Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

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Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

Homeschool Moms and Reluctant Readers Stunned by the Engaging Adventures in the Sonlight Summer Readers!

It's true. Homeschool moms, reluctant readers, and many more people have all purchased the Sonlight Summer Readers and been stunned by the engaging adventures and thrilling new worlds. So much so that they wrote about how they felt. (You can read what they wrote below.)

But before we get to that, a question: What makes the Sonlight Summer Readers unique?

First and foremost, their quality.

Sonlight Summer Readers are Fun But Fluff-free

Each of our carefully selected packages includes several books. These books are not frivolous "twaddle." Rather, they emphasize the pleasure of reading (something very welcome during the summer!), and they eliminate many of the common frustrations people experience reading lower quality titles (like poor dialogue, clichéd plot lines, inappropriate content, and so on).

After nearly three decades of book reviewing and choosing, Sonlight founder Sarita Holzmann, and her daughter Jonelle, know good books when they read them.

Besides the quality you’ve come to expect from Sonlight’s literature, you can also look forward to good variety. Like the Sonlight History / Bible / Literature programs, each Sonlight Summer Reader release includes a range of genres. A few nonfiction pieces, and a lot of fiction: mysteries, humor, fantasy, historical fiction, coming of age, adventure, science fiction, drama.

Sonlight Summer Readers are divided into packages for three age ranges: elementary, middle, and high school, and divided into boy books and girl books.

This overview only scratches the surface. Let’s go deeper.

How Does Gender Affect Book Choices?

(You only think you know the answer.)

Have you ever read that classic parenting book Why Gender Matters? Written by a medical doctor, the author wanted to know how boys and girls are different. He went through the scientific literature to see what researchers had learned thus far about their physical differences. It’s a fascinating read.

For example:

In the eye, boys have more rods (motion sensors); girls have more cones (color sensors). This is why girls tend to draw scenes, or nouns, because they see in color. Boys tend to draw action, or verbs, because they see motion.

Girls have more sensitive hearing. Thus, a girl might feel like her father or brother is YELLING at her, when he thinks he is just talking normally. (This is also why boys shouldn’t sit at the back of a classroom—they might not hear a female teacher, if she is speaking in her normal tone of voice.)

And, most pertinent to today’s topic, emotions are processed differently in the brain for boys and girls.

For all children, prior to adolescence, the seat of emotions (the amygdala) is far from the verbal part (the cerebral cortex) of the brain. To ask a 6-year-old, “How are you feeling?” is probably not going to get much of a response.

For girls in their teens, though, the brain’s emotions move up to the verbal part of the brain. Teen girls can talk to you about how they feel all day long!

Not so with boys. For boys, their emotional seat doesn’t move. It stays in the amygdala. A teen boy is not much different than a 6-year-old in this regard. A teen boy will be uncomfortable if asked to write a paper about, “How does this make you feel?” He has feelings, but no way to describe them.

The stereotype would be: “In fiction, girls like romance and girl characters, and boys like action and boy characters.” And that is sort of true, but not quite.

Rather, girls prefer books about experiences and emotions. Boys want adventure and excitement.

In every Sonlight History / Bible / Literature program, we try to balance the boy and the girl books.

But in the Sonlight Summer Readers, you can pick books for girls, or books for boys. Let them read good things just for fun.

The Seek and Find for Quality Books

At Sonlight, books are our passion. In early 2016, the marketing writer at Sonlight noticed that there were various numbers about how many books Sonlight founder Sarita reads in a week, or a year, or over the course of Sonlight's existence. And they were some pretty impressive numbers: "twelve books a week," for example, or "tens of thousands of books" since Sonlight's inception.

She was curious about how accurate those numbers are.

Since Sarita is no longer the only person in Product Development who reviews books, she asked the Product Development team to keep track of the number of books that they reviewed in the month of May.

May 2016 was a pretty normal month, overall—certainly not a month that had a concentrated push to review books.

The writer was impressed!

The team read, with pleasure, 68 books.

And the team reviewed—meaning, skimmed or read in spots enough to determine the book wasn't worth their time—an additional 146 books.

Yes. In the month of May, the Sonlight Product Development team reviewed 214 titles.

And not 214 preschool picture books—two hundred fourteen chapter books.

Additionally, one team member went through 832 pages of catalogs, scanning for promising titles that are coming out soon.

This sneak peak at the Sonlight process is the reason our books are so well-loved. It’s why we read comments like this about our Summer Readers:

We get a couple packs every year, and we've not come across any we don't like yet.‬ ~Veronica L.

‬‬‬‬‬‬We appreciate such testimonials. But we also think—if our team reviews somewhere around 2400 books annually (not counting the thousands of books in catalogs we choose not to review), we’d hope the Sonlight titles would be good ones!

Did you catch that?

When Jonelle and Sarita pick Summer Readers, they have the benefit of having reviewed somewhere around 2400 books since the last time they picked Summer Readers.

Most likely, no matter how fast a reader you are, you didn’t read 2400 books in the last year. The Sonlight team did. And you get the benefit.

Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

A Bit About Books and Maturity

There’s a classic rule of thumb that the age of the main character should be approximately the age of the reader. For example, a book set in middle school is usually going to be good for middle schoolers, and less interesting for high schoolers, and too mature for elementary students. (Though the younger students might want to read an “older” book.)

But this is only approximate.

One of the Sonlight reviewers was glancing through Cheryl B. Klein’s book The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults and noticed something shocking. Klein, writing to authors hoping to publish books for children, talks briefly about “content.”

I’m using the word “content” here as a catch-all for language or subjects that American adults often wish to keep young people away from: swear words, sex, drug use, and violence and the effects of violence. Just as certain words, images, or subjects will earn a movie a PG-13 or R rating, the appearance of those words, images, or subjects in a book for young readers can push its classification from middle-grade [ages 8-12] to YA [Young Adult, ages 13-18]. (You can write pretty much anything in YA besides erotica.)

When she says that authors “can write pretty much anything in YA besides erotica,” she means that literally. Sonlight reviewers have read ever-increasingly detailed descriptions of teens engaging in the marital act, as well as teen drunkenness, and other behaviors that Christians hope their children avoid.

The Sonlight books purposefully avoid R-rated titles. In some cases, books that would be considered middle-grade (ages 8-12) for a secular publisher may be pushed to high school in Sonlight packages.

Sonlight Summer Readers, separated into elementary, middle, and high school categories, do not always match the secular divisions. And we try to keep within the guidelines of Philippians 4:8, and only include books that are honorable, pure, praiseworthy, and so forth.

Whatever you order from Sonlight, whether homeschool curriculum or a Summer Reader package, we intentionally seek to make sure that your children are not overwhelmed by either length or intensity.

 Elementary Summer Readers • Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices Middle School Summer Readers • Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices High School Readers • Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

A  Celebration of Genres

One of the things Sonlight parents have said for years is, “I wouldn’t have found this book on my own, but I love it!”

That’s one of the best things about Sonlight—the surprise of the unexpected fabulous book.

Some Sonlight History / Bible / Literature books are very obscure. Some suffer from uninspiring titles (The Journeyman doesn’t exactly sound like a fabulous adventure, you know?). Most parents won’t find these books on their own.

But I think another reason Sonlighters are surprised by some books is because we all have genres that we prefer. It’s hard to leave the comfort of, say, mysteries, and branch out to science fiction, or to leave the fascination of historical fiction and branch out to fantasy.

But in almost any genre, you can find outstanding works. And in the Sonlight Summer Reader packages, we seek to include a range of genres.

Because if you’ve never read a fantasy book you enjoy, you’re missing out on some lovely books.

Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

Still Hesitant to Buy Summer Readers?

Maybe you think one or more of these thoughts:

  1. I could probably order these books more inexpensively elsewhere.
  2. My children won’t enjoy these books. They just aren’t strong (or willing) readers.
  3. I already have one of the books in my preferred package.

These are legitimate concerns.

1. All of the Sonlight Summer Readers offer special package pricing, a built-in discount when you buy a package.

Besides the built-in discount, if you ordered a Sonlight program in the last twelve months, you get your additional 10% off and free shipping as well.

But it’s possible that there is some mythical retailer somewhere that offers some crazy discount on every book, more than 15%. What if a Sonlighter could find a lower price somewhere?

Why buy a book from Sonlight if we aren’t offering the very lowest price?

Well, most people, when they go out to lunch, give the waiter a tip. He’s served the people, making sure they have what they need, when they need it, and the waiter earns his living by serving.

Sonlight Summer Readers—actually, all Sonlight products—are similar to that served meal. Sonlight Product Development reviews several thousand books each year, both for updating programs and for Summer Readers. You can imagine that that takes time (and money).

So even if you could get books for a few bucks cheaper, we hope you’ll honor our efforts and purchase from us. It feels good to tip good servers for their good work on your behalf.

2. Dealing with children who aren’t yet readers?

Sometimes children just haven’t met a book that captures their fancy. Keep trying quality, fun books, and it should happen one of these days.

And if your children aren’t readers yet? Well, I’d encourage you to get some of the high school books for you, as you’d be hard-pressed to find better options.

But the Sonlight way is for parents and children to share books together. Keep the Read-Aloud goodness going through the summer by using the Summer Readers as Summer Read-Alouds.

3. If you already own one or more of the books in a Summer Reader package—we congratulate you on your good taste!

You can, as always, order individual titles. Or, you might choose to order a package (to get the special package pricing) and use the duplicate titles as gifts.

Want a few more reasons why you should buy Sonlight Summer Readers? Here are those stories I promised you from homeschool moms  and a reluctant reader.

Because they will become a beloved part of your family’s library.

We got the elementary pack last year, and the selections are still among my daughter's most beloved. Really terrific books! ~Gina M.

Because your children will keep their skills fresh . . . and maybe jump ahead, with a new-found joy of reading.

My then-6-year old loved them last summer. I honestly think they were what kicked off his love for reading. I will be buying them this summer too. At that age they can first listen to them as a Read-Aloud and later pick them up to read on their own. ~Elizabeth C.

Because they are affordable. Pay for the books you read, and be thankful that you didn’t have to buy and preview 2400 books to find these!

They're not super expensive. I say go for it if you can. ~Elizabeth C.

Because many of the Summer Readers are part of enjoyable series, with sequels.

We also discovered some new authors and series through the reader packs, which has provided even more reading!‬ ~Gina M.

From the research we've done, we believe the quality of the Sonlight® Summer Readers is unmatched. Act now to make sure that you get everything described above, including free shipping and handling. Choose your Summer Reader sets here.

Sonlight Summer Readers: Mom's Secret for #Winning Book Choices

 

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7 Ways to Bring Learning To Life For Kids

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7 Ways to Bring Learning To Life For Kids

Over my years of homeschooling, finding ways to bring learning to life for my kids has been a priority because I want my children to love learning. Making learning fun sometimes means we take longer to go through a curriculum to make room for the extras. It can also mean I spend more time looking for resources. Both of these sacrifices can make a world of difference for children and their attitude towards home education.

Of course if I expanded on every single topic, we would never get through our homeschool curriculum. Sonlight is a complete standalone curriculum, and even without the extras, my kids learn plenty. So when it comes to adding extras, I choose either topics the kids really enjoy or those that they are struggling with.  We tend to expand on topics in History, Science, and Geography.

1. Read More Books

Yes, Sonlight has cornered the secret to great learning—books, and the programs already include dozens of titles you will love. But sometimes more of a good thing is even better! We get our extra books from a few key sources:

2. Put Learning to Music

Catchy songs make it easier it is for kids to learn and remember. One of our favorite resources this year is Lyrical Life Science. It was an extra purchase, but, boy, am I glad I got it. The kids love memorizing with the help of these songs.

3. Use Lap Books or Notebooks

Lap booking or notebooking on a topic of interest can be incredibly fun for kids who like drawing, writing, and papercrafts. You can nearly always find free printable notebooking pages online. If not, simply customize generic templates or use plain lined or unlined paper.

Lap books can be accomplished in the same way. Either use pre-made templates and kits like these listed below, or take a DIY approach with blank minibooks.

We typically work on notebooks or lap books a little bit each day over about several weeks time. The kids love to revisit their work later, remembering what they learned. (Bonus points for review!)

4. Use Hands-on Experiments and Projects

This is one of our favorite bring learning to life. Besides the fun activities in our Science kits and Discover & Do DVDs, I find that Pinterest is an amazing place to find relevant hands-on projects and experiments on any given topic. You would be amazed how much more your kids can pick up by adding a few extra experiments or projects into any topic. Science is abstract, but bringing it to life with a visible and tangible activity helps kids understand the principles they read about.

5. Cook

Take your topic of study and turn it into an edible project! For example, when we learned about cells in Science, we made an animal cell pizza and a plant cell cake. The kids loved both the process and the eating of it! Plus they still remember the cell parts because of the creation of the project.

6. Watch Videos

Hello, YouTube! I have younger kids, so I search for appropriate videos and scan them before letting my kids watch. Creating curated playlists for our unit studies is a great way to control what they watch when I don't want them aimlessly browsing YouTube.

Although these two channels were created with public school educators in mind, they can still be helpful for homeschoolers:

Other high quality sites I recommend for video are Discovery Kids, Khan Academy, and Brain Pop.

7. Find Online Games To Play

Depending on how much time they have earned, my kids get up to two hours of screen time per day, some of which can be spent on fun learning games. I simply Google our topic + the phrase online (educational) games. For example if we were learning about marine life, I would search free ocean animal online educational games.

Since each child is so unique, what works with one won't necessarily work for the next. Thus I love having a full repertoire of resources to bring learning to life.

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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2 Fixes for When You Aren't Finished with Homeschool in May

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2 Fixes for When You Aren't Finished with Homeschool in May

As we near the end of the traditional school year, many families are looking forward to summer vacation and a change of pace. But what do you do if you’re behind in schoolwork and you were really hoping to be done by the end of May? If you find that you have more pages in your Instructor's Guide than you have weeks left to school, what can you do?

Here are two fixes for when you still aren't finished with homeschool in May (or June...or even July).

Fix 1. Change your expectation of what you need to accomplish.

Do you remember how many textbooks you finished in school when you were growing up? How many math books you finished? Probably ... zero.

Ignore some assignments. Really! It’s okay to skip a book or two and not check every box. Instead, remember how many books you have already read! (Take a #sonlightstack photo to document everything.)

Share your #sonlightstsack

Sonlight provides many resources on all topics you study. And while the Instructor’s Guide is a key component of your homeschool routine and daily plan, don't consider it a rigid taskmaster.

Remember, your children will continue learning for the rest of their lives! Kindling that love for learning is a higher priority than checking every box.

So when you still aren't finished with homeschool in May, look at the books you have left and prioritize. Already read about Vikings in two books? Skip the third. Of the remaining books, which ones do you think you’ll enjoy the most? Set the others aside.

Fix 2. Change your expectation of when you need to finish your schoolwork.

This might mean that you shift your summer vacation a little. You can start vacation now, when the warm spring air refreshes the soul, and then return to school later in the summer—July or August—to finish the year when you’re ready to be out of the sun.

Or it might mean that you do modified school over the summer, finishing up the books you didn’t quite complete.

Or, if you are ready to be finished with this year, but want to finish the program you’re currently working through, you can plan to pick it back up in the fall, right where you left off. Some Sonlighters take 16 or 18 months to finish a program. Give yourself permission to do that, if it’s right for you.

There are a multitude of ways to schedule your homeschool year, and they don't have to begin in the fall and wrap up in May. When you still aren't finished with homeschool in May, give yourself permission to change your schedule.

Life rarely goes the way we predict. So if you're not where you hoped to be in the IG, your school year is still what it was supposed to be—filled with learning and life lessons, challenges and joys.

All the best to you as you look to the end of the traditional school year. Whether you keep pressing on or take a break, enjoy these moments with your family and remember: It’s a journey, not a sprint.

If you want advice on how to make your schedule work for you, experienced homeschooling moms would love to help. Click here to connect with a Sonlight Homeschool Advisor.


Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

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. Plus, you'll be the first to hear about product updates, special offers and more!


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Afterschooling Art at Home When School Doesn't Provide It

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Afterschooling Art at Home When School Doesn't Provide It

Art as a school subject is in a unique situation. Everyone agrees that it is important. Life is more beautiful, expressive, and fulfilling when we create and can enjoy others’ creations. Art is an end in itself, but what some parents may not know, is that it also improves our lives across all disciplines, including math and reading.

However, art is a soft skill and therefore hard to measure. 2+2 will always equal 4, but not everyone agrees on what is good art, bad art, or even what is necessarily art at all. Because of art's ambiguity, art offerings are being slashed in budget-stressed schools, often getting crowded out by more practical STEM-centric (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. And while I fully support STEM—after all, I am a volunteer youth robotics coach—I keenly feel my own lack of art education. I want my kids to receive more art than I did and be able to fully appreciate it. To make sure a rich art education happens for my kids, we do art at home, after school.

Fortunately, it is easy to implement afterschooling art at home. Best of all, the six strategies I share here require very little preparation from you. Art supplies and a trip to the library or a quick Google search will have you ready to go.

1. Recreate Art from Favorite Artists

This idea is a bit more formal, and works especially well if your children get out of school early one day a week, perhaps on Fridays. When they get home, make your art lessons fun; have snacks and make a mess. Maybe even give it a fun name like Fine Art Fridays or  Fridays and Forgeries.

Using a variety of materials is engaging: paints, pastels, clay, stone, wood, mosaics, fabric, food, etc. (I found these no-mess paint sticks, and my kids LOVE them!) Anything can be art! Just use what you have at home or what you can easily and inexpensively get your hands on. You don’t need top-of-the-line materials for this, and a Google search 30 seconds before you begin is all the preparation time you need.

  • Select an artist or art movement to study for a set period of time—once a week for a month worked well for us.
  • Read a book or watch a video on biography.com to learn about an artist’s life and most famous works. (I especially love this picture book about Michelangelo by Diane Stanley, and this Usborne book has fantastic overviews of several artists.)
  • Each week let your little artists try to recreate—or for your mischievous children, challenge them to forge!—their favorite piece of artwork from the spotlighted artist. Try a different masterpiece each week.
  • Be supportive, no matter what the outcome is. Remember we want our children to enjoy the process and express creativity!
  • Repeat, choosing another artist or movement next month.

When we did this activity, my children were amazed at the variety of art: the Renaissance, Impressionism, melting clocks, splatter paintings, and cubism. Our hallway turned into an art gallery as the children proudly displayed their artwork.

2. Illustrate a Nature Study Notebook

Nature is a perfect place to practice sketching shapes, making colors, and capturing shading. Start a nature study notebook when your family camps or hikes. Get a special sketching notebook for each person in the family and give them time to draw something that captures their attention.

When there is no rush, when you are surrounded by nature, and when there is time to create, your children experience a peaceful, almost euphoric feeling that can’t be replicated. Your children will remember how they feel, as they document the moment with images. In our screen-heavy lifestyle, time with nature is especially important to give the brain and eyes a break from flashing images.

3. Work Through a Formal Art Curriculum

If you feel at a loss for where to start with art studies, relying on a formal curriculum is a safe bet. Artistic Pursuits art curriculum is designed with families in mind, making it a natural fit for afterschooling art at home. Depending on the age of your child, you as a parent might not need to be involved if you have other duties that require your attention.

4. Lean on the Internet

There are a large variety of effective art teachers online. Many are free on YouTube while others charge a subscription fee. As I write this, my seven-year-old is using a free, online tutorial to create a work of art. He could spend hours on this website if I let him, and he loves every minute! I’m pretty impressed at what he’s able to do with the step-by-step support of the videos. If your children are begging for screen time, this is a great option.

5. Scatter Art Books Around Your Home

Sometimes when we push, our children decide to push back and reject our suggestions for learning art after school. But if we casually strew educational resources, they get noticed and used. Scatter these about your house, including the car or van and your bathroom. (Kids will read anything in the bathroom!)

If clutter makes you anxious, rely on bins and baskets to keep things tidy but still within eyesight and easy access.

6. Use Everyday Moments To Be Creative

  • Do you need a birthday cake? Let a special helper design and decorate it with you!
  • Make signs and decorate the house for holidays, arrivals, departures, and special occasions.
  • Let everyone help design and make Halloween costumes. We do themed costumes as a family with the added challenge that we need to make them. The results are much more fun and original than any storebought costume would be. We have a blast doing this every year.
  • Point out art in everyday life: advertisements, magazines, books, photographs, architecture, clothing, etc. Help your children learn to recognize different types of art.

As we encourage our children to be creative and be vulnerable in their creativity, not only do they become more well versed and grounded in art, they also develop confidence and an appreciation for beauty. Afterschooling art at home is a perfect fit because families are a safe place to reveal our art, home makes the perfect gallery, and Mom and Dad are the best patrons any artist could ask for.

Afterschooling: How to incorporate a love of learning into your child's afterschool hours.

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Where Are They Now: Megan Simlia

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We love our Sonlight students! And after almost thirty years in business, we are pleased to feature stories of Sonlighters who are making a difference in the world. From business to academia, from churches to the mission field, from neighborhoods to home, we are grateful to have been a part of these amazing students’ lives.

Some are even raising second generation Sonlighters! How awesome is that?!

You may have seen some of these Sonlighters in the pages of a Sonlight catalog over the years and perhaps have wondered what they are up to now. Here’s the scoop!


Where Are They Now: Megan Simlia

Megan Simlia Then and Now

 

As a homeschooled student, Megan Simila's family traveled across the U.S. four times and she continued her travels internationally as an adult. She earned an M.A. in Child and Adolescent Counseling at the University of Cambridge in England. After her completion of that course, she taught in an American school in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico for three years and reached out to children in low-income scenarios. She now lives in Boise, Idaho and works with first generation low-income high school students.

Homeschooled since first grade, Megan found that homeschooling served as a stabilizer in a life of transition. She credits a good grounding in basic philosophy helped her engage diverse ideas in her graduate education. She enjoys traveling the world, volunteering at her church, and teaching.

"Reading about various missionaries who traveled to different cultures made it less scary for me to go overseas. I really appreciate the historical viewpoint Sonlight gives so you can see how cultures have changed over time. It helps you put yourself on a continuum and understand that your culture is not the only culture that has value.

"The philosophies and viewpoints we read in Sonlight helped me even as I did my Master's degree at Cambridge. As I examined various theories, I still referred back to basic philosophies and works of literature I studied with Sonlight. It definitely prepared me for a Cambridge education.

"My passion is to work with low-income students in impoverished areas. I love teaching and the opportunity to impact kids lives for the better.”

Cambridge Grad Helps Low-income Students Forge a Better Future

Now Megan works with a program called Upward Bound for low-income students, and she’s also pursuing a PhD. program through Boise State that will expand on the work she’s doing.

The population she works with are called first generation kids. That means almost all of the students she works with will be the first in their families to attain a college education.

Many of them struggle with difficult family scenarios and she is able to help them with college prep skills, give them math and SAT practice, and just be an advocate. A part of that training includes teaching them how to give back to the community and become a contributing citizen.

“They call me their ‘school mom,’” laughs Megan. “They call me at midnight and know I care. They know they can talk to me about what ’s difficult. This past year I had a student whose dad had been incarcerated and his mom was on drugs, and he was basically homeless for a portion of the year.”

She talks about how it difficult it can be to concentrate on studying when the simple things of life like transportation and safe relationships and shelter are in question. “With just basic living hurdles it’s amazing they can get to school.”

Megan makes sure these students have someone in their corner: “The Bible talks a lot about God's heart for the widow and the orphans ... I just want to have God's heart for these kids.

“My dad is also first generation—only one of seven children in his family to have a college education and he broke that barrier. That inspires me to break that barrier with my students. I want to help them forge a better future.”

Curious to see what this type of education might look like for your family? Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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Where Are They Now: Scott McIntosh

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We love our Sonlight students! And after almost thirty years in business, we are pleased to feature stories of Sonlighters who are making a difference in the world. From business to academia, from churches to the mission field, from neighborhoods to home, we are grateful to have been a part of these amazing students’ lives.

Some are even raising second generation Sonlighters! How awesome is that?!

You may have seen some of these Sonlighters in the pages of a Sonlight catalog over the years and perhaps have wondered what they are up to now. Here’s the scoop!


Where Are They Now: Scott McIntosh

Scott, his wife Audrey, and two sons tour Italy while Scott serves as a military prosecutor.

Scott was homeschooled from Kindergarten through 12th grade mostly using Sonlight curriculum. He recounts, "Through my homeschool education, I gained a Christ-centered and well-balanced worldview, an ability and desire to learn independently, and a perspective on education that extended far beyond the walls of any classroom.

Scott McIntosh“I really appreciate how experiential my homeschool education was. I found the ability to learn through a variety of hands-on experiences to be excellent preparation for success in college and beyond. The Sonlight curriculum and scholarship were both very influential in my academic and spiritual growth and development.”

Harvard Law Grade Serves Abroad

Passionate about educational equality, Scott completed a Master's of Education and served as Teach for America Corps Member where he taught eighth grade algebra to low income students before attending Harvard Law School.

Scott McIntosh graduated from Harvard Law School in 2013 and joined the Army JAG Corps, where he's been serving for the past 4 1/2 years.

He's currently stationed in Vicenza, Italy, with his wife, Audrey, and their two boys, Dylan (4) and Austin (2).

In this photo, Scott's sons Dylan (4) and Austin (2) giggle and try on Scott's beret before he heads off to his work serving as a military prosecutor.

Scott is a military prosecutor, responsible for advising commanders about maintaining good order and discipline in their units, and for prosecuting crimes at Army Court-Martials. Scott says of his job, "It's a really challenging and rewarding job, and I love working with people who have a shared commitment to public service.  We've had a blast traveling around Europe during our time stationed in Italy, too!”

Sonlight's Next Generation

"Our boys go to an Italian Asilo (preschool) and think pasta three meals a day is normal," jokes Scott. "We've used the Sonlight Pre-K program with Dylan the past couple of years. It's been such a joy to re-read many of my childhood favorites with him, and to see his love for learning grow so quickly at such a young age."

Curious to see what this type of education might look like for your family? Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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Where Are They Now: Heather and Autumn Lopez

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We love our Sonlight students! And after almost thirty years in business, we are pleased to feature stories of Sonlighters who are making a difference in the world. From business to academia, from churches to the mission field, from neighborhoods to home, we are grateful to have been a part of these amazing students’ lives.

Some are even raising second generation Sonlighters! How awesome is that?!

You may have seen some of these Sonlighters in the pages of a Sonlight catalog over the years and perhaps have wondered what they are up to now. Here’s the scoop!


Heather and Autumn embrace at Autumn's graduation.

Former Sonlighter Autumn L just graduated summa cum laude from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a degree in Industrial Technology (in the college of Business).

Her proud father, Rusty L of CA, wrote to tell us about the graduation: "Autumn used Sonlight curriculum from 2nd grade all the way through high school, and I've got to tell you it was a big part of her success academically!"

Where Are They Now: Heather and Autumn Lopez

Heather and Autumn adventure together as Sonlight homeschool students growing up.

When Ronda and Rusty watched their little toddler first realize that words had meaning, she was hungry to learn. Afraid she might be bored in traditional school and at the encouragement of another homeschooling family, they starting looking into homeschooling and eventually found Sonlight.

"We didn't want to quench their natural curiosity," says Rusty. "Autumn had such a love for learning and we wanted her to keep that. So many kids get that sucked out of them and they lose themselves in devices. Our girls are curious and love to read. The research skills, critical thinking, and just the love for good books and learning has stayed with them and we give a lot of credit to the Sonlight education for that love of learning.

"We used Math-U-See, Sonlight Science, Real Science for Kids, but their love of reading and learning came from all the wonderful Sonlight books. We also really appreciated the focus on critical thinking and also the research skills the girls developed through Sonlight."

Although both girls are studying science-related fields in college, they have both developed strengths in art, poetry and photography as well.

Autumn says "Sonlight curriculum gave me a solid background in English language and literature that allowed me to excel in college."

Autumn (22) actually works as the photographer for Cal Poly College of Business and does her own photography as well.

Heather (17) graduates from high school in June and she already has extensive college credit that she earned from junior college while continuing to homeschool.

She scored in the 99th percentile in most standardized tests, is a National Merit Commended scholar, and is looking at majors in computer science or applied computer science.

Heather says:

"My favorite thing about Sonlight has been and will always be the books. Each grade provided me with dozens of new, exciting stories. For years, my mom would read to me, bringing characters to life in my mind. I loved listening to her so much that I would beg for ‘just one more chapter!’ It didn't even have to be me she was reading to—I would sneak into the living room and listen to her read to my sister. Many times I would remember plot points or certain sentences, recognizing them five years later, when she finally read them to me. I've kept many of those books, remembering and loving them even now.

“Yet Sonlight was more than just plot twists, the smell of new books, and the joy of reading. They used the books I loved to teach me spelling, grammar, literary analysis, syntax, foreshadowing, poetic structure, alliteration, and much, much more. Last year, I took the SAT and ACT, and English was by far my best subject. I also took the AP English Language and Composition test, scoring a 4. Since Sonlight contains the only English courses I ever took, I think it's fair to say that they taught me well. More than that, though, they made me enjoy learning.”

Curious to see what this type of education might look like for your family? Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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