Homeschooling Kindergarten: the First Quarter with Sonlight Core P4/5

We’ve just finished the first quarter of the school year, as laid out in Sonlight’s P4/5 core schedule. That seems like enough time to give some thoughts on the books we’ve read, and the Sonlight experience. I’m really pleased with how easy it’s been so far. I do realize that right now I’m only really working with one child for Kindergarten, so we’re not talking hugely demanding academics here, but still – it gives me hope for the future to continue homeschooling with three children. And short-term, it gives me confidence that I can manage it with a newborn.

Core P45 IGFirst, a big success as far as I’m concerned is the instructor guide itself. I’ve loved having something written and planned out, to give me a general idea of what a reasonable amount to cover in a week is. If I was an experienced homeschool mom, I don’t know that I’d care, but as a newbie, I love it.

That said, I don’t follow the schedule religiously, and I have never once followed it day-to-day all week long. Generally, I try and keep us on one week at a time, but during that “week” (which may take anywhere from 2 to 10 days to finish) we jump around and do things in our own order. I also rarely use the discussion questions provided – I find it easy enough to ask my own based on what we’re reading.

For this first quarter, the books we’ve been using:
Developing the Early LearnerDeveloping the Early Learner
Perhaps my son’s favorite item from the entire package. He loves loves loves these sorts of activities. This is one of the main reasons I keep us on a week-at-a-time schedule, or else he’d want to finish the entire book in one week. As it is, he does a week in a day, and then impatiently waits until he can do more.

The Lion Storyteller Bedtime BookLion Storyteller Bedtime Book
Both kids like this one a lot, especially the stories that feature Rabbit and Tiger. (But our copy doesn’t look like the one linked; the cover is different. Apparently they’ve got the same content, just a different cover.)

Stories from Around the WorldStories from Around the World
They like this one, but not quite as much as the Lion book, although they have referenced these stories later, so clearly they’re listening and paying attention. I think Rabbit and Tiger just captivate them so much they’re inclined to favor that book.

Eric Carle's Animals AnimalsEric Carle’s Animals Animals
They’re mostly indifferent towards this one. The short poems don’t seem to catch their attention, but they do like the illustrations. However, I have noticed a difference in the last two weeks when we’ve read this one. My son is much more interested in it, so perhaps it was just a maturity thing, as my daughter still only cares about the illustrations.

My First Picture DictionaryMy First Picture Dictionary (Part of the Language Arts K package)
They love looking up the new letter each week, and were sad during the week with no new letter. It’s been fun for me discovering some words that both kids already know, and sometimes I have no idea how they know them. Some of them my son has told me I’ve said, but I don’t remember using them.

A Treasury of Mother GooseA Treasury of Mother Goose Rhymes
They’re big fans of this one – we tend to read lots extra in this one every time we open it, so we’ll likely end up reading the entire book at least 4 times during the year, assuming our current pace holds steady.

The Children's Book of VirtuesThe Children’s Book of Virtues
Somewhat indifferent, leaning towards liking it. We’ve only read 3 or 4 entries from it, so this one is a little more “still to be determined” as to whether or not it’ll be an overall hit.

Uncle Wiggily's Story BookUncle Wiggly’s Story Book
They HATE this one. I stuck with it for two weeks, but I hated reading it too, and decided to ditch it instead of torturing us all. I may try it again in a few months. Or I may not, since I didn’t like reading it myself. 🙂

101 Favorite Stories from the Bible101 Favorite Stories from the Bible
They aren’t really fond of this version. They liked the The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His NameThe Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones I used previously, and I keep debating whether or not to try another one instead of sticking with this one. It’s not such an obvious thing as the Uncle Wiggly one was, so for now we’re sticking with it. At least each day’s story is short!

Things People DoThings People Do
They like this quite a bit, but they never protest too much at only doing one entry a week, so it’s not the most compelling book I’ve read to them. It’s still a good one, and leads to interesting discussions with one or both of them.

Language and Thinking for Young ChildrenLearning and Thinking for Young Children (Part of the Language Arts K package)
Eh, doesn’t do much for me, or them. I think if you’ve read a lot on early childhood education, and pay attention to every day learning opportunities, much of this will be a repeat. At least it’s all seemed that way so far!

Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature
I already mentioned this one last month, but I can’t leave it out as it was definitely a highlight of these weeks. This one will definitely be read through multiple times they like it so much. There was no way we were able to limit ourselves to the listed amounts for each week – instead I’d just read until we came to a good stopping point, and then pick up again where we left off.

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  1. We just finished Week 8, and many of my impressions parallel yours. My daughter LOVES to do the Developing the Early Learner pages, and the Rabbit and Tiger stories from The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book, as well as a few other stories from that book. The others are a bit more hit-or-miss. She also loves the pictures in the Eric Carle book much more than the poems (I think she’s several months younger than your son; she just turned 4 a week or so ago), and she thinks the Mother Goose poems are “silly.” She tolerates the Children’s Book of Virtues and Things People Do. I took one glance through Uncle Wiggily and set it aside … she’s not ready for that yet.

    For most of the readings, I don’t try to do them on the day they’re scheduled. Instead, every Friday I look at the Instructor Guide and bookmark all the readings for the following week (except the science ones; I do those differently). Then each day at lunch, I pick one longer one or two or more shorter ones (poems, mostly) and read to her while she eats. She seems to pay attention much better that way. Bible stories and seatwork are done roughly on the day they’re scheduled–I do modify since we do school 4 days a week instead of 5, but I just try to even out the pages over the week. And I preread the Bible stoires; sometimes I read the story from The Family-Time Bible that came with P3/4 instead of from the P4/5 one. We also throw in Handwriting Without Tears PreK and either a math or critical thinking workbook every day. I don’t schedule her Kumon workbooks … she asks for those almost every day, so we do it whenever she wants.

    For science, I’ve been doing that reading before naptime, since there’s not enough time to do it all at lunch. (I tried having my husband do it before bedtime, but neither he nor my daughter was willing to give up the P3/4, Curious George, or Paddington Bear stories they prefer to read then.) We just finished The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature today–I just bookmarked where we were and read however much she wanted every day, and we ended up finishing it a few weeks early. Now I’ve put the rest of her science books in her room, and we’ll go through them the same way. If we go through the rest of the science books quickly, too, I may start over on them … or I may just finish science early and use that time to read her other Sonlight books, so that maybe we’ll have time at lunch for the longer stories I see scheduled later in the year.

    All in all, I think it’s going ok for us this year. Even though most of it isn’t too advanced for her right now, though, I’m concerned as I look at the stories coming up in just a few weeks … I’m not sure she’s ready for them. If it turns out that she isn’t, I’ll end up continuing with the seatwork and skipping a lot of the literature, maybe subbing back in some of the P3/4 stories that were a little advanced for her then, and that haven’t made it into the bedtime rotation.

    • If your daughter just turned 4, she’s right in between my two. I guess I’m going to have to start saying my oldest two. 🙂 G just turned 5 earlier this month, and H turned 3 at the end of last month.

      That is exactly how we handled the Berenstain Bears book, although we’ve slowed down a bit after adding in that Astronomy book. I had thought we’d be done with it by now, but between the other book, VBS weeks and family visiting, we’ve still got that very last section to finish.

      I love hearing about how others are doing it all – thanks for sharing!

  2. SoCalLynn says:

    As a homeschool mom going into her 9th year, I have to tell you how excited I am for you and your family. Enjoy this special time with your young ones, learning is such a fun adventure.

  3. Ooh, I’m gonna bookmark that Berenstain Bears one!

    If you’re looking for a Bible to read — Eleanor’s been loving The Early Reader’s Bible by V Gilbert Beers. Since last year we’ve read stories to her; she’s just started reading the stories to us in the last couple months. I like that they have little discussion questions after each story.

    • Awesome – thanks for the tip! I just got a new Bible for G (it’s not that one, but I’m blanking out on the exact title and author right now), but I’ll keep your suggestion in mind if this one doesn’t work.

      You should definitely look for the Berenstain Bears book – both kids really do love it so much. It’s three books put together, so if your library doesn’t have it under that title, check the individual books – The Berenstain Bears’ Almanac, The Berenstain Bears’ Nature Guide, and The Berenstain Bears’ Science Fair.

  4. This is a great to see! I’ve recently received the Sonlight magazine and I keep seeing everyone mention how well it works with their family. But I don’t understand, do you just read through each book multiple times, or does it come with activities and lessons for each book as well?

    • If you click on the link for the Instructor Guide, and scroll down the page just a tiny bit, there is a tab for samples. Under that tab you can click on a link and get a three-week PDF sample for the guide. The first page for each week has a grid with what to do each day, and then following that there are notes and activities.

      Honestly though, we almost never do the activities, and at this level the notes aren’t that necessary if you’re at all familiar with asking questions while you read. I’m sure that changes a bit as the cores move up in age level / difficulty, but for now none of the notes have been essential. There are samples available for every core’s guide, if you’re interested in seeing how they change as they progress.

      For Core P 3/4, we did read most of the books multiple times (probably hundreds of times for a couple of the very favorite stories), but so far for this core we’ve only reread parts of the Mother Goose book, and have started rereading the Berenstain Bears science book. That may change as we continue on however – there are some other books I can see the kids wanting to reread, even before we “officially” reread it all for my daughter’s turn at that level.


  1. […] gives out, it’s lunch time, or it’s time for taekwondo. My picks are almost always the Sonlight books, but occasionally I’ll go with something else, especially if the kids have been picking those […]

  2. […] I shared our thoughts on the books we were using for the first quarter already, and overall his opinions are generally still the same. He still loves the Developing the Early Learner books, and the The Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature might be the biggest hit for the entire year. Things People Do is finished, but he likes to look through it on his own still. […]

  3. […] as to what we thought about the first half of the core? I wrote about the first quarter and second quarter […]

  4. […] as to what we thought about the rest of the core? I wrote about the first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter […]

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