Torchlight Curriculum is a newer secular curriculum option for homeschoolers.
If you’re interested in a literature based program full of diversity with a Socratic approach, this one is a great option. You can learn more about the Torchlight approach here.
Having used the torchlight curriculum for a over a year, I wanted to share a review of what I like and what aspects we’ve been changing.
How we’re using the Level 1 Torchlight Curriculum
I love the selection of books. I’m currently combining level K and level 1 for our grade 1 and grade 3 kids. I found that some of the literature for Level 1 was a little too much for grade 1. Because they are fantastic books I decided to just move through Level 1 at a slower pace and spread it into grades 2 & 4.
There are some things I’m really enjoying about this curriculum, and others that I’m tweaking (more on that below). I’ve purchased the level k-2 for Torchlight, and since they’ve also added a pre-k which I plan to add for our preschooler in the fall 2019. Although the plan this year was to do level 1, the kids loved the Zoey and Sassafras series so much, and I hadn’t done a ‘global intro’ to their education, so I’m pulling from both levels.
Pros + Cons of Torchlight Curriculum
Our family has really enjoyed this curriculum, the literature selection is amazing, diverse and modern. The one thing I found was that there are some inconsistencies with how much reading you do in a week. Some weeks are lighter than others, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing, it just means one week has more than others. As an example, under the myth section, one week you might only read a few pages of one book, the next week you read 20 pages a day in addition to the literature and science books. For grade 1, there’s no way I can read many chapters of a literature selection in a day for the current attention span. Our eldest who is 9 has loved level 1, our 6.5 year old needs shorter bursts of reading. I found many of the larger literature books were supposed to be completed in a short span. Because of this, I just make adjustments.
We move through this curriculum slower than the the 36 weeks scheduled.
It’s still fantastic!
Keep in mind that every kid is different for how long they can sit for read alouds.
One of the things I loved when reading ‘the Read Aloud Family’ were the suggestions of how to keep the kids busy while you’re reading. Other than picture books, where the pictures are the engaging part, some read alouds need some hands on activities like coloring, handwork, playdough, etc.
I love adding poetry to our homeschooling, and prior to using torchlight, we love doing a weekly poetry and tea time brave writer style.
However for torchlight they use the Pantomine poetry, meaning you use ‘ cross-body movement while reciting a poem’ to better retain it. This didn’t sit well for our family, the kids sort of enjoyed it once or twice, but they really weren’t into it, neither was I. So we scratched this aspect of the curriculum, yet still enjoy weekly poetry.
Affordability vs Many Many Books
The price of the curriculum is very affordable. Your purchase will be a pdf file, however I had mine printed locally.
So that being said, the price itself is very affordable, but the curriculum offers an expansive list of books to purchase or borrow. I read that it’s around 100 books in a year, which is a lot. However, as a literature based program, lots of books are also expected.
Because the titles are modern and new, many are hard, if not impossible, to find at your local library. The rest need to be purchased. Some I couldn’t get a hold of for months. I really wanted to include the ‘Cultured Chef‘ suggested in level K for fun stories and global cooking. However, it was out of print for awhile and I’m still awaiting my copy (update, I have it now and it’s a wonderful book!!). There are also certain books like ‘Tua and the Elephant’ (seems to be out of print) or ‘The Book of Goddesses’ that I’m trying to get.
One of the unique aspects of Torchlight are the literature primers. She gives you an insight of certain topics that may be sensitive for certain readers, or that may prob some deeper questions. To me, this is very important and I really appreciate the depth she shares to make the user comfortable. Then she goes into questions that you could discuss for the chapters after you’re finished reading.
I love the idea for the vocabulary spellbooks, but I’m only just starting to use them now with our grade 3. For our grade 1, it’s well above her head to understand this aspect of language arts. I do like the look of the pages and do think they’ll work in the future.
Art & Music
I really like that Torchlight includes art and music into their curriculum. Our girls really love the clay lab for kids, and I really enjoy the Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera. As a person who has zero music background or comprehension of classical music, I like that they’ve added it in. There’s not really much art except the clay, but I’m ok with that as we’re always doing art here.
In general, I really love this secular literature-based homeschool curriculum. I’m personally ok doing tweaking here and there as needed. Torchlight also has a very active facebook group where you can discuss many questions with others using it. We’re currently not following it exactly. I also swap out some of the books for our brave writer .
Torchlight recommends Right Start Math, which is great on but it’s VERY parent intensive and time consuming. I have a 1.5 year old and a 3 year old so we’re using a mix of other math curriculum. (I’ll review math curriculum in another post. We’re experimenting with Math Lessons for a Living Education, Singapore and Mathematical reasoning for Grade 1 and added Beast Academy for grade 3). We’re also not using the suggested Logic of English. We use Spelling you See which we love, Explode the Code, and added copywork (often Brave Writer from a book we’re reading) for my grade 3. I’ve also got some additional Kumon reading and writing books to use on the side.
Have you used Torchlight?
How are you liking it so far?