Where is the true 4-Day program?

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I saw the following feedback on the Forums:

I REALLY love our Core this year, but I was disappointing that you chose to schedule Bible, Readers, and some LA five days a week. We broaden our children's education outside the home one day a week. Sonlight's past 4-day schedules dovetailed perfectly with this. Now, it's just frustrating. We want a 4-DAY program...not a 4-day with some extra fifth day requirements.

First, let me say: I love feedback like this! We absolutely want to hear from you. We take your suggestions very seriously and many of the updates we made to our Instructor's Guides this year were draw directly from your suggestions and requests.

Second, I totally get how this would be frustrating. I helped write the Bible notes and schedule in a few of the levels, so I'm more that a little bit to blame for this disappointment. I'm so sorry that our new schedule layout has created more work for you. That was not at all our intent.

So, third, let me lay out my take on all this and, hopefully, give you a little bit of encouragement:

  1. Reading/Language Arts has long been scheduled five days a week. That's not new this year. We built Sonlight this way because Dr. Ruth Beechick, who strongly influenced my mom's philosophy of Language Arts, urges you to have your children read a little every day. And I agree. I struggled with reading, so giving me many opportunities--and lots of time--to develop this skill is important. This year we kept that format, including the fun fifth-day LA assignments. If that does not work with your schedule, please feel free to skip those assignments. Do not feel any compulsion to cram it into the rest of your week just because it's scheduled in the Instructor's Guide.
  2. If we believe kids should do Reading and LA every day, I couldn't leave Bible off that list! But you can skip the fifth day Bible passages just like Reading if that works better for your family. I tried to keep the day five reading manageable and devotional without the extra study resources. Even if you're one of the many families on the go once a week, I do hope you take some time for Bible reading... even if it's not part of your homeschool schedule.
  3. Let me reiterate: We're here to serve you. Your feedback is invaluable and if not having a true, purely 4-Day program is making homeschooling harder for you... we want to know. I'm certainly not going to guarantee anything beyond our already stellar year-long Love to Learn Guarantee, but we will keep your insights and suggestions in mind as we work to improve our homeschool curriculum programs in the future.

I do like positive feedback too. You know, stuff like, "I love your updates! You guys rock! Best improvements ev'ah!" That kind of thing. Feel free to send those in too <smile>.

But, seriously: What can we do to improve your homeschool experience?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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  1. Tammy

    I agree, Bible should be read everyday. I also find it difficult to just "not do" the fifth day readers, especially when the book is a continuation of what was read during the week. I have tried to combine the five days of reading into four days, and my son has really started complaining. Some days, he is reading a TON of pages. I have suggested he spread it out and read on the fifth day - the way it was intended - but, although not a struggling reader, he hates to read. He loves to be read to, but doesn't like to read independently. He has improved over the years, but I'm concerned this will squelch whatever reading I CAN get out of him! And I do love the format of the IG in terms of having everything together for each week. I still love Sonlight!!

  2. Megan

    I actually like the new schedule new NEED a 4-day schedule this year, and the new layout makes it so much easier. We've still kept up with some of the 5th day books but haven't felt compelled if we've not had time. And LA is light enough that we've been able to keep up even though we don't usually school on Fridays at all due to co-op classes.

  3. I liked the way the study guides for each book were BEFORE the updates. I liked to pull out the guide for the book we were reading and set it aside with the book itself. Then when I read it, I had the guide handy and could easily find the questions for that day's reading. Now, it's harder. The questions are tucked away in the IG notes by day. We don't always follow the daily schedule, so it's harder to find the questions to follow-up with. But maybe it's just me and the way that works best for us.

  4. Melissa Kunz

    Ditto on the study guides. I thought the questions were easier to find before the updates. We don't use Sonlight's LA, and the Bible portion of the daily notes is redundant. Then you have to sort through questions for both Regular and Advanced Readers. All these things make finding the pertinent questions difficult. I DO like not having to worry about moving the individual study guides into my 3-ring binder, though.

    I am a 5-Day Sonlight user. However, I don't like the changes either. We really don't like reading books only one day a week. It's too long to wait when we're really getting into the book (which is usually!). Also, reading a book only one time per week makes the book take FOREVER to read.

    Sorry, Luke, I would love to give you some glowing feedback, but I just can't on this topic. I can tell you, though, that so far we have loved every single book in Core D. (Core 100 isn't shabby either!)

  5. Lisa C.

    You're not correct when you say that readers have always been scheduled five days a week. I have my 2011 four-day Core D IG in front of me and the readers are scheduled for four days just like everything else. I don't have the LA-D IG anymore (I returned it as it wasn't working for us), but from what I remember the only things scheduled on day five were optional writing projects. I think maybe in earlier levels the readers were scheduled for five days, but I don't remember that being the case since getting out of the "learning to read" phase. But regardless, I can say unequivocally that in the 2011 Core D Instructor's Guide there is nothing scheduled for day five on a four-day schedule, including readers, so your statement that, "Reading/Language Arts has long been scheduled five days a week. That's not new this year," is inaccurate. Granted, the four-day reader schedule covers the same pages as the five day--just broken into more pages per day--but it was nice to have that work done for me. That's what the Sonlight IG is all about.

  6. Rebecca

    Maybe for the Obsessive Compulsive of us, you need to put a little "Optional" under each day 5 heading. :)

  7. Tammy, I did a little more digging after reading over the comments, and the 4-day schedule for D and up from 2011 and before had the same amount of reading... it was just spread over the four days. So, the amount's always been the same. May you and your son find a system that works for your family!

    Glad to hear it, Megan! Thanks for sharing <smile>.

    Shannon, it's certainly not just you. I know many families used the IG that way. I'm sorry that the update has made it less efficient for how you use your Guide, but I'm pleased to report that far more users have commented on how much easier the guide is to use. But, yes, we knew we would make it harder for people who like to pull out the study notes. That was a tough decision to weigh .

    Thanks, Melissa. I'm far more interested in honest feedback than lauded praise <smile>. Thankfully you'll only have the Regular/Advanced issue in Core D. That's not a problem in the other programs.

    Lisa, I stand corrected! Thanks for encouraging me to look at that again. I even double-checked before I wrote my post and missed the second line in the Core D IG. And, yes, I'm far more familiar with the Grade K through 4-5 Language Arts, which is where the Reading has been scheduled every day. And I have passed on your great points here. Thank you!

    Rebecca, we actually considered that. However, the 5th day isn't optional for 5-Day Sonlighters, so we ended up scrapping it. But we absolutely talked about it <smile>.

    Thank you for jumping in here and helping me flesh this out more! Much appreciated.


  8. Lisa C.

    I appreciate your candor, Luke. :) I just received my brand-new Core E IG and I have to say, I'm excited about it. Honestly, it doesn't really matter to me whether the readers are scheduled over four or five days. I generally give my kids a week's worth of assignments at a time anyway ("Make sure you've read to at least page ## by Sunday night!" or "Finish the book by Thursday.") . They like having the freedom to decide if they're going to read it all at the beginning of the week, spread it out evenly, read more than what's assigned, or even (gasp) procrastinate and do it all over the weekend. :)

    I decided to order the five-day program this time so we have the option of doing those readings--if it doesn't work for us, we'll just drop them. Living overseas, it's more economical to get everything I might possibly need at once rather than have to order something later and pay more crazy shipping charges. (Not blaming SL for the shipping charges, that's just the way it is when things have to travel around the world.)

  9. Thanks for following up, Lisa. You method sounds very manageable... especially since we always begged to "keep reading" <smile>. May your 5-day program be just what your family needs! I always encourage families to get the 5-day because the "extra" books make great anytime readers. And, yes, shipping prices are crazy... and they keep going up!


  10. Sarah

    I know this is an old post, so perhaps you aren't still monitoring it. But I was just reading a series of your posts and ran into this one. :)

    One thing I'd say is... is there any chance that Sonlight can drop the attempt to coordinate the 4-day and 5-day schedules? Are there really that many families that keep pace with each other and yet one wants to do 4-day and one 5-day? I've never heard of *anyone* wanting to do that.

    And while it's annoying for the 4-day people to have stuff scheduled on the 5th day, it's also really annoying for us 5-day people to have day 5 be different from the other days. There's so much skipping around, and in general it seems like, while the 5-day books are the best choices if you *do* have to pick something to read once a week, that even those books would do better read on consecutive days. I find it worst in science, where the books really shouldn't be broken up... really, we read about caterpillars and butterflies a few pages at a time, a week apart?

    I'm also really nervous about LA being combined into Core, because Sonlight's LA is currently not working very well for us. It's really hard to make it work if you have a kid who is reading ahead of grade level. I'm hoping that things will settle down enough by Core D that we'll be able to handle it, but I do wish Sonlight would at least keep the schedules separate so that it's possible to be on a different week of LA than Core.

  11. Sarah, I appreciate all comments... even ones "late in the game" [smile]. And I'll pass your insights along to product development.

    The choice to make both schedules fit in the same week was based on several factors... none of which were so two separate families could stay in sync. I haven't heard of anyone doing that either [smile]. But we did want to make it possible to switch between the 4-Day and 5-Day option as needed so you could have optimal flexibility. We also wanted to simplify the IG so it was easier to grasp what was going on. We talk about more of these decisions in this Instructor's Guides Improvements video (specifically around the 1:30 mark).

    I'm sorry to hear that Sonlight's LA isn't working very well for your family. Please chat with a Sonlight Advisor as there may be some tweaks you'll be able to make to it to help it fit your family.

    Hope that helps!