How Sonlight Helps You Help Your Kids

Let’s talk about an encouraging reality today.

Olivia enjoying some Core D books.  Core E will be ordered soon. I LOVE the Instructor Guides. They are right in line with my personality and I don’t feel pressured to do everything in them, although I do. -The H family, Saginaw, T

Olivia enjoying some Core D books. Core E will be ordered soon. I also LOVE the Instructor Guides. They are right in line with my personality and I don’t feel pressured to do everything in them, although I do. -The H family, Saginaw, T

You are already doing the most important thing to help your children succeed in their education. By simply caring about and being involved in your children’s education, you help them thrive.

Most educators agree that the biggest factor in children’s academic success is parental involvement. That’s true for kids in public schools. It’s true for kids in private schools. And it’s truly part of what makes homeschooling such a beautiful option.

Consider this: Homeschooling lets you engage with your children’s education in a much deeper way. You don’t just attend parent-teacher conferences, volunteer in the classroom and help kids with homework. Instead, you enjoy daily, meaningful interaction with your students.

And with Sonlight, you’re not just lecturing your child or putting them in front of a computer program on their own. You are spending quality time together every single day as you read and discover together. Your typical Sonlight day includes snuggles with your little ones and deep conversation with your older students.

Sonlight helps you fulfill your God-given duty to guide your children in life. Customers tell us that the special times reading and talking together have created family bonds stronger than they would have ever imagined. They develop a shared language around the stories they’ve read together. They know how their kids are really doing in life – they see their daily joys and struggles and can support them through it all.

As you read together, you’ll naturally talk with your kids about everything from politics and faith to relationships and history. You’ll talk about the characters you meet in your books who make good and bad decisions and discuss how they face the consequences.

And this helps instill an important lesson in your children: You are a trusted, safe and good source of life wisdom and direction.

We hear from parents of high schoolers who have used Sonlight for years. “You won’t believe the caliber of conversations we’re having!” they write. “The years of hard work and talking are paying off in ways I would have never imagined. My teenagers and I are close, and talk about everything” Oh, what many parents would give for a relationship with their teenagers like that! What a privilege to be able to help guide your children as they grow because you have earned that place of trust and favor in their lives.

So while it might be easier in the short run to use a hands-off approach to your children’s education, know that with Sonlight your daily involvement makes a huge difference in your child’s life. It helps them succeed academically, so they’re prepared for whatever God calls them to do in life. And it helps you build and maintain a close relationship with your children for years to come. All through the daily joy of learning together.

And since Sonlight does the prep work for you, you get to focus each day on what you do best: interacting with your kids and helping them thrive.

Enjoy the journey!

Blessings to you and yours,

Sarita


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You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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Haul It, Open It, Read It, Stack It!!

Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk! Ka-thunk!

The startling noises from the front porch caused the P Family to race down the stairs and gather in the foyer. As the mom and two sisters cautiously opened the front door, they spied not one, not two, but THREE boxes from Sonlight!!

"Wow," Wendy P., the mom said, "Guess we're not in the letters anymore." Indeed, as she enlisted help from the P girls to carry the boxes inside the house, she pondered whether Core 100 derived its name from the weight of the boxes it occupied.

Once the boxes had been lifted, pushed and generally manhandled to the general area of the dining room table, the real fun commenced.

"Let's open the huge one first," shouted Taylor P., the intended recipient of this copious bounty. As she lifted the first volume from the box, she yelled, "Oh!! I have to read the back of this one."

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Taylor reading the back of one of her new favorite books

Inside Wendy's head: "This could take some time. After 9 years of this, you would think we could just unpack and GET ON WITH IT!! But then again...why rush? Excitement over great books was one of the goals, wasn't it?"

As the stack of books slowly grew on the table, Taylor realized she has an amazing year of adventure ahead of her.

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Excited for another amazing year with Sonlight

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Sonlight brings the PARTY to BOX DAY

We just had our family's second box day and made it even bigger than last year! We partied hard this year and had a great time! The kids LOVE box day! We try to make it a big and exciting event in our home that we look forward to all year. I'm not sure we can top this years festivities! And the kids had a great time coming up with a script and acting out a little skit for our box day video.


PARTY!!!! Sonlight BOX DAY 2016

- Mike and Bryton R.

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Box Day!!

We love books in our house, the kids even play "Library" during rest time. So while Nathanael and Ellyana were still napping we opened our box of books and dug in.

I don't even know who was more excited the kids or me. Here are some of our Box Day pictures:

Read the rest of Kristina's Box Day story on her blog.

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Teach How Jesus Taught

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How have children learned from the beginning of time? How did Jesus himself teach his followers?

Through stories, in the context of relationship.

And that is just what Sonlight comes alongside you to help you do. We help you teach your children through stories, as you strengthen your relationship with them.

Jesus had a lot at stake in teaching his disciples and followers. The entire plan of his Kingdom rested on them cooperating with the Holy Spirit to carry forth his message and live transformed lives.

So what did Jesus do? Did he cram his disciples full of facts and figures? Did he just give them information from a distance?

No. First of all, Jesus loved his followers. He lived side-by-side with them. He walked with them. He talked with them. He shared in their joys and struggles. He led by example.

And he also taught them with stories. When they had questions about his parables and teachings, they asked, and Jesus engaged them in conversation.

Does this form of teaching sound familiar? Now, I am not saying we are Jesus. We certainly aren’t God and we are far from perfect. But does Jesus’ general approach to teaching sound like something we can emulate? YES!

We live in close relationship with our children. We walk beside them in life. As we teach them with stories, we strengthen our relationships with them. (What do you think all those Read-Aloud sessions on the family couch are doing? They are teaching and building relationships!) Sharing these meaningful stories with our children helps us see into their hearts. What grabs them? What moves them? What do they worry about? What are their questions? And then we can meet them there and help guide them.

The stories and curriculum Sonlight provides help you guide your children to discover answers to questions such as: How does the world work? How did our society get to where it is today? What does a worthy role model look like? What happens when we make bad decisions in life? How do we persevere in hard times? How do we relate to those who are different than us? What does it look like to follow God? How has God engaged with humanity throughout history?

Teaching our children through stories, in relationship with them, is the most enjoyable, effective and historically enduring way of learning I can think of. We simply call it our literature-based learning model.

So come along and let Sonlight help you be a guiding voice of love, knowledge and wisdom in your children’s lives as you teach them about the world and point them to Christ.

We’re with you in this journey!

Blessings to you and yours,
Sarita


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Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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Does Learning Have to Be Painful?

Some educators seem to suggest: “Learning is painful. Get used to it.” They expect kids to learn to grit their teeth and persevere.

And yes, education may be hard. Perseverance  is a valuable skill.

But should that be our starting point with education?

I say – no way!

Instead, don’t we want our children to believe something like this?

The world is a fascinating place.

I want to learn about it.

I know from experience that I can learn new things and gain new skills.

I will persevere and learn because I want to and I know I can

"Trevor Y delights in his real-life study of frogs and tadpoles. As his mom says, Sonlight has given their family the gift of the love of learning!"

"Trevor Y delights in his real-life study of frogs and tadpoles. As his mom says, Sonlight has given their family the gift of the love of learning!"

Children who believe this are set up well for life. They know that they can achieve what they set their minds to. They know that learning is sometimes hard work, but that it pays great dividends.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No educational program can possibly teach children all they need to know for life by age 18. So instead we better give them a great foundation and help them love learning!

How do we do that? Well, God made our children with an inborn sense of curiosity. Just watch a toddler’s drive to learn about the world around her. That curiosity doesn’t have to go away as children grow. We can notice and nurture it.

And as we nurture our children’s curiosity, we can help them gain confidence in their abilities.

Every time our children learn a new skill and we let them use it, they internalize an important self-message: I can do things.

That’s why I want children to have positive experiences with learning. I want them to internalize the delight of mastering new skills, the wonder of discovering new things.

So how do we achieve this? We’ve designed Sonlight’s entire program in order to help students love to learn. Instead of relying on worksheets, textbooks and flashcards, we use gripping stories to teach children about the world. As they listen to Mom or Dad read out loud, many kids don’t even know they’re “doing school,” but they are in fact learning by leaps and bounds. Intriguing? You can read more about How Literature-Rich Homeschooling Awakens Your Child’s Natural Passion for Learning.

When we work with children’s innate desires to learn, we reinforce important lessons that will carry them forward throughout the years: learning is worthwhile, and they can do it.

Sure, even children who love to learn will have hard days. They will struggle to learn some things. They may cry over a math concept or get angry when they receive constructive criticism on a writing assignment.

But let’s not start with the painful side of learning. Let’s not pretend that “painful learning” will be the primary feature of their education. Let’s start with the beauty of learning, with children’s natural desires to explore and figure things out.

Then when the hard stuff starts to come, they’ll know what to do with it. And you will have the joy of teaching children who know from experience that learning is exciting and that they can do it. That’s a far easier task than “force-feeding” children an education they just don’t want.

Sonlight can help you bless your children with a love of learning. You can discover how to love your homeschool journey. You can set your children on a trajectory of life-long learning. I can’t wait to see how God moves in your children’s lives. Because children who love the Lord and love to learn will grow up to change the world!

Blessings to you and yours,

Sarita


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Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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Zooming out and in: Global-minded homeschooling

I’ve always loved maps -- the delicate wandering lines, the stars and circles hovering over city centers, the softly-worn paper folds creating ridges and peaks where the creases bisect latitude and longitude. Even the mysterious names themselves have a cadence, unknown yet familiar, like the rivers running this way and that way through the quadrants.

Me with a family friend in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico

Me with a family friend in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico

 

Maps are mathematical, and brimming with detail. A precise map, after all, represents distance. There are jagged borders perfectly measured, scales and legends, imaginary lines crisscrossing the world into a grid, and even sections dividing up the globe into tidy little time zones.

 

But there’s a second way to look at a map, too. And that’s to see a map not as representing mathematical distance, but human connection.

The world map over my desk in our current Florida home

 

In our home, we surround ourselves with maps. There’s a tattered one on the back of the door, covered in dashes and dots of blue ink where we’ve marked out places encountered in our reading. In our living room there’s a big, expansive map that’s six feet wide. It’s large enough to lose myself, and I find my eyes wandering across the countries, imagining what life must be like next to a little tangle of thin blue rivers, wondering if a tiny speck of earth-colored island is inhabited, curious about what’s being eaten for lunch in another far-away corner.You see, when you realize every part of the world holds a human story, the distance fades away.

My family visiting Trieste, Italy during the time we lived in the former Yugoslavia

My family visiting Trieste, Italy during the time we lived in the former Yugoslavia

 

I grew up an ocean away from my extended family, always aware the great glittering Atlantic stretched out between us. Before I knew the sound of my grandparents’ voices, I could point out their home on a map. Maybe that’s why I love maps so much. Maybe it’s because I’ve never known the plot points as unknown spaces full of strangers, but as little pockets, holding collections of people I love. We share a continent now, but in my youngest years, the whole of my connection with my unseen family was wrapped up in the thin, squiggly lines tying one place to another. There wasn’t just paper under that little ink spot on the map, there was an old white house -- grandma and grandpa’s house -- marked by lace curtains and yellow lights, cinnamon and spaghetti.

 

And still today, my maps continue to connect me to people I wouldn’t otherwise know, people whose entire life is bustling, whirling, singing, working -- under the map dots. Maybe I’m so intrigued about what’s under the dots because I’ve spent I spent so much of my own life in countries and regions people view as just obscure dots on the map. But these places (Oaxaca, Mexico and Ljubljana in the former Yugoslavia) were my home. People called them home long before the first chapter of United States history was written, and they are home to thousands of people still.

Me with a vendor at the El Tule Tree Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

Me with a vendor at the El Tule Tree Market in Oaxaca, Mexico

 

The six-foot map above my desk continually puts things in perspective for me. Somehow, the larger I see the world stretched out before me, the smaller the selfish world orbiting my own head becomes. (It’s remarkable how quickly first-world complaints evaporate when viewed in light of not only history’s timeline, but geography’s expanse as well.)  And as I look at the map, I can’t help but notice what a narrow swath, both chronologically and geographically, United States history has carved out. And I think to myself, time didn’t start here. History didn’t start here. Geography doesn’t stop here -- the ocean stretches out so much further. There’s so much more to know.

 

I wish everyone could see the world this way -- with every set of coordinates rich, alive, unique, humming with life and love and stories, and full of complexities. There’s so much under each little ink blot on the map, just waiting to be searched out and discovered and celebrated and truly known.

My daughter reading at our home in Orlando, Florida

My daughter reading at our home in Orlando, Florida

 

We should be pushing beyond, seeking to understand not only the world at large, but the world of cultures inside our own borders and our own neighborhoods. As Christians, there is no excuse! We should be the most global-minded of all citizens, rejoicing in and celebrating the diversity of this great world. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” And I think of the one who is sitting on that throne, and it’s Jesus, fully God, fully Middle Eastern man!

 

“...Every nation, tribe, people and language…” This makes my heart swell; doesn’t it do that same thing to you? (It also makes me want to buy History / Bible / Literature F: Eastern Hemisphere for myself.) Oh, what a privilege to expand our horizons beyond just our familiar “sea to shining sea”, and embrace the richness of all that God’s created!

 

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About the Author | Gina Munsey is a Mexico-born, Eastern Europe-raised missionary kid who ended up being a Californian in Orlando, Florida. She lives her humidity-drenched days full of coffee, Sonlight, and adventures while her daughter learns Mandarin Chinese and her artist-husband creates worlds from pixels and light. On any given day you can find her in the middle of [home]school surrounded by stacks and stacks of books. You can read Gina’s blog at http://www.oaxacaborn.com/ catch her on Instagram @oaxacaborn, or follow her on Facebook at Oaxacaborn.

 

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Image Credits: Images 1, 3 and 4: Jim Busakowski Images 2 and 5: Priscilla Barbosa Photography

 

 

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