How My Homeschooled Children Found Their Careers

It's a fear every parent knows, but homeschool parents might feel it more: Will my children be able to find a meaningful career ... that they love ... that will allow them to support themselves (and maybe a whole family)?

Of course, we can't force young adults to take any particular route, but we can be a loving coach that helps them discover good options. With some forethought and planning, we can help prepare them to land on a great track.


As John and I helped each of our four children (Amy, Luke, Jonelle and Justin, now adults) find their paths, we paid attention to four things. I thought I'd encourage you with these, and then I'll suggest a few resources at the end:

  1. Talents: When Luke begged for a video camera as a boy, we could tell he had an eye for framing and telling a good story. So we bought him one and watched him take off. He used that tool all the time. While children certainly have a huge learning curve when they undertake new endeavors, it was clear Luke had talent for media and filmmaking.
  2. Skills: When Jonelle started art classes in high school, she clearly had talent. But she went further than that and carefully cultivated the skills she would need to be a great artist. That took lots of patience and slow, hard work. If a child has talent, but doesn't want to take the time to develop the skills in a field, that field probably isn't the right fit.
  3. Desires: This is obvious, but worth digging deep into. What do your children want to do? What do they have a drive to do? Sure, Amy could have been an excellent high school English teacher. But she had zero desire to pursue that route. No sense in pushing our children into something they'd truly hate. There are enough options out there that we can probably find something they would enjoy and be successful at. Check out the resources below for ideas to help you in this quest.
  4. Personality: This one is huge. My husband John had always wanted to be a pastor. But after finishing his M.Div. and starting his first pastoral job, it became painfully clear that he doesn't have the personality for it; his true gifts lie elsewhere. I wish we had faced that reality sooner. Our son Justin, at one point, wanted to be an aerospace engineer (i.e., a rocket scientist). But he is the most extroverted, outgoing person I know. His attention is usually directed in 15 different ways at once. He would probably be bored to tears with the day-to-day work of an engineer. So we dreamed up other possibilities. And, from looking at personality profiles with him, it became clear that he has the magnetic persona perfect for sales and entrepreneurial positions. And that is the path he's followed - to his great fulfillment.

A helpful resource
In addition to any local mentors and resources you can find, I highly recommend Sonlight's College and Career Planning course for your high schoolers. It will help them identify their talents, skills, desires and personality. It will help spur conversations with you about their dreams, and will encourage them to be both inspired and practical about their decisions. It also includes very practical step-by-step guidance regarding college admissions for homeschoolers. (And yes - homeschoolers can get into college just as easily as other students. Some colleges even prefer homeschoolers because they know these students will come in ready to learn.)

How my children's stories turned out
If you're curious, Luke did end up going into film. He majored in film at Biola University and now works as a media specialist for Sonlight. He filmed and produced the ever-popular MathTacular series, and even runs a free online film school on the side.

Jonelle got a scholarship to art school. We knew it'd be extremely difficult to make a living as a "traditional" artist living off of commissions and art shows, but we could see that her art and communication skills combined would serve her well as a graphic designer. She majored in graphic design and worked for an ad firm after school, as well as a designer for Sonlight for a while. She now stays at home and homeschools her three children, and also helps me on the curriculum development side of things at Sonlight.

Amy graduated with a degree in Literature. After several years living a suburban life with her engineer husband and their children, she and her husband Phil both felt a strong, clear calling to move to Virginia and start a homestead farm on unbroken land. They knew they had the personalities for such a difficult endeavor. (They both have unbounded energy and a deep love of learning new things.) So they took the plunge and became farmers. Amy and her husband now homeschool their five boys and farm the land. Amy contracts on a part-time basis to help develop curriculum for Sonlight. She has also followed God's call to use her shepherding and hospitality gifts to offer her house as a safe haven to nearby university students, who come over for impromptu prayer, discussion, guidance and love.

Justin has jumped around to several different jobs since college. He's found he loves entrepreneurial work, but it still waiting to break into whatever big thing will be his life's work.

Room for change along the way
As you can see, the first job out of college does not determine everything. Your children have a LOT of room for change along the way. Unlike my generation, the generation coming into the workforce now is likely to change careers multiple times throughout their working life. So one of the best gifts we can give our children is a love of learning and the confidence that they can learn and master new endeavors.

And as a parting word, I also heartily recommend that we teach our children (boys and girls) homemaking skills. The transition to adulthood is hard enough as it is. Let's give them the skills to be able to cook, clean, handle their finances, know how to maintain a car, etc. before they leave the home. As food for thought, check out a Sonlight mom's recent post: 7 Skills My Kids Won't Be Leaving the Nest Without.

What do you think? What are your biggest concerns with helping your children find their careers? Have you found resources to help?


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June Blog Party

JunePrizePkgOur year-long 25th anniversary blog party continues today, and I can't wait to read your stories! In your blog post today, Share your favorite summer reading and learning activities.

Even if you don't homeschool or use Sonlight you are welcome to participate. Please grab a blog party button to include in your post or sidebar. Once your post is live, come back here to the Sonlight blog and link up with us. Then, be sure to visit and comment on other blogs who link up. It's a great way to gain new readers and make new friends!

Everyone who participates will be entered in a drawing for the great prize package pictured above. The winner will be announced on July 13, 2015.

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25 Years (and 16,000 books) later: My Favorite Part of Creating Sonlight

As we gear up for our 25th anniversary celebration next week, I've been thinking about the joys of being part of Sonlight all these years. This post shares one of my highlights.

My parents didn't oversee much of what I did as a girl. As Dutch immigrants with a deep respect for educational institutions, we certainly never discussed what I was learning. I went to Christian school, and my parents trusted things were going well.

So I must have become a bookworm on my own. Our house was usually pretty quiet, and I remember countless evenings in the living room as my mother, father and I all read to ourselves. My brother would go off to watch TV in another room, but that never interested me. I much preferred my enthralling world of books.

Each week I would ride my bike to the public library and check out 50 books, the maximum number allowed. I simply wandered the children's section and picked whatever caught my eye. (Fortunately, children's literature was a lot tamer in those days than what you'd find in some corners of the children's section today.) I'm pretty sure I read every single horse book in that library. I'd pack my books into the saddlebags on my bike and ride home. I'd read them all in a week and then turn around and do it again.

I found solace and deep pleasure in reading. And I still do. There's just something magical about visiting other times, places and cultures through a good story.

These days, I fill many roles for Sonlight. I do everything a typical president of a company does. But I also get to spend lots of time in curriculum development. And as part of that role, I get to do my favorite piece of my Sonlight work: I get to read.

Sarita reading
I estimate that I've read at least 16,000 children's books since we started Sonlight 25 years ago. And that's a low estimate, just to play it safe. I curl up in my designated reading chair at home and enjoy at least twelve books a week. Every few years, that chair gets plum worn out and we donate it and replace it with another one.

Though my reading as a girl really had no direction to it, my reading today does. I read scores of new and classic children's books on the hunt for the very cream of the crop to include in our programs. When we first started Sonlight, I drew on my list of favorites that I'd read throughout the years. Now I get to keep adding to that list.

I read most books very quickly, since most are nowhere near worthy of including in a Sonlight program. But I do in-depth evaluation of several books a week. If a book is so good I want to read it again right away, I get out my 7-point test to evaluate it further.

And when I think of the past 25 years of Sonlight, I know beyond a doubt what my favorite part has been. The reading. The chance to share these amazing stories with others.

I have a feeling you might say the same as a Sonlight user. Out of all the parts of homeschooling with Sonlight, the times most moms cherish the most are when they get to sit down each day with their children, breath deep, and dive into a great story. Those special hours immersed in Sonlight books together, knowing it's all woven together into a cohesive education ... those hours are what make the Sonlight experience so special. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy reading,

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A time for celebration ...

Celebrating-25-YearsFor our family, the month of June is full of opportunities for celebration this year. Last year I wrote a post about milestones and celebrations and it struck me this morning that it is time to review our milestones again.

Last Saturday our extended family celebrated two rather large milestones. My husband recently retired from a state job which he has held for 40+ years! Not many people hold the same job for 10 years, let alone 30 or 40. So it was truly a cause for celebration. Our middle daughter graduated from college last month. Another reason to celebrate as she has worked particularly hard to get her Bachelor's degree without incurring any debt. So we enjoyed a wonderful picnic together last weekend and marveled at God's goodness and provision along the way.

Monday evening I enjoyed a special time of fellowship with some good friends of mine who meet every June to celebrate our birthdays. 10 years ago we were all attending the same church and decided to form our very own June Birthday Cheesecake Club! Cheesecake is a wonderful way to celebrate ... and though many of us have moved away or moved on (we graduated one of our members to heaven two years ago), we faithfully get together every year to celebrate God's goodness and provision in our lives.

Two weeks from now I will have the privilege to join another wonderful celebration. Our staff and some of our customers will meet together in Colorado to celebrate God's goodness and provision in the life of Sonlight Curriculum. 25 amazing years of helping families craft their stories and develop a love of learning in their children is certainly a noteworthy milestone. I hope you'll be able to join us as we gather to consider what God has done.

What milestones are you celebrating this year? May you take a few moments today to consider what God has done in your family.

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk


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Another Blog Party Winner!

The winner of the prize drawing for May's blog party is...

Rebecca who blogs at The Moehrings!!!

Congratulations, Rebecca! I hope you and your family enjoy your prize package.

The next installment of our year-long Blog Party will be on June 25, with another fantastic prize package... featuring books about the American Revolution.


Plan to join us later this month for your chance to win the bundle of prizes pictured above, including:

  • Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
  • Martha Washington: America's First First Lady
  • Never Before in History
  • Mr. Revere and I
  • Thomas Jefferson's America: Stories of the Founding Fathers audio CD
  • Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?
  • Sonlight's limited edition 25th Anniversary tote bag
  • PLUS a Sonlight gift certificate for $25!

In your blog post on June 25th share your favorite summer reading and learning activities. Even if you don't use Sonlight, or even if you don't homeschool, you are welcome to participate. Once your post goes live on the 25th, come back here to the Sonlight blog and link up with us. I'm looking forward to reading each of your stories!

Enjoying the adventure,
~Karla Cook
Lifelong Learner

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How to Boost Your Own Health Through Homeschooling

I recently saw a list of 100 reasons why homeschooling is good for families. Reasons 80-85 were all about health. And I agree!

Homeschooling can definitely improve children's health. They often get more sleep, more active play, healthier food, and are exposed to far fewer germs.

I also think homeschooling can be great for your health as a parent. Much of that comes from the flexibility homeschooling gives you to craft the lifestyle you want. Here are some ideas to make the most of that flexibility and boost your own health.

A Sonlight mom and her daughter read outside
Sonlight mom Heidi G takes school outside for the day and enjoys some fresh air and vitamin D.

  1. You get to be intentional about what you eat

    I think many moms, if home alone, will just scrounge and find whatever is easy to eat for a meal. Ever eaten a bowl of chips and called it good? But when you're with your kids all day, you're more likely to be more intentional about food for their sake. If you're preparing them a healthy lunch each day (or providing ingredients for them to make it on their own), chances are you'll eat a real lunch, too. And with your children watching, you're more likely to choose an apple with peanut butter for your afternoon snack instead of that candy bar.

  2. You can get the sleep you need, too

    We know that homeschooled children get significantly more sleep on average than their public school peers. This helps them face the day's academic and emotional challenges. But it's not just children who need sleep. The fact that they're getting good sleep helps you get good sleep, too! You don't have to get up early to pack lunches and get groggy kids to the school bus. You don't have to stay up late with them working through frustrating homework assignments. Instead, you can find the amount of sleep that is ideal for you and then try to guard that. You'll be better able to serve your family throughout the day if you give your body the rest it needs.

  3. You have the freedom to set up a healthy schedule

    It's true that homeschooling adds a layer of stress to your life. But you also get to skip many other stressors you'd face if you put them in school. So since you have the freedom, find a schedule that works for you. Do you need to add a morning walk with your kids? Or institute a post-lunch nap/quiet hour? Would it help if you started your days later or earlier? What if you switched around the order in which you tackled each academic subject? As with everything in homeschooling, figure out a schedule that works for you and go with it. Less stress usually equals more health.

  4. You can take advantage of your lower germ exposure

    Chances are your children will get sick less often at home than if they were in school. And that probably means you'll get sick less often as well. Fortify that benefit by some simple steps when you do go into a germ-laden area. When you get home from the library or playground, for example, simply have everyone wash his or her hands. Eating healthy and staying hydrated can also boost your immunity.

  5. You get to spend more time outside

    Don't have time for regular workouts right now? Try to find ways to stay active alongside your kids during the day. Lots of moms will enjoy an afternoon bike ride with their children, or jump on the trampoline, or play a game of kickball. If the weather is lousy, put on some music and have a dance party instead. Check out Homeschool Family Fitness for more ideas. And don't forget to count it all as Physical Education!

You give so much time and energy to your children as you help them be healthy in every sense of the word. As you serve them, I'd encourage you to pay attention to your own health as well. Do any of the ideas above resonate with you? Is there one small change you could make to further enjoy the health benefits of homeschooling?

Blessings to you as you continue on!

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Discover Sonlight in June

Sonlight is all about great books and exciting stories. As we enter the summer season, what new chapters will you add to your family's story? Wherever your adventures take you, we trust you'll enjoy your time together.

See what's happening at Sonlight in the upcoming weeks. Don't miss out on these opportunities!

Products, Events & Reminders

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-1-summerreaders2Got Summer Readers?

If they've never experienced Summer Readers, your children are in for a delightful surprise. Sarita and Jonelle have once again handpicked a selection of sizzling summertime stories that aren't included in any of our curriculum packages. As always, these books must first pass the Sonlight 7-point All-Star test. Gender-specific packages are available for your elementary, middle and high schoolers.

If you're the plan-ahead type, consider picking up an extra package or two for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions. Everyone loves Summer Readers - nieces, nephews, neighbors ...

Order Summer Readers.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-2-photocontestSonlight 2016 photo contest begins

Picture this: You and your brood, lovin' learnin' together ... on the cover of the 2016 Sonlight catalog. It's really pretty cool. If you win, we'll even frame it for you. And don't forget the $500 Sonlight gift certificate, not to mention 365 days of bragging rights.

Second ($250 gift certificate) and third place ($100 gift certificate) prizes are also available. Plus, we've got room for scores of family photos in our catalog and ongoing marketing materials. Wouldn't it be fun to see your family in an ad?

Check out the contest rules (basically, show and tell us how your family Sonlights). Summer is fleeting and the kids are growing up fast, so hit us with your best shot(s) before Aug. 31.

Learn how you can snap and submit a winning photo.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-4-lifeoffred2Life of Fred joins Sonlight math offerings

Whoever said "math is hard" or "math is boring" likely never encountered the Life of Fred series. With titles like Life of Fred: Dog and Life of Fred: Ice Cream, the story-based program is perhaps the funniest (and dare we say funnest?) approach to math you'll find. This may be just what you're looking for to supplement and bring your students' math skills up to speed, and make a positive addition to their studies.

Learn more about Life of Fred.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-5-webinar2June 23: Sonlight Conversations webinar - What Makes a Great Education?

What constitutes a complete education? How can you be sure to teach your children everything they need to know? Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this in-the-know webinar, the first in the Sonlight Conversations series, featuring Sonlight founder, Sarita Holzmann; Sonlight mom/social media maven, Laura Lee Ellis; and special guest, Cathy Duffy, of

Register now for the webinar.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-6-m2mEnds June 25: Mom-to-Mom Curriculum Giveaway

If you don't want to win a free year of Sonlight curriculum, then skip this. If you do, then make sure to register soon, because we're giving it away in just a few weeks now. Did we mention that if you win, one of your friends will win a curriculum too? But only if you BOTH register. You first (and then give her your personal referral link). Someone's gonna win - might as well be YOU!

Register now for free curriculum.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-3-rosettastone2Learn a new language naturally, with Rosetta Stone

Ever heard of "dynamic immersion"? It's just a fancy way of saying, "Rosetta Stone makes it easy to learn a new language." So while you're sailing the seven seas, sitting around a campfire or just lounging in the living room, why not pick up a little Spanish (or German or Italian or ...)? Act now to get in on the Rosetta Stone pre-summer sales special.

Prices effective through June 13:

  • Level 1, regularly $159, SALE: $129 ($30 off)
  • Level 1-2 Set, regularly $279, SALE: $179 ($100 off)
  • Level 1-3 Set, regularly $379, SALE: $189 (50% off)
  • Level 1-5 Set, regularly $479, SALE: $239 (50% off)

See what languages are available.

email-juneannouncement-2015-06-02-7-aquariumJune 26: Sonlight 25th anniversary celebration

Did you miss the RSVP date? No worries! If you'll be in the Denver area on June 26, stop by and say hello. Admission is free, so grab a piece of cake and get your face painted (or not). If you're in the mood to continue the party, stay and explore the Downtown Aquarium (additional cost).

Check out the upcoming celebration.

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