I thought I would take some time to let you know how it went this past year and what changes we’ll be making for the upcoming one.
My overall impression of MFW compared to Sonlight is that it is definitely a lighter load. The history books are more kid-friendly with lots of pictures and activities to incorporate into the assignments. With books like, A Child’s History of the World as a spine, Sonlight could get a little dry and heavy for the average kiddo. MFW gives them much to look at and observe through books such as The Illustrated World Atlas.
Science in MFW is Creation-based with resources from Answers In Genesis and Apologia. Sonlight’s young year cores were filled with evolutionary theory from Usborne books. I do love the Usborne publications for their rich photo content and good scientific information. Unfortunately, they don’t always get it right by presenting theory as fact. I’m happy to make the switch here.
Reading time with MFW is waaaay lighter than it was with Sonlight. You really only have one read-aloud book going at a time whereas with Sonlight, we’d sometimes have two or three, seems like. The “book basket” is a concept that we haven’t really implemented but is apart of the MFW curriculum. The idea here is to borrow extra read-alouds from your local library and spend 15 minutes a day on those. Honestly, we just do not have the time or desire to do this. I don’t want to take a portion of my week to hunt for books that my library ends up never having and returning the few they do have, inevitably late with a fee. I’d rather just buy the books. I miss the convenience of having them included in the curriculum and scheduled in the planner. *This would be my biggest complaint with MFW.*
The daily Bible lessons consist of Window on the World, Hero Tales, and the Bible. (All of which you Sonlighters will recognize!) There’s no singing along cd. We memorize a verse or two a week with copywork and dictation activities that get filed under language arts. MFW also provides some coloring sheets for countries visited in WoW. Each one has John 3:16 written in the native language. The kids enjoy these while they listen to the daily bible reading and WoW lesson.
Another fun thing the kids enjoy are the passports and atlas sticker books. This first year in the cycle is largely focused on geography and I’m happy to say the kids are really learning much of the globe. History lessons include playing a geography game a couple times a week and this has really paid off. The fun and competition of the game has kept the kids engaged in memorizing the countries of the world. They love having their passports stamped when we ‘arrive’ in a new country.
My overall impression of My Father’s World is extremely favorable. It’s lighter than Sonlight – less intense. The weekly lessons have games and fun activities built in, not just suggested as in much of Sonlight. I think Sonlight’s biggest mistake is offering too many options. Like any good homeschooler, if it’s in the schedule we must do it! Yes, yes, I was one of those… I’ll never forget the time I was relaying the tearful experience my son and I were having over the horrid Sonlight language arts lessons when my dear homeschooling friend said to me, “Just don’t do it. Give him something else to read. You don’t have to do that curriculum. Just do something else.” It was an original idea to me at the time and at first I thought she was nutso. Then I realized that I was the one who was nutso!! Why was I trying to force feed my son a learning tool that wasn’t teaching him anything?!? Needless to say, we never used those awful books again and the boy reads just fine now at age 13. No need to fuss over every suggested reading, field trip and extra activity in the book.
Anyhoo, Sonlight is heavy. My Father’s World is light. I don’t mean that the lessons lack content. It’s just that they aren’t nearly as intense due to the built-in fun. I don’t like scheduling fun. With Sonlight, we had to do just that. All business – all the time. And always playing ‘catch-up’. I’m also finding that we tend to do extra things like watch documentaries because we aren’t so stressed about getting it all done.
There is one thing that I dearly miss about Sonlight. The read-alouds. We thoroughly enjoyed the hours we spent reading delightful, content-rich, extremely well-written books. Reading aloud is a major part of our family life largely due to Sonlight. We owe that company a great debt for instilling a love of good literature into our children. I am eternally grateful and will always love Sonlight for this reason.
We miss them so much, I’m considering using the Sonlight readers along with the MFW curriculum where they match up. I may also do this with our current language arts program and the leveled Sonlight readers. We use Alpha Omega material for language arts and math. I’d love to have the kids enjoying the leveled readers they once had with Sonlight. Hated the language arts curriculum at Sonlight, LOVED the readers.
It’s hard to say, Sonlight was too much to do and we really miss all the reading in the same breath. But we were constantly trying to get in things we hated doing with Sonlight just because it was in the schedule. I think we’d actually enjoy the hours of reading even more now that we don’t feel so rushed all the time.
I guess that just about wraps up the main differences we’ve experienced. We are continuing on this year with My Father’s World – Creation to the Greeks curriculum. Also, the oldest kids will be adding the Apologia science for more age-appropriate learning. Looks like it will be another fun year!
P.S. For those who would like to know, we use Alpha Omega Lifepacs for language arts and math. The youngest of our bunch use Alpha Omega Horizons curriculum for language arts and math.