April Blog Party

AprilPrizePkgOur year-long 25th anniversary blog party continues today, and I can't wait to read your stories! In your blog post today, Share a day in the life of your family. What does your family’s homeschool schedule look like?

Even if you don't 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 May 11, 2015.

 Loading InLinkz ...
Posted in Karla | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The top 9 reasons Sonlight kids like being homeschooled

Parents deciding whether to homeschool will likely ask a vital question: Do kids actually like being homeschooled?

We know that many moms and dads love homeschooling. We know it lines up with many parents' goals for their families. But what about the many little people who actually stay at home to learn instead of going to school?

Of course, their answers will vary. Every child and family is different. Some days at home are great, and some are hard. (Homeschooling is like the rest of life in that regard.)

But last November, my team saw a great blog post on 50 Reasons Kids Love Being Homeschooled. The post was based on a Facebook question, and the two most common answers were getting to sleep in and wearing PJs to school. You know the kids were being honest!

That survey inspired us to conduct our own very unscientific Facebook survey. We asked our Sonlight Facebook moms "Let's hear from the kids! Could you take a second and ask your kids what *they* like about being homeschooled?"

I loved the results! We had 92 moms and 1 dad reply on behalf of about 163 children. When I grouped the open-ended responses into categories, these were the top answers, starting with the most common:

  1. "I get to spend the day with my mom"

    When their parents asked, 39 children said they liked that homeschooling let them be with their family. Some said they loved not having to miss their siblings all day. But most said something specifically about spending time with mom. One little girl even told her mom, "I used to cry at school because I missed you, Mommy." It's enough to melt a mother's heart. And it's true: great homeschooling is primarily about relationships.

  2. A Sonlight mom reads with her children
    Sonlight students David, Katelyn and Erowynn B get to hang out together with Mom and read fascinating books during school time every day.

  3. More free time for other pursuits

    In second place, 29 kids said they liked being free to do other things in life besides just school. They talked about art, music, sports, and lots of good old-fashioned free play (a vital factor in childhood development). They loved not being cooped up in a schoolroom all day, every day.

  4. We get to go at our own pace and create our own schedule

    The next most common response was from 25 kids who said they liked the freedom of the homeschool schedule. They liked not being locked into an arbitrary daily and yearly school schedule. Homeschoolers can move quickly or take more time in certain subjects. They can take breaks during the day when they need them. Rather than moving in lockstep with their peers, homeschoolers can get an education tailored to their strengths, struggles and interests.

  5. No homework

    This one connects to #2. Not only are homeschoolers spared from having to sit in a classroom all day, they're also freed from having to spend all night on homework. Since homeschooling can use children's time more efficiently, kids can get a better education in a much shorter time each day. Fourteen children mentioned this perk, which allows them to follow their passions and spend time on more meaningful pursuits.

  6. Reading!

    Next in line were the responses about reading; 10 children responded with this. Sonlight kids loved the time cuddled up with mom reading on the couch. They loved the great stories. They just loved to read. (Though I'd guess that not all of these children started out this way. Sonlight has a history of turning reluctant readers into book lovers!)

  7. Sleep

    Eight children replied that they liked being able to sleep in. While this may seem a lazy answer at first glance, adequate sleep is a crucial benefit of homeschooling.

  8. Learning in pajamas

    One of the fun perks of homeschooling is that kids don't have to worry about coordinating the perfect outfit every day for school. Eight children replied that they loved doing homeschool in their PJs. Hey, it's the little things, right?

  9. No bullies

    Five children, who likely used to be in regular school, said that they loved not having to worry about bullies. They feel safe at home. I would imagine that this sense of security greatly enhances their ability to learn.

  10. It's fun!
  11. Five other children said that homeschooling was just plain fun. I would agree.

And just to be fair, five of the 163 kids said they actually don't like being homeschooled. Several of these children had already gone back to public school. It's a good reminder that even though homeschooling is a fantastic option for many, many families, it is not the only way to teach a child. (But don't worry – if you ask your children and they happen to respond on that given day that they don't like being homeschooled, it doesn't necessarily mean you've made the wrong decision.)

Many more answers came in with fewer than five responses. One homeschooled child from North Dakota loved not having to walk to school in the freezing cold. Others enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere at home. Several loved that they got to read the Bible and learn about God during school. Some said that they know their teacher understands and loves them.

Finally, one honest little girl enthusiastically replied, "Snacks!" As her mom noted, at least she has her priorities in line.

Now I'd love to hear from you. What do your kids say they like about being homeschooled?

Blessings,
Sarita

Posted in Sarita's Word | Tagged | 1 Comment

Homeschooling Gives You Choices

I had just graduated college, was starting a film production company, my wedding was in a month or two, and I needed to find a house in which to live. I tend to jump in with both feet. I found a real estate agent happy to show me places. He dragged me around the city for a day, and by the end I was frustrated. What do I know about buying a house? Nothing!

I find I'm frequently paralyzed by big decisions. Prime example: Which video camera should I invest in? Even after months of significant research, I was literally sweating as I stood in the store about to hand over my credit card. Why? Not only did this purchase determine my future, but it also cost a lot.

Homeschooling can be feel the same way. This is a big decision. It determines the future for your children and it's not free.

The good news, for me, is that my first video camera purchase was one of the best investments I've ever made. I used that camera to produce all of the Discover & Do and MathTacular DVDs as well as many of my college film projects. And the house I ended up buying is perfect -- aside from significant plumbing issues <sigh>.

I believe your choice to homeschool and the curriculum you invest in will prove equally beneficial.

At the same time, I want to dispel a lie you and I believe. This choice, the one before us now, does not determine the future. The house you buy will impact you today and the foreseeable years to come, but then you may move. The cameras I've invested in have all become outdated and eventually need to be replaced. The college I attended helped shape who am I, but it did not determine where I am today. My production company didn't work out. And even my wife, to whom I am bound until death parts us, is not a static person; she and I are both growing and changing ... making opportunity for more choices.

And that's the beauty of homeschooling as well.

Homeschooling gives you choices. But rather than big, scary, petrifying decisions that determine the future, homeschooling offers you regular opportunities to tweak, correct, improve what you do.

The opposite options -- having your children educated elsewhere -- do not give you such opportunity. The best you have, should you decide a change would be beneficial in those cases, is to quit the public or private school and switch to something else. That is a far bigger choice, yet oddly one many parents make without so much as a second thought.

Homeschooling is better.

Future-Choices
Choices

Here you can choose to switch to a easier or more advanced course as needed, change the math instruction, beef up your spelling practice, or give your student time to learn how to read. The decision you make today does not determine what you do in the future. You can make your school match your students, not the other way around.

The big choice to homeschool is one that offers opportunity, flexibility, and a chance to refine your choices in the future. Instead of fear, may the choices you have in homeschooling encourage you. I wanted to expand on this idea after reading Heather Sander's Get Rid of Your Homeschooling Doubts Once and for All. She says, "Failure may happen once, but it isn't a life-altering kind of failure. It's a singular failure that can easily be remedied."

You have the opportunity to make choices and fix problems. Your investment in your child's education turns every "failure" into a chance to help them succeed.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices you have? Please chat with a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor. These homeschool moms will be able to help you weigh options, answer your questions, and find the materials and tweaks that will help your children as they follow their path toward the future.

Posted in Luke | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guaranteed

Sometimes a business will offer a very nice guarantee. We at Sonlight have tried to take all the fear out of homeschooling with us by giving you a fantastic guarantee.

But something we can't guarantee is the end result: where your children will end up, the path they will follow, their walk with the Lord.

As my children, though still young, continue to exercise their independence, I am reminded more and more that, while they are my arrows from my quiver, I am not walking them to the target, but releasing them on their journey.

My husband and I are doing our best to point them in the direction they should go. We pray for them, with them, answer their questions, and generally are doing our very best to make sure they see the value of walking with the Lord. But eventually, they will make that choice for themselves. We will have to release them. Just like my parents had to do for my siblings and me. At a certain point we were out of their grasp and they are watching us shoot forward, buffeted by the winds of life as we fly toward the finish line.

How scary. How thrilling. What a hold-your-breath, where-will-they-end-up, adventure God asks us to be on in regards to our children.

But friend: be free. At a point, the journey is up to our children and their walk with God.

Archer
Be Free

My own parents, if they could have seen the future, would they have sought to protect me from the pain I've lived through? Would they have tried to protect me from foolish choices I've made? And if they had been able, who would I be today?

This past week I was grieving for my 6 year old, who now, 5 years later, still bears the scars of her sister's death. Dave and I have gone through many times of healing. But how does one heal a pain that is almost unknown? I was talking with my sister and I said, "I'm so sad we couldn't protect her..."

But wait.

I am confident of God's plan for our family in our daughter's death. And while I don't understand it, I am sure of God's hand, of His will being done.

So, would I protect her from God's will, from the journey He has her on? While I often don't understand her journey either, God has her on it and is with her. I believe He has not abandoned her and is not surprised by what she is going through.

So friend, I hope that whatever stage you are in with your children, you will be encouraged and freed from any burden that you should somehow be able to guarantee that your children will always make the right decisions and will always follow hard after God. Aren't we grateful that we serve a God who tells us that he welcomes those who wander?

As always, if you have any need that you would like us to pray for, as a staff we gather daily to pray for our customers. Please, let us know if we can be praying for your children, for your spouse, or for you. If you are walking through a time when it seems as though the arrow will miss the target completely, we would be honored to walk with you through that.

Blessings,
Jonelle

Posted in Jonelle | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

You're nobody special! ...

NametagI was sitting in an empty workshop room at a convention last weekend, enjoying the relative peace and quiet before our next responsibility for the day. In walked one of the cleaning staff, obviously looking for someone. She walked up in front of me, peered momentarily at my name tag, and said "Oh, you're nobody special", and walked back out. It took me a moment to realize that English wasn't her first language, and that she probably meant to convey that she was looking for someone "specific" (perhaps another convention center employee), not somebody "special". But it did make me chuckle, as I considered my initial feelings/response to her statement. What do you mean I'm nobody special?!!

Her rather unexpected statement stuck with me throughout the rest of the day. As I chatted with dads and moms who were new to homeschooling and asking if they could really pull off the whole "teach my kids at home" thing ... as a couple of moms anxiously shared that they didn't have teaching degrees, so they were sure they would fail their kids ... as one mom nervously admitted that she wasn't sure if her son would accept her as his "teacher" ... as one dad expressed his concern that his kids would miss out on sports and socialization ... and another couple shared how their sister-in-law is a pro at homeschooling and they're not sure they can measure up ...

I wanted to pull each of them aside and tell them that they are indeed ...

wordleWhether you are brand new to homeschooling, or whether you've been at it for years, please allow me the privilege of encouraging you in this most important endeavor. You have chosen a most honorable path to walk, and I applaud you for your commitment. God has chosen you to parent, raise, teach, and love the child(ren) in your care. Trust that He will also equip you for the task.

Nothing profound or terribly in-depth from my pen today. Just an overwhelming burden to let you know that you are indeed ... somebody Special!

Still on the journey ...
~Judy

Posted in Judy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blog Party Winner!

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

Natalie who blogs at My Destination Known!!!

Congratulations, Natalie! I hope you and your family enjoy the European-themed prize package.

The next installment of our year-long Blog Party will be on April 25, with another fantastic prize package... this time with an African theme.

AprilPrizePkg

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

In your blog post on April 25th share a day in the life of your family. What does your family’s homeschool schedule look like? (Even if you don't use Sonlight 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

Posted in Karla | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Things Don't Go Well. Homeschool.

So many blog posts have recently circled the idea of things not going well. Failure. Dyslexia. A meltdown of everything. Declining health. Terrible days. And one idea reverberates in each, like the hum of the kettle when its just about to boil:

This is a reason to homeschool.

Life is hard. Things do not always go well, let alone as planned. Each day has its breaks and bruises. Homeschooling offers no guarantee. Homeschooling cannot promise to make your child a genius. No system is going to ensure your child follows in your footsteps. We're dealing with humans, not robots.

Homeschooling is good because of this, not just despite it.

Snake-Oil
No Guarantee

As homeschoolers, we get to interact with our children individually, as people. We have opportunity to tackle each problem as it comes. We have flexibility to adjust as needed. We get to extend grace, rest in Christ, see His provision (however that comes), all while learning about men and women who have walked similar paths in the past.

Things don't always go well.

All the more reason to homeschool.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. I smiled when I realized that the entire reason Sonlight offers a guarantee is because the homeschooling system itself can't. Homeschooling is great, but it may not be what your family wants. How can we help you feel confident to try this amazing thing we offer? We can make it so you have a year to try half the curriculum. If on day 4 of week 17 you decide this isn't for you, ship it back and we'll give you a refund. There's no guarantee in homeschooling. That's why Sonlight offers a "Love to Learn, Love to Teach" Guarantee.

Posted in Luke | Tagged , | 2 Comments