Friday, March 16, 2007

Combining SL and WP

Combining SL and WP, part 1

As promised, here's a rundown of how our family combines two wonderful curriculum into one cohesive program that touches on the multiple learning styles represented in our house. I'll try to hit the basics in this post, but please feel free to ask any questions through the comment section.

The first step: How we decided what to combine
We have been happy SL users for four years. The quick pace of the reading schedules fits Jo's voracious appetite for books, and the content--mature issues balanced by thorough discussion with mom or dad--is perfect for her. Also, as a family deeply committed to a missions-based world-view, the many biographies and stories about missionaries and the non-Anglo-centered approach to history is a perfect fit for us. I have also found that SL is very flexible, and has allowed us to very easily trim here and add there to make a program that works great for us.

Things went along great through Core K, Core 1 and even Core 2. The thing we found ourselves faced with was the fact that Jo and Atticus are just slightly too far apart age-wise, as well as having quite different approaches to learning in general. Factor in Logan, who isn't happy unless he's tagging along, and SL was starting to look pretty daunting at the more intense levels (Core 3 & up).

This is the point at which many people simply split their children into two separate Cores. While that had been my original plan, I knew that no one would be happy with that. Atticus was chomping at the bit to get to American history, and Logan wasn't quite ready for Core K. Plus, I just didn't see how I was going to do two cores, handle an adoption in-progress and perform various ministry tasks.

Not wanting to abandon a curriculum that we truly love, I began searching around for ways to complement it. I did not want to replace SL. I just wanted to make it work more for our family. After some research and careful observation of my kiddos, here was the list of things I decided we needed in our curriculum package as a whole:

1. Like SL, anything I added in had to be literature-based. We are a family of writers and readers. The most important aspect of our homeschooling is the ability to curl up together with a good book. Workbook based programs have their place, but they are not the heart of what our homeschool is about.

2. The new program had to "fill the gap" of Sl by providing crafts or hands-on activities.
I've been pulling these together myself for years, and I decided that if I was adding anything in to SL, it may as well be something I was already doing on my own.

3. The new program had to correspond in time period to what we were doing in our next SL Core.
Had to be American history--because I am too disorganized at this time to handle more than one era of history in depth.

4. New readers had to be available at approximately a first grade level. I knew Jo would be doing SL Core 3 Advanced readers, and I also knew that Atticus couldn't handle the regular Core 3 readers. I wanted something that was historically based, but was at a low enough level that he could read successfully on his own.

I really recommend putting together a list like this if you are considering combining two programs. So often I think we slap two things together because we like them both and can't decide which one to "do." That's a recipe for frustration--on your behalf, and your children's. Take the time to plan ahead and make sure tht your needs and the needs of your children will be met. It will save you so much time and money!

Anyhow, after going over this list, DH and I settled hands-down on WinterPromise. It is very, very close to Sonlight in its overall goals and style. It also corresponds perfectly--at a slightly lower level--to SL. With a bit of plotting, we decided that our curriculum for the 2006-2007 school year would be built around a hybrid of SL Core 3 and WP American Story I.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. I am in a similar situation right now (even to the kids' ages) that you were in back then. It's always comforting to find someone who has gone before me.