Way to go!

Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful guest blog post from Todd Wilson. Today I'd like to offer another "guest" blog post ... from YOU!

A recent conversation over on the Sonlight Forums brought back vivid memories of my homeschooling days ... particularly those first few days of every school year. The days when I wondered if anyone really appreciated all that I did for my family, and if anyone cared! As the 2015-16 school year gets underway, I want you to hear from some others who are in the midst of their homeschool journey and wondering the same thing I did not long ago.

We started school last week. We had two great weeks! My plan is working ... So what's my problem? No one knows what I did. I think I get some satisfaction knowing the kids are liking the flow of our days, but for the first time I'm realizing that just once I'd like someone else to know what I did. To know that I put A LOT of time and effort into this and it's kind of working.
This homeschooling thing is hard. When I worked a job for pay, I got glowing evaluations from my bosses for a job well done. Heck, I even got raises! Now I'm doing a job where I may never see the fruits of my labor in this life. Sometimes that's really hard for me.
~LynnF

It's also nice to be reminded that sometimes all the hours of planning actually make a difference! I was trying to encourage myself in that direction today as I missed another beautiful afternoon outside whilst planning, organizing, scheduling, tidying, labeling, brainstorming ...  Nope you're not alone in feeling this way! A little cheer leading from someone else would be nice.
~Kel & the kids

I have felt the same way at times.  I am only about half way through this journey.  We have HSed for 9 years including kindergarten.  I still have about 6 more years to go.  In the first few years I did struggle more with "am I really accomplishing anything?...am I making a difference?".  I know we cannot always "see" the impact we are having.                                                                                  ~Happyhomeschoolermom

Yes..there are some days when I really wish my kids would understand what I do in a day...when I go without for them and stuff ...
~Dolfynheart

 As you begin yet another school year, do any of these comments match your own thoughts? Is your heart crying out for recognition? Not whining or throwing a pity party ... and of course realizing that God sees our efforts ... but just looking for an occasional pat on the back or "great job!" or "here mom, let me finish up the dishes tonight." (I know ... that last one makes me chuckle too)

Let me be the first to say that I understand that part of your journey, and even though I've never met most of you, I'm here on the sidelines today with a thumbs up and yelling "Great job!" "Keep going!"

Good Job, Mom and Day!

I hear Gods little whisper in my heart...He sees what we do...and He is proud of us. Proud that we, as moms, are taking His design of us as seriously as He intended...proud that we are raising our babies for Him....proud of us that we have chosen the waaay more difficult road to make darn sure our babies have what they need to survive this crazy place.
~Dolfynheart

Think of the joy of hearing the words 'Well done, my good and faithful servant' That's truly enough to sustain us when we're feeling discouraged!
~LynnF

So as you begin your school year ... with all your planning, shopping, and organizing behind you ... imagine those of us here at Sonlight as your own personal cheerleading section. WAY TO GO!

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

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Dads - 5 Ways to Bring Life to Your Homeschool

Todd Wilson

Summer is almost over and it's time to start another year of homeschooling!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Yeah, it's not working for me either. Even if you're still basking in the glow of summer freedom, it won't be long before you get to bask in the privilege of homeschooling. Dad, here's the deal: Your wife may be dreading the thought of starting back up again. It's not that she hates being with her kids ... it's just that the pressure can feel so great.

Dragging Mom by Todd Wilson

For us dads, not much changes. We still get up and go to work, enjoy a quiet office, eat power lunches, and engage in adult conversation. Not so with our spouses. Starting back up to school can feel overwhelming, and if we're not doing our job right, we make homeschooling even harder ... almost impossible. Read this email that I got a while back:

"Hi Todd ... As a homeschool mom, I am feeling the same way (discouraged). I am truly rethinking everything in my life right now. And my conclusion ... homeschooling is not worth it. I feel as if everything is on my shoulders. I deal with 5 boys and 2 girls ALL DAY LONG. I have been sacrificing for 16 years now and I am burnt out. I think it is so important for husbands of homeschool moms to know ... KEEP PURSUING YOUR WIFE. Keep fanning the flames. Keep speaking words of appreciation and encouragement. Keep wooing her. KEEP HER HEART. It is not an easy task but it is so necessary.

"I have talked to too many stay-at-home moms and I know that we all feel the same way. As soon as our husbands leave the door, we are an open target for the enemies of our soul. We are bombarded with thoughts that we know are from the enemy, yet we do not know how to control or stop them. And yes, the obvious and legalistic answer would be, 'Well, if you would pray, read Scripture, organize better, and blah blah blah ...' but that doesn't make it better. I feel as if I am dying inside and so alone. If this goes on too long I am not sure what I would do in order to climb out of this downward spiral." ~ A Mom

Now, I'm not trying to paint a portrait of a dismal existence, because I believe with all my heart that homeschooling is the best way to accomplish God's design for our children and families. I just want YOU, Dad, to realize how important YOUR job as husband is to your wife's joy or lack of joy, in homeschooling.

Did you hear the words the mom in the email spoke, "I know that we ALL feel the same way ...?" That means your wife feels like tossing in the towel sometimes ... maybe even now.

So here's a plan to ensure your wife doesn't enter the downward spiral:

  1. Step up to the plate. She can't do it all ... so help out where you can to lessen the burden she bears, often alone. That might include watching the kids while she goes out with a friend for dessert, putting the kids to bed, or keeping them occupied after dinner.
  2. Woo her. Plan a date every week or every other week and go somewhere so she can talk, debrief ... and talk some more. This is huge.
  3. Encourage her in the truth. Remind her of why you're doing what you're doing and why what she does matters. You might do that with small notes, texts, or emails.
  4. Pray for her. Make a list of things that she needs God to supply and then post it somewhere to remind you to pray daily.
  5. Make sure she has all that she needs to homeschool. The proper tools cost, so plan to shell out some bucks. Don't be cheap!

Need some more ideas? Get my book Help! I'm Married to a Homeschooling Mom. I'm telling you, Dad, if you do your job right, it just might be the best homeschool year EVER!

This is a post written especially for homeschooling dads who play more of a support role in their family's homeschool. We understand not everyone is in this situation, but think Todd has some helpful principles that could be adapted to your own personal situation. Take whatever is helpful here!

Todd-WilsonTodd Wilson is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. His humor and down-to-earth realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country, as well as a guest on Focus on the Family. As founder of Familyman Ministries, his passion and mission are to remind dads and moms of what's most important through a weekly e-mail for dads, seminars, and books that encourage parents. Todd and his wife, Debbie, homeschool six of their eight children (three have graduated) in northern Indiana and travel America in the Familyman Mobile. You can read more at www.familymanweb.com

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Homeschooling Will Fail You If...

I don't blog about theology much here as this is a homeschool blog.* But there is a theme rippling through "the homeschool movement" that bears repeating: Trust Jesus, not the system.

Over the last couple weeks, there have been many excellent Other Posts of Note about this:

Chasm
Chasm

Whether it's a sin management scheme, a ploy to parent perfectly, or a confidence in your chosen educational approach, we would be wise to remember that "Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." We need to put our trust in Jesus, not a system. We definitely should not rely on homeschooling. Here are four reasons why...

First, don't trust the system because it's not the system. The system doesn't make you smarter. The system, at best, offers you a cool opportunity to learn. If you are homeschooling because of the results it will produce, homeschooling will fail you. Can homeschooling offer you excellent academics? Yes. Do homeschoolers do well academically? Yes. But does homeschooling make your child a genius? No. If your child is a genius -- or struggling, or perfectly average -- homeschooling is a great option that enables you to tailor an education program that challenges and nurtures your student. Homeschooling will not change your student into something else.

Second, homeschooling will fail you if you expect it to save your child. I know many homeschoolers who have walked away from their faith. You can't impose your convictions. And, seriously, if Jesus isn't enough to keep your kids, there's no way your educational style will do better.

Third, homeschooling will fail you if you think it will make your students better people. Homeschooling does allow you to shelter your children -- a very good thing! But if you're using homeschooling to keep your kids "pure" and away from bad influences, you're doing it wrong. The Gospel is about going out, not retreating in. Does that mean that you should have zero boundaries and embrace all things evil? Uh... no. Not at all.

Fourth, there is no utopia here, no panacea. This isn't all rainbows and unicorns. There is a world of mundane. Homeschooling doesn't ensure you "make it" in life. There are bad days. And even if things aren't to the level of bad, as Laura says in her post linked above:

the very moment you have gathered your chicks around you on the floor to learn something fabulous about the Bible or about the weather or about the water cycle ... someone will have to poop.

When we put our hope in the system, these interruptions and letdowns break us. They are disheartening and cause us to question our choices. What they should really do is remind us that we need to again throw ourselves on the mercies of God and trust Him to complete the good work He is doing in and through us.

I find it easy for me to look at something good -- like homeschooling -- and subtly assume that it is the answer. Homeschooling isn't the answer. Neither is bacon. Jesus is the answer. Homeschooling is the opportunity. And what a great opportunity it is! For just a few personal examples, check out the following "Sonlight to me" posts by

Yes, homeschooling is fantastic, but trust Jesus and not the educational method or the fabulous curriculum. May we all continue to learn to put our trust in the One who provides and not the provision He has graciously poured out.

Do you have any examples of how you have trusted the system to comedic ends? How has homeschooling been a blessing to you?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

* I've probably blogged about theology here more than I think. <smile>

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Last Chance: Submit Your Photos Today

Today is your last chance to enter the Sonlight Photo Contest. If you win, not only does your family end up on the cover of the Sonlight 2016 catalog, you also win $500 toward your next purchase.

Taking-Photos
My wife, the photographer

Every year, we use hundreds of photos and stories from homeschoolers just like you. I would love to be able to share your story to encourage other Sonlighters -- new and returning -- around the world. Please take a few minutes to share your photo and story with us!

Click here to get started

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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Can you relate to these common homeschool fears?

homeschooling fears
I got an email from a worried mother recently. Can you relate to some of what she writes?

I want to homeschool. Did it for one year, yet I struggle with fear ... what my parents will think of me? (They think I am nuts, and think I will ruin my children's social skills and life.) My fear about how my children will navigate social difficulties if I "protect" them from it. Fear that my kids will end up with no friends and I will have to be their companion and playmate all day long! Not getting any free time myself! Fear that my husband and I will have very little time together. I know fear doesn't come from God, but the fear comes and makes me feel anxious in my body and I tire of fighting it.

Fear can haunt every aspect of parenting. And the decision to homeschool is no exception. But here's what I say to that mom:

I think most moms deal with these fears. You are not alone. We value our parents' thoughts and approval. But homeschooling is counter-cultural and therefore many grandparents are unfamiliar with it and worry for their grandchildren. It can help to remember that homeschooling today doesn't look like it did when your parents were raising you. It's much more common and there are so many great resources and homeschool groups out there to help.

If you haven't already, take time to talk with your parents. Share your goals and explain how you plan to accomplish this worthy goal. You might show them the Sonlight website (or the actual materials, if you already have them), so they can see their grandchildren will be using a proven and robust curriculum. Be transparent. Share how they can be involved if they want. Many grandparents patiently listen to children learning to read, or help with Read-Alouds either in person or over Skype.

Then, before God, act as you believe He's calling you. If our parents disapprove, we homeschool and trust that they will come to see the fruits of our labor. Many, many homeschoolers can testify that their parents came to applaud their work. (Read Jill's personal story in "When family disapproves".) But even if your own parents never approve, you will see the fruit of the time you invest in your children, and will be able to move beyond the critique of parents.

Regarding social skills, most homeschoolers find plenty of opportunities to interact with others in both formal and informal settings. From sibling time to playground friends to soccer teams and homeschool co-ops, the possibilities are endless. For example, my children swam on a team, played an instrument in an honor band, studied karate under a man from our church, attended activities with their church groups and participated in Awana. Nowadays, homeschoolers have even more options for outside activities. These experiences broaden our children's exposure to their peers and other adults. And a major benefit of homeschool scocialization is that kids learn to interact comfortably with children and adults of all ages, not just their immediate peers.

As an introvert, my biggest fear was the idea of having my children around me all the time. When I first started homeschooling, my children did stay nearby, but as we found our groove, they got to the point where when we finished our schooling time together, they were happy to go off to play. I believe homeschooling trains our children to work quickly and efficiently (good life skills) by giving them the freedom to go off to do what interests them once they finish their day's work.

When it comes to time with your husband, fear not. When I first started, my husband found a babysitter for us to leave the home once a week. He knew I'd need a break. That could be an option for you as well. But homeschooling also presents an opportunity for an exciting joint venture together with your husband. You get to work together towards the shared goal of educating your children. My husband began reading to the children every evening - a precious heritage they remember with joy to this day.

And remember – homeschooling has worked for thousands of families. Many statistics that show that homeschoolers test significantly higher than their private or public schooled peers. There are many reasons for this: the tutoring model of homeschooling keeps kids from falling through the cracks, the home is a safe and calm place to learn, kids do better without being taught to the test, and so on.

Fear not, mom. Resist the lies the Enemy brings. Bring all of this before the Lord in prayer. Homeschooling is not the only good way for children to learn, but it is a tried, true, and wonderful option! Commit to one more year and evaluate at the end of it. I believe you can do it.

Blessings,
Sarita

P.S. If you ever want more personalized help overcoming one of the fears above, or with anything else in your homeschool, contact a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor at no charge.


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You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


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August Blog Party

AugustPrizePkgOur year-long 25th anniversary blog party continues today, and I can't wait to read your stories! In your blog post today, Share about projects that tie in with books (crafts, science projects, drama/costumes, food).

Even if you don't homeschool or 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 September 14, 2015.

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Our box day!

"My Box Outside?" Thomas, age 3, asked this alllll day!

We left the house to go do stuff just so he wasn't opening the door every 5 minutes!

Catherine H Sonlight Box Day
The box finally arrived

I was really hesitant about homeschooling, but after seeing his excitement, how could I not??

catherine-h-box-day2
Digging into the new favorites

This is our first box day ... our first of everything.

We have had 2 days of school, and my son wakes up ready! He LOVES the Mighty Mind shape puzzle -- it's all he wants to do!! And with all the new books, he's getting little brother involved!

Thank you, Sonlight ... I am much encouraged!!

- Catherine H.

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