I’m not huge on big all-in-one curricula, especially those that are really formulaic. A Year of Playing Skillfully worked for me because it was more of a monthly checklist of activity ideas than a strict curriculum. I use curriculum for reading and math because it’s less stressful for me than pulling together ideas cohesively but I tend to use it flexibly as well.
Then along came a secular humanist literature based curriculum. At its most basic, Torchlight is a very detailed and well thought out book list. The books are selected to represent diverse authors and characters, and a secular humanist worldview. There are accompanying discussion questions as the year goes on.
At at the kindergarten level, the theme is Around the World. Each week features a different country. Generally, we read a story from the culture, the biography of a woman from that country, and cook something from the country. We may also read about a local animal. There are novels as well. The curriculum centers around spines, books that we will read throughout the year. The novels and picture books supplement the spines. There are art and music study elements as well. Add in recommended resources for podcasts, apps, even more books, and games, and it’s pretty much exactly how we like to do school. The curriculum was especially appealing to me because it included resources for secular character education. That's not always easy to find.
Here are some of the questions I've seen in groups on Facebook:
1. How much does it cost?
The curriculum costs $30. That price includes the extensive booklist, 36 weeks of lesson plans, and suggested supplements. You can preview the booklist here. You will need to add phonics and math instruction if you are planning on teaching those subjects in kindergarten. I love that they are not included because it makes the program more customizable. Torchlight does recommend curriculum for these subjects.
The booklist includes over 100 books. If you have a great library system, you might be able to do this curriculum inexpensively. Don't forget about Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and used books. I'm not going to lie, it adds up quickly. I spent a little over $500 on books for around half of the books. I had some of the resources already. The rest are available from my library or through Amazon Unlimited. I bought as many used books as I could through Amazon, eBay, and ThriftBooks. Any books that we don't find ourselves re-reading will be sold at the end of the "year" whenever that happens. Torchlight users estimate that if you buy every single book on the list, it will cost $900-1000.
2. How long does it take each day?
We do most of the reading during our Together Time (some people call it Morning Time). We tend to do activities in the afternoon. I'd guess we spend about 30 minutes reading and 15-30 minutes on activities.
3. How old are your kids if they are doing Level K?
AW is the main kiddo, and she is 5.5. Her almost 4 year old brother, DC, tags along for most of the reading but doesn't get much from the character education at this point. I read everything because AW is just learning to read and isn't fluent yet.
4. What other curricula are you using?
We use Logic of English for phonics and language arts, Primary/Singapore for Math, and Brave Writer's Jot it Down for writing. The last is optional for us and not daily, but I have a kid who loves telling stories. We're all about the Brave Writer lifestyle...but that's an entirely different post.
If you're still curious about Torchlight, check back on this post. I plan on adding updates as I think of other answers. I'll likely do a separate post about how things are working out for us, but I'll link it here. If you have a question, drop it in the comments!