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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Sonlight High School Classic Literature230

 Review of Sonlight 220 Classical Literature

 High School Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum 

"Stories set mostly chronologically through history, mostly by British authors, you’ll travel from first-century Israel to World War II and beyond in this 36-week program."

 Summary of Review:

 So many wonderful Classic books! Do not get this curriculum if your children are not readers!!! For my bookworms is was absolutely perfect!  We covered all the classics that I would want them to read, but the writing program fell short to meet our needs.

 We used My Father's World from K-9th grade.  I would still usually recommend MFW for K-8th if you have multiple children, but their high school curriculum was not working for our family. We were able to switch to Sonlight for 10th grade. 

Even though my twins are 10th graders, we still had to complete a year of American History so we did Sonlight American History 120 alongside the 230 Classical literature.  (We will be skipping Sonlight 220 Church History)

We will be revisiting American Literature again in 430 so I am ok skipping it and focusing on some of my favorite pieces of literature, like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Austen. 


1. Great choice of entry level classic literature.

The choices of classic literature were just right for this age.  Hugely popular books, but also easy to access for a 10th grader. As a fan of classic literature, I was thankful they chose to introduce them to my favorite authors through books that the child might already have a small frame of reference for, like Jane Austen through the her most humorous book Pride and Prejudice.  As they read a few chapters we would slowly watch an episode of BBC 1995 Pride and Prejudice Mini-Series for them to understand the humor a little better. 

Sonlight introduces Charles Dickens through Christmas Carol and Shakespeare through Romeo and Juliet.  And yes of course this 90s loving girls did watch the 1996 Romeo and Juliet with her kids that week!

2.  In depth reading comprehension questions

I am really thankful for the discussion questions in the student guides so we can talk about what they are reading in a more meaningful way.  In My Father's World I was suppose to meet with them and just ask them about what stood out to them, but Sonlight really engages the student and parent daily to discuss what is being read.  The parent guide is helpful because it also provides answers. While I am looking forward to discussing some of the my favorites, I haven't ALL the books on the syllabus and need those answers!


1. Lack of step by step instructions in writing 

There is so much presumption on prior learning about formatting.  We know how to format paragraphs and they learned how to write a 5 paragraph essay last year, but the jump to this longer research paper seems very lacking on practically outlining and formatting instructions.   I literally had to buy a teaching guide from Teacher Pay Teachers on beginning research papers to help us. 

At one point they are to 'write a bibliography" with no instructions on how to do that.  They tell them how to find good research sources, but no MLA or APA formatting is given. The length is suggested of 12-20 pages, but no real outline of formatting is given, other than telling them to make a "working outline" in just a few paragraphs.  

Another example of lack of step by step instruction is in Wek 11 you are to write a character study on The Outlaws of Sherwood. It  just says "write a character study" with no explanation of what an actually character study was.  We had to supplement with other sources to help us understand some of the writing structures asked for in Creative Expressions  

I asked in several Sonlight groups to see if I was missing something and the resounding answer was that Sonlight High School does lack on those specific step by step instructions. Eventually we dropped the research paper all together because my sons will be taking a Dual Enrollment Class this summer that covers a research paper.  

2. No grading rubrics for writing

This is similar to the lack of step by step instructions.  This curriculum assumes the teachers has prior knowledge of grammar, formatting, and writing skills.  English is my strength, but I would never recommend this as the sole writing curriculum for many of my friends. 

3.  Overlapping next book before done processing or writing from last book 

In Week 9 and 10 we skipped The Shining Company because the boys were suppose to write a compare/contract essay about Jane Eyre, the book the had just read. I skipped MANY creative expressions, but I didn't want to skip this one.  Unless the essays was expected to be written in one day, it didn't make sense to end Jane Eyre on Monday and start a new book on Tuesday. I wanted them to sit in the book they were writing about before moving on. I let them have a full week to write their paper, turn in drafts, and work on revisions. 


1. Adding a different writing curriculum

I will still use Sonlight Literature next year, but we will be skipping the majority, if not all of Creative Expressions. I have found great step by step writing curriculum, with grading rubrics, from 7sisterhomeschool.  A friend recommend them and I love their price and selection. 

I bought their High School Writing Bundle 3: Advanced Guide to High School Writing  for only $35,  to go alongside our literature study.  I have opened up the PDF and I am truly excited about the easy instructions for my kids and grading rubrics for me.   I will write a full review of them next year after we use them for a longer period of time.

2. Adding a Book Basket for more diverse perspectives and more historical fiction/non fiction

Sonlight provides so many great books for high school, but I did miss having good quality books for their non-school hours.  Both of my boys read ALL day when they are done with school, so they filled our book basket with fantasy novels from the library.  There is nothing wrong with this, but I want to go back to MFW roots of ALSO filling the basket with picture and fiction  and non fiction books that relate to the time period we are studying.  

This will also give me an opportunity to add non European focused fiction and non fiction to our reading. 

3. Friday Meeting with Mom, instead of daily

The one downside to ALL the daily discussion questions if we didn't always meet EVERY day and sometimes I fell behind for several weeks.   It was a very big switch to go from almost completely independent My Father's World to daily meetings with Sonlight. I also began a part time job outside the house this year so it became almost impossible for me to meet with hem daily.  I plan to schedule a more doable week-end meeting, similar to MFW, but use the Sonlight parent guide to talk about the reading more in depth.


  1. Yes, Sonlight, while being so wonderful in choosing engaging books, has never been good at teaching Language arts as a whole. I, too, am supplementing with 7 Sisters. I bought their American Literature as well because my daughters have already read so many of the titles on every American Literature choice I have looked at. Sabrina at 7 Sister's (they are not actually sisters lol) does a wonderful job with her guides and they are so inexpensive that I can use the guides for the books that we haven't read, or assign them books again, which is fine too if they were read a few years ago. There is no one curriculum that works without some supplementing because we are teaching children, not a curriculum. No curriculum should be followed blindly, as that is not really teaching. You do a good service to your readers to explain when, how, and why you supplement. It is harder for first-time homeschool moms, but they will understand this soon enough. Blessings for another great year!

    1. Thanks for your insight! I always tell new homeschool moms that no teacher's manual is god. They don't know your kids like you do!