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  1. #1
    Senior Member Enlightened Soulhammer's Avatar
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    Default Torchlight Curriculum Level 1 Review

    I don’t post much here anymore, but I am stopping by to post about Torchlight because I had a hard time finding anything online about it, presumably because it is new, and I wanted to save you the $40-43 it costs for a look.

    It is literature-based and covers history, geography, science, arts, philosophy, and reading. Its major selling points are that the spines are secular humanist (and stuff that mentions religion etc. is flagged as such) and it is very diverse in terms of culture and representation of women. The curriculum comes with a week by week schedule, a list of books and materials needed by week, and supplements to extend learning.

    The history spine for Level 1: Myth and Magic (ages 6-8) is Curiosity Chronicles—Snapshots from Ancient History, which replaces the not-quite secular SOTW and costs $28 in pdf form. Here is a link to the sample. It is in the form of dialogues between two kids. To be frank, I found the dialogue format annoying after awhile and so did my kid, so this was a dealbreaker for us with this curriculum. The facts are there, just not the strong narrative voice you get in SOTW.

    You still have to add in math (she recommends RightStart). Writing /reading instruction is included, but if you believe in direct instruction for this age group, this curriculum alone will not be enough, as she acknowledges.

    The other thing I noticed was that some of the literature choices are hella expensive and/or hard to find, and there are tons of books in this curriculum. In addition, the curriculum has a lot of moving parts that would require keeping up with lots of materials in print and digital format and spending lots of $/time to get these parts. I also think some of the lit choices and writing tasks skew to the top of the age range.

    For homeschoolers like my family—relatively relaxed, into simple/slack, and loose-goosey on scheduling—this is too much. If you are more regimented, you may like it, and it is clear the creator put in tons of work. That said, I would gladly have paid $10 for the book list, and we will be incorporating several of her choices into our ever-growing list of reads.

    TLDR: like BYL but w/o SOTW and many more books/Bookshark with real science, I hate the history spine, secular humanist perspective, must add ELA/math, has diverse book choices re gender/culture, expensive to buy books.

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  3. #2

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    The Torchlight "following" can be quite off-putting in the FB groups. I WANT to love this, but we shall see.

    We will not be using CC. The alternate suggestion is the Usbourne linked spine BYL uses. Her book list is GREAT,but I have a feeling we are going to end up back with BYL and pulling in the TL book list.
    CJ (Mom)
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  4. #3
    Senior Member Enlightened Soulhammer's Avatar
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    Not on FB, so maybe that was why I couldn’t find anything. The reviews I saw were odd ones that compared and contrasted BYL and Torchlight; something about the way they were written made me assume the articles were internet marketing but maybe people who use TL and ancillaries are true believers.

    My 7yo and I are doing The Book of Goddesses and the Madame Pamplemousse books as readalouds and really enjoying them. Every book off the list so far has been really excellent.

  5. #4

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    Your post finally encouraged me to join secularhomeschool.com rather then just use the forum on occasion when researching. I got caught up in all the buzz on facebook about Torchlight and was excited to see another secular K option. It is quite the facebook phenomenon. I was really excited about the humanist persective and promoted focus on diversity. I was really excited because everyone seemed excited.

    The website is beautiful and professional. Made me just want to buy. The mantra is inspiring. The booklist looks fun although I wondered the appeal to my sons as a whole. But wait, where is the "About us" tab? There is not one. Ok, well there must be some info on the writer(s)/creator(s), right? Nope. Not in the "FAQ". Not in the "Contact Us." I've been shocked how many people are so ok with this omission.

  6. #5

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    Thank you for your review! I am doing BYL 0 with my youngest and went back and forth between that and torchlight. I like the diversity I see in their books and may pull from it. I had been debating purchasing their kinder program and taking 2 years to do both, so you may have saved me some money.

  7. #6

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    BookMama, I dont FB, and havent heard of this program.
    Despite the weirdness of no “About Us” tab, is it a good program?
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

    Atheist.

    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  8. #7

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    I can't really give a review since I have only looked at the samples, researched the published booklist and followed discussions on Torchlight online. I have concluded that I do not think the socratic method is appropriate for a young child based on my past reading on brain development. When looking at brain development, a child is 10-12 before they can hold opposing viewpoints and truely feel opposite ways about something, for instance. The classical approach of gathering info in elementary and then moving to more analysis in middle school jives with my understanding of brain science better. In looking at the Torchlight K curriculum, it does feel heavy on analysis and lacking in the important focus on motor skill development I find most K kids need. I was first drawn into Torchlight with the promise of diversity but really didn't feel like the booklist was much different in diversity compared to K then Build Your Library although it has more new titles. The liturature selections diversity is mostly in the use of female characters but I actually feel it lacked in using minority and neurodiverse characters outside the context of exploring the cultures of the world (which is also the topic of BYL0). It has been a great inspiration though. I have started looking more towards representing a diversity of characters in books for my kids. My oldest is doing BYL6 and I've switched out a number of titles to try and represent a larger diversity of Americans.

  9. #8

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    Oh weird, with socratic method for wee littles.
    We just finished BYLK (modified to fit with BYL7 world geography for oldest), and I just went off the supplemental list for each continent. My little has verbal issues, so needs stories with lots of visual, and less words.

    I totally agree about motor skills (and fine motor skills) at this age. My older NT kid never worked on drawing and cutting as a little, and hit the “my 8yo boy doesnt want to write”, and still has terrible printing and what I consider clumsiness. My fault, Im sure, for not developing the hand and body skills when he was younger.
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

    Atheist.

    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  10. #9

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    alexsmom, sounds like you are in a similar boat to me. We didn't focus on pushing those cutting, pasting and other fine motor stuff. I even taught handwriting without a curriculum or good understanding of teaching forming letters. At age 12 he is just starting to write for me without complaint and it is finally legible despite all the attempts at copywork in mid/late elementary. I've also recently discovered the Montessori method of cursive first so that is what will be doing with my now 6 year old. Makes so much more sense to motor control and development. His brother writes nice and easier in cursive but since we didn't start it until 4th grade, he's not comfortable with it. The little guy is still working on making circles and getting those preliminary skills right now because of his significant motor challenges.

    Next year we plan to do BYL0 and 7. My youngest still needs lots of pictures too.

  11. #10

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    Oh, not only is there no about me, but I emailed the author and asked her what her qualifications are, who she is, etc. I received no response.

    I found out who she is and posted her name on a Facebook page. The TL author contacted the group admin and asked them to remove the link.

    It is VERY offputting and unnerving that her identity is so secretive.
    CJ (Mom)
    Bug: 6 years old
    Doodle: 2 years old
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Torchlight Curriculum Level 1 Review