and I need to jump them ahead.
    I also think they’ll like journals. Do your kids have an Art History Journal for the art book they are reading for school, or is that in another Journal? Thanks!
    Blessings, Lillian

  • 16 se7en // Jun 12, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Whooo Lilian… I have an update post brewing!!! In the next week or two… At the moment everyone has a history journal, science journal, General journal and an art journal for their art lessons… I should probably post an art update to!!! Thanks for the questions and the post ideas, I love responding to questions so keep them coming!!! Have a good weekend!!!

  • 17 Stacy // Jan 19, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Thanks for this informative post. We are new to homeschooling and tried Sonlight. Quite frankly, I was overwhelmed with all of the schedules and such. It looks like you just take the books and make the schedule work for you! We are giving the K history another go this year (supposed to be 1st grade and we completely ditched the LA portion since the slow pace just frustrated my little one), but we are also being flexible in how we use it. I love the add-ons that you use (art, music appreciation, etc) and we do try to do that loosely here, also. I just may give the core 1 a try next year, since I do love having everything put together for me and we are avid readers here, too!

  • 18 se7en // Jan 19, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Thanks for stopping by Stacy, I think being flexible is the key!!! I know when I started out I wasn’t at all… but I have become a whole lot better at it!!! I found it took time to get into my groove and that they are many seasons to homeschooling… but the fun stays the same!!! It really has been a fun ride for all of us!!! I hope you have a great week and good luck on your homeschool journey!!!

  • 19 Lillian // Jun 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I have two questions today. What age do your kids start P 3/4?
    Also, would you do an update post or add on to this one some goals for Cores 6, 7, and 100? Pretty please?
    I appreciate everything you write. Thanks!
    Blessings, Lillian

  • 20 se7en // Jun 15, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Hay Lillian, I am just busy writing a Se7en school question post for later in the week. Not to mention, quite a few Sonlight questions, you aren’t the only one after our goals!!! I will get onto it!!! Thanks for asking!!! Have a good week!!!

  • 21 Se7en More Sonlight Questions… » se7en // Jun 17, 2011 at 3:39 am

    […] Six of my kids will not remember a time when Sonlight wasn’t a major part of our home and lifestyle… a lifestyle of reading great books throughout our day and sitting at the table and doing a couple of workbooks sometime during the morning. By the time they actually start school they have been part of the process of school and listening into our reading for quite a while. A lot of “school” happens throughout the day and we tackle it as a family. I like to split up our reading, a little bit at breakfast and at lunch, after lunch and so on… little people are part of that and everyone likes to listen in!!! I have to say learning is a way of life and while I don’t do work books and formal lessons with my little ones they sure are learning!!! This is probably my most asked question and I have answered it in this post on Our Goals for Se7en Sonlight years. […]

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