How Homeschool Electives are a Blessing Not a Burden

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How Homeschool Electives are a Blessing Not a Burden

When it comes to offering your children electives, do you ever ask yourself:

Adding electives might seem like an added stressor to your already busy day. As moms, we sometimes feel spread too thin. Between our families and household tasks, it can be difficult to add extracurricular activities to our list. If your days are anything like mine were, you experience a few hours of schooling and then have to tackle household chores, leaving children a generous amount of time to create, play and explore. In my house, we all adored that part of the day. Over time, however, I found that guiding some of that time through electives had a positive impact on our day-to-day, and in the long run, on my children’s lives.

As parents, we want to send our children out into the world as well-rounded people, and a suitable elective just might provide the practical life skills your children need to understand the world and themselves.

All of my children took electives and flourished in their own way. I am still in awe of all of their God-given creative talents. I could tell you many stories I’ve collected over the years; however, here are just two examples that come to mind.

Artistic Electives

One of my daughters expressed an interest in art. As someone who can only draw stick figures, art wasn’t on my radar. But something inside me knew I needed to encourage her artistic expression. So I urged her to take an art class. When she came home all aglow with the experience, and when John and I saw how unbelievably creative she was, I encouraged her to take as many art classes as she could while she had the opportunity. Several months later, I had the opportunity to speak with one of her art teachers. The teacher said, “If I have a student with a lot of natural ability and another student who works hard, I always prefer the student who works hard. Your daughter has both.” She ended up in art school, pursuing one of the wide varieties of art majors available.

One of my sons begged for a hand-held video camera (before cell phones had cameras). We got him one so he could create movies. He went on to film school. Now, as an adult, he produces films for fun and profit. I’m so grateful I encouraged them to explore these life passions.

Fun, Practical, and Scientific Electives

We studied many additional electives through the years and found some ways to incorporate electives into non-school time. During the afternoons, my children would listen to classical music while building with LEGOs. These recordings gave the kids a welcomed introduction to music they wouldn’t otherwise hear. We always did puzzles together as a family. I liked to pick puzzles like The Global Puzzle because they helped the children learn geography in a painless way. We would discover where the countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe are, and use the time to talk and learn.

All my children took typing instruction, and this life skill has served them well. If I were teaching today, I would have all my children study computer programming—at least at a basic level—as I believe, like typing, it is a fundamental skill in today’s job market.

Even if you are not musical, artistic, or gifted in languages, you might have a child who is. You won't know until you give them a chance to explore these areas and see where they shine. If I’ve stimulated your imagination, please feel free to check out our carefully chosen electives.

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6 Time-Saving Tips to Streamline Your Homeschool Schedule

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Can I let you in on a little secret? Some of us don’t homeschool by the book (pun intended) every single day. There are many reasons I love my Sonlight Instructor’s Guide—such as the structured framework it offers, and the invitation to anchor our days with a Sonlight Morning Time—but sometimes, our homeschool doesn't look picture-perfect. In fact, we don’t even always flow through the Instructor's Guide in a linear way. (Depending on your personality, you either just gasped at the thought of a deconstructed Sonlight day, or you’re breathing a sigh of relief that you’re not the only one.) Here are my six time-saving tips for homeschool scheduling.

1. Rethink the Hours Considered School Time

Life throws curveballs sometimes, doesn’t it? Moves, illnesses, extended visits, medical appointments and other life disruptions can all muddle the orderly plans we’ve mapped out for the school year. When time is in short supply, it can seem difficult to fit all the school subjects into your school day. If you’re struggling to make it through the daily column in the Sonlight Instructor’s guide during the time you’ve set aside for school, give yourself the freedom to move some of those items into the rest of your routine. Remember, as homeschoolers, we have the luxury of learning from morning to night, not just during the hours brick-and-mortar schools allocate for education.

2. Use Sonlight Readers as Rewards

In the early years, when students are still learning to read, Sonlight Readers are designed to provide regularly daily practice toward reading mastery. But once students have attained fluency, there’s no rule confining those fantastic books to school alone. Keeping in mind that readers complement Read-Alouds once you reach History / Bible / Literature Level D, you can use Readers as rewards, to mark milestones, or—my personal favorite—to set aside and tuck into backpacks during road trips, air travel layovers, moves, or holiday breaks. (And don’t forget about the Summer Readers, either!)

3. Allow Kids to Catch Up on Read-Alouds Independently

Reading Sonlight books aloud to kids at bedtime works for many families, but can I be honest? In our home, the nightly routine is short and sweet—no lingering read-alouds. If you find yourself behind schedule on a book to the point it’s affecting your school routine—and you have an exceptionally strong reader, like I do—hand the book over to your child and let him or her catch up.

Of course, I’m not suggesting this as a replacement for reading aloud, but as a quick fix to brings that title back into alignment with the rest of the schedule.

(I’ll add this caveat, though: you’ll still probably want to read the book yourself later anyway, because Sonlight books are just that good. And you can’t truly lead an engaging post-reading discussion unless you’ve also partaken of the book’s delights!)

4. Listen to Audio Books, Even if They’re Out of Sequence with the Schedule

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I took a quick road trip. I knew we’d want to occupy the ten-hour drive with an audio book, but the next book on our Sonlight docket wasn’t available at the library. No matter—we just checked out a different Sonlight title, even though it wasn’t scheduled for several weeks yet. (If you’re open to shifting the designated schedule around from time to time, you can get a lot accomplished.) By the time we returned from our three-day weekend, we’d knocked an entire book off our Sonlight schedule.

And here’s my favorite audiobook tip: ask your librarian what free audiobook options are available to you digitally. You probably have access to more audiobooks than you realize, simply by logging in to audiobook websites with your library card. We can’t imagine life without Overdrive and Hoopla! No CDs to keep track of, no late fees, and no errands to return the audiobook when you’re done.

5. Play Memory Songs Outside of “School Hours”

When I think back to my childhood, one of my most persistent memories is digging my bare toes into the olive green and gold shag carpeting and singing Geography Songs (via cassette tape) while playing LEGO bricks with my brothers.

Was it during school hours? No. Did I complete an accompanying worksheet? Nope. Did my mom quiz me on it? No. Can I still sing the songs and remember my geography facts? That’s a resounding yes!

Sonlight carries the most wonderful memory songs for geography, history, and science as well as for songs for Scripture memory. When you page through your Instructor’s Guide, you’ll see that in some levels, these are scheduled into the daily assignments. But these terrific songs don’t need to stay there—incorporate them into your daily life, outside of school. Play these songs in the car, over lunch, or during free time. You’ll be delighted at how much will stick.

6. Send Some Books to the Free-Read Shelf Early

I’m so thankful for the variety of books Sonlight includes in each level. As we progress through the school year, we move Sonlight books from the “scheduled” shelf to the “free-read” shelf. And the narrative and visual encyclopedias always seem to find their way onto the “books we’ll never sell” shelf.

Do your children prefer to pour over these more visual books independently, rather than listen as the captions are read aloud? My daughter definitely does. And I’ve heard from other Sonlighters, too, that the captions sometimes feel disjointed to read aloud. If you have strong, motivated readers, you may want to consider skipping the scheduled reading for these types of books altogether, and send them to the free-read shelf early.

If you’re worried your kids won’t make the connections between what they’ve read on their own in Time Traveler and what you’re reading aloud out of the history spine, don’t be!  A Sonlight education teaches to link big ideas together, and see history in context.

And a Sonlight education is a flexible lifestyle, too, not a rigid set of guidelines. Rather than becoming subservient to the line items in the Instructor’s Guide, give yourself the freedom to adapt the schedule to best serve your family.  Your approach probably won’t exactly match that of your fellow Sonlighters—and that’s the point! Homeschooling allows for customized educational plans to meet the exact needs of each child.

So allow the excellent framework of the Instructor’s Guide to direct you, yes, but do not allow yourself to become its slave. Homeschooling is all about flexibility and freedom, and “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Ephesians 5:1)

Simplify your homeschool and streamline your schedule with Sonlight. Try three weeks of any Instructor's Guide for free. Click here to get one for any level, preschool through twelfth grade.

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Why Sending Your Child to Public School Won’t Solve Your Problems

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Why Sending Your Child to Public School Won’t Solve Your Problems

We’ve all been there: those days when you just aren’t sure you are doing enough. When you’re certain the school down the street will do a better job that you can. Times you are so frustrated you figure it just can’t hurt to try public school for one short semester.

Parenting is full of doubts. Homeschooling, even more so. However, when those doubts hit, anchor yourself in the truth that sending your kids to public school won't solve your problems. 

Students Outnumber Teachers

Yes, there are some great teachers in schools. However, your child will not be surrounded by great teachers. Instead they are surrounded by peers. Thus the majority of what they will learn will come from other students.

This would be fine if we could pick the students in the class and control their behaviors. But their classroom will have children whose parents’ have a mix of standards of proper behavior. Some will be similar to those your family has; others will have vastly different standards.

My oldest daughter has a cousin her age. They were born weeks apart and until age 4 played together beautifully. However, at age 4, her cousin started preschool, and she did not. Within weeks, I noticed a change in her cousin’s behavior. He started becoming more abusive, pushing and pulling and grabbing toys. He started swearing and using words his mother and I didn’t allow our children to use. Also he started lying to his mother and trying to hide things from her. When his mother asked why he was behaving such, he explained that was how the boys in his class acted.

Not every child will pick up negative behaviors from public school. But many will, especially those who are easily influenced by others.

You’ll Still Have Homework

Unfortunately, just because schools assume the bulk of the teaching doesn’t mean that they manage to get all the seat work done in the classroom. Even schools that state they don’t send homework home for students to complete, will often recommend extra work at home:

  • 20 minutes of reading aloud with a parent each evening
  • memorize spelling lists
  • finish worksheets still incomplete from class
  • work on big projects

In schools that do send home homework, even children as young as kindergarten might have up to an hour or more each evening. You may find that you are spending a greater percentage of the time with your children on schoolwork than when you homeschooled!

Only now, you’ll be less in control of what they are learning and how they are learning it.

School Discipline May Not Carry Over to the Home

Schools have a job to do, and that is to impart academic knowledge. If your child’s issues are behavioral in nature, school generally doesn’t fix those issues at all. It’s true teachers do expect respect and intervene when children misbehave. But self-control in the classroom doesn't always transfer over to home life.

Schools won’t make your child stop fighting you on every issue, or stop talking back to you, or make them obey the first time you say something. Schools won’t improve their attitude toward siblings.

In fact, schools may make all of these problems worse. Your child will be exposed to new ways to talk back, friends who delight in trying to outdo each other on the rebellion scale, and children who are willing to introduce your child to new temptations. Because you and your child will be spending less time together, and they will be spending less time with their siblings, you might find the distance between you growing.

It’s not uncommon for children to treat teachers with one set of attitudes, friends with another, and parents with yet another.

You Get the Leftovers

Once your child enrolls in school, the system gets the best parts of your child. The school gets them when they are fresh in the morning, 5 days a week.

You get what’s left over:

  • The early mornings when they don’t want to wake up.
  • The evenings when they are tired from eight hours of focused education and don’t want to do their homework.
  • The weekends when you try to cram in all the fun things you’d like to do.
  • The days off when everything is crowded because everyone else is off, too.
  • The attitude left over from trying to be good for so long in the day.
  • All the day’s frustrations when they have reached their boiling point.

Their brightest smiles will be shared with their friends, not their parents and siblings.

With homeschooling, you get it all—the good and the bad. When your kids attend public schools, the teachers and friends seem to get the bulk of the good while you’re left holding more and more of the bad.

This isn’t to say there aren’t positive things that can come from sending them to school, or that they’ll always be in a bad mood. That certainly isn’t the case with most children. But you will get less of the good.

Teachers Have Agendas, Too

Most teachers choose the education profession with the intention of building up students. They work tirelessly for little reward and even less thanks. They deal with all kinds of students and parents on a daily basis.

But, teachers are all different. They come from different families with different values and different ideas. So, you will, from time to time, run into a teacher whose values are very different from yours.

  • You might find your child has a teacher who likes bringing LGBTQ issues into the daily discussions, and you don’t agree with their viewpoints on the lifestyles.
  • You might find your teacher is an atheist, and your values are strictly Christian in nature.
  • Their teacher might belittle any notion of Creationism, when your family happens to be devout in believing the Earth is young.
  • Or, perhaps their teacher (or your school district) believes in teaching sexual education as young as first and second grade, while you aren’t comfortable with the amount of detail they provide.
  • Your school might pressure you to get your children vaccinated, when you feel vaccinations are not a good choice for your family.

The district itself often has agendas, too, and while you might find a teacher who isn’t in agreement with that agenda, they must teach certain things to remain in compliance and keep their teaching license. Often, districts promote test scores above all else as that is how the district itself is graded, and many are willing to make sacrifices in other areas to make sure that scores are the best they can be. Or a school board might have many members who hold to a certain set of beliefs, and advocate that these beliefs be brought into the classroom.

While many of these things are good to talk to children about, and the teachers usually intend no harm, it may be that you are blindsided by some of the issues your child learns at school and some of the values that are taught.

Schools Probably Have Lower Standards than You Do

Sending your kids to public school won't necessarily improve their academics. Schools do care about test scores and graduation rates because that’s how they are evaluated. But beyond that, schools don’t care a whole lot about each individual child's comprehension.

Schools are ready to accept that some children struggle in subjects more than others. A child can miss 40 of 100 problems wrong, and no one will be very concerned. After all, that's still passing.

While your child may receive good grades in school, the quality of their education may still be suffering, compared to what you are teaching at home.

Take a local tenth grade English class as an example. The teacher of this class told me what the class includes:

  1. students watch 7 movies, based on literary works such as Shakespeare, Our Town, and Pride and Prejudice
  2. students read 4 novels
  3. students compose 1-2 writing assignments on each movie or novel

This would not be enough for many homeschooling parents to feel comfortable counting this as a high school credit, yet a hundreds of students each year are getting their sophomore English credit with this course. Contrast those requirements with Sonlight's rigorous high school literature courses which require at least a dozen works of classic literature with assorted writing assignments and projects.

So, while you at home might be struggling to do extra assignments and getting perfect or almost perfect scores across the board, the public school in your area might be willing to let go of those high expectations and let work that you would consider sub-par slide through with good grades.

When you start to think that sending your kids to public school is the answer to your parenting or homeschooling woes, take a hard look at what schools in your area can offer. In many cases, public school won't solve your problems. Putting your kids in school may trade one set of difficulties for another, but it's rarely a fail-proof panacea for all that ails your child.

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

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A Pick-me-up for the Discouraged Homeschool Mom

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A Pick-me-up for the Discouraged Homeschool Mom

  • Are you feeling frustrated and wonder if homeschool is really worth the sacrifice? You might question if homeschooling is still the right choice for your family.
  • Perhaps you know that homeschooling is what’s best for your children, but you wonder if it’s best for you.
  • Maybe you are certain that you want to continue homeschooling, but you are feeling defeated and blah.

I've faced all of these feelings! When I morph into the discouraged homeschool mom attitude,  I use a simple but effective exercise to make sure I'm on the right track. This pick-me-up can help you, too!

List All the Reasons You Chose to Homeschool

Sit down with a paper and pencil and jot down all the reasons that you initially began homeschooling.

  • Were you looking to provide your children with a better academic environment?
  • Were you kids ill-suited to sitting in a classroom?
  • Did you want more freedom (religious and otherwise) for yourself and your family?

The list doesn’t have to be in order of importance or categorized or even spelled correctly. Just get your thoughts on paper. If it helps here are a few of the reasons that quickly pop to mind when I think about why I originally chose to homeschool.

I have homeschooled my kids from the beginning and never put them into a school system. My husband and I chose to homeschool independently of the performance and reputation of our local school system. If you pulled your children from a local school, you likely have additional reasons to homeschool, reflecting your experience with traditional school.

  • Unique needs that weren't being met in the classroom
  • The classroom didn't provide enough challenge, especially for gifted children
  • Allergies
  • Bullying
  • The cost of private school

Challenges Arise, and Homeschooling Isn’t Always Perfect

Inevitably, once you’ve been homeschooling for a while, challenges will arise. Some you may have seen coming; others may be a complete surprise. Personally, I had no idea how draining it would be to be with all of my young children all day long. I also had a limited understanding of how strong-willed my children could be when faced with topics they didn’t want to learn. It’s been a learning experience for all of us.

At this point let me caution you. We are not creating a list of pros and cons.  We are actively looking for evidence that our initial decision to homeschool is a good one. Being discouraged or having a rough day doesn’t mean that the reasons you choose to homeschool are no longer valid. It does mean that it might be time to take a few moments to remember the reasons homeschooling is worth doing.

Are Your Original Reasons to Homeschool Still Valid?

Do your children still stand to benefit from learning at home? If the answer is yes, you still have a pretty strong argument for continuing to homeschool and hopefully a list to inspire you to continue.

If homeschooling hasn’t provided all the expected benefits, why not? Would placing the children in a school system resolve the issue(s)? If so, it may be time to research educational options in your area. If not, try to determine what changes could be made in your homeschool to put it more in line with your original goals. Get an outside perspective on your situation—Sonlight Advisors have counseled thousands of discouraged homeschool moms just like you. They can help.

List New Benefits

There are likely additional reasons for homeschooling that you may not have recognized when you first started. Even little reasons like not having to rush in the morning or having more flexibility with family vacation time are precious perks of homeschooling. More than one homeschooling family enjoys pajamas and hot chocolate during school time. Don’t overlook the little things that make homeschooling fun and beneficial for you and the kids!

On those days when you become a discouraged homeschool mom and are struggling to see all the expected benefits, pull out your list! Read it over and take some time to soak in the value you bring to your kids as a homeschool mom. Accept the encouragement that the list provides and move forward, knowing you're doing what’s best for you and your family.

If you are considering a new direction for your children’s education, and could use an empathetic ear, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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4 Things to Drop From Your Homeschool When You’re Doing Too Much

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4 Things to Drop From Homeschool When You’re Doing Too Much

Most homeschooling parents are guilty of trying to do everything and then feeling like failures when we discover we can’t do it all. We want to

And while we can readily acknowledge that we are doing more than we need to, figuring out what to give up is hard. Here are four guidelines for choosing what to drop from your homeschool schedule.

1. Drop Anything Done for the Sole Purpose of Validating Outsiders

Perhaps a family member told you that a music lessons are essential to a well-rounded education, but your children aren’t really musical. Or, perhaps you are trying several sports at once so you can find out which sport they excel at because your family feels that a sports scholarship shows a well-rounded child. Perhaps your sister-in-law insists you must do math drills daily to make sure your children are well versed in the basics, but your children are getting no educational benefit from them.

Your child’s education shouldn’t be about proving to the world who you are. Instead, focus on who your child wants to be and what they are interested in learning, and choose activities that bring peace and joy to your household. When we spend time trying to earn validation from others, we run the risk of turning into who they want us to be, not who we are. So, instead, do what makes your household happy.

2. Drop Anything Done Out of Guilt

If you are doing an activity solely because you are afraid your child is missing out on an experience, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Instead of looking for what your child might be missing and trying to fill those gaps, instead focus on the opportunities you are creating for your child. If you’re struggling through a book simply because you should read it, or because it’s on a list you must complete, then you are missing out on an opportunity to fill that time with a good book you might both enjoy and still learn a lot from.

Many times, we feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. But if what everyone else is doing isn’t making us happy, then we need to instead focus on what would make our lives more enjoyable or bring more peace to our homes. I don’t homeschool my children so they can blend into the world, but so that they can stand out in it.

3. Drop Anything Causing Excessive Tension

How many times have your fought with a child over completing a math page, a handwriting page, or a reading assignment? Those battles are sometimes necessary, but just as often, they aren’t worth the argument.

Doing every page in a math book might build character, but no hard-working adult ever looks back and says, “Well, if they had let me skip that one page in my math book, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Look for compromises:

  • put the assignment away and find another way to teach it—maybe a game
  • cross off half the problems
  • choose a different curriculum with a fresh approach
  • switch to a different unit and revisit this one in later months
  • skip a book here or there

Here are details on two of my favorite compromise techniques.

Handwriting Hack: Highlighter Tracing

Have a child who just doesn’t want to do handwriting because it’s too hard? Try using a yellow highlighter to write out the words for them. Then have them trace.

Handwriting is largely a motor memory skill, so as long as they are practicing writing the letters and words correctly, it will work just as well to trace as to write them independently each time. Once the motor memory has memorized the skill to the point where the child can write without thinking about writing, then handwriting is complete.

Reader Hack: The 2 Skips Rule

Have a child who doesn’t want to read a certain book? If you’re using a literature-rich program such as Sonlight, your child will miss out on very little by skipping a book or two along the way. My children are allowed two skips per History / Bible / Literature (HBL). Here are the rules:

  1. Skip books must be approved by mom. She retains the right to refuse a skip if the book is integral to the HBL program.
  2. Skips can be claimed only after the child has read about 10% of the book.
  3. Only two books can be skipped. So if they desire to skip a third book, then they must go back and read one of the two books they skipped.

4. Reschedule Things that Don’t Need to Be Done Daily (Or Even Yearly)

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of covering every subject every day of every homeschool year. But you don't have to do it this way!

If you feel bogged down trying to fit in Bible, language arts, reading, phonics, handwriting, spelling, science, math, state history, world history, American history (or history of another country), foreign language, Latin, Greek, art, art appreciation, music, music appreciation, typing, .... consider a different approach. Although all these subjects are required, they aren’t all required every year nor all at once. When trying to fit in every subject, remember there are options besides every day Monday through Friday:

  • unit study that spans multiple weeks
  • semesters
  • weekend intensives
  • weekly co-op classes
  • summer camps

Don’t do more than is required if you aren't enjoying it. If you happen to love science and can’t get enough, five or more hours may suit your family, but if all your children really want is to do some experiments every few weekends, that may be enough.

So often, we get so focused on what we are missing or not getting done that we forget to look at the big picture. If a child is learning math, does it matter if they do every problem on a page, or can they be allowed to only do the odds or evens? (The answer is yes!)

No college will care if they learn to read from a book or from a game. By making a few changes and letting go of unreasonably high expectations, a more balanced and relaxed homeschool life will blossom. When that happens, and children have time to explore and have fun, you’ll find they learn even more on their own.

Simplify your homeschool and reduce the burden of daily decision making. Try three weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide for free. Click here to get one for any level, preschool through twelfth grade.

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4 Reasons a Second Generation Homeschooler Chooses Sonlight

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This post is part of the Where Are They Now series in which we hear the stories of long-time Sonlight users who are now thriving young adults.

“Not another new school for my children…”

It was the early 90’s. My mom and dad were church-planters who moved every 1-2 years—from Illinois to Colorado and then to Oregon. They had three children at that point, and the stress of switching schools was taking a toll on my older brother. He would be going into third grade, but it would be at a new school… yet again.

My mother was heartbroken over the impact the constant transitions had on her children.

But wait. My mom’s cousin had been telling her about homeschooling. She said she used and loved Sonlight curriculum because it was well done and comprehensive. It offered everything you needed to succeed as a first time homeschooler. The Instructor's Guides would walk you through each day of each week.

This seemed like an answer to the frequent school switching!

My parents prayed about it and decided to give homeschooling a try after moving from Colorado to Oregon. She ordered the third grade and Kindergarten Sonlight programs for my brother and me.

We all loved it! My mom’s cousin was right—Sonlight provided us with everything we needed to succeed! I loved the books my mom read to us, and so did my brother. The Instructor's Guides (IGs) gave my mom confidence to teach us because she knew she was covering all the subjects we needed.

Homeschooling Was a Comforting Constant

Soon my younger sister was old enough to start Sonlight preschool. Then along came my fourth sibling, and we were moving again. But with all of that change, we had three secure constants:

  1. our faithful God
  2. our close-knit family
  3. our homeschooling with Sonlight curriculum

Five children, at least six moves (three to different states), and Sonlight curriculum were a great combination! I loved learning!

Getting our Sonlight box was like Christmas all over again. As I got older, I would help my mom prepare our order and served as an informal school librarian. I knew all the books that belonged with each History / Bible / Literature (then called Core) that I had completed. When new books were added to my younger sibling's programs, I was eager to devour them.

In this photo a young Brianna helps her sister with schoolwork.

I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to homeschool my children using Sonlight, too.

At age 15, I graduated from high school. Then in the fall I turned 16, I enrolled at our local community college, seeking an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. I had to take only one remedial math course—Algebra. I scored very high on the English and reading comprehension sections of the assessment test at the community college, so I was able to go straight into the college-level English course my first semester. I felt very well prepared for college and enjoyed most of the courses.

Sonlight helped my mom lay the foundation for a life-long love of learning and provided excellent educational footing for my siblings and me when we pursued further studies.

Fast-forward 15 years from my high school graduation. I now have four young children of my own with six moves under my belt since my marriage almost 11 years ago. Just as I envisioned as a young girl, my children use Sonlight! Here are the top four reasons I continue to choose Sonlight as a second generation homeschooler.

1. Sonlight Provides Structure and Preparation

I work 25 hours a week as the Registrar at Christian Leaders Institute, administering the Degree Programs which provide free, online, high-quality ministry training to people all around the world. At the same time, I'm homeschooling my third grader, Kindergartener, and Preschooler.

I need the structure of Sonlight!

I work in the morning and do schooling in the afternoon. I don’t have time to prepare lesson plans myself. And fortunately I don't have to. Sonlight’s IGs are clearly laid out by week, day, and subject. I can work part-time and homeschool, thanks to Sonlight! And I have peace of mind, knowing that I am providing my children with an awesome foundation. Which brings up the second reason I choose Sonlight…

2. Sonlight is Comprehensive and Customizable

Sonlight’s is comprehensive and has multiple options for subjects so that I can tailor the curriculum to each child’s learning style and interests while ensuring that they are learning what they need to know. One of my daughters struggled with Singapore math in first grade. We switched to Saxon—a great fit for her and no more tears! Sonlight strives to pick the best of the best and give you options to fit your family’s needs.

Brianna's mother reads Sonlight books to her grandchildren.

3. Sonlight Holds a Christian Worldview

While Sonlight has a strong Christian foundation and worldview, it also provides information about different perspectives from cultures from around the world. This combination of different worldviews shared in the light of our Christian foundation teaches my children both discernment and compassion.

Sonlight isn’t a narrow-minded curriculum that overly shelters kids from reality. No, our children will go into the world, and so they need to know about and be prepared to interact with different worldviews and cultures while keeping centered in the Lord and His Word. Sonlight prepares my children for this kind of lifestyle.

4. Sonlight Means Excellent Books

Sonlight introduces us to so many excellent books!

  • Books with substance.
  • Books that tackle difficult topics.
  • Books that are fun, whimsical, thought-provoking, or historical.

Sonlight does a wonderful job of selecting books that are both age appropriate and connect with the history and/or science topics. Again the word comprehensive comes to mind.

Many of my Sonlight Readers and Read-Alouds are still some of my favorite books, and now I get to re-read them again with my children. And since Sonlight is always looking for and adding fresh books, I get to discover new adventures and stories, forming new favorites, as I read these new selections with my children.

Sonlight is a curriculum that has it all— everything I needed as a child and now everything my children need to have a life-long love of learning, a strong Christian foundation, and a solid academic base. Sonlight makes teaching and learning an exciting adventure.  From childhood as a student to adulthood as a teacher, Sonlight has been a blessing in my life!

Do you have a story about your grown Sonlighter? We love catching up with long-time Sonlight users who are now thriving young adults. Email your story and photos to

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How to Help Your Children Appreciate Their Homeschool Education

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How to Help Your Children Appreciate Their Homeschool Education

Not until I was an adult did I fully appreciate how my father educated me.

I had a childhood that you typically find only in dreams. I was raised on a mountain in the heart of the River Valley of Arkansas. My dad worked at the Winthrop Rockefeller Center on Petit Jean Mountain, a non-profit organization that worked with countries all over the world to make life better for many.

I can remember visiting my dad at work and walking into the dining room at lunch time and feeling like I was taking a trip around the world. People from every continent were represented. My dad would often introduce me to someone from another country as if they had been friends for years. He longed for me to understand how amazing the opportunity was to speak to representatives from many of the countries of the world.

But I was painfully shy and barely managed a simple hello before ducking back behind my dad again. He would take me around and tell me about all the projects that WRC had begun and why it was important. He taught me one of Mr. Rockefeller’s mottoes, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, feed him for life.”

Later in my childhood, my dad took us on a rare family trip to see an Egyptian Tombs exhibit. I decided early on that I wasn’t interested and spent my time there counting down the minutes until we left. I look back on these moments now and think, “I had no idea how truly amazing those opportunities were!” This realization caused me to will I help my children to appreciate the experiences I provide them?

I will give them a framework to appreciate education.

1. Love Learning

Growing up, I thought that history was the most boring subject I ever had to sit through. I remember one teacher in particular who made me actually look forward to my history class, and it was simply because she genuinely enjoyed it. There was a spark in her eye when she lectured. That little spark I saw caused me to think that maybe history wasn’t so bad.

When we teach, our kids pick up on our attitude toward subjects. If we enjoy history, chances are good that they will too. If we are really excited about a new book, our kids will probably be really excited too. Model your own love for learning. Talk about how it makes you feel to learn something new even though you aren’t in school anymore.

2. Use Living Books

This is huge. There is nothing that kills curiosity more than a dull, dry textbook. A living book, written by a person who is invested in the material is the best way to learn about the world. Living books open our eyes to culture, history, and possibilities. We come alive when we read enthralling accounts of wars, disappearing civilizations, and cultures of the world. Don’t squash your child’s interest with dry reading.

3. Dream

Dream with your kids about the places you’d like to visit. As you study topics, think of places that would be fun to visit to learn more about your study. Daydream outloud about what you would do there and the things you might be able to see. Look to see if there is an online tour of a great museum.

Would you like to visit Europe? Tell your kids about it. Ask them where they would love to visit. Work with them to expand their dreams beyond popular theme parks. You might even have them help plan an educational road trip. Giving your child ownership can help them be invested so they will appreciate the opportunity more.

4. Give Them Experiences Even If They Don’t Appreciate Them

Chances are that our children won’t appreciate the experiences we provide to the extent that we would like. But, do it anyway.

Because one day, they will be like me, and they’ll remember the opportunities you gave them. That will inspire them to give those same experiences to their children...your grandchildren.

5. Teach Them the Bible

  • When you study God’s Word and consider how His hands formed the galaxies, you can’t help but be in awe of space.
  • When you study geography and find out the places where Jesus traveled, a flame is lit within.
  • When you study history to find the civilizations that disappeared because of God’s wrath, you can’t help but tremble a bit.

Our kids must have an understanding of the Bible to appreciate education. It is the basis of Math, Science, History, Language Arts, Art, Music...the list goes on and on. I’ve always believed that if I am diligent to teach the Bible, everything else will come. So far, I’ve been right. God’s word is the most important part of the day, and it provides a framework for us all to appreciate the world around us.

Just the other day, I looked at my dad and said, “I wish I knew what a great childhood you and Mom gave me earlier.” I’m so thankful that even though I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, I was able to express my gratitude many years later for the memories that have lasted in my mind and heart all these years. I have no doubt that my parents’ love of learning rubbed off on me, and in turn, to my kids.

Our children will probably never know the great lengths we go to, the sacrifices we make, to assure that they have a great childhood. But in life, it’s the unseen acts that reap the biggest harvest. It’s being faithful in the little things every single day that build the framework for a lifelong appreciation of education.

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

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