Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sonlight's Early Readers--What level to choose?

If you are contemplating using Sonlight's early readers and language arts, and don't know what to choose, perhaps this may help you. Since the readers and language arts work together, I always recommend that you choose the language arts level that will meet your child's needs and then get the readers to match.

[As a note, these Reader/Language Arts packages can be mixed and matched with Cores P4/5 -Core C, after that, when you move into Core D and above, you always use the readers that come with the Core because they reinforce the history being taught.]

If you have a precocious reader, you may find that the language arts level you need to start with will have readers that are too easy. That is OK. The readers support the language arts and many of the LA assignments refer back to the readers.

Many people want to know what to do if the readers are too easy. My suggestion--use them in conjunction with the language arts and then let you child read their science, history, library books, sequels to books you have read, more books by a favorite author, etc. You don't need to worry about reading with precocious readers, but you do not want to skip laying  a firm foundation in language arts. Eventually their language arts skills will catch up with their reading.

So, here are my recommendations for which level to choose:
  • Grade K Readers and Language Arts--LA introduces the most common sound for each letter and it teaches one letter a week. By week 6 students are reading and writing short words. They are reading Fun Tales [little Sonlight books] by week 10. Before you are half way through the year, they are writing sentences with capitalization and simple punctuation. It is best if a child knows their letter sounds when they start this program, but it is not essential. Move at a speed that is comfortable for your child--slowing down or speeding up the pace as needed.
  • Grade 1 Readers and Language Arts--I recommend that children be able to three letter, short vowel words with fluency and confidence to start this level. Your child should also be able to write a complete sentence. [If your child can't, you can always go slow and work on writing skills, but I am just saying what you child should ideally be able to do.]
  • Grade 2 Readers and Language Arts--At this level, your child should be able to read vowel-consonant-silent e words and simple multisyllable words with confidence and fluency. They should also be able to write more complex sentences and to be able to write 2-3 in one sitting. Sonlight says, "This complete Language Arts program gives you all the tools to help you teach children to form and organize their thoughts, construct basic sentences and write simple paragraphs. You will likely serve as their scribe."
  • Grade 3 Readers and Language Arts--The reading level here has a wide variety of words and your child should be able to read long-vowel words and 5-6 letter words with fluency. The readers are short chapter books. This level teaches writing a 5 point paragraph, so they should have a firm grasp of writing sentences before starting this level.  
  • Grade 4-5 Readers and Language Arts--It assumes the child can write a paragraph [taught in Grade 3 Language Arts] and the assigned readers are chapter books along the line of a Little House on the Prairie book. The assigned amount is more than in other levels too-usually reading 2-3 chapters per day, 5 days a week. There is continued work on writing paragraphs and more creative writing.  Sonlight says, "Perfect for students comfortable with writing sentences and short paragraphs without much hand-holding. You may still want to serve as their scribe on more challenging assignments."
 I hope this is a helpful overview of what level to choose. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me for advice or to set up a phone consultation.

Take care,


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