It is a little early for me to fairly assess a 36 week course, when I have only used 2 weeks of plans, but I think I have a pretty good grasp of some of the essential, defining characteristics. I will review it now and will check back after we’ve gotten further along to see if and how my opinion has changed.
To give you the big picture, I will share what our whole day/week looks like. We are studying the Eastern Hemisphere, using Sonlight’s Core 5. We use the Bible and Language Arts program for level five, as well. On top of that, we do piano, recorder, health in the form of sex ed, Spanish, drawing, math and PE. For Science we are studying Anatomy and Physiology through Apologia. We dropped Greek and Roman root words and typing because it was just too much.
So. For the core, which is History and Geography, we are reading several books. One is a book about some missionaries who went to Papua New Guinea. This we will finish shortly. We love the book. There are so many conversation starters, I feel it is an active gold mine. I will be sad to finish it.
We are also reading 100 Gateway Cities, or something titled similarly. For the other lower levels of Sonlight, there is always a book used throughout the school year used to explore and pray for people groups. One year we prayed for tribes of Native Americans. Another year we prayed for people groups beginning with a new letter of the alphabet who at the time didn’t have the Bible written in their native language. This book we are reading is akin to those. It focuses on a city in the area of the world where there is the highest population and least evangelized people. Very cool. But the first week we spent reading introductions by various people. These I am sure were intended to inform and inspire, but all they did for me was demonstrate how easily passion can be turned into dogma. In my opinion, the burden of ‘should’ is emphasized over love and freely giving.
Our reader doesn’t seem to have much to do with the Eastern Hemisphere, but we are eating up Henry Reed, Inc anyway.
The core of the core is called Eastern Hemisphere Explorer. It is notebook pages coupled with a World Book CDROM Encyclopedia. In it are the cool assignments, like putting on a luau, making a volcano, studying African drums, jewelry making, or writing an epic story. So cool, right?? But in order to make the most of those adventures, you need to establish some foundational knowledge about the country or people group we are studying. It sounds like it will be fun: looking into the timeline, learning some lingo, and understanding other ways of life. But the problem is the source of knowledge. That stinkin, beautiful encyclopedia. Gorgeous pictures. But the search engine makes want to pull my hair out. I can see why people complain about it.
It is tough because I have become pretty confident about setting aside school items that don’t benefit us. So normally, I wouldn’t sweat this. But it is the key to the whole program—studying the Eastern Hemisphere—and a step needed to get to the awesome adventures that will make this year so very special and memorable.
So, we all just sit down and go through it together. I am quick to switch to an internet search if the encyclopedia doesn’t give me a quick answer. I think it is going to be a great year!