As an unschooling mom, a literature-based approach using the best living books I could find seemed like an awesome idea. I admit, though, that I did add in educational videos, crafts and other hands-on projects, field trips, and other teaching tools. But, the one thing I pretty much avoided was textbooks. Even for math. I used a variety of math resources until my kids reached high school. Then, I used more formal lessons with either a textbook or an online curriculum. Anyway, you might wonder what literature-based even means and why you would use that approach.
What is a literature-based education and how does it mesh with unschooling and special needs?
According to Sonlight, a literature-based educational approach is a “highly academic approach that uses outstanding books and delightful stories as the centerpiece for learning.” So, the idea is to carefully curate your home library so that you expose your children to the best books. In an unschooling home, the children have access to these books to read as they wish. For those who are not unschooling, it means that your curriculum centers around literature, not text-books. For example, you might choose a Charlotte Mason, Classical, or unit study approach.
And, if you have special needs children, a literature-based approach helps them learn in context. I have found with my own special needs kids that they remember stories far better than straight text. Sometimes, though, they need some help sorting out important and not so important to remember. They may also need help with sequencing. That’s where timelines come in.
Benefits of purchasing Sonlight literature-based curriculum
Save time and effort
I cannot tell you what a pain it is hunting in thrift stores and scrolling through online book stores to find the best deals on living books. I racked up a lot of library fees, too, because packing up four young children is a serious undertaking and I wasn’t doing it just to return some books. Instead, I tried to group errands, but that meant that books were sometimes late to the book drop. So, I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just bought a Sonlight literature-based curriculum. No time and effort spent hunting for books with tatters or writing in them. No disappointments because the library doesn’t have the book or you need to return it early because there’s a hold on it.
One-year money back guarantee
Have you ever purchased a huge box of books and literature-based curriculum only to find that, three months in, it’s really not for you? Well, Sonlight offers a generous return policy. They allow you to take one year to use the first 18-weeks of an eligible program and if it really isn’t for you, you can return the entire curriculum. As long as the second half of the program is unused and you return everything, you can receive a full refund. Check out the details. No one else offers such a generous return policy.
As an unschooler, lesson plans don’t really excite me. However, most families benefit from a plan of some sort. Not everyone wants to wing it or come up with their own plans all the time. And, if you are a single parent family or a two-income family that shares homeschooling, you need a plan. Admittedly, even unschoolers sometimes like to see the Teacher’s Guide for ideas, to track progress, or to use as a record-keeping tool even if they don’t follow it exactly. And, Sonlight’s Instructor Guides are super easy to use! They have an at-a-glance chart page for each week and detailed teacher notes that include possible discussion questions, notes about the books, timeline and map points, vocabulary, and lapbooking activities. It is truly open-and-go.
What’s great about the Sonlight literature-based American history curriculum
Now, a literature-based curriculum makes the most sense for language arts and history/cultures/geography. It’s doable for math and science, but requires a bit of creativity. And, of course, I highly recommend Sonlight for the reasons I cited above. But, there is one other even more important reason, which I will get to in a minute.
First, my kids are mostly grown, but I got my hands on the newly updated Sonlight History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History. This package is most appropriate for kids in grades 4 through 7. Looking through the materials brought back so many memories! I almost wished I could go back and do it again, we had so much fun during our read aloud activities. My kids still talk about Carry on Mr. Bowditch, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Fever:1793, The Sign of the Beaver, I could go on.
And that brings me to my more important reason to invest in Sonlight. You are not only saving yourself time and effort and making your life easier at no risk. You are also building a library of memories that will endure long after you are done homeschooling. Your family experiences and your rich learning environment will benefit you and your children for years to come. Isn’t that why we homeschool in the first place?