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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The Big List: 25 Ways that Reading Helps Your Children

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"Sonlight students Samantha, Karlie and Brandon R soak up all the benefits of books on their favorite reading rock"

I love books. And I love helping children learn to love books. But not only because reading is a great pastime. I believe that reading and hearing stories read out loud should be central in every child’s education. So it’s no coincidence that reading great stories is the backbone of a Sonlight education.

I talk often about the benefits of reading, so I wanted to pull everything I could think of into one big list. And here it is! Enjoy this huge compilation of academic, developmental and relational benefits that come with diving in to a good story.

  1. Reading helps children remember what they learn

    Bits of information devoid of context are difficult to remember. But put that same content into a story – give it context – and all of a sudden, it’s easier to remember. Stories serve as anchors for information that would otherwise be lost in the great sea of data in your mind. Learning about history from real books helps children remember what they learn.

  2. Learning through books makes learning enjoyable

    Not only do children remember information better when they learn it through a good story, they also enjoy the process! Children enjoy good stories far more than textbooks. And it’s just a lot more fun to teach kids who enjoy the learning process instead of trying to force-feed them.

  3. Reading develops emotional intelligence and empathy

    Research suggests that reading quality literature helps children develop empathy and emotional intelligence. When you read the Sonlight Read-Alouds to your children, they get daily practice walking in other people’s shoes as they follow the inner thoughts and experiences of characters very different from themselves. As studies suggest, reading helps us imagine what other people are feeling. What a vital life skill!

  4. Reading improves children’s academic abilities

    Reading helps kids perform better in other subjects. A recent study suggests that frequent reading is an even more important predictor of children’s academic success than is their parents’ financial status or level of education. One researcher suggests that the reason reading boosts scores in seemingly unrelated subjects like math is because the regular act of reading helps children practice taking in and processing new information.

  5. Reading helps students understand the big picture of history

    As children learn about history through biographies, historical fiction and story-based history books (such as A Child’s History of the World), they form a picture of what life was like at various times and places in history. They remember significant historical events because they’ve formed an emotional connection to characters who lived through them. They know more than just facts and dates; they understand why and how things happened as they did.

  6. Read-Alouds develop listening skills

    Hearing you read aloud helps children develop listening skills. When children hear stories, they get practice translating words into meaning. That helps them in so many ways, and is a vital part of reading comprehension when they read on their own.

  7. Reading grows kids’ brains

    Reading out loud to your children enhances their brain development. One study compared young children whose parents had read to them often with children who had not heard many books read out loud. The young children who had heard many books showed significantly more activity in the brain’s visualization area (which is “all about multisensory integration”) when they listened to a story.

  8. Reading helps kids learn to focus

    As you read with your children, their attention spans will lengthen. In a world so full of distractions, the ability to focus on one task will be a huge advantage for this next generation. Even if children are playing quietly with something else while you read, their attention is set on that one story, instead of jumping from to Instagram to YouTube and back again. This ability to stay on one task is a vital skill in today’s world.

  9. Reading can help develop character

    Reading out loud with your children helps them develop character in a way that sticks. As kids see realistic characters face struggles, make decisions, and live with the consequences, they learn the meaning and value of virtue. The books you read help you discuss real-life scenarios with your children so they can truly grasp what virtue looks like. In this way, I think Sonlight’s literature-based approach is far more effective at forming character in the real world than moralistic tales or “character-training” curriculum.

  10. Books provide great role models

    Reading naturally helps children gain worthy role models. Life isn’t always black and white, and kids learn from the characters they meet in books who make good decisions, or who face consequences and grow from their bad decisions. We want our kids to gain role models – like those in great stories – who have overcome great obstacles to succeed.

  11. Reading helps children become culturally literate

    As they read, children learn about the world and how it works. Sonlight Readers and Read-Alouds help your children develop the cultural literacy they need in life. As they enjoy great stories, they learn the background information they need to make sense of cultural references and the way our world works now. In other words, books provide the background knowledge so children can understand more of what they learn.

  12. Read-Alouds let children access concepts they can’t read on their own

    Research shows that until eighth grade or so, kids can comprehend a much higher level of writing when it’s read out loud to them than they can when they read on their own. So reading out loud to your children all these years helps them access ideas, vocabulary and concepts that would otherwise be out of their reach.

  13. Reading teaches vocabulary

    The English language has far too many words to learn through conversation alone. Reading is the best way for children to learn the immense vocabulary they need in order to be educated adults. Even children’s books contain a much wider range of vocabulary than normal conversation between two college-educated adults.

    Two authors reviewed all the research and report: “Most theorists are agreed that the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching. Furthermore, many researchers are convinced that reading volume, rather than oral language, is the prime contributor to individual differences in children’s vocabularies” (Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998). In other words, kids have to read in order to develop a robust vocabulary.

  14. Reading together fosters meaningful conversations with your children

    Reading out loud with your children opens the door to conversations about tough topics that are on their hearts. Reading real books together helps you be a huge influence in how they think about these things ... instead of letting them get all their information from their peers or mass media. Reading books together provides opportunities for your children to ask you questions about things they wonder about, such as love, loss, careers, family, and what it means to follow God.

  15. Reading aloud shows your children love

    Reading together shares quality time with your children, and often includes important physical touch, when young ones sit in your lap. Those are two of the five love languages that Dr. Gary Chapman (www.5lovelanguages.com) describes.

  16. Reading together gives your family shared experiences

    Reading out loud together helps your family create a reservoir of shared adventures to reference in your family culture, such as inside jokes or cultural references from books you’ve shared. This helps foster a sense of family and belonging, and helps your children feel like insiders in your family.

  17. Reading aloud fosters family bonding

    Relationships are built on shared time and shared experiences. Reading together gives you both. All the benefits of reading out loud with your children happen in what one author calls “the context of face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual.”

  18. Reading relieves stress

    Homeschooling with literature-based curriculum has a daily built-in stress reliever. One study suggests that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. Many a frazzled day at home with kids is soothed when you get to sit down and sink into a good story together.

  19. Reading out loud gives kids what they really want

    One large survey about children and reading shows that school-age children wish their parents had kept reading to them after they learned to read on their own. Sonlight builds this precious parent-child time right into your school day. Even if your kids don’t want to snuggle like they used to during a Read-Aloud, know that they probably really enjoy that special time with you.

  20. Reading helps children become great writers

    Many writers agree that reading helps people learn to write. When children read good writing, they develop an ear for good writing. They learn the cadences, turns of phrase, and pacing of good authors. Sonlight’s Language Arts programs are based on this very concept. Dr. Ruth Beechick writes, “Workbooks don’t really teach children how to write effectively.” Instead, she says students best learn to write well as they listen to good writing, look at good writing, copy good writing, and then, finally, write on their own. Reading widely provides a great foundation for this process.

  21. Reading helps develop critical thinking skills

    When we read fiction and biographies, we learn to consider other people’s points of view. Children learn to walk in other people’s shoes. They learn to compare and reflect on different people’s thoughts and experiences. This is a key skill in learning critical thinking. In fact, Sonlight’s entire literature-based approach helps foster critical thinking skills naturally and more effectively than workbooks ever can.

  22. Read-Alouds can motivate children to do their math.

    On a typical homeschool morning at the Holzmann house, we would get up and tackle math, language arts, spelling, and other more laborious work. But then came the really good stuff; we’d reconvene after a short break and dive into the day’s reading. Three of my four kids would work diligently through their other subjects each morning because they knew that fun reading lay ahead. (I’ll admit that one of my children still needed extra encouragement to stay on task in the morning.) But for the most part, my children worked hard because they wanted to find out what happened next in their Read-Alouds and Readers.

  23. Reading prepares children for a lifetime of unlimited learning

    The sky is the limit for what we can learn in life. Adults who read regularly about what interests them will never stop learning. Learning to love books prepares children to keep learning their entire lives.

  24. Reading aloud helps children love books

    Whether children are still learning the alphabet or are preparing to graduate high school, they can tag along on thrilling adventures and learn that books are a true treasure. Time and time again, Sonlight families discover that reading aloud instills a love of books. After all, who doesn’t love to hear a good story?

  25. Reading helps children love to learn

    When children learn to love books, they also start to love learning in general. I’ve seen it time and time again. Sonlight’s literature-based learning turns reluctant students into students with a passion to learn. When books help you “do school” in such an enjoyable fashion, children discover that that learning is fun! And when children actually want to learn and do school (instead of dreading it), that can make all the difference in the world. It’s like the difference between feeding reluctant and hungry eaters.

    As one Sonlight mom says, “The woman who swore that she would never homeschool LOVES it. Not to mention my kids!!” Can you imagine anyone saying that about a textbook or workbook-based program?

So dive on in to the adventure of learning together through books. You and your children will reap rewards far and wide! And I promise you’ll have a wonderful time along the way.

Blessings to you and yours,
Sarita


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Perspectives on Getting Angry as a Homeschool Mom

"I wish I didn't yell at my kids."

"I try so hard to be patient, but I lose my cool at least once a day. Then I feel terrible."

"I make my son cry during Math!"

"I'm setting a bad example for my kids!"

Ever had thoughts like these? If so, you're definitely not alone.

An informal survey a few years back revealed that many homeschool moms' biggest worry was about their own attitudes. These loving, hardworking moms wrote in things like what you see above.

I hear you, moms (and dads). My pastor has said that you can have a fuse a mile long, and your kids will still find a way to set it off.

So I wanted to share some thoughts to offer perspective and encouragement:

  1. Most moms get angry sometimes

    This is not an excuse, but just a reality check. I recently heard a mom say that she had thought she was the only one who would sometimes yell, stomp around, slam a cupboard, or otherwise have a mommy "temper tantrum." She was so relieved to find out that she's not a monster, she's just human. Other moms struggle with this as well.

    You may be surprised – if you finally talk with your mom friends about your struggle with anger, they'll probably say they struggle too. Put it in perspective – of course it's frustrating when your kids disrespect you, when they don't listen, or when your best laid plans go awry.

    Yes, we should strive to grow in maturity. We want to model positive ways to handle our anger in front of our children. But first, it's OK to admit you're not perfect.

  2. Consider why you get angry

    I've heard that anger is a secondary emotion. It usually signals that something else is going on.

    That "something else" is often fear. Are you scared that your children will make you look bad by making you late to the co-op again? Are you scared that you will never get anything done again? Are you scared that your husband will think you're lazy when he comes home to a messy home and a boring dinner? Take an honest look at why those things frighten you. If you can, remind yourself of truth and the big picture.

    Or perhaps you're angry because your hormones are off today. If so, have extra grace for yourself and everyone else, and know that tomorrow will, actually, be better.

    If you're angry because your children never listen to you, then your children are in need of correction. This may or may not be righteous anger, but there is a legitimate reason for you to be angry. When you are at home with the kids, you are the captain of that ship. If there's a mutiny underfoot, of course you'll be angry.

    Another common factor in anger is when we neglect our own physical needs. We can get so caught up in caring for others that we don't pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. Are you eating a substantive, healthy breakfast? Do you drink enough water? Are you getting enough sleep (if that's at all feasible in your stage of life right now)?

    If you're angry because you want more "me" time, you can deal with that. Perhaps you could look at your full week (all 168 hours) and find a few additional pockets of time for you to do your own thing. Or maybe you need to repent for not being thankful for the gifts of this season. Prayer and discernment can show you which is applicable to you.

    Noticing the root of your anger won't automatically fix it, but it will help you start to move forward in love.

  3. We're never completely stuck: we can try something new

    Can you start to notice as soon as you feel your blood pressure start to rise? If you catch yourself on your way to an anger outburst, do what you need to do right away to stop it. That doesn't mean you can't be angry, but try to choose an appropriate way to express it.

    See if one or more of these strategies could help:

    • Give yourself a "Mommy time-out." If your kids are safe, just tell them, "I feel myself getting angry and I don't want to yell, so I'm going to go take a time-out for 60 seconds in the other room and I'll be back." Use that time to get perspective however you can so that you can approach the situation more thoughtfully.
    • Count to ten and take a deep breath before you say anything.You've heard it before, but there's a reason this is everyone's go-to strategy. Pausing and taking a deep breath is a great way to model to your children how to calm yourself down.
    • Act before you cross that invisible line and explode. If your kids are doing something they're not supposed to, or if they're just being annoying, intervene early before you blow up about it. If you act soon you could calmly say something like, "Abby, you can throw the ball outside, or you can find something else to do now. If you throw it again inside I will take it away from you." If you ignore the behavior and let it go on, you might just snap and scream, "Abby! JUST STOP IT!!!"
    • Consider a new discipline strategy. If your approach to discipline isn't working for your family, maybe it's time to pray, research and try something new. If you theoretically have a discipline plan but you're not actually comfortable with it and therefore don't use it, it might be time to try something new.

  4. Remember that God's mercies are new every minute

    My daughter Amy says that everything changed for her when she realized it's not just "every morning his mercies are new" but "every minute his mercies are new." If she'd gotten angry before breakfast, she didn't have to stick with the mentality of: "Well, today was a bust, but hopefully tomorrow will be better" That's a long time to ride out a bad attitude.

    Far better to acknowledge failure and move on in grace and joy: "I didn't respond as I should have. Will you forgive me? Let's have a good rest of the day!" In most cases like this, kids are surprisingly quick to forgive. They want to have a good relational day too. And what a gift to model for our children how to ask for and receive forgiveness.

  5. We can use anything to help teach our children

    We are teaching our children more than academics. We want to teach them how to be well-adjusted, loving people who can manage their emotions. What a privilege that we can model to them how to reconcile after we mess up!

    This doesn't mean it's fine to snap in anger at them, but if we do we can then model healthy repentance. You can communicate huge amounts of grace if you get down on your children's level, apologize to them for yelling and ask them to forgive you. You can tell them that you are asking God to help you grow in patience. You could even stop and pray out loud with your kids for mommy to be able to act more lovingly. Your kids might surprise you by returning the favor sometime and asking if you could pray for God to help them be more patient and loving, too.

    Some translations of Ephesians 4:26 say, "Be angry, but do not sin." It's what we do with our anger that counts ... and that teaches our children what do to with their own anger.

I know this is a tough issue. And really, any adjustment of anger is going to take some self-awareness – to know why you are angry, what parts are legitimate, who is in sin, and in what ways, and then prayerful determination to change. Ask God for help and clarity, and he will help.

And if this is an overwhelming struggle for you, don't be afraid to reach out for more resources. There is no shame in reading books on anger, talking to a trusted friend, or working with a wise counselor to help you develop new patterns in your life. Praise God that we can change!

And know that I stand with you in prayer. I know that motherhood and homeschooling is wonderful at times and difficult at times. But I do believe you can do it! You can always email me to ask for specific prayer at president@sonlight.com. I would be honored to stand beside you in your journey.

Blessings to you on the way,
Sarita


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A Precious Gift of Homeschooling: Investing in Your Kids

We only have a limited time here on earth. A very limited time with our kids at home. What will we do with that time?

Although the Lord gently pushed me into homeschooling, I have no regrets in having invested so much of my time in my children. I could not have chosen another season of my life to focus on them in the same way. The Lord granted me the opportunity, and I am so grateful I took it.

We got to share each morning together learning and reading together on the couch – precious memories indeed. We built up so much quantity time together as we learned together, that our quality time naturally arose out of that.

I believe my time at home with them forged deep bonds between me and each of my children, and between the children themselves. It’s no surprise that I love my children. But I am so grateful that I also really like my children. I love that they can talk to me, John, and each other about heart issues – and they know we’ll listen.

You are in a unique position to truly know your children. You can learn their personalities, their learning styles, their quirks, their joys. What a privilege to help educate them in the context of that close relationship.

Greatest responsibility

"I love that Sonlight focuses on God, Christian morals and history, and has a challenging curriculum. I was a middle school history teacher at a charter school and became frustrated with the way public education is going. I prayed and felt tremendous clarity that as a parent, the greatest responsibility I have is to teach our children the love of God. How could I do that if I only spent a few hours with them in the evenings while focused on cooking dinner or winding down from work?" – Wendy W, Panama City, FL

Here, Whitney (14, Sonlight 200), Ashley (12, Sonlight W) and Mason (10, Sonlight F) pose with Mom and Dad in the South Dakota Badlands during their epic homeschool kickoff trip.

I love that when my kids struggled in learning, I knew them well enough to know how to help them. And even if I didn’t know the answer right away, I knew I had time to stick with it and figure it out. I knew that Justin was extremely distractible and needed a LOT of help moving from one math problem to the next. I knew that Luke had to work very hard at the mechanics of reading, but that his comprehension was through the roof. I knew that Amy loved to check things off lists and feel a sense of accomplishment in her day. And so John and I could tailor their education to them.

As the kids got older, our deep investment in them helped them find their paths in life. You can read about how my homeschooled children found their careers – it wasn’t a straightforward path for any of them. But we got to be a true support to them as they spread their wings. What a blessing!

You may not be able to or even want to give your children all the latest gadgets and everything they say they want. But I do believe you can give your kids what they really want. And I believe homeschooling is a great way to give yourself the space and freedom to truly invest in your kids.

After all, the gift of your presence is what they’ll remember about their childhood anyway. So blessings to you as you do the hard yet beautiful work of investing in your children. Never doubt that your work is meaningful. Enjoy the journey!

Blessings to you and yours,
Sarita


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Why We Organize Sonlight's Programs Around History

Have you ever wondered what you're doing here on the earth? Ever wondered how our country got to the state that it's in? Ever wondered why people in other countries live differently than you do?

Well, I think the answers lie in understanding history. To put it simply ...

Studying history helps children make sense of their world and their lives. That's why Sonlight centers on history. Our curriculum chronicles the past in order to prepare children to understand and influence their world in the future.

As they learn the story of the world (people, places, and events tied together to tell an historical story), children start to understand the wonder, tensions, and troubles in today's world. They build a framework in which to understand new information about their globe. It's like they develop an internal timeline with anchor points on it, such as the rise of the Greeks, the Chinese dynasties, the Industrial Revolution, and the era of Colonization. (And Sonlight provides a tangible timeline to help this along!)

As children develop this internal timeline, they have places to hang new knowledge. When they learn something new about the Renaissance in Europe, they have context in which to place that nugget of information. When they read about a country in the news, they at least have a vague sense of what that country's story is. And so the new information means something to them because they have places to hang it. The new knowledge is more than unconnected tidbits of information.

Of course, children who learn history the Sonlight way also get to learn it in an enjoyable way that they actually remember. And so they really get to reap the benefits of learning history. They truly understand how the world's peoples and places came to their present state.

But that's not all.

Understanding the flow of history helps children understand the meaning of their own lives. They learn where they are in the story of the world.

For us as Christians, we know that we are living in the time between Christ's first coming and His return. It's huge that we understand that. It helps us make sense of what we're doing here. As I've written before:

The incarnate Christ returned to heaven, and we are His representatives on earth now. He has given us the Holy Spirit to work through us and guide us as we labor to bring God's Kingdom to earth. We are part of God's big plan; we have a role to play, a purpose for living, and a call to serve. We can partner with God, or not. He will work His plan out, with or without us. May we and our children be people who help God's Kingdom advance.

And the story is moving forward! Though we don't know the exact timeline, we do know we are moving to an end point where Christ returns and ultimately redeems His people. He will establish His kingdom in full and we will live forever in perfect communion with Him in the new heaven and new earth. How can this not affect how we live today?

So that's why Sonlight centers on history instead of social studies, unit studies, or any number of other ways to organize your study of the world. It helps our students understand the world and their place in it. This is intentional, and we have seen that it truly works.

Blessings to you as you live out your family's story!
Sarita


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A Heart for the World (5 Gifts You Can Give Your Children That Last a Lifetime, Part 5)

world

I grew up in a community so tiny we didn’t even have a post office. We had to drive an hour to the nearest mall. And yet, the world came to my kitchen table while my family homeschooled together.

What were some of the practical ways my family developed a perspective that ranged beyond the mile markers of our town?

  • I remember all of us practicing our Spanish each morning around the table and then attempting to carry on conversations with our neighbors who came to work in the cotton gin next door each fall.
  • Our family hosted many missionaries in our home. A particular favorite when I was a little girl was larger-than-life Jo Skaggs from Africa who enthralled me with her tales of eating grasshoppers and seeing God work.
  • I learned more about listening to others and sharing my faith as I discussed the tenants of Islam with my dad and the owners of our local gas station and as my parents welcomed Arab families into our home.
  • I was moved by the example of my grandmother who has influenced nations from her rocking chair through her prayers, her hand-written cards and her sacrificial gifts.
  • My dad helped me fund and prepare for my first mission trip out of the country.
  • Our spinning globe was well worn from locating the places of people we read about and met and prayed for.
  • My parents helped spur on a passion for the world that influenced my choice to serve in Tanzania as a missionary and to reach out to refugees in my own community in the U.S.

Now I long to develop a heart for the world in my own children and I’m thrilled that this is also one of Sonlight’s passions.

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Offering families a global perspective is one of the hallmarks of Sonlight. Rather than focusing on American history for 80% of your school years, you’ll get access to almost twice as much world history as a traditional program. (See Reason #8 of Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight and Sarita’s post).

You’ll find missionary biographies and literature that reflect different cultures woven through your Sonlight studies.

You’ll find prayer guides that help you pray for specific nations and people.  You’re even likely to be invited to participate in a charitable giving  project that aids people around the world who have never heard the Gospel.

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Be encouraged, this intentional look at the whole world is built into your curriculum from the beginning and gives your kids a solid foundation to build a lifetime of learning about people and ideas.

So why is it so important that we give our kids a global perspective? You’ll have to read Sarita’s post on why Sonlight encourages study of both hemispheres, but I’ll give you four quick reasons here:

4 Reasons to Give Our Kids a Global Perspective

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A global perspective helps us …

  1.  Battle entitlement

When we learn that not everyone in the world is as privileged as we are, we begin to view our blessings in a different way. Not only are we more thankful for what we do have, we are more likely to be drawn to use our resources to aid others who don’t have as much.

Anyone who has looked around at our generation knows fighting again entitlement is much needed!

  1. Better understand an increasingly connected global society (in business, politics, technology, religion and more)
  1. Reflect God’s heart for the nations

We can help our children pray–specifically, intelligently and intentionally–for real needs in the world. As we watch the news or discuss what is happening in a certain area, we can bring requests to God with a specificity that is powerful. We want to see the world with wide open eyes so we can demonstrate love and empathy.

  1. Be prepared to impact the world

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God cares about the whole world. When students reflect His priorities they are more prepared to make an impact.

Sarita began Sonlight with a vision to help missionaries stay on the field one more year, and she continues to impact the world not only by giving and praying strategically, but also by equipping students to be passionate, well-informed, global-minded people who are prepared to do whatever God calls them to do.

Now that’s a gift!

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Box Day Castle

We recently moved to Uganda (hence the many boxes) and are half way through our first year of Sonlight which we love. We took some photos today of the Sonlight box as the capstone of a castle as well as part of the bottom layer of a pyramid.

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We first came across Sonlight when we met a family of seven children aged four to nineteen. All been educated using Sonlight. What impressed us most was the way even the young children seemed able to appraise both sides of an argument and reach a logical conclusion based on the evidence; these were skills I only learnt during my PhD and were entirely lacking from the mainstream education I had experienced. We were also impressed at how each individual child was able to develop at their pace, and explore their specific areas of interest without becoming one-sided or missing out on anything that seemed fundamental. Considering this, and having the desire to instill a strong Biblical worldview in our children, we naturally reached the decision to home educate.

We have boys aged six, six and four. The older two are six months apart to the day. They are very different from one another in their learning styles.

We are using Core A. Our oldest is doing language arts 2, the middle boy is using language arts 1 and the youngest is making a gentle start joining in with the others when he can. We use Singapore maths, the older two are working at the same pace, Science A with as many experiments as we can do, and Rosetta Stone. For electives, we are doing some art appreciation, choir and music classes, learning one of the local languages and doing weekly sports with a home education co-op. We also still do a lot of our 'education' on the move, learning numbers and money in the market places, doing maths and measurement in the kitchen, and so forth.

My middle son had been reluctant to read, and would become quite upset and frustrated when he struggled. Using the 'I Can Read It!' series, he realized that he could indeed read! Here is the photo of him reading to daddy on his first day of Sonlight, completing the whole story and being utterly delighted by what he had achieved.

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The whole family has benefited greatly from the well chosen and well structured curriculum that Sonlight offers. My husband and I both work part-time and take the lead on home schooling on the days we are home; having a very clear timetable maximizes our efficiency here, whilst allowing us to draw on our complementary strengths.

And the box makes a fabulous castle!

Kondwani

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