How Learning History Teaches Grace

History is full of violence and horror, like when Cain killed his brother or Stephen was stoned to death. Plagues and floods, fires and starvation populate the unmarked graves of time. Yet in the midst of wars and droughts and bitterness and hatred, a stronger force emerges: Grace. God's grace for Cain, Stephen's prayer for his attackers, the people who have gathered to support and protect and encourage those affected by natural disasters and human oppression.

First Responder

Growing up with Sonlight, I learned from first-hand accounts how grace works. Grace from God to us and God's grace given through others to those in need. The men and women we read about -- and so lived life with them -- taught me much about grace. It doesn't take long in a person's story to encounter places where they have needed God's loving-kindness and peace and joy. A few pages more and we witness opportunities to share this goodness with others, and we can learn from their choices to lavish grace or withhold it.

As you discover history together in your History, Bible, Language Arts, and Reading or Full-Grade Package, you will have many opportunities to discuss grace.

Today, I appreciated Natalie Witcher's post on fake grace, a brief quote from Paul David Tripp, and the post Why I Don't Believe in Grace Anymore (yes, that's link-bait, but the post is good).

Grace. I certainly need more of it, and I should let God's goodness to me spill out more as well.

May the grace of God be evident in your life today.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. If you have any interest in Millennials -- either because you are one or know a few -- I found an article my wife sent me on why Millennials aren't in church to be thought-provoking.

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Did You Use Algebra Today?

Just like the humorous image in this post, I have yet to use Algebra today. I haven't utilized polynomials, solved for a single variable, or graphed anything. But I did use Algebra the other day when I filled up my car's tank. I applied a simple equation to determine my miles per gallon: x miles / y gallons = z mpg

A week before that, I needed to calculate the percentage of conversions for a spreadsheet at work: (# of purchases / # of visits) * 100 = conversion %

Granted, outside of assisting high schoolers with homework, I haven't used an equation to find the slope of a line -- you know, y = mx + b -- since I was that age myself. But the fundamental practice of setting up an equation and keeping track of variables is useful on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. And that is one of the key elements taught in basic Algebra.

Summer is still in session for many kids. It's tempting to think that what you've learned is no longer applicable. We can wonder if there's really a point to returning to formal studies. It's not like we actually use any of this stuff!

But that's simply not true.

We may forget the details, but we retain the bedrock.

If your kids are still on break, encourage them to enjoy their vacation. But it may be helpful, every now and again, to point out the little instances where what they've learned is clearly applied in what they do.

Fire Hose of Knowledge

If nothing else, it's a helpful reminder to you that they are, indeed, learning.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

Word of the Day: desiccate - to dry up; dehydrate
Brought to you by What If?

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You Have What it Takes to Homeschool

Parenting can be overwhelming. Here you are, expected to raise these little people to adulthood. You must feed, clothe, shelter, love, protect, guide and nurture them. Sometimes I marvel that any of us are up for the task.

One mom recently shared about second-guessing her parenting choices – especially the ones that aren't mainstream. She said that second-guessing "sometimes leaves me wondering if I'm doing right by my children."

I don't think she's alone in that. It can be hard to be the family who chooses a different path for their children. If you're second-guessing your choice to homeschool, or if you just want some reassurance, I would love to encourage you with two ideas:

  1. First, take this to the Lord in prayer. Pray earnestly with your spouse for God to help you raise your children well. Trust that God will answer that prayer and guide you. Then trust the path where it seems God is leading you.
  2. Second, remember that homeschooling is a fabulous way for children to learn. Consider that elite private schools boast of a low student to teacher ratio. When students struggle in any school, parents often pay for expensive private tutoring. We know that children thrive on personalized attention. This is a huge strength of homeschooling.
  3. Homeschooling gives your children their own private tutor. The heart of homeschooling is personalized attention and customized learning. Though your student to teacher ratio may not be one to one, it is still lower than any public school. (It was four to one in my case ... or four to two, if you include my husband, who helped with some of the homeschooling.)

And who is this tutor giving personalized attention to your children's education? It's you – someone who knows your children intimately and loves them deeply. I've never seen a homeschool mom who just let her children fail. Some may have had to redefine what success means for their children's situations, and some find themselves in the tough place of letting older children be responsible for their own decisions. But homeschool moms will beat the bushes and find ways to help their children succeed.

A Sonlight family learning together
Sonlight student Joelle B enjoys some personalized tutoring (i.e., homeschooling) from her mom while her little brother chomps along.

So even if you don't have a degree in education, even if you shake at the thought of teaching chemistry someday, remember that you CAN teach your children! (And know that there is a lot of help available when challenges, even chemistry, do roll around. For now, just take it a year at a time.)

Sonlight is designed to equip you and give you confidence. With all your materials and plans laid out for you, you can open up, follow along, and learn alongside your kids. And you should always know – we are here for you!

Many blessings on your journey,

P.S. If you ever have doubts about your homeschool and want personalized reassurance, please contact our trained Sonlight advisors, free of charge. You'll get one-on-one help, new ideas and renewed confidence.

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Sonlight on Pinterest

SonlightPinterestDuring the past few months I've been building Sonlight's Pinterest boards. It's been a lot of fun organizing Sonlight's books and materials into various categories.

Over the years as my family built our Sonlight library I kept the books organized on our shelves by Core level. Sometimes I would want to reuse books about, say, a particular world area, or a certain period of history. Then I would have to scan through all the shelves looking for what I needed. With that in mind, I have sorted our products into dozens of categories for easy reference.

What if you have a younger child sitting in on Core with an older sibling, and you'd like to pull in some books from the lower level Cores that would tie in? There are boards for American History for Younger Students and Eastern Hemisphere for Younger Students.

What if you'd like to take the time to do a unit study on, say, farms? Check out the Farm Stories board for some great books to go along with that theme. What if your children really love mystery stories? There's a board for that, too! What about games Sonlight carries? That, too... and many, many more!

Go check it out! I hope you'll find it helpful and will "follow" us there. Of course it's an ongoing project, but that's what makes Pinterest fun, right?

Enjoying the adventure,
~Karla Cook
Lifelong Learner

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Worth the Wait!

Our Core A box arrived to our house the day we welcomed a very active toddler into our home for a few days. I told the kids we would have to wait until she left to open it. Disappointed, they agreed that was the best option.

We wanted to have a box party and, of course, cover an entire room with amazing books and adventures to be had! So we waited with anticipation.

The moment the very active toddler left our home, everyone began chanting "it's box day!"

The kids were elated to find many of their favorite books and begged me to read the new ones. Thank you Sonlight for providing a year of educational adventures for our next school year. We can't wait to get started!


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The last Sonlight box ...

BoxDayI saw this bittersweet thread title on the Sonlight Forums yesterday. Hannah B shared that she had just ordered the British Literature module, and it would be the last Sonlight box she would likely see delivered to her home. Her daughter will be a senior in high school this fall. She commented ... I don't know. I guess we're almost at the end and it just feels weird.

At the same time, I was perusing some of our photo contest entries, and came across this adorable shot that Nicolette K. shared of her 5 year old daughter's box day experience. The K family will be enjoying the wonders of Core A this year.

Milestones! Whether you're at the front end of your homeschool journey, or you're at the bridge that takes your student from high school to college or career, life is full of milestones. In ancient times, a milestone was a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place. Today, the term often means an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

I'd like to encourage you to take some time to review the milestones of this past school year. Don't let the year come to a close without recognizing the challenges and accomplishments of your homeschool journey from 2013 to 2014. As you look ahead to the 2014-15 school year, commit to recording the highlights of your homeschool. From Box Day to the day you close the last book, make note of the triumphs along the way. When it finally comes time to enjoy the last Sonlight box, perhaps it won't seem quite so "weird" if you can look back and enjoy the milestones that brought you to that final box.

Still on the journey ...

P.S. - I would love to see pictures of your Sonlight milestones from this past year. Please don't miss the opportunity to share them via our Sonlight Photo Contest, which will come to an end in just under a month!

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Modesty as Respect

I've seen lots of articles on modesty lately. With summer upon us, it feels like everyone is talking about what young women need to do to "keep their brothers pure," and how they find a line to walk between acceptance and beauty, and what constitutes acting inappropriately.

The word "modesty" makes me cringe a little. I picture someone swathed in cloth from head to toe. Someone who is not current on any level of fashion and who is unrelatable for the majority of people with whom she would interact.

Instead of modesty, I prefer to think of respect.

Respect for yourself means that you dress in a way that is empowering to accomplish your goals — be it exercise, a park date, or church — and attractive. It means that you are appropriate for your surroundings and are able to confident and comfortable.

The Bible talks a lot about women being beautiful; it was something they were naturally, and something they worked on. I don't think working at being beautiful is a bad thing. To dress yourself in a way that is lovely adds to the world, and we all need more beauty in our lives. Respect means taking time to figure out what beauty is for you and working at that, for you to say, "I'm worth spending time on. I'm worth investing in." So when you look in the mirror you see the daughter of God who is lovely.

Take a look at the show What Not to Wear (not an endorsement, though I personally do like it). They take women who dress in all sorts of ways, be it out of style, immodest, or whatever, and say, let us help you find what beautiful is for you. Each woman leaves feeling empowered and beautiful because they have the tools to dress themselves appropriately for their season of life.

When you respect yourself, you will not be immodest.

Respect for others means that you dress in a way that shows you know your audience, those that are around you, and your setting. It's why we don't wear jean shorts to weddings (unless that IS the setting!) and why we don't wear wet suits to the pool.

The current culture of the pool is bikinis, and so I work at loving the women around me and admiring their cute suits (while I sit in my maternity tankini). I seek to respect the culture and honor the women who are dressed in less than me. I don't know their motivation, but I can still love them, still honor them, still treat them as women worthy of respect. They are at the pool to spend time with friends while their children splash. They want to feel cute and fit in. And they do. Why would I take offense?

If I were to visit a country were showing your arms is not culturally acceptable, I would cover my arms. It is not because I feel showing my arms is immodest, I would just seek to be respectful of that culture.

When you respect your setting, you will not be immodest.

What do you think? Can we move away from "modesty" (since that varies wildly from culture and age) and talk instead about respect?


This book really has helped me to buy appropriate clothing for my body type, colors and fashion personality.

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