Monday, October 29, 2007

Curriculum Review: Sonlight 100

My fourteen year-old daughter is doing Sonlight 100 this year. I have never been a Sonlight user because of the rigid structure of their lesson plans. I'm generally not a rigidly structured kind of person. However, I love that structure for my daughter, who is learning to be completely independent with all her studies. It is extremely helpful for her, giving her clear guidance and direction with each day. She is told what to read, how much to read and then has a list of questions for each book she has read. She writes down her answers and then checks in the TM to see if she answered correctly.

The reason I chose Sonlight 100 is because it is a very in-depth study of American history. As many of you know, my daughter plans to be a ballerina (which generally does not include the typical college track of most kids), so we plan to begin acquiring college credit through high school by taking the CLEP tests. Our plan centers around taking a course that would teach to a certain CLEP test and then studying for the associated CLEP. Thus, Sonlight 100 would correspond with the American History I and American History II CLEP tests.

Sonlight 100 has them work through Hakim's book series. She then reads the questions, commentary on the book (which often discusses Hakim's slant and her errors, as well as helps them understand the politics about why Hakim wrote what she did.) She is also reading several historical novels that correlate with the time period, which also includes questions and commentary. As well, she has a Bible class, with several books that teach her spiritually along with missionary stories, etc.

When she first began this course, she had trouble with answering questions after she had finished the reading. She is and has always been a phenomenal reader. So, it was not that the reading was difficult, she was simply not used to having such in-depth, specific questions asked of her after she read. She was used to narration and notebooking, which are great techniques that developed different skills. So, this amazing reader, who was devouring books from the time she was six years old, needed to learn how to read a book critically.

At first, she found herself reading the chapter twice in order to answer the question. She then spent a few weeks reading and then answering as she went along. Now, through this practice of answering critical questions about the book, she has learned how to be an alert and attentive reader - and can answer the questions after she has read the selection without referring back to the book. She simply needed to be trained how to read with an alert mind - attentive to every detail, nuance, possible foreshadowing, etc.

So, I am very pleased with the progress she has made so far with Sonlight. The best part is that I gave her the CLEP American History I practice exam, allowing her to answer only the questions that relate to the time period she has covered. She answered 100% of those questions correct. I'm very excited that this course may be all she needs to pass the CLEP exam. (She did study American history for the last two years, however; which, I'm sure, increased her understanding of what she is learning this year.)

Thus, as this point, I can highly recommend Sonlight 100.