Homeschooling Will Fail You If...

I don't blog about theology much here as this is a homeschool blog.* But there is a theme rippling through "the homeschool movement" that bears repeating: Trust Jesus, not the system.

Over the last couple weeks, there have been many excellent Other Posts of Note about this:

Chasm
Chasm

Whether it's a sin management scheme, a ploy to parent perfectly, or a confidence in your chosen educational approach, we would be wise to remember that "Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." We need to put our trust in Jesus, not a system. We definitely should not rely on homeschooling. Here are four reasons why...

First, don't trust the system because it's not the system. The system doesn't make you smarter. The system, at best, offers you a cool opportunity to learn. If you are homeschooling because of the results it will produce, homeschooling will fail you. Can homeschooling offer you excellent academics? Yes. Do homeschoolers do well academically? Yes. But does homeschooling make your child a genius? No. If your child is a genius -- or struggling, or perfectly average -- homeschooling is a great option that enables you to tailor an education program that challenges and nurtures your student. Homeschooling will not change your student into something else.

Second, homeschooling will fail you if you expect it to save your child. I know many homeschoolers who have walked away from their faith. You can't impose your convictions. And, seriously, if Jesus isn't enough to keep your kids, there's no way your educational style will do better.

Third, homeschooling will fail you if you think it will make your students better people. Homeschooling does allow you to shelter your children -- a very good thing! But if you're using homeschooling to keep your kids "pure" and away from bad influences, you're doing it wrong. The Gospel is about going out, not retreating in. Does that mean that you should have zero boundaries and embrace all things evil? Uh... no. Not at all.

Fourth, there is no utopia here, no panacea. This isn't all rainbows and unicorns. There is a world of mundane. Homeschooling doesn't ensure you "make it" in life. There are bad days. And even if things aren't to the level of bad, as Laura says in her post linked above:

the very moment you have gathered your chicks around you on the floor to learn something fabulous about the Bible or about the weather or about the water cycle ... someone will have to poop.

When we put our hope in the system, these interruptions and letdowns break us. They are disheartening and cause us to question our choices. What they should really do is remind us that we need to again throw ourselves on the mercies of God and trust Him to complete the good work He is doing in and through us.

I find it easy for me to look at something good -- like homeschooling -- and subtly assume that it is the answer. Homeschooling isn't the answer. Neither is bacon. Jesus is the answer. Homeschooling is the opportunity. And what a great opportunity it is! For just a few personal examples, check out the following "Sonlight to me" posts by

Yes, homeschooling is fantastic, but trust Jesus and not the educational method or the fabulous curriculum. May we all continue to learn to put our trust in the One who provides and not the provision He has graciously poured out.

Do you have any examples of how you have trusted the system to comedic ends? How has homeschooling been a blessing to you?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

* I've probably blogged about theology here more than I think. <smile>

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Last Chance: Submit Your Photos Today

Today is your last chance to enter the Sonlight Photo Contest. If you win, not only does your family end up on the cover of the Sonlight 2016 catalog, you also win $500 toward your next purchase.

Taking-Photos
My wife, the photographer

Every year, we use hundreds of photos and stories from homeschoolers just like you. I would love to be able to share your story to encourage other Sonlighters -- new and returning -- around the world. Please take a few minutes to share your photo and story with us!

Click here to get started

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Can you relate to these common homeschool fears?

homeschooling fears
I got an email from a worried mother recently. Can you relate to some of what she writes?

I want to homeschool. Did it for one year, yet I struggle with fear ... what my parents will think of me? (They think I am nuts, and think I will ruin my children's social skills and life.) My fear about how my children will navigate social difficulties if I "protect" them from it. Fear that my kids will end up with no friends and I will have to be their companion and playmate all day long! Not getting any free time myself! Fear that my husband and I will have very little time together. I know fear doesn't come from God, but the fear comes and makes me feel anxious in my body and I tire of fighting it.

Fear can haunt every aspect of parenting. And the decision to homeschool is no exception. But here's what I say to that mom:

I think most moms deal with these fears. You are not alone. We value our parents' thoughts and approval. But homeschooling is counter-cultural and therefore many grandparents are unfamiliar with it and worry for their grandchildren. It can help to remember that homeschooling today doesn't look like it did when your parents were raising you. It's much more common and there are so many great resources and homeschool groups out there to help.

If you haven't already, take time to talk with your parents. Share your goals and explain how you plan to accomplish this worthy goal. You might show them the Sonlight website (or the actual materials, if you already have them), so they can see their grandchildren will be using a proven and robust curriculum. Be transparent. Share how they can be involved if they want. Many grandparents patiently listen to children learning to read, or help with Read-Alouds either in person or over Skype.

Then, before God, act as you believe He's calling you. If our parents disapprove, we homeschool and trust that they will come to see the fruits of our labor. Many, many homeschoolers can testify that their parents came to applaud their work. (Read Jill's personal story in "When family disapproves".) But even if your own parents never approve, you will see the fruit of the time you invest in your children, and will be able to move beyond the critique of parents.

Regarding social skills, most homeschoolers find plenty of opportunities to interact with others in both formal and informal settings. From sibling time to playground friends to soccer teams and homeschool co-ops, the possibilities are endless. For example, my children swam on a team, played an instrument in an honor band, studied karate under a man from our church, attended activities with their church groups and participated in Awana. Nowadays, homeschoolers have even more options for outside activities. These experiences broaden our children's exposure to their peers and other adults. And a major benefit of homeschool scocialization is that kids learn to interact comfortably with children and adults of all ages, not just their immediate peers.

As an introvert, my biggest fear was the idea of having my children around me all the time. When I first started homeschooling, my children did stay nearby, but as we found our groove, they got to the point where when we finished our schooling time together, they were happy to go off to play. I believe homeschooling trains our children to work quickly and efficiently (good life skills) by giving them the freedom to go off to do what interests them once they finish their day's work.

When it comes to time with your husband, fear not. When I first started, my husband found a babysitter for us to leave the home once a week. He knew I'd need a break. That could be an option for you as well. But homeschooling also presents an opportunity for an exciting joint venture together with your husband. You get to work together towards the shared goal of educating your children. My husband began reading to the children every evening - a precious heritage they remember with joy to this day.

And remember – homeschooling has worked for thousands of families. Many statistics that show that homeschoolers test significantly higher than their private or public schooled peers. There are many reasons for this: the tutoring model of homeschooling keeps kids from falling through the cracks, the home is a safe and calm place to learn, kids do better without being taught to the test, and so on.

Fear not, mom. Resist the lies the Enemy brings. Bring all of this before the Lord in prayer. Homeschooling is not the only good way for children to learn, but it is a tried, true, and wonderful option! Commit to one more year and evaluate at the end of it. I believe you can do it.

Blessings,
Sarita

P.S. If you ever want more personalized help overcoming one of the fears above, or with anything else in your homeschool, contact a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor at no charge.

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August Blog Party

AugustPrizePkgOur year-long 25th anniversary blog party continues today, and I can't wait to read your stories! In your blog post today, Share about projects that tie in with books (crafts, science projects, drama/costumes, food).

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 September 14, 2015.

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Our box day!

"My Box Outside?" Thomas, age 3, asked this alllll day!

We left the house to go do stuff just so he wasn't opening the door every 5 minutes!

Catherine H Sonlight Box Day
The box finally arrived

I was really hesitant about homeschooling, but after seeing his excitement, how could I not??

catherine-h-box-day2
Digging into the new favorites

This is our first box day ... our first of everything.

We have had 2 days of school, and my son wakes up ready! He LOVES the Mighty Mind shape puzzle -- it's all he wants to do!! And with all the new books, he's getting little brother involved!

Thank you, Sonlight ... I am much encouraged!!

- Catherine H.

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Looking Back to Look Ahead (aka Thankful Thursday)

Blog_Header-650x276August was always my favorite time of year when we were homeschooling. My husband and I held our annual teacher in-service conference at the end of every summer. We would take a long walk through a local park, meet at a favorite restaurant, or pack a picnic lunch and head to the lake to plan for the coming school year. It was a wonderful perk of being a parent/teacher, and one I would highly recommend you build into your summer planning.

The purpose of our yearly meeting was two-fold … to look back on the previous year, and to look ahead to the upcoming year. So as you are making your school supply lists and checking them twice, plan to make yet another list for the coming year.

Look Back …

Take a few moments to list, for each student, what worked and did not work the previous school year. Did Ashley conquer her struggle with multiplication facts? Celebrate! Did Sam’s attitude about completing school work on time improve by the end of the year? Praise God! Make a list of three academic and three spiritual/character highlights from your school year and refer to it often in the coming year. Rehearse God’s work in the lives of your students and be sure to include them in your thankfulness. Remind them that you are on this homeschooling journey together, and that both victories and challenges are part of taking the trip.

Path PictureLook Ahead ...

Your next list (remember, I love list-making) will outline those things that didn’t work as well. Did Ashley really struggle with the Spelling program you chose for this year? Did she find it repetitious and yawn-worthy? Maybe there’s room to consider another approach for teaching Spelling in the coming year. Does Sam still struggle with correct punctuation and sentence mechanics in general? This might need to be your focus for him this fall. Perhaps both of your children wrestle with trusting Mom/Dad (and God) to make the best choices for them.  Make a list of three academic and three spiritual/character goals for the coming year. Base them on what you know to be true about your students from the previous school year. Use those goals to help you make curriculum and extra-curricular choices. Hang your list on the bulletin board or refrigerator where you and your students can review it often. One of my favorite sayings is “you can’t hit what you don’t aim for”. So know what you're aiming for!

A goals list serves one other purpose for your homeschool year. When the mid-year doldrums hit (maybe January or February) … and they will! … reviewing your goals will be a good reminder of what your priorities are, and what doesn't matter.

So as you enjoy one last trip to the beach ... as you savor the last opportunities for late night star-gazing around the campfire ... spend a few minutes to also review both the successes and challenges from the previous school year. And don't forget to focus on what God taught YOU this past year. Because we all know that our children are not the only ones who get an education when we homeschool.  :)

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

PPS ... Get that goals checklist up on your refrigerator before the first day of school. Snap a quick pic and post your 'fridge list on our Facebook page. Trust me on this ... it's worth the effort to make the list!

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What you really need for your homeschool year

Blog_Header-650x276-What-you-really-need
A new school year is brimming with possibilities. There's something soul-stirring about fresh starts and new beginnings.

I get excited about gathering the best of the best for my kids in order to plan a fabulous school year. I know there are supplies to get and checklists galore, but what I really need for my homeschool (and I have a suspicion you need it, too) doesn’t stop at curriculum and crayons. I need a checklist for my heart.

As I think about all the things I want to do this year, I need to remember who I want to be.

I've got the shopping list and the to-do list. I need a "make-me-new" list. Because those shiny new pencils aren't what's writing on the hearts of my children.

I really believe that if you want to give your kids a good education, you give them yourself.

If you want to give your kids a good education, give them yourself.

Cuddles with my kiddos as we learn together in the great outdoors.

So join me in scavenging the glory in the mundane. When we use those brand new school supplies, let's think about what we really need for school this year.

  • When I lay out that blank sheet of fresh paper, I’m going to see the possibilities in my children.
  • Every time I use my rubber bands, they’ll remind me to be flexible.
  • An eraser will help me remember to forgive and forget. Everyone needs a clean slate.
  • A ruler will remind me that the only standard I need to measure myself against is what God thinks of me. No comparison games! When I am measured by His love for me, I am more than enough and so are my children.
  • When I wash off sticky little fingers covered in glue, I want to remember that sometimes being stuck together (all day) makes us strong.
  • Modeling clay: to remind me that I am shaping souls. I must be ready to be shaped and molded, too.
  • Permanent marker: to remember that we are making our mark on the world with our daily choices. The investments I make today in my children are lasting.
  • Paper clips: to remember that I can’t hold it all together, but I can give God my best and trust Him. He’s got this.
  • Lunch box: to remember each day to nourish my children and to make my words healthy and sweet.
  • Crayons: to remember to live life in full color. To bring beauty and fun to everyday things and show my children the wonder of being alive.
  • Pencil sharpener: I want my kids not just to be protected at home, but to be prepared as strategic ambassadors for the Kingdom, sharpened and refined and ready to serve effectively in a broken world.
  • A globe: to give me (and my children) a perspective that others matter. To seek to understand, learn about and serve people different from me. To think and act according to the big picture rather than my own “me-first” bubble.
  • Labels: so I can toss ‘em. Those usually aren’t helpful for kids or parents.
  • A calculator and a stopwatch: so I can wisely learn to number my days and feel the brevity of my time. Make it count!

I'm humbly asking for grace for the year ahead, that I can remember what we really need in our homeschool each day. When I forget, I pray that sticky little hands will remind me – and that the clean slate will be waiting each morning.

What do you need for your homeschool this year?
~Laura Lee

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