5 Reasons to Teach History Without a Textbook

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5 Reasons to Teach History Without a Textbook

Sonlight teaches History using great books, in a method that over the last three decades has proven itself to be both powerful and effective. But why would we choose to rely on literature instead of other tried-and-true materials or methods? At Sonlight, we believe a literature-rich homeschool curriculum is ideal for a teaching history (and other subjects) for five main reasons.

1. Great Books Offer Context

Intuitively we know that context is important. For example, separate ingredients are better when they come together in a Caesar salad. That can of anchovies on its own isn’t so appealing, but as part of a dressing, it offers a savory note that enhances the salad.

Learning History, too, shouldn’t be a bunch of discrete facts. History is a series of interwoven stories, and stories are interesting to listen to. We all want to know what happens next! When you are engaged, you remember more. With the context, you understand more of what is happening.

The American colonies didn’t one day decide to shoot at British soldiers for fun. They had been building resentment for years. Sure, 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence, is an important date. But so are the events leading up to 1776, the characters involved in 1776, the dangers, the monotony, the strategy, the daily life.

When you read for context, you gain far more than a flashcard date. You gain a story, a memory, an understanding.

2. Great Books Offer Experience, Not Factoids

If you treasure wonderful experiences with your children—who doesn’t?!—Sonlight is the perfect curriculum for you. Sonlight families don’t “do school.” They travel, with books, to a wide variety of interesting locations. They meet, with books, interesting people, some famous, some not. They experience triumphs (and some defeats).

Neuroscientists have found that reading about an event goes to the same place in the brain as experiencing that event.

If you’ve been thinking you would like to do more things with your children, go on more trips, expose them to more things, Sonlight is your ticket. Travel the world for far less than a plane ticket.

3. Great Books Offer Time and Desire For Independent Play

When you start Sonlight A with your children, your History / Bible / Literature education will take perhaps an hour. But that whole hour, your children will have been engaged with the learning process, as they listened to a comprehensive story Bible, a poem, some information about the wider world, a delightful book you read for their comprehension, and some sentences or pages that they read to you.

Many children, after spending this intensive time with a parent, are ready to spend time on their own: LEGO, outdoor activities, looking at books, drawing pictures, making up stories with a sibling. . . . They have time to experience the rest of the world.

You won’t be burnt out at the end of the year because your year won’t have been drudgery. It will have been filled with lovely moments!

Your children will check in with you a few times during the rest of the day, showing what they’ve made, coming for a hug, asking a question (“What’s for dinner?”)—but by spending focused time with them, they have thoughts to process and play to engage in, books to read, and creative endeavors to pursue.

Many Sonlight moms can go back to school for themselves or hold down part-time jobs because their children are able to be so independent once their school work is done.

4. Great Books Are Unique

There is only one Pride and Prejudice. There is only one Little Britches. Like the most outstanding people you’ve ever met, great books can’t be duplicated or imitated. In fact, although whole branches of the publishing industry spring up dedicated to bringing us books “in the tradition of Jane Austen,” that’s like store-brand cola—it’s a cheap knock-off.

With Sonlight, come meet the outstanding books, mostly published in the last century, but, especially in the high school programs, going back to ancient Mesopotamia. Four thousands years of unique, superb literature.

To enjoy these gems, you don’t need to go to university for an advanced degree. You don’t need tens of thousands of dollars for a private school education. You don’t need special tools or years of prep work.

If you can read, you can Sonlight. We’ve done the choosing and the planning for you.

  • No guesswork.
  • No late night scheduling.
  • No scanning library shelves, trying to avoid inappropriate topics.

A complete program, delivered to your door.

Great books produce outstanding students and thoughtful lifelong learners.

College professors routinely compliment Sonlight students on their writing ability, their clear communication, their depth of thought, their extensive knowledge of the world.

And Sonlight students, knowing that learning should be enjoyable, keep that joy going throughout their lives.

This is not History-because-we-have-to-get-it-done. This is History-because-we-get-to-do-it.

5. Great Books Are Enjoyable

Sonlight’s History program is so fun that Sonlight children beg to do school on the weekends and during summer vacation. This is not History-because-we-have-to-get-it-done. This is History-because-we-get-to-do-it.

Ready to enjoy learning?

At Sonlight, we know that every homeschool family is unique, and every student has individual strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. That’s why we offer multiple curriculum options, completely customizable to meet your needs.

Curious to see what this type of education might look like for your family? Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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