Helpful Homeschool Tips in Your Inbox

Sonlight has close to a hundred posts, videos, and podcasts packed with helpful tools, tips, and tricks to help you on your homeschool adventure. Even if you're not a Sonlighter, these resources are a great place to start if you'd like encouragement, suggestions, or insights from other homeschoolers. But sometimes giant lists of materials can be overwhelming. That's why we offer four simple emails to get you started (or reinvigorate your current journey).

Click here to subscribe to one or all of the series.

  • You could get started with a brief selection of preschool tips.
  • Take in an introduction to the seven "essentials" of learning spread out over a few weeks.
  • Or slowly gain confidence with bi-weekly messages from our "Homeschooling with Excellence" series or the Beam.

You can love learning!

Why is this great?

First, rather than hoping something helpful floats across your Facebook feed or catches your eye on Pinterest, these helpful tips come to you. They show up in your inbox, ready when you are. And should you decide that the series you have isn't right for you, you can unsubscribe from that list with a couple clicks and sign up for a new set of insights that meets your needs.

Second, these messages are tailored to meet you where you are. If you have preschoolers, sign up for that one. If you're still not totally sure about homeschooling in general, our "excellence" series is for you (especially if this is your first year). Find the messages that resonate with you and check them out.

Third, the content is focused. This blog is fantastic <cough cough> but it can ramble now and again. We share everything from chocolate chip cookie recipes to complaints about Sonlight and the benefits of sleeping in. Which is awesome. And you should totally subscribe to this blog via email or RSS. ...but you're busy and sometimes you don't have time to real dig into a discussion of why homeschoolers are behind in school. Sometimes you just want those little nudges of encouragement every now and then, not every single day. And in that case, sign up for some homeschool encouragement.

The last thing you need is a few more emails to wade through. But it could be that a few carefully selected reminders that what you're doing is awesome and important ... that, that could be exactly what you need.

Check out the email series from Sonlight and subscribe the one(s) that'd be helpful to you today.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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That moment when...

Someone's life is falling apart and you are just standing there.

I was at a birthday party for my daughter's friend. I saw the mom get off her phone from across the room; she was crying. I went over, just to give a hug, to rub her back...

"I just got a call that I have cancer." Her children are younger than mine.


I am very grateful that I know the Lord. That prayers well up when in my own humanness I have nothing to say. "Sorry" means nothing. Prayers of peace, of healing.

The things that moments before were center of mind, how hot it is outside, how to organize dress up clothes, if the children are getting all fades away to nothing.

Grief. The change of what you thought this year would look like, the plans you made — now nothing is certain. How serious is it? How will my life be different after today because of this? Will I grow old with my children?

I felt like an intruder. Someone who was looking on the face of grief, the crumpling of someone's heart. I wanted to be there, but at the same time, I felt like that was a moment that "should" be spent with people they've known, people who deeply love them, people who care and will be there.

But that wasn't the case. I was there. A near stranger. But I could pray. I could wrap my arms around her, carry some of that burden. I could listen. I could breathe. And pray more. Hug her. Rub her back. And continue to pray.

Sometimes God lets us enter into someone's pain even when we feel like we shouldn't. When we grieve for them that their grief is seen by others. But then we can pray. We can care in a way that if the hurting person just says, oh, it was a bad call...we would not have the middle of the night pleading sessions on their behalf before God.

Sometimes just being there, praying, touching, is all we can do.


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School Need Not Be a Foreign Country

Over the last year, while my cousin was visiting us from Germany, I found myself asking the "how was school" question often. Aside from two parent-teacher conferences the rest of the year, she was my only real point of contact. I could have called her guidance counselor, the woman who struggled to find a way to communicate with someone not completely fluent in English, but that would have yielded nothing; my cousin never went to talk with her about anything. I could have checked in with her teachers, but there wasn't much they could offer that we didn't cover in a five minute conversation once a semester -- "Your student is doing great. I love having her in class. She's learning so much!" And I didn't have time or opportunity to connect with her classmates and teammates to gain their confidence such that they'd share their insights. So I relied almost exclusively on what my cousin said in response to that single question.

Given that, the following metaphor rang so true for me:

"How was school?" he asked. School was a country and home was a country, and the two sent each other letters but never met, [the student] the emissary shuttling between.

The Distance Between School and Home

This is the unfortunate reality of so many school situations. Teachers would love more parental involvement -- as they recognize the profound impact you have on your student's success -- but the whole system just isn't constructed to accommodate such teamwork. Maybe in the younger years, but I doubt it based on my experience with high school.

With homeschooling, we don't have this problem. We know exactly how school went today because we are there through it all. If there is a meltdown -- us or our children ... or both -- we're all too aware. And if things are awesome with tons of "light bulb moments" and smiles and enjoyment of learning together, we're part of that. Home and school are both the same "country" and there is no need to send emissaries. You and your children work together as a team.

Foreign relations are difficult. Dealing with multiple governments can be frustrating, as I've learned while trying to acquire visas. Any time you bring two cultures together things can be bumpy. The same can be very true as parents and teachers try to do what is best for the children entrusted to them.

Homeschool and you continue to fulfill your natural teaching role. You can listen to what your children are going through. The joys and triumphs of learning and success, as well as the heartbreak and torment of struggle and perseverance, are yours to share ... together.

You're there.

Home and school are connected, intertwined, shared. And that is a good thing.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Order Today, Take 9-Months to Pay

Sonlight's Payment Plans let you spread your homeschool investment over several months so you don't have to foot the bill for a year's worth of school all at once. You pay 25% today and the rest in 25% increments over several months.

Right now is your last chance to take advantage of our $799 9-Month offer:

Place your order of $799 by August 15th and select the Payment Plan of your choice.

It's simple. If you're thinking about ordering your curriculum, today is the day to do it.

Get your homeschool curriculum now and spread the cost out with Sonlight's fee-free payment plans.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Milestones . . .

WedPhotoFour years ago today, our oldest daughter married the love of her life. In the next week (or so), their first child/our first grandchild will enter the world. If all goes well (praying that it might be so), our family will begin a new leg of our life journey.

Two years ago today, a good friend, also a wife and mother, went home to be with Jesus. She invested 25 years in her marriage, and countless hours in raising, loving and homeschooling her children, before she lost her brave battle with cancer. Thus began a new leg of their life journey.

We are in the midst of "busy season" here at Sonlight. Each day our Advisors talk with hundreds of parents who are about to enter the "homeschool" leg of their life journey. As I am privileged to chat with some of them, my mind often wanders to my daughter, and my friend. I love to share the excitement of those who are just beginning their homeschool experience, and hopefully encourage those who are in the midst of the long haul.

As I help folks wade through the curriculum options available to them, a recent blog post over on Coffee + Crumbs seems very applicable. While the author is writing to a "soon to be" mom, I think it could easily be adapted for a "soon to be" homeschool parent. All of those parts of your life that are impacted by the arrival of a new baby are also impacted by the beginning of your home education journey.

"Your whole life will be different. Every single day you will wake up with the responsibility of educating your child. It will affect every decision you make, every thought you have, every fiber of your very existence. You will slowly learn to let go of control and expectations, a process you will practice every day for the rest of your life as a parent. You will start to see the world as a teacher—you will see love and God and humanity through new eyes that will change you and mold you and make you more aware of how small you are and how big God is."

So relish the milestones in your journey, no matter where on the path you are, for they will never come again. And even when the journey is at its most frustrating, stop and thank God for even the difficult moments ... and ask for His assistance in moving on down the path.

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

PS ... Sometimes the homeschool journey is greatly benefited by sharing it with other travel companions. Be sure to stop over at the free Sonlight Forums and enjoy the companionship of other travelers in our Homeschool Support Forum!

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Be Part of a Larger Community

Every few days or so someone will ask a question about Sonlight publicly on Facebook. Inevitably, I have to tell them that the only response they're likely to see is the one I provide. If they want more people to weigh in, it's much better to go ask on the Sonlight® Forums.

Facebook says it offers us a chance to connect with friends and share stuff. What this means for me is that I see a few new photos and a whole bunch of Upbuzzworthyfeed content and the same six videos about shampoo and violins or that guy who gave a dog his sandwich. Occasionally stuff from the distant past appears -- last week someone shared the "laughing Quadruplet" video from more than half a decade ago. I'm not overly bitter, but how many posts, counter-posts, and open letters "to the person who posted about the post commenting on the post about a comedian's suicide" do I really need to read?


There are far more pressing matters on my time and bigger issues in the world. Though that depression thing seems to really resonate with people. I've got a few "kids" who struggle with depression and it's not an easy topic. That's definitely something worth connecting with others to discuss.

Perhaps the part that I dislike the most about social media "interactions" like this is that they've become a new brand of push marketing. Click-bait and cute puppies beg me to "act now" and suggest, "But wait! There's more!" I guess I've been around YouTube enough to know what to expect when a popular video features a singing kid. Sorry, internets, but I actually do believe what's about to happen next.

In short: Social media often fantastically fails at connecting me with my friends.

To build relationships and community, to link up with people and talk about what's going on in your life, you need something more than a never-ceasing stream of the latest social experiment. With internet tools like forums, you can get to know people, have long and deep discussions, and banter back and forth about life and kids and homeschooling and dishes and laundry. You can connect with people around the world and maintain an ongoing conversation. And if you have questions, you can get answers from people with more experience as a homeschool mom than me. Because I have, like, none. Literally, none.

Have you heard the news? The Sonlight Forums are now free. You just go, sign up, and start connecting with other homeschool moms.

Do it.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. In many ways, I feel this post is a continuation of thought from my recent Don't Isolate Yourself.

P.P.S. If you've been missing some of our recent fantastic posts, consider signing up to get the Sonlight Blog in your inbox by subscribing on the right (just scroll down a bit). You can also add this blog -- and many others -- to an RSS reader. I'm currently using Inoreader.

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You. Your Pictures. Today.

Today is the deadline for you to submit pictures to the Sonlight Photo Contest. Why send in a photo? Aside from the obvious fun and fame of seeing your family in the Sonlight catalog, you could win up to $500 toward your next Sonlight purchase.

How hard is it to submit a picture?

The process is just a tad more involved than uploading something to Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or ... whatever. You do that all the time, right? When you upload a photo to Sonlight we ask that you also tell us a bit about the picture and your experience with Sonlight. Just do it now before time runs out.

I take amazing pictures of my adorable kids. How many can I submit?

There is no artificial limit to the number of photos you can submit. However, I think time and technology may hinder you from uploading more than 7,000 by midnight. I hope that will suffice for the time being. You can always submit more for next year, because you are right: Your kids are amazing!

My student is now an awesome high schooler. Do you only want pictures of youngsters?

Nope. Homeschool high schoolers are a great bunch of super-cool people. We'd naturally love to represent them in the catalog too!

My child is atypical. Should I even bother uploading a picture?

Absolutely! Sarita recently blogged about how cool it is that so many Sonlighters have adopted children. As you know, Sonlight's approach is great for both struggling and accelerated students; we'd love to share your story. We are also very aware that Sonlighters hail from all around the world, and we love that because it fits right in with our international focus. And I don't really know any "typical" kids. I certainly wasn't one ...

... maybe that makes me normal

Have any tips to help me win?

Just one: Take an amazing picture and submit it with an amazing story. You can do that because you're a homeschooler. There's more information and tips and stuff on the photo contest page, but it all boils down to sharing your experience homeschooling with Sonlight.

Enter the Sonlight Photo Contest Now

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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