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

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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

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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.

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Meet the 2015 Sonlight Scholarship Winners

Many high school graduates have talent. Many score well on standardized tests and get into great colleges. Many hope to make something of themselves.

But you know what strikes me about Sonlight graduates? They seem to have a sense of purpose behind it all. Sure, they also have talent and many score remarkably well on standardized tests. A huge number get into their first-choice colleges. But their drive is rarely money or fame.

A Sonlight dad reads the Bible with his daughter.reads to her 9- and 11-year-old children
Congratulations to Keila Pieters – a soon-to-be Sonlight grad who won our $20,000 scholarship this year! Keila aspires to cultivate her gifts and become a medical missionary. Meet Keila and the other 12 winners.

Sonlight grads have spent years grappling with God's heart for the world. They've read countless biographies of ordinary people who have followed God's unique call on their lives. Many of them understand that God has gifted them in specific ways to serve a hurting and needy world.

That thrills me to no end. My heart is to help parents raise up kids prepared to do whatever God calls them to do. That means they need to be attuned to God's voice, have a desire to follow, and be willing to do the necessary work to prepare. Time and time again, I've seen this happen. For example...

Have you met our 2015 Sonlight scholarship winners? Their diverse interests and passions astound me. Some highlights I noticed:

  1. Sonlight scholarship winners are their own people

    You won't find cookie-cutter students here. I think that homeschooling in general, and Sonlight in particular, gives students the freedom to find their own gifts and the courage to follow where God is leading them.

  2. They show stunning creativity

    Since they're not bound by the duties, homework and expectations of an institutional school system, these teens have had time to delve into their passions. Hannah formed a family band and led them to release their own album. But her creativity doesn't stop there. She also directed an award-winning documentary. With two sisters born with genetic disorders, Hannah and her family made this documentary to uncover the hidden, and often brutal, discrimination such children often face in the healthcare system. Her hope is to raise awareness so such children receive the love and support they deserve. It's amazing work.

  3. They exemplify academic excellence

    As usual, the scholarship winners show impressive test scores and are headed to very respectable colleges. They are ready for the academic rigor inherent in the next step toward living out the calling God has given each of them.

  4. They use their gifts to serve others

    Many students focus on building a good resume. But these students go beyond that. I love to read how these scholarship winners cultivate their gifts in order to share them with others. Tabitha – like so many Sonlight teens – serves the children of her church through volunteering at VBS. She also participates in Bible quizzing, and dedicates significant time to helping younger children's Bible quiz teams. Elise shares her love of Irish dance with many children through the thriving business she and her sister run, teaching Irish dance.

  5. They all have inspiring goals

    These winners want to share the Gospel with the world, in word and deed. James hopes to be a pastor, while Keila is preparing to go into medical missions. Elise wants to be a teacher, and Tabitha hopes to become a nurse. All want to love and serve those around them with their gifts.

I've heard of many Sonlight grads who share these qualities. I thank the Lord that He is raising up the next generation to share His love and truth with the world.

Wherever you are in your Sonlight journey, keep up the good work! Whether or not your children win scholarships when the time comes, I know your efforts will bear fruit in their lives for years to come.

Blessings,
Sarita

P.S. I would love for your child to apply for a scholarship, too. Sonlight students preparing to enter college next year can apply, as long as your family has purchased and the student has used at least five Sonlight Full-Grade or Core programs. We have two scholarship categories: one that ranks academic achievement the highest, and one that ranks creativity and acts of service the highest. You can see full scholarship details and criteria here.

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Box Day 2015

After a lot of research and several conversations with my friend, Kari, who has been beyond helpful in planning our upcoming school year, I finally decided what to order. Once the order was placed I literally stalked the tracking websites and my front door, just in case the website was delayed and they delivered before the website could catch up.

We took a "before shot" and then I let them dig in while I took pictures.

Before opening the Sonlight boxes
The "Before" Shot

After the paper war had run its course, I sent them all to rest time and I took a few pictures of the aftermath, and then a few of the books stacked up. Box Day is so exciting and I am already having to work hard to keep Carson from reading these.

Sonlight Box Day excitement
Looking Through the New Books

Read the rest of Jennifer's Box Day story, and see more great photos over on her blog:
https://thehamricks.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/box-day-2015/

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What's Outside Your Window?

BlogPicThe snow is finally beginning to melt here in upstate NY. It has been a long, hard winter. Outside my window this week, just off the back porch, I watched deer looking for fresh food through the melted snow. I snapped a bunch of pictures on my phone, trying to eliminate the reflection in the window glass ... but to no avail.

I was reminded of the window reflections a couple days later as I was reading through some devotional thoughts about Easter. The author of the book I was reading mentioned looking at life through the "window of the resurrection". He offered some very practical thoughts about how viewing circumstances in light of the resurrection should impact how I handle the everyday experiences of life.

One point in particular came to mind again yesterday as I was enjoying lunch with a young friend who is considering homeschooling in the future. She was worried about many things ... how her stopping work to homeschool would impact their finances, how she would accomplish educating their children, how she would handle balancing marriage, parenting and homeschooling. I was able to encourage her that looking at life through the window of the resurrection means that "The resurrection promises you all the grace you need between Jesus's resurrection and yours. Future grace always carries with it the promise of present grace." ("New Morning Mercies" - Paul D. Tripp)

Just like the reflections in my back window affected how I viewed the deer in my yard, so should the resurrection we're planning to celebrate this weekend affect how I (and my friend) view all the rest of life. Do the reflections of God's grace impact your concerns about homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and life in general? I hope as you celebrate the miracle of new life this Sunday, you will take a moment to commit to viewing your days through the window of the resurrection.

We know that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also ... (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

PS ... Looking for some creative ways to celebrate the resurrection with your family? Check out the Sonlight Easter Pinterest page! Karla has found some adorable ideas to share with your kids.

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Meghan's New Beginning!

My daughter Meghan has struggled in public school far too long. We finally decided that homeschooling was for us. We wanted a Christian curriculum as she has suffered in the world without a strong foundation.

Today was box day! The excitement was wonderful! I told her that we could take a day or two to begin. She couldn't wait!

Rivka-P-Box-Day1
Meghan and Zipporah Opening Boxes

She chose to begin by reading her bible reading for day 1. She asked me questions I never thought to ask!

Praise God! We're already blessed! Thanks Sonlight!

 ~ Rivka, Meghan and baby sister Zipporah

Rivka-P-Box-Day2
All the New Books

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