free web page hit counter

August 13th, 2009

Introductory Homeschooling Review: We’re Using Illuminations Year 1!


I’m so thrilled to announce that this year our family will be working through Illuminations Year 1! Illuminations is a new comprehensive Christian homeschooling program that schedules history, geography, science, language arts, English roots, life skills, humanities, read alouds, read alones, literature guides (both read alone guides (RAGs) and family study guides (FSGs), Bible, spelling, copywork, grammar – you name it – just add math and stir!  It even schedules optional crafts, coloring pages, audio and video supplements!

I feel so blessed to have found this curriculum, it’s unabashedly Christian, well formatted, teaches history chronologically, integrates living books, pre-planned, comprehensive, uses non-consumable materials, and is multi-age. After having looked over several well-known history programs, this is the one I’ve always dreamed of!

Developed by the team at Bright Ideas Press, Illuminations Year 1 incorporates many of the spines they publish including: Mystery of History Volume 1, Christian Kids Explore Biology, Hands on Geography for Early Learners (EL – preschool through grade two) or The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide for Grades 3- 8 and high school. This foundational year covers the time period between Creation and Resurrection.

Illuminations is sold in two parts, the first includes the Early Learner’s and 3-8 schedule, the second the high school schedule, study guides etc.  We are going to be moving through the EL stream with my 6, 3, and 1 year old along for the journey (sometimes I feel like studying history is more for my benefit than theirs!)  My oldest is so excited, “Mystery of History, wow, I love history!”  I am so excited about the literature selections for all ages.  Unlike many classical history programs there is less of an emphasis in being heavily exposed to disturbing secular literature (so far I haven’t spotted Lord of the Flies in the high school reading lists), and much more of an emphasis on reading works by notable Christian authors, historical fiction, and of course some neutral secular reading as well.

Not all of the subject areas listed above are scheduled at each level.  The EL program includes history, Bible, literature, geography, science and supplements – slot your 3 R’s into the lesson grid and you’re up and running.  The 3-8 schedules all of the initially mentioned subjects excepting life skills, and the high school schedules Bible, literature, high school study guides (for independent study) and some of the same family study guides (FSGs) the 3-8s use, language arts, English roots, geography, supplements, and some wonderful life skills studies on finances, courtship, and other relevant topics to maturing students.

Both programs are available as downloads or on CD, there is no print option (and no resale rights) because the Bright Ideas team has made the program completely customizable. The scheduling grids are easy to modify, allowing you to swap in your own subjects, change assignments etc. – “totally tweakable” in their terms, then just print and go. If you have experience with other chronological history curriculums available digitally, let me assure you that the design of Illuminations is much more user friendly, and is so easy to get started with.  With the team rushing to get this to homeschooling families for fall there are a few glitches here and there, but we’re ironing them out together on the Illuminations1 yahoogroup. I’ve never seen such a responsive company – the curriculum developers are right there to answer questions, listen to feedback, and more.  It’s wonderful.  Of course, many users are there as well to offer advice, help, and to share experiences.  In fact Bright Ideas Press is made up of a team of homeschooling parents who have over 30 years of combined experience, so they have a good idea of what homeschoolers need.

I’m still gathering books and supplies, but once we get started I plan to share our progress and adventures this year right here on my blog!  If you’ve been looking for a Christian comprehensive, multi-age, literature based, chronological history program – here it is!  With fall coming soon I wanted to share the basics with you before we get started ourselves.

You can find a link to the free sample here, as well as the special introductory sale pricing!  I’m excited, and highly recommend you check the program out.


Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.