Kind words are like honey ...

Someone offered some words of encouragement to me this past week ... twice in fact! Now you may think me desperate for blog material if I'm writing about something nice being said to me ... but stop and think about this with me for just a moment (and I promise it will be short).

When was the last time someone said something legitimately nice to you (as in, not flattery)?

When was the last time *YOU* said something encouraging to someone?

Solomon said "Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." (Proverbs 16:24)  The encouraging words I heard this past week were just that ... very tasty to my soul and I'm sure they lowered my blood pressure at least a couple of points! Your words are far more than just "hot air" ... they have the potential to affect the people around you at a much deeper level.

I remember wrestling with this concept when I was still homeschooling our children. It was so very easy to regularly point out where they had done wrong, or to make them aware of my frustration with them ... but I did not share encouraging words with them nearly enough. Solomon also said "When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness." (Proverbs 31:26) I'm fairly certain, if you were to ask my children, they would not report that I always gave instruction with kindness.

So please let me "encourage" you to begin practicing "giving instruction with kindness" right now ... over summer break ... before the stress of the school year begins once again. It might amaze you how attitudes change and motivation increases. I guarantee that you will also benefit from being a "honey giver".

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

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The Best Part: Your Story

Take advantage of your opportunity to submit a photo for next year's catalog. Win the cover spot and you'll get $500 toward your next Sonlight program. With the deadline of August 12 drawing close, I asked my co-worker and fellow writer Jeanne about her favorite part of the photo contest.

"Telling people's stories," she said. "I love reading through all that content and helping share their experience in just a few sentences. It's a ton of work, but very rewarding!"

I know the feeling. As a film guy, I've put together a few video testimonials for my church. I get to record while people recount their history and then, both there and later editing the footage, hone the clip to get to the faith-building essence of what God has done in their lives. Seeing how God has been faithful, how they have grown, and where they are now is amazing. Regularly reminding ourselves of God's faithfulness is very encouraging.

How has God been faithful to you in your homeschooling? What have your loved or learned this year? How have your children grown as you've studied God's world and His will together?

Sonlight Photo Contest

Honestly, the daily grind can get to me. I can easily lose sight of what God is doing and the beauty of the work He has given me to do. Your stories of how Sonlight has blessed you and your family are a major encouragement. And taking time to remember the things that have blessed me and pushed me forward tends to brighten my mood here and now. This is something giving thanks does naturally.

You love your Kindergarten homeschool curriculum.* If you didn't, you'd have taken advantage of the Love to Learn Guarantee. Your children love learning (most subjects). You love teaching (most days). And as you look back on the previous year, you remember all the great stories you shared, the discussions you've had, the "light bulb moments" you witnessed in your children. This, with all the blessings and benefits, is why you love homeschooling. The most rewarding -- the best part -- is your story: The story of your family learning together.

So, please, collect some of those adorable and inspiring pictures you've taken with your children and share your story here.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

P.S. Rejoicing with you is one of the reasons I love Sonlight Moments. So encouraging!

* You're not doing Kindergarten? Right. Sorry about that. You love your preschool curriculum, or 3rd grade curriculum, or high school homeschool program ... wait ... I don't know what level you're doing right now. Please let me know! <smile>

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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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