How you can save by using Sonlight

After posting 9 reasons why we love Sonlight, I received this great question:
LeahJuly 20, 2012 9:48 AM.......Can you include a segment in your next post about the cost of the curriculum and how much you save in consecutive years by re-using books/sharing subjects, etc.?
One of the things I hear most often from people who want to use Sonlight and don't is, "We just can't afford it!"  Today I want to give some examples as to how using Sonlight, especially with multiple children can be very cost effective.

Our Philosphy
 We are heading into our 5th year of homeschooling and we know it is not "cheap" to educate our children at home.  Although I have gotten comments from people about "How much money we must save by homeschooling and not sending our kids to public school.  Because you don't have to worry about school clothes, supplies, lunches, etc....."  HA!  It's a good thing that I was too shocked to answer that lady, lol!  It many not have been very nice!

But regardless about how much we spend or don't spend, it's not about the money. It's our children's education and we don't begrudge forking over hard earned cash for school books.  There are a lot of things we don't spend money on so we can buy quality material to educate our children.  We decided along time ago that if we were going to homeschool, we wanted to do it right and we weren't going to use something just because it was the cheapest thing available.  It has required some sacrificing over the years, but it is SO worth it to use a curriculum we love. 

I know moms who absolutely hate the material they use and so do their kids.  Every school day they all feel like pulling their hair out.  But they won't change.  They use material they are familiar with and that they can get "cheaper."  They spend their summers planning lessons, scouring ebay, or making a bazillion trips to the library.  Homeschooling is misery and it shows. 

My oldest child is almost 9 and my youngest just turned 8 months.  I have many, many years of homeschooling in my future.  And if I'm going to do this for the next 18 years, I want to enjoy it!!  So therefore, we are willing to spend the "extra" on curriculum that we genuinely enjoy using day after day.  Is everyday fun and games? Umm..NO.  Do we feel like pulling our hair out at times?  Oh yes.  But that is not the norm. 

***(Update) Please know I am not against buying used books!  If I could find the things I needed for this year used for a fair price, I would definitely have gone that route, but what I needed was only turning out to be about $20 cheaper (with shipping) than buying it new.  What I was trying to say was that some mom's spend all that time and effort on curriculum they hate and it only leaves them more frustrated.***

How much does Sonlight cost?  
Let's just do a little price comparison here. Since the Abeka curriculum is pretty popular, I'm going to use it for my comparison example.

A few weeks ago we bought Lydia's fourth grade material new from Sonlight for her "Core" subjects which are Bible, History, Geography, Literature, Reading and Language Arts.  This also included the Instructor's Guides that have the lesson plans for the entire year, as well as all of the worksheets needed which are reproducible for future children. With the discount I received for buying the Core (plus free shipping!), I paid $399.00.  (This did not include Math or Science.)  If I were to add in Math  and the recommended Science program, the price would have been around $700.00. These are not exact figures because there are many options to choose from which can affect that price. (FIY: I am not using Sonlight science this year so these figures are strictly an example.)

Now let's look at the regular (not video) Abeka 4th grade curriculum. You can order "kits" separately for each subject, but let's just say I did "one stop shopping" and just ordered everything I needed for 4th grade (child's kit and a parent's kit) it would be $496.85, plus shipping. (Which in past experience I have found to be outrageous.)  

Right now you may be thinking, "Hello?!  Abeka is WAY cheaper!  Why wouldn't I do that?"  Good question.

{By the way, I'm not here to convince you to do anything, I'm just trying to be a help to another homeschool momma who's filled with questions.  So no pressure, okay? 'Kay. Glad we got that settled.} =D

Can my other children reuse the Sonlight curriculum?
Yes...so let's do a little comparison here....

Say I bought all of the things for 4th grade from Abeka for Lydia and I pay the $500.00 (plus shipping...which takes weeks by the way!).  Well, two years pass and I want to reuse the curriculum for Caleb. Abeka does not allow you to reproduce their worksheets so I have to spend another $110 (or more) on all the consumable items and then pay shipping again.  Hopefully I can just keep using the teacher manuals for Levi and Lucy.

But guess what?  Then Abeka decides to change their teacher editions/and or books in the four years between Caleb and Levi.  Consequently workbooks, tests and quizzes that I just ordered for Levi don't match up! GAH! Along with pulling my hair out, I have to buy new curriculum. (Please know that this a real scenario that happened to a friend of mine..I'm not being dramatic.)

Even if I didn't run into that problem, I still would have to spend another $300+ (and don't forget shipping!) over the years on consumables for my other children.

Now let's compare with Sonlight.  Say I spent the $700.00 on the Core curriculum, Math and Science. All worksheets published by Sonlight are reproducible for your family.  (Even if you didn't reproduce them, they are very economical, costing around $10.00 for the set.)  I will never have to buy them again and can keep passing them on!  Now, they do have some consumable workbooks that you will sometimes have in your Core curriculum, but they are very few and are not too expensive.  Caleb will be using the 2nd grade core that Lydia used and I had to repurchase some consumables (phonics books, handwriting, math workbooks) and the total was less than $60. Just for sake of comparison, we'll stick with that figure.

Here's a comparison of 4th grade curriculum prices spread out over four children:

Abeka 4th grade material:
$500 Lydia
Total: $830 (does not include shipping)

Sonlight 4th grade material:
Total--$880 (I've never paid one penny of shipping!)

There's only a $50 difference there!  And I'm 100% sure you would pay WAY more than that to Abeka for shipping!

{I mentioned this last week, but don't forget that if you don't like the Sonlight curriculum, they have a "Love to Learn" money back guarantee.  AND, they offer a no interest, time-payment option that can help you spread out the cost of the books over 3, 6, or 9 months.} 

Can I combine children in one Core?
If you have multiple children like I do, Sonlight offers many options for combining children in Core subjects while keeping other things like math and reading at the appropriate level for each child.  For the last two years I have combined Lydia and Caleb for Science and it has worked out great!  This aspect can save you some money as well. (This article is full of wisdom for teaching multiple ages!)

Just a tip....
Sonlight material also has great resale value.  I've listed my Abeka Kindergarten curriculum several times and it still hasn't sold. (Any takers?) =)  Last summer I listed some Sonlight readers on Ebay and they were bought at the "Buy it now" price in about two hours. (yay!)  If you don't have any other children to pass on the books to, you will most likely have great success at reselling your curriculum.

I hope this has been a help to you and not super confusing!  Soon I'll be sharing with you my curriculum picks for this year (we didn't do everything that Sonlight offers) as well as the one thing I don't like about Sonlight.  Hope you'll be back!

Do you homeschool multiple children?  Any money saving curriculum advice to share?


  1. Thanks for all this great info. I will "star" it and keep it handy for next year. I'm glad you compared it to Abeka, since that is what I'm using this year. As far as shipping goes, I think the initial shipping is free within the U.S. but to Canada it's $65. BUT if you are using video school (which I am) you have to mail the DVDs back at the end of each term....that's where I'm going to notice the steep shipping prices! :(
    Once question out of curiosity....you mentioned selling some Sonlight readers...are you just not planning on using those with your other children? Or do they require you to buy the readers again?
    Also, what kind of testing does Sonlight provide?

  2. Oh! I hope your friend's hair grew back!!! :) Seriously though, we use Sonlight and LOVE it!!!!! Their curriculum has given my children such a love for learning...and that is priceless! I have a friend who uses Bob Jones (not a "pass-down" curriculum), and she has resorted to paying her children just to motivate them! Honestly, I purchase my curriculum through Ebay or Craigslist...which saves me a ton of money, and I always find joy in knowing someone else has enjoyed what we are using! One year there was a really sweet bookmark in one of our books...it just made me feel "connected" in the Homeschool community! One hint: if you are going to store your curriculum away for future use, Costco sells some plastic storage bins with black lids (there is a metal bar that runs down the hinge of the lids) - 2 for 12.00...they store the curriculum beautifully, stack well, and are super durable! Thanks for a great post!

  3. Yes, Please give me the link to your Abeka Kindergarten curriculum! My hubby wants our kids to do Abeka (like he did), and my son will be starting kindergarten this fall. My email is kesiegwart@gmail.com. Thanks sooo much!

  4. Another great post. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together! When I look at how much schools spend per pupil, I'm always reminded of how cost-effective Sonlight is and ... you get to the keep the books! [smile]



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