With Homeschooling, You Set the Pace So Children Never Have to Fail

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With Homeschooling, You Set the Pace So Children Never Have to Fail
If your child is 5 and reading at a third grade level, why would you leave her in school? She needs something more challenging.

And if your child is 5 and barely recognizing letters yet, why would you leave him in school? He needs something developmentally appropriate.

Why a classroom cannot allow an individualized pace

In a classroom, the teacher is required to try to keep all the students learning together. This means some are left behind. Not because the teacher wants to, but because the system requires that the class cover a certain amount of material within the limited number of school days.

A few students might get the extra help they need, but most will learn early on that the system can’t help them.

With homeschooling, you don't have those restrictions. You can take the time to make sure your students get the education they need. And if they need extra time to master a topic or skill, you have the opportunity to give them that time.

With homeschooling, you can make sure your children understand

With homeschooling, you can choose to grade on a pass/fail system, where you don’t allow your children to fail. If your children don’t succeed the first time they try something, that’s fine! You have learned something about how they learn, about where they are confused.

So you review, take a break, try a different approach . . . these are all gifts homeschooling parents give to their children. You have the freedom to wrestle with a subject until your children understand.

With homeschooling, you set the pace

Your children can race ahead in their areas of strength, and take the time they need to master the things they aren't proficient in yet. You don’t have to stop until your children understand what you’re teaching.

  • If one child needs half as many math problems as the book assigns, you let that child progress quickly.
  • If one child needs all the math problems and maybe a little more, you can add in the board games, or check online for creative ways to reinforce particular concepts.
  • If one child understands, but grows tired quickly from the mechanics of writing, you are free to write the answers your child dictates.

You are teaching your children how to learn for the rest of their lives, so learning never stops. You can give your children a customized education that meets your children’s needs, whether they work ahead or need a little more time to grow and develop.

Don’t let your children believe—and don’t you believe!—that they aren’t learners or that they have nothing to offer the world. Homeschooling opens the doors to learning for every student.

Ready to explore the possibilities for your children’s education? Sonlight has homeschool consultants available to talk to you about the next step on your journey. Click here to schedule an appointment.

With Homeschooling, You Set the Pace So Children Never Have to Fail
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How Homeschooling Gives You Time to Invest in Family

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How Homeschooling Gives You Time to Invest in Family
In an ideal world, what kind of childhood would you dream of for your children? Maybe you picture your children

  • Running free in the backyard
  • Snuggled in your lap for a good story
  • Laughing around the dinner table
  • Telling stories around a campfire
  • Going on adventures together
  • Slopping together mud sculptures
  • Creating art projects next to a fire
  • Filling their free time with creative pursuits

The thing about all these beautiful pictures is that they take time—and the time is well spent. Homeschooling gives you time to invest in family this way.

Do you find that, in your family, these experiences rarely happen because your life is driven by someone else’s schedule? Between the rush to catch the school bus, to get to after-school activities, homework, and projects . . . is your life full?

Homeschooling gives you freedom to take advantage of the time you have

When you homeschool, you are in charge of your schedule. You get to pick your curriculum, your outside activities, what you study, when you study, and how long you study. You have freedom:

  • Freedom to start your day when it works best for you, whether that’s an early morning start or long after the school bus has passed by.
  • Freedom to take breaks throughout the day.
  • Freedom to enjoy your children when they're at their best, not just when they come home exhausted from school.
  • Freedom to take vacations when your family chooses.
  • Freedom to meet your children where they are academically, instead of letting them get bored with work that's too easy, or overwhelmed with work that's moving too fast.

In short, homeschooling gives you freedom to move at your pace. It gives your children the time to create the childhood memories you dream they should enjoy.

Homeschooling gives you space to establish family culture

A Sonlight dad whose children have all graduated wrote recently about how the amount of family time that homeschooling provided helped them shape their family culture.

In looking back, the time we spent with our kids was the single greatest contributor to the success of our homeschooling.

Within weeks after we returned to homeschooling, the kids became more optimistic and their spirits softened.

We read, drew, played, traveled, skied, shopped and did so many other things together that would never have been possible had we not homeschooled. We went to museums, plays, parks and made trips to visit family in Mexico during the school year that would never have been possible had we not homeschooled.

Most of all we talked and talked and talked about virtually everything under the sun in a way that was natural and not forced due to lack of time.

We do believe in that old adage that, when it comes to children, quality time is quantity time.

When you homeschool, you have space in your life to be together during the day, and not just in the few hours between school and bed. You get to build up a huge reservoir of quantity time together, which naturally yields rich quality time.

Interested in giving your children more time and freedom? Get a free Sonlight catalog and find out how to make your dreams a reality in your family.


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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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Physical Movement: Another Reason to Homeschool

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Physical Movement: Another Reason to Homeschool

If you went to classroom school, could you go back and sit still at a desk through those hours of classes now—with minimal physical movement? As an adult, Angela Hanscom wondered this about herself. So she went to middle school to experience a day as if she were a student. She wrote about her day in the article A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus. She can’t. Neither can the kids.

Because of her experience, Hanscom is seeking to change how educators view physical movement. She champions children's need to move a lot throughout each day in order to learn well. On her recent visit to a middle school as a "student," she didn't even last past lunch:

There is no way I could tolerate six hours of sitting even just one day, never mind every day—day after day. How on Earth do these children tolerate sitting this long? Well, the short answer is they don't. Their bodies aren't designed for extended periods of sitting.

Children learn better when they can move

School teachers usually have their hands tied here. Many middle schools no longer have recess. Even some elementary schools have shortened recess to a mere 15 minutes a day. And teachers don’t have the space in their classrooms to let students move.

When you homeschool, you can let your children move. Your children don’t have to sit still at a desk. You can:

  • let your children sit however they want (or even hang upside down) as they listen.
  • let them run outside or do headstands in the basement.
  • let them wiggle as they read, and take a break when they need.
  • let your active young students jump on a mini-trampoline while reciting math facts or sit on bouncy balls while they learn.
  • let them enjoy unstructured play time.
  • let them squish play dough or silly putty during school.

Why? As Hanscom writes elsewhere, students today are growing up without the crucial sensory input they once got from hours of rambunctious play each day. This is not just a physical problem—it causes problems for learning and sensory integration as well.

Homeschooling allows children freedom for physical movement

Even as homeschooling lets children get the sleep they need, homeschooling can let children get the movement they need. Children’s brains need adequate sleep. Children’s brains also need the body to move. These are non-negotiable for their optimal development.

Fortunately, the flexibility of homeschooling can give your children room for both.

Ready to explore an educational option that will allow your children to move? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

Physical Movement: Another Reason to Homeschool

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Sleep: A Surprising Reason to Homeschool

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Sleep: A Surprising Reason to Homeschool

By itself, the promise of getting enough sleep is probably not a big enough benefit to convince you to start homeschooling. But once you begin homeschooling, and your children get enough sleep, you will wonder how you survived before.

The authors of Nurture Shock dedicate an entire chapter to sleep deprivation in children. They say that children today "get an hour less sleep each night than they did thirty years ago. . . . A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development" (30, 32). Meaning: an hour less sleep means your fourth-grader will think and behave like a second-grader.

How much sleep do your homeschool students need?

The National Sleep Foundation suggests

  • Toddlers ages 1 to 3 need 12-14 hours of sleep per day, including naps.
  • Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 need 11-13 hours in a day.
  • Children ages 5 to 12 need 10-11 hours per night.
  • Teens need between 8.5 and 9.25 hours.

With homeschooling, your children are able to wake up naturally, allowing them to get the sleep they need. Your family will enjoy increased focus and better attitudes.

Sleep deprivation and teens

With increased activities, events, and appointments, sleep deprivation only increases as children grow up.

As students hit puberty, their circadian rhythms change. This makes it hard for them to fall asleep as early as they once did. Optimally, a teenager would sleep from about 11pm to 8am. Yet most high schools start so early that students have to wake up by 6am in order to get to school on time.

Unfortunately, the massive sleep debt of most classroom school teens puts them at much higher risk for car crashes, depression . . . even simple irritability.

Some school districts have actually changed their start times because of this research. They've followed the advice from several studies showing that teens perform better in many areas of life when allowed to sleep a little later in the morning. In districts that have made the change, parents report that their teens are now easier to live with.

But homeschoolers don't have to change an entire school district in order to help their students sleep. You can implement a change tomorrow, if you want, allowing your children to wake when their bodies are ready, without an alarm clock.

Homeschooled teens have the chance to get far more sleep than their peers who go to school. And that sleep translates into better health, better moods, and better ability to learn throughout the day.

I love that homeschooling helps us meet our children's needs in different ways, including a flexible schedule:

  •  We can pause a math lesson to meet an emotional need.
  • We can take a day off if a child is sick.
  • We can take a break to pray at any time.

And we can orient our family schedules to help our children get the sleep they need to refuel.

Sleep easy by switching to Sonlight. Order a complimentary catalog today

Sleep: A Surprising Reason to Homeschool

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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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One Easy Way Homeschool Moms Can Model Lifelong Learning

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One Easy Way Homeschool Moms Can Model Lifelong Learning

You model lifelong learning through your words and actions. Your attitude helps shape your children’s feelings about education. If you are excited to learn about this fascinating world, your kids will notice that.

You probably love it when your children really get into something they’re learning. I’m sure you encourage them to pursue their interests:

  • check out more books about a topic
  • watch videos online
  • get their hands dirty to master a newfound skill

Do you do the same for yourself?

What if you pursued your own interests in whatever ways your life allows right now? I imagine it would enrich your own life and help show your children what it’s like to be a self-motivated learner.

Model lifelong learning by pursuing your own interests

So here’s the big question to encourage you: What do you want to learn about? If you take a deep breath and ask yourself what you’re interested in, what comes up? It might not be what you expect. It might not seem very practical. But that doesn’t mean you have to ignore it.

Here’s an example: I have always loved birds. I think they’re beautiful, and I smile to see them fly by. So I bought a bird feeder, and I keep it stocked. I have a few bird identification books to peruse as I see birds at the feeder. And you might laugh, but it is such a thrill for me to be able to identify unusual birds that sometimes stop by.

Now, no one relies on my bird expertise. I don’t get an award for it. But it brings me joy and helps me appreciate God’s handiwork. Great!

Is there something that would bring you joy, refresh your spirit, and help show your children how to follow their own passions?

  • Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, or bake, or read Biblical Hebrew.
  • Maybe you’ve longed to pick up your high school oboe and take lessons just for the thrill of it.
  • Maybe you feel a vocational tug and want to learn about it.
  • Perhaps you want to start learning about the causes of world poverty and what works to address it.

Whatever it is, pay attention to it.

Different passions for different seasons of life

When my children were at home, I challenged myself to try one new recipe a week. I didn’t have time then to read serious Bible commentaries, but now I’m enjoying the chance to read some of John’s old seminary books. I’m also in the middle of the thought-provoking work How God Became King by N.T. Wright. And in recent years, I have taken up gardening and discovered a deep love for getting my hands dirty and changing my small part of the world.

I’ve discovered the world of podcasts, and enjoy listening to Radiolab and TED talks when I do work that doesn’t require much brain power.

In short, I think the world is indeed a fascinating place, and I want to learn about it!

So what do you think? Do you want to give yourself permission to learn about something that interests you this year? Do you want to explore new books, podcasts, or sections of the craft store?

Feel free to show your children what it looks like to be a self-motivated, lifelong learner. That’s a lesson that will serve them well.

If this all sounds overwhelming and you are in a season of simply trying to get through each day, know that that’s fine, too. Eventually this season will pass, and you’ll find yourself ready to expand your horizons again. And in the meantime, remember that you are already learning boatloads in your daily life just by homeschooling with Sonlight!

We have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to connect with your homeschool consultant.

One Easy Way Homeschool Moms Can Model Lifelong Learning

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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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10 Ways to Rediscover Your Homeschool Joy

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10 Ways to Rediscover Your Homeschool Joy and Prevent Burnout

If you are hitting a wall in your homeschool today, this post is a virtual hug of encouragement to help you rediscover your homeschool joy. Although it's a list of suggestions, please don't hear them as another list of tasks to add to your already overburdened to do list. I'm like you—a fellow mom who also struggles with feelings of failure and exhaustion. My arm is around your shoulders as I speak these words. I don't have it fully figured out, but these are ways I ward off the negative feelings and stay focused on the long-term prize of raising my children in this homeschool lifestyle.

1. Take a moment to breathe.

I know that this suggestion can seem nearly impossible, especially when you are in survival mode. But I find that merely going to bed 30 minutes earlier or doing a babysitting swap with another mom for a couple of hours of quiet—whatever it takes to make a little space to reflect—can work wonders on my perspective.

2. Remember why you chose to homeschool in the first place.

Maybe those reasons have changed, but digging into why you started is key as you develop endurance in the hard times.

3. Review your goals and your mission.

  • What do you want as a family?
  • What do you want your family culture and lifestyle to be?
  • What do you value?
  • What do you most want to pass onto your kids?

Now think about the steps to get there. If you haven't sat down with your spouse to talk about family goals, do it now! Discussing my goals energizes me by taking my eyes off of the everyday grind and onto big picture, purposeful living. If you want to make your goals formal, write out a mission statement to put into your journal or the front of your Instructor's Guide.

4. Simplify with your goals in mind.

As you pare down to the basics, you distinguish between what is non-negotiable and what is the icing on the cake. Sometimes even a certain child may be a homeschooling priority for that year! Maybe your big goal is to help Sam learn to read this year or to help Hannah conquer Algebra II before taking the SAT.  While you create a lifestyle of learning for the whole family, most of your energy will be spent toward your particular goals.

5. Did I mention simplify?

While you are simplifying your goals, simplify your schedule. Go over your calendar and determine what you really love and what is simply adding stress and frantic activity to your life. Cut ruthlessly what doesn't match with your goals and values.

Consider changing up your homeschool routine to see what might work better for you. Some moms decide to work with older kids during the little one's nap time. Some even do night-schooling! Shift things around and see if you find your new groove.

6. Declutter your home.

Less stuff=less to clean and maintain which frees you up for the things that bring you joy.

7. Ditch Lone Ranger mode.

Think about how you can get your family on board to help reach these goals. To keep our household operating smoothly and happily, we expect everyone to participate in both the fun of life and the chores. Older siblings can read to younger siblings or help teach colors and shapes to a toddler. Think through how to get your family working together to thrive as a team. (Also, think how you could cooperate with a friend from time to time. Be creative!)

8. Surround yourself with Scripture.

You can bank on the promise that God inhabits the praise of His people. Put favorite Bible verses where you can see them. Listen to praise songs and Scripture set to music. Lift your soul to God throughout your day and let His presence make a difference in your homeschool routine. Turn your kitchen into a cathedral by doing the valiant work of prayer while you put your hands to simple tasks. Being mindful of God’s presence brings meaning into each of our days.

9. Add a shot of unexpected fun.

Sometimes ditch the routine and load everyone up for a surprise field trip to a free museum or to sled down the biggest hill in town. Announce a dance party and require everyone to groove for five minutes before moving on with the day. Bake something together. Start a tickle war. Do these things out of the blue and make memories with your kids. Something small that says, "We're okay even if this is a hard day,” goes a long way.

10. Focus on relationships.

I often get burned out when I become overly task-focused and miss connecting with my people. I sometimes have to shake myself out of commander-mode where I find myself barking orders and ask, “Am I really getting to know my children as people? Am I 'loving my neighbor' who lives right here in my house?”

We have to get things done, but I've been pleasantly surprised with how a few well-timed questions (and taking the time to listen) when we are driving, cooking or reading together can give us a sense of connection.

Spend a little quality time with each of your children and find out what's going in their hearts. Reconnect. I know that taking time to slow down and talk may mean you “get less done,” but the relational bonds you are building will smooth the paths to enjoy the process of learning together all the more. It’s worth the time! We need heart checks just as much as to do list checks.

God knows you, and He knows your children. He is with you as you walk this adventure of homeschooling. Through His grace, you will find joy and purpose as you remember your goals, simplify, and connect with one another.

To find out more about Sonlight's complete book-based homeschool programs, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

10 Ways to Rediscover Your Homeschool Joy and Prevent Burnout
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The Best Way to Build Vocabulary in Your Homeschool

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The Best Way to Build Vocabulary in Your Homeschool • Sonlight Curriculum

The average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is ten to twenty thousand words, with a passive vocabulary (the words you recognize, but don’t use) of 40,000. As a point of comparison, Shakespeare’s vocabulary is estimated at over 66,000.

When you read, your children learn vocabulary in context, without work or study. When you come across an unknown word, your children make an educated guess about what the word means, and they usually come pretty close even if they don’t come up with a dictionary definition. These facts make reading the best way to build vocabulary in your homeschool.

Though your children won't immediately remember each new word they come across, they'll hear those words repeatedly in their Sonlight books.

Your children will gain an extensive vocabulary

  • as they listen to you read
  • as they read for themselves
  • and as they participate in conversation.

Why spoken language is not enough: you need books, too

When was the last time you used the words invariably or relinquish in everyday speech? These words regularly show up in children’s books, though you probably don’t say them often. But these are examples of the types of words that will enrich your children’s vocabulary.

Academics Cunningham and Stanovich report in What Reading Does for the Mind that "children's books have 50% more rare words in them than does adult prime time television and the conversation between college-educated adults.”

This same report also explains that vocabulary grows primarily through exposure to language, rather than direct teaching or study. This makes sense: toddlers learn to speak from listening to conversation and repeating words, rather than focused efforts with workbooks or quizzes.

The authors also say that the quantity of reading, rather than listening to spoken words, is what creates the differences between children’s vocabularies.

Sonlight reading improves vocabulary

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview Sonlight Scholarship winners. These students have used Sonlight for at least five years, including one year in high school. Since each Sonlight program has between forty and sixty titles, each of these scholarship winners, having used five Sonlight programs to be eligible, has read at least 200 Sonlight books.

After the interviews, I often describe them as articulate. These Sonlight grads express themselves clearly, succinctly, and wisely. It's not that they use impressive words to make themselves sound smart. Rather, they choose words that communicate effectively.

I come away so encouraged by these young people who can express themselves so well, who can winsomely communicate their thoughts, dreams, and ideas.

The Sonlight method works. Your children acquire large vocabularies through reading frequently about a wide range of subjects.

Reading gives your children the chance to grow their vocabularies painlessly as they listen to stories and read on their own.

To read about the beautifully curated collection of books that you get to enjoy with Sonlight, download a catalog today and order a paper copy to arrive in your mailbox soon

The Best Way to Build Vocabulary in Your Homeschool • Sonlight Curriculum

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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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