A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


Busy moms trying to fit in all the subjects each day understandably look for places to cut corners, and the poor Timeline Book is one of those homeschool activities that sometimes finds itself on the chopping block.

This post is a defense of keeping a notebook timeline, namely The Timeline Book you can get here. Sonlight moms chimed in to share photos, stories, and tips that will hopefully persuade you of the value in keeping a timeline notebook and give you the tricks you need to make it happen in your homeschool schedule.

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

Is The Timeline Book Worth It?

Tabitha H. shares her thoughts and some inspiring timeline photos.

"One question I see a lot is, 'Is The Timeline Book worth it?'  Well, I certainly think it is.

When we flip open the book to add a note about Alfred the Great, we are also reminded about what was happening in China at that same time. It’s probably an event we remember reading about but when we put the two figures side by side we have the realization that.  “Oh, so that was happening while this was happening.”

The Timeline Book makes history a living subject.  We will be adding to this timeline for eight more years as we continue working through Sonlight History / Bible / Literature programs.  I can’t wait to see the final result!

Below are photos of our well-used timeline book (used through HBL A, B, and half of C). We are guilty of adding extra information above and beyond what the Instructor's Guide and timeline figures show. We make it our own!

The color pictures of Egypt were from some free resources I printed when we were learning about Egypt. And we pasted in a few story cards from Story of the World (a supplement we add)."

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

Color Code the Timeline Figures by HBL

Rachel T. offers a smart tip and photos to illustrate

"We don't add extras, but we have color coded our figures by Core*. The kids love seeing the figures from their previous homeschool years mixed with the current one. At the front of each timeline notebook, each child keeps a key indicating which color goes with which program of study."

*Rachel refers to Cores which are currently called History / Bible / Literature.

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

The current terminology is now History / Bible / Literature (not Core).

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

Add Pages and Use Highlighters in Your Timeline Notebook

Jeanette H. shows how she keeps cramming more figures into her crowded Timeline Notebook used from History / Bible / Literature A through F.

"We were running into room issues and I wanted to make sure we could see each timeline figure clearly. So we highlight the dates and also add pages into the notebook."

A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history A Photo Tour of The Timeline Book & Tips for a Timeline Notebook • #homeschooling history

Turn Your Timeline Neglect Into a History Review Game!

What if you forgot to put the timeline figures into The Timeline Book? Now it's weeks later. What should you do?

Amy L. has some great advice.

"If you haven't been keeping up week by week, you can always consider spending a day at the end of the year to do a mass sticker extravaganza. Cut out all of the timeline figures, put them face down, and draw them up one by one. The person who picks it tells what they remember. It's like a little review for the whole year. Then you affix it into The Timeline Book. This process takes a while, but it gets done (even if The Timeline Book itself hasn't been done for a long time)."

Remember that your Instructor's Guide notes indicate which timeline figures go with each lesson, but the stickers are dated. So even if you don't want to go back through all the  parent notes, you can still get the stickers in the right places in your Timeline.

To find out more about Sonlight's unmatched book-based homeschool programs that integrate timeline assignments into the history, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Sonlight Scholarship Winners Announced

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


Please meet and join us in congratulating these 13 remarkable Sonlight-educated students poised to make a difference in the world. As the winners of our annual Sonlight scholarship competition, they have each been awarded each with $20,000, $10,000 or $4,000 for college.

Many of these students have used Sonlight since they were young. They’re headed into careers in medicine, mathematics, business, education and more. Most are headed to their college of choice, and many have superb SAT or ACT scores.

But they are also kind, big-hearted young adults. They want to use their skills to make a difference for God’s kingdom in the world—be it overseas, with their colleagues, or future families.

$20,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner: Kaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TX

$5,000 per year


$20,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner: Kaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TXKaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TX joins Jonathan Edwards in praying, “Lord, stamp my eyeballs with eternity.” Her longing is for Christ, to make Him known to all nations, that His Kingdom would come. This has shaped all of her learning, thinking, serving, endeavors, and relationships. Independently, Kaycie supports missions prayerfully, relationally, and financially, using money she earns from her jobs babysitting and as an office assistant. Her leadership in her 4-H club helped her team reach Nationals. Noted for her kindness, her “humble ferocity to the faith,” her creativity and service, Kaycie lives her life by the word of God, reaching out to those in need. She has used all the Sonlight programs from C on up, including all the high school programs. She even added on British Literature to read over two consecutive summers (a great idea for all book lovers), and looks forward to attending a Great Books program in the fall.

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winners

$2,500 per year

1. Daphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZ

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Daphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZDaphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZ has used Sonlight from preschool on. It served her well, with an SAT score of 1500! On track to receive the AWANA Citation Award (for ten years of intense Scripture memory and study), she also leads and serves at church. More importantly, as one adult mentor said of her, “her group of friends is eclectic and she has unconditional love for all of them. She is very caring and encouraging. She is always kind and thoughtful. I have never heard a negative or unkind word from her.” As a child, she wanted to go to Arizona State University (the alma mater of both her parents) and play softball. But since then, she’s fallen in love with writing. Fan Fiction, NaNoWriMo, blogging, youth group devotionals, video scripts—she passionately pursues good stories. And, through her stories, hopes to introduce people to the story of Jesus. She plans to study creative writing when she heads to Colorado Christian University in the fall.

2. Hannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX

Hannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX $10,000 Sonlight Scholarship WinnerHannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX, a Sonlighter since 2004 (using A-400!) has enjoyed everything from war reenactments to volleyball, from 4-H to Bible study—a wide range of activities, but all unified by her love for people. She has spent scores of hours on the Student Council, participating in a variety of community service projects to bless another person’s life in some way. Hannah also has volunteered at Camp Blessing the last five years, a Christian summer camp for young people with special needs. She was one-on-one with a camper at all times, including one week with a nonverbal camper, where she “showed unique perseverance” in finding ways to communicate. Because of her passion for people with disabilities, she looks forward to becoming the fourth generation of her family to attend Texas A&M University, where she’ll study communications, with the end goal to promote disability awareness and inclusion.

3. Mallory Fehl of Fishers, IN

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Mallory Fehl of Fishers, INMallory Fehl of Fishers, IN lived in Ethiopia for her first sixteen years. When she read A Long Walk to Water in Sonlight F, she saw the walk for water literally happening around her, and saw how her parents—digging wells, running a medical clinic, planting churches—were laboring for the gospel. She spent a summer at Schloss Heroldeck in Austria, a ministry retreat center that can keep rates low for weary laborers by using volunteer workers. When her aunt taught her to crochet in 2012, she soon taught others. Their Crochet Club made blankets for the orphans at Embracing Hope in Addis Ababa. And one of Mallory’s crochet students taught the craft to male evangelists, who now crochet, preach, teach crochet, and answer questions as they speak to interested audiences. “I never thought that crochet could be used as an evangelistic tool, but it can. It turns out God can use anything.” Mallory looks forward to studying elementary education, in hopes of returning overseas after her education.

4. Jeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MI

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner  Jeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MIJeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MI, a Sonlighter since 2005, has been part of the three-time National Homeschool Soccer Champions and has won the Ingham County Right to Life Speech Contest. When studying Sonlight’s government program, he took the initiative to get an internship with a Michigan State Representative. What he talked about most, though, was the last four years he has spent volunteering with the after school program Fire-Up for Life. Working with children who have been “bullied by classmates and ignored by parents,” who sometimes behaved badly, he was ready to quit. Then he realized that the Lord didn’t give up on him, but loved unconditionally. Renewed, he carried on, demonstrating that he was one of the “rare few” who “not only have the skills but the heart to effectively reach this difficult demographic.” Having finished three years of Arabic study, Jeoffrey plans to study pediatric medicine, in order to volunteer in the Middle East, a region that first interested him when studying Sonlight F.

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winners

$1,000 per year

1. Evan Ellis of Broomfield, CO

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Evan Ellis of Broomfield, COEvan Ellis of Broomfield, CO has used Sonlight from PreK-H, along with several high school modules. The adults in his life universally commend Evan: “He consistently will help without complaining on any request,” and, beyond that, looks for ways to serve. Having volunteered on annual work-service trips with his church, and volunteered in a hospital since 2014, he hopes to become a nurse to support another passion—the theater. Over the years, he has been involved in over 20 shows. He loves the stories told in performances, and he loves the people in the theater arts: “one of the most hostile cultures when it comes to Biblical teaching,” as he says. To serve in the medical field by day, share the light of Christ in the theater on off hours, and serve the church at every opportunity, Evan is excited to continue a life of serving the Lord, and others, with joy.

2. Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX

Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX, in her 11th year Sonlighting, “exhibits wisdom beyond her years, a quiet confidence, and demonstrates compassion for those less fortunate than herself.” For the last six years, she and a small team of volunteers have spent a morning each week making sandwiches and prepping food for “backpack meals,” now serving almost 400 students each week during the school year. In the fall, she plans to join her brother and cousin as third generation Aggies, as she studies Education, with a plan to pursue either speech pathology or library science in a post-graduate program. She says, “My lifelong dream has been to share the love of Christ with children.” As she has volunteered in the local library and in other venues, she has seen “that so many kids grow up in homes full of hate. I want to show those children God’s love, whether that be as a teacher, children’s librarian, or speech pathologist.”

3. Cory Messerschmidt of Holland, NY

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Cory Messerschmidt of Holland, NYCory Messerschmidt of Holland, NY, Sonlighting since 2007, has innate curiosity: a ham radio operator; owner of a paracord business (making bracelets and such out of survival cord); a golfer whose enthusiasm persuaded his father to take up golf; a photographer who captures the moment no one else sees, and shares that beauty with others; a volunteer at the Christian TCT Television Studios, running cameras for live events; is a three-time qualifier for the National Bible Bee, (which each year requires memorizing around 900 verses); and CERT trained (Community Emergency Response Team, with emergency training, drills, and preparedness). Cory has “an amazing ability to connect with everyone he meets.” When one neighbor was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease, she was impressed that Cory “would always make sure to speak to her (non-communicative) husband as well as her.” Cory plans to double major in business administration and accounting, with concentrations in management and finance, as he looks toward building a business that will leave a lasting legacy for the glory of God.

4. Madeleine Patten of Rogers, AR

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Madeleine Patten, of Rogers, ARMadeleine Patten, of Rogers, AR, a Sonlighter since 2003, has “a love for God, a love for people, and a love for learning.” As her mom continues, “In many ways, Sonlight Curriculum has helped to shape all three of these loves over the years.” A gifted musician, she won first place in her regional piano competition, and was Principal Oboist for the Ozark Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. When she realized that she had developed a quiet reserve because of frequent family moves, she challenged herself to begin one conversation wherever she went and joined a speech club for competitive speech. After battling her own mysterious illness for almost two years, she has found an interest in caring for others. She spent six weeks caregiving for her grandmother, and when her mother was called away for some months, she managed the homeschooling and household care. “When I arrived home, all the boxes in the big blue Sonlight binder had been checked off and all the girls were right on schedule!” Madeleine looks forward to studying nursing, a natural extension of her love for the biological sciences and her love for people, at her mother’s alma mater.

5. Catherine Riley of Chelsea, ME

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Catherine Riley of Chelsea, MECatherine Riley of Chelsea, ME, a Sonlighter since 2005, scored an impressive 1560 on her SAT. A National Merit Finalist, a black belt in karate, and on track to earn the AWANA Citation Award (awarded to those who memorize 836 verses and read the entire Bible, among other things), her mentors praise her tenacity, her organizational skills, her focus, and her character. “Catie is the kind of person we wish for when we dream up our heroes: smart, funny, hard-working, dependable as morning, principled, kind, respectful of others, self-controlled, and tougher than she looks.” She has served in various volunteer capacities: rebuilding a home after a national disaster, doing community outreach, lifeguarding at camp, serving as stage manager for local theater productions, helping in her dojo. And she has an adventurous side: driving a motor boat, paddle boarding, taking a flying lesson, climbing Mt. Katadin. In her next adventure, she looks forward to studying mathematics, in preparation for a career as an actuary.

6. Madison York of Juneau, AK

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Madison York of Juneau, AKMadison York of Juneau, AK, Sonlighting since 2005, scored an impressive 1490 on the SAT. A National Merit Finalist, she says, “My main dragon—my arch nemesis, as it were—is math. Not one second of teaching myself Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, and Calculus was easy. Even when I took Calculus I through the university for a prerequisite, I barely scraped an A minus. But it was strange: that A minus—which normally would have crushed the perfectionist in my soul—was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. The difficulty, the work, the negotiating-with-the-integrals-until-my-head-spun, was the mountain that did not conquer easy.” And so she looks forward to a physics major, so she can “study, discover, understand the universe—from the cosmos to the electron.” In her free time, she plays Mozart and Czerny, and serves as the church pianist (and says she’s taking “organ lessons so I can plunk even louder than before”). She is on track to earn the AWANA Citation Award. And she has run varsity cross country for the last three years, serving as Co-Captain during her senior year, where “she brought a persevering work ethic rainy day after rainy year to practice.”

7. Micah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Micah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, ILMicah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL, a Sonlighter since 2005, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was 18 months old and went through three years of chemo. After two years of physical therapy, he learned to walk again, but the chemo left him with learning disabilities in reading, writing, and spelling. Through grit and perseverance, though, he has, for many years, worked above grade level, and is currently taking college classes with no accommodations. Micah’s passion is live audio engineering (managing the sound board during an event, such as a church service), and he has spent hundreds of hours volunteering at his local church, making sure the mics work, that the balance from the different instruments and voices is aesthetically pleasing, and that there are no distractions to steal attention from the message and the worship. He has spent ten weeks each of the last two summers interning on the production teams of large churches, developing knowledge and skills. One mentor said, “I know of no other student his age with the maturity and drive to handle this kind of work and responsibility, willingly devoting so much time and passion to using his gifts in church ministry,” and spoke of his servant heart, his sense of integrity, his passion to learn, his heart for the Lord, and his creative thinking. Micah plans to continue his engineering studies when he heads to college in the fall.

8. Abigail Bull of Slatington, PA

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Abigail Bull of Slatington, PAAbigail Bull of Slatington, PA grew frustrated that her private school education was not offering her enough self-directed education. When she started Sonlight in 7th grade, she had time to add subjects that interested her, including languages, Biblical Greek, art, piano, and photography. In addition to working in the library and as a lifeguard, she has volunteered many weeks at several Christian summer camps, even serving as head cook—quite the responsibility for a high schooler! She has two uncles serving the Lord overseas, and her visits to them opened her eyes to the needs of the world. Abigail plans to study English, linguistics, and languages, in order to teach overseas. “I love to learn and do my school work, but my heart really lies in my desire to serve the Lord in a foreign country . . . to share the word of God until we can truly say that all have heard. My relationship with Christ has brought me through many rough times, and has given me more joy than anything else. I want everyone in the world to have the same opportunity to feel God’s love as I have. There is such a boundless well of joy and love and peace awaiting those who put their trust in Jesus.”

Could Your Young Learner Win a Sonlight Scholarship?

From preschool through high school graduation, Sonlight prepares your students. We have the big picture in mind, and we help you raise students prepared to launch into any career God calls them to. We share your desire to help your children succeed, and we’ll walk alongside to help you create the long-term educational experience you envision.

Did you know we've awarded more than $1 million to Sonlight graduates to date?
Each year, our charitable foundation offers thirteen college scholarships, ranging from $4,000 over four years, up to $20,000. The following four-year scholarships are available:

  • (1) $5,000/year
  • (4) $2,500/year
  • (8) $1,000/year

We offer scholarships on two tracks: one emphasizes academics, and the other creativity, missions-mindedness, and service. Got a perfect score on the SAT? Served overseas during summer vacation for the last three years but had only average scores on standardized tests? In either case, you may qualify.

Eligibility for college scholarships is one of the many SonlightCares benefits. Set your sights on a Sonlight scholarship!

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Your Closet Can Teach You About Homeschooling With Purpose

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


What Your Closet Can Teach You About Homeschooling with Purpose
Have you been digging into your closets, decluttering and finding the best outfits among the pieces that just take up space and time? It can be a lot of work but the results are refreshing! My daughters and I spent some time a few years ago finding our best color palettes and trying to make sure our closets only contained colors that flatter our natural features. My daughter Jonelle (a busy young mom) says going through her clothes regularly makes getting ready so much easier. She takes into account what her daily life is actually like so her wardrobe reflects that.

What Your Closet and Your Homeschool Have in Common

I've been thinking about how your clothes closet is a great analogy for your homeschool life. Just as having the right pieces you love in your closet makes getting dressed simple and fun, the same thing happens with curriculum.

You can start your day knowing exactly what you are going to do. You have choices, but they are clearly defined from the best of the best. You get a mix of light and fun and heavier assignments, but it's all cultivated with a purpose, not a burdened, cluttered mess. This is homeschool freedom!

Four Questions to Ask for Homeschooling with Purpose

If you've asked the question "Does this spark joy?" as you declutter physical items around your house, I think that's a great question to ask of your homeschool life. You might consider these four questions as you declutter your homeschool priorities and decide where to spend your time:

  • Does this help us grow spiritually, know and love God more, or strengthen our character?
  • Does this spark joy in our family or deepen a love for learning?
  • Does this provide serious educational value, a better understanding of the world, or offer valuable life skills?
  • Does this bring relational value: help us bond as a family, have meaningful discussions, or understand and love people better?

I pray and labor every day with the goal in mind to pack Sonlight with treasures that answer those questions with a resounding "yes." Your time is precious and the years with your children are short. Prioritize aspects of learning that give your family the biggest returns on the time you spend.

The Life Changing Magic of Homeschooling with Purpose

One of the reasons I designed a literature-based homeschool model is this: when you read quality literature aloud, you get a big boost of character, relational bonding and academic value in one fell swoop. Like a superfood packed with nutrients, or the classic jeans or black dress that give your wardrobe mileage for days, the simple act of reading quality literature can be simple, joyful, and packed with benefits.

Like a well-curated closet, my team and I have sought to give you tried and trusted staples and a mix of fun options. We've focused on resources and books that will not only benefit you in one way, but in multiple facets of your homeschool.

Make Room for the Best in Your Homeschool

Along with my team, we read and review well over 2,000 books in a single year, bypassing most of them and hanging onto a handful of treasures to include in Sonlight.

Sometimes we must give up what's good to make room for the best. If you imagine Sonlight Curriculum as a closet, I've already eliminated a hundred items that are too much trouble to wear, too hard to care for, or don't coordinate with anything else. Instead of wading through textbooks and workbooks and wondering which of the many hands-on activities you could choose from will really help, you can just move right along to the key pieces that spark joy and learning.

What is sparking your homeschool joy today?

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!

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , | Leave a comment

10 Brilliant Tips for Homeschooling Young Perfectionists

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


10 Brilliant Tips for Homeschooling Young Perfectionists • Prevent Meltdowns & Teach Them to Accept Mistakes

Children are normally full of adventure and fun.  They love to experiment and are naturally curious. But some children break from that norm. They prefer life to be neat, clean, and linear. These are the young perfectionists who prefer to spend an hour organizing their art kit crayons by color rather than playing in the messy outdoors. They cry when they make a mistake, no matter how inadvertent, and don’t like to try anything new unless they can do it perfectly the first time.

Homeschooling young perfectionists may sound easy. They want to be the best at everything, whether it be completing a worksheet or a reading a book. They put a lot of effort into doing a good job, and they don’t want to just do a halfway job at anything. Sounds like a teacher-mom's dream, right?

Wrong. Any parent of a mini-perfectionist can tell you it is not easy. These parents spend hours struggling with the anguish of children who can't handle making mistakes:

  • a child who cries because of writing the letter S backwards or writing 3 when the answer is 4
  • a child who refuses to do a worksheet at all, out of fear each answer won’t be perfect
  • a child who declares he is incapable of reading after making two mistakes sounding out words on the same page
  • a child who beats herself up for not coming in first
  • a child who refuses to complete the board game when it appears halfway through that he is losing

Homeschooling these children is especially challenging because there is no room for medium in their little minds. It is all or nothing:

  • If they can’t do the worksheet perfectly, there is no need to do it at all.
  • If they aren’t the best in the class at gymnastics on the first day, there’s really no point in going back.

A lot of the time, this trait comes along with giftedness, as these children have never had to work hard at much in their young lives.  Everything always came easily, so they assume that everything always will, and everything always should.

For parents who are struggling to teach these types of children, here are 10 tips I have picked up on my journey of homeschooling a family full of perfectionists.

1.  Play Guessing Games with Your Perfectionist

Guessing games are good for perfectionists because they come without the expectation of getting the answer right on the first try.

Say, “Okay, we’re going to play Guess the Answer to these math problems. I don’t think you can get them all, but let’s see what you can do.”

Include a few harder problems that force them to struggle to get the right answer. When they get an answer wrong, don’t criticize or tell them they were wrong. Be encouraging, and act like it is part of the game.  Say, “Oooh, pretty close.  Try again.”  or “That was a good guess.  But, you’re still not there yet.  Let’s keep trying.”

Taking the pressure off them to be right by expecting them to be wrong gives them permission to be wrong—without guilt.

2.  Blame the Assignment, Not the Perfectionist

Perfectionists often fear that if people discover they are imperfect, something negative will happen, such as being thought poorly of or being unliked. By blaming the assignment, rather than the child, the child focuses on the mistake, not their role in the mistake.

Say, “Oh, this assignment is going to be very hard. I’m bet you will make 5 mistakes before you get it right because it’s so hard.”

Then, if they make fewer than 5 mistakes, they exceeded the expectation you set.

3.  Blame the Object, Not the Perfectionist

When a child is doing a task without success, don’t tell the child he is doing it wrong.

Say, “Oh, that pencil is trying to jump into your hand in the wrong position. Let’s see if together we can make that pencil stand up in your fingers the way it is supposed to.”

Or say, “I see you wiped down the table well, but it looks like some crumbs jumped back onto this side of the table when you weren’t looking. Let’s wipe them up.”

Your perfectionist knows he was the one who made the mistake, but because you focused the attention on the object, the child is usually happy to fix the object’s mistake, rather than dissolve into tears at the thought of their mistake.

4.  Play Letter Police or Number Inspector During Homeschool Lessons

This trick is especially helpful for twice exceptional children, especially those with dyslexia, or those who are prone to letter reversals or other simple mistakes. The premise of the game is simple. The child does an assignment. Then, together with the parent, the child is in charge of finding letters, numbers, or mistakes that didn’t obey the rules. Here are examples of what you can say:

  • “Look at that s. It tried to go the wrong way around!  Let’s fix it up and make it go around the right way.”
  • “These numbers are being tricky. I don’t think you can guess what’s wrong with this number 4. He’s trying to do something he’s not supposed to.”
  • “This word jumped really close to the next word. Let’s make him move over and give the other word a bit of space, okay?”
  • “I think some of the letter on this page tried to trick you by going backwards. Let’s see how many of these tricky letters you can find and make the right way before I grade it.”

When they find and correct a mistake, say. “I love the way you straightened that letter out. He’s so sneaky.  He almost got away with that. Good thing you are here to inspect them.”

5.  Set Realistic Expectations for Your Perfectionist

When trying a new activity, set a realistic expectation. Make it clear that your young perfectionist will not be the best and that your only requirement is that they try, not that they win.

Say, “We are going to the park today to join another family to play soccer.  Soccer is a really hard game, and everyone works together to score goals. I know you don’t want to play, but our rule is, we have to try new things before we can say we don’t like them. So, when they start playing, I’ll set my timer for 20 minutes. If you don’t like it after 20 minutes, you don’t have to play anymore.”

Usually, by the 20-minute mark, a perfectionist is either so frustrated, they are happy to quit, or having so much fun they want to continue.

The same strategy works with school work. Say, “We are going to read a new book today. It has 20 chapters. We are going to read all the way to chapter 7, a chapter a day. After chapter 7, if you don’t like this book, you can remind me, and we will talk about continuing. But, we have to give it a chance before we decide to give it up.”

6.  Don't Let The Perfectionist Win

When playing games with a perfectionist, it is important not to let them win most of the time. Instead, praise them for losing well throughout the whole game.

Say, “Oh, look, my piece just passed yours.  And, you did a great job just letting him go by. I see you are maturing, and I’m proud of you.”

Or say, “I really like how you are playing so well. I think you’ll have to try extra hard to catch up, but you might be able to do it.”

When they do lose, even if they are upset, find a way to praise their persistence, their effort, or any improvement since the last time.

7.  Stay Positive with Your Perfectionist

When teaching reading, especially with a dyslexic perfectionist, it is important to be positive. Keep in mind the “don’t blame the child, blame the work” attitude.

Warn your young perfectionist, "This is a very tricky word. I’m going to guess it will make you say the wrong word. Look carefully and see if you can figure out what the right word is, or if it will trick you.”

By focusing on the way the words are being silly, or being tricky, your child feels more comfortable figuring out the letter’s pranks, than just reading and making mistakes. Here are two more examples:

  • “You almost guessed the right word, but this last part here managed to make you say the wrong thing. Let’s look at the word slowly, and then try it again. Maybe this time, it won’t be able to trick you.”
  • “This letter is extra tricky, because it doesn’t talk here. It is just silent. Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist, and try that word again.”

8.  Cultivate a Growth Mindset During Homeschool Lessons

Praise the effort, not the finished work. When your child hands you a perfect paper, don’t gush over the perfection of it. Instead, gush over the effort they put into it.

Say, “Oh, wow, it looks like you tried extra hard on this paper. I can see how carefully you made your numbers, and it looks like you were able to concentrate well on getting the right answers. Thank you for working so hard on this. I think it was a beautiful job.”

By focusing on the effort, you avoid them thinking that what you wanted was the finished product. Later, when a page wasn’t perfect, you can still praise the effort and minimize the effect of the mistakes on the child.

9. Be Open About Failure and Errors

Show your young perfectionist examples of your failure and talk about them in a matter of fact way.

Say, “Oh, look, I was making this shopping list, and I spelled this word wrong. That’s okay. I’ll just cross it off and write the right word.”

Or say, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you carefully enough when you were trying to explain that. I will try harder to listen better. Can you start over, so I can understand you?”

By showing your child that even adults make mistakes, you are showing that making mistakes is a part of life, and showing them how to deal with the mistakes.

10. Pray with Your Perfectionist

Teach your perfectionist to pray before attempting something hard—not to pray for perfection but asking God to give them the desire to keep trying when things get hard. Teach them to pray to learn how to handle disappointments and losses, and to show God’s love to others by keeping a good attitude. By doing this, you are teaching your child that the effort is far more important than winning or losing.

Things will always be hard with little perfectionists, but by taking the focus off of their mistakes and shining it on their efforts, you can circumvent many daily meltdowns. And by doing so, you show them that God wants their effort and love, not their perfection.

Take advantage of our 100% guarantee. No other homeschooling company can match our Love to Learn, Love to Teach™ promise. You can order with confidence that either you will have a great year, or you will get a full refund.

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Troubleshooting 8 Common Homeschool Problems That Make You Nuts

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


Troubleshooting 8 Common Homeschool Problems
Have you ever called technical support to troubleshoot a problem? It never fails that after hours of working by myself to no avail, three minutes on the phone with a pro will solve the issue. Most of the time, it’s not that I completely don't know what I an doing. I just need fresh eyes to help me think through the problem or reveal one tiny nugget of information that I am blind to.

I find that homeschooling is very much like troubleshooting technology problems. When you hit a snag in the homeschool routine, sometimes it simply takes a little help to think through the problem. It’s not that you don’t know how...it’s just that you need fresh eyes.

Let me be your fresh eyes today. Let me offer that nugget you haven't considered. Let’s consider common problems that homeschool moms face every day and troubleshoot together.

1. “I love a literature-based curriculum, but my voice doesn’t!”

Yes, there is a lot of reading in Sonlight, and every minute is valuable and worth it. So what do you do when your voice just won’t hang in there? Try these tips:

  • Hot tea with honey and lemon
  • Audiobooks (check your library for titles to borrow)
  • An older child to help with the read aloud load

2. “I love Read-Alouds, but my child just can’t sit still!”

Can I first say that you aren’t alone? Kids were made for moving. Asking them to sit still to listen to a book in this age? Many would scoff at the idea! Here are a few tips for active kids:

  • Let them play quietly with Legos or puzzles.
  • Let them color or draw...You’ll be surprised how much they hear when their hands are busy.
  • Use voices; make the reading interesting.
  • Ask questions—but not too many.
  • Engage in discussion when appropriate. (Your Instructor’s Guide can help you!)

Need more help than this list? Here are two full blog posts with even more suggestions:

  1. Reading Aloud Without Squashing the Life out of Your Lively Child
  2. Seven Ways I Keep My Kids Focused During Reading 

3. “My child hates to write!”

My son hates to write. It’s not just a preference. It’s actually a fine motor issue called dysgraphia. Tears were inevitable any time I brought out paper and pencil. Sonlight has been a breath of fresh air for us. If your child hates to write, try these tips:

  • Orally complete everything you can.
  • Have your child dictate answers.
  • Do written work in small sections. Sonlight Language Arts is perfect for this.
  • Have your child do handwriting during a Read-Aloud.

Keep in mind that handwriting is the only subject that actually evaluates penmanship. Therefore, children, especially children with fine motor problems, shouldn’t be evaluated in other subject areas based on their penmanship. In the early years, Language Arts can be dictated most of the time.

4. “My child never gets his work done.”

Don’t panic. Some kids work slowly. Some kids are incredibly distractible. A little patience and some creativity can do wonders.

  • Purchase a 10-drawer rolling cart and place the assignments for the day in the drawers. In the last drawer, feel free to put a small prize or treat as a reward for finishing.
  • Use a timer. Timers can keep kids on task because it gives them a concrete goal.
  • Shorten assignments when appropriate.
  • Complete assignments orally when appropriate.
  • Have them complete a small amount of problems and then come to you. Praise their effort and say, “Great! See if you can do five more and come show me!”

5. “I have multiple children, and I’m constantly getting interrupted while I’m working with one child.”

The plight of homeschool moms of multiples is alive and well. It’s the “Interrupting Child Syndrome”. You’re deep into an Algebra problem with one, and the youngest comes up and in a loud whisper says, “Mom...Mom…….Mom!” All focus is gone and you’ll have to start from the beginning. What’s a mom to do?

  • Get a whiteboard. Have kids write their names on the board when they have a question and go down the list when you are available.
  • Teach them the “hand touch” rule. If they have a question, they can place their hand on yours, and you’ll get with them as soon as possible, but they must be quiet until you finish what you’re working on.

6. “I don’t agree with…”

Great! You don’t have to! Keep in mind that one of the hallmarks of a great education is presenting differing views on various topics and having lively discussions about our personal beliefs. This not only helps children solidify their beliefs, but it also drives them to seek out the answers to their questions. So, it’s okay to not agree with every book or note in the Instructor’s Guide. Here are some tips:

  • Present both viewpoints. Let your child express his or her thoughts on the issue, and present the biblical viewpoint to the best of your ability. If you disagree, explain why, using scripture to backup your answer.
  • Make a Venn diagram. Compare and contrast what you believe with what the book presents.
  • Check in the Instructor’s Guide. Many times, on controversial topics, Sonlight will include a note that can be very helpful in presenting the biblical viewpoint.
  • Skip the book all together. Either substitute it or save it for when your child is older and more ready for the content.

7. “My child is a voracious reader. He/she goes through the books too fast!”

Now, this is a problem that moms around the world would love to have! I have always found Sonlight days to be a very appropriate workload for my kids, but some children  devour books. If you find yourself in this situation, try these ideas:

8. “Help! I have littles!”

Let me guess...you’ve got one hanging on your leg as you run to the kitchen to stop the other from emptying a whole box of Cheerios onto the floor? Oh yes, I’ve been there too! Homeschooling with littles underfoot can be one of the greatest challenges of parenting. Here are some thoughts to make it easier:

  • Schedule around nap times.
  • For toddlers, try sensory boxes and rotate toys to keep things fresh and interesting.
  • For preschoolers to elementary students, try workboxes.

I’ve always enjoyed solving problems. There’s just something refreshing about fixing a troubling area in someone else’s life or my own. I think that most homeschool moms are problem solvers. Many times, when you find yourself stuck, it simply takes a homeschool mom friend to help you look at it from another angle. Homeschooling will always require adjustments, sometimes every year, sometimes daily to hourly! So next time you get stuck, call up your closest friend to help you troubleshoot or find your way over here to the Sonlight blog. We are always here for you!

A Beginner’s Blueprint to Language Arts: The No-stress Guide to Teaching Language Arts with Purpose

This article is excerpted from our free guide A Beginner’s Blueprint to Language Arts: The No-stress Guide to Teaching Language Arts with Purpose. Download it here at no cost.

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , | Leave a comment

Homeschooling Through Crushing Disappointment & Unanswered Prayers

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


Homeschooling Through Crushing Disappointment & Unanswered Prayers • The Power of Just Doing the Next Thing

Are you facing a difficult season, in which answered prayers seem distant, and joy is scarce? Does God seems far away? Maybe you’re facing a health crisis, or maybe your arms ache for a precious child. Maybe your family is struggling, and paychecks are stretched thin—or are non-existent altogether. Does it seem as though everyone arounds you exudes joy and abundance, but you’re parched, awaiting deliverance? I don’t have all the answers; but I do know this—you are not alone. God sees. God knows, and you are not forgotten.

When hope has seemed elusive in my own life, here are several ways God has helped me battle for joy when homeschooling through unanswered prayers.

Consider Limiting Social Media Consumption

“Comparison”, wisely said Theodore Roosevelt, “is the thief of joy.” When you’re struggling with lack, feeding your mind with images of excess isn’t always healthy. Social media tends to be full of photos of smiling people,

  • posing in front of real estate signs,
  • holding up newborn babies,
  • redecorating,
  • pouring over stacks of brand-new curriculum, or
  • going on vacation.

There’s nothing wrong with each of these shares on their own, but focusing on them can serve to accentuate what we might not have. When we are struggling with unanswered prayers, keeping with several hundred varieties of Joneses might not be the best use of our time—or emotions.

This is not a blanket condemnation; social media can be used for good. The internet can provide fellowship over the miles, and connections to like-minded souls. And snapping photos of beautiful corners and joy-filled moments keeps my eyes and my heart practicing gratitude, seeking out the positive in the melee of my messy life.

It’s good to look for beauty amongst the mundane; it’s good to hold on to hope. We can model redemption in this way. But a constant diet of other people’s glimmering moments can leave our hearts limp and discontented.

Actively and Intentionally Focus on Gratitude

When we actively give thanks, something wonderful happens in our hearts. Our perspective is shifted from looking inward to looking upward, and joy begins to take root. “Let them give thanks to the Lord,” instructs the psalmist in Psalm 107:8, “for His unfailing love.” Even when we have nothing, we have His unfailing love. And counting our blessings opens our eyes to dozens—if not hundreds—of other forgotten gifts.

Ask God to Grant You Joy

When you’re not the one whose heart is breaking, when your arms are full, it is easy to recite, “You have not because you ask not.” But what about when you keep asking—

  • for the job,
  • for the move,
  • for healing,
  • for restoration,
  • for the infertile womb to be opened again

—and you still do not see the materialization of your heart’s desire?

What about when the only certainty is uncertainty? Or when you know in your heart your prayers are incense, rising up (Revelation 8:4), but your head still doesn’t hear a thing, straining though it does for the small voice in the stillness?

What about then?

When you know God can do it, when you’ve even seen His blazing glory before, but He’s choosing to conceal His effulgent light now—that’s when you don’t stop asking, but you also ask for joy.

You also ask for contentment.

You also ask for perseverance, for grace, for courage.

That’s when you stand in the kitchen with your hands plunged into the soapy water, tears streaming down your face, and you say—Oh Lord, give me joy.

“Joy,” said Corrie ten Boom, “runs deeper than despair.” (A survivor of the Holocaust, she knew a thing or two about despair.)

So, my friends, even when our storehouses aren’t full (Habakkuk 3:17-19) and our arms ache and our heart aches, let’s turn to Psalms and affirm, yes, Lord, yes, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)

This is the challenge, isn’t it? It’s our calling to rise above it all and embrace Jesus and keep on living joyously, even when His ways do not look like ours, and even when He’s not answering prayers the way we want Him to.

But how does that look in reality—in real, messy, authentic life?

Just Do the Next Thing

The Christian life is lived in out in the daily grind; not in the milestones, not on the mountain tops, not even in the answered prayers. The Christian life is lived in out

  • in obedience,
  • in perseverance,
  • in faithfulness, and
  • in continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

In fact, a faithful life looks a lot like ordinary daily life.

Christian author Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband Jim Elliot was among those missionaries tragically killed in in Ecuador, was an avid proponent of the advice quoted in an old medieval poem, “Do the next thing.” Throughout her life, she referred to this phrase often.

In the moments when we are most helpless and most powerless to effect change, we can obey that simple directive, can’t we? We can do the next thing. In fact, doing the next thing is our act of worship. In times of uncertainty, doing the next thing is the most sacred, most hallowed act we can offer, both to our families and to our Lord.

We may not be able to

  • secure employment for our husband,
  • heal a chronic condition,
  • materialize employment out of thin air,
  • open a closed womb, or
  • repair a broken home,

but we can do the next thing.

We can

  • hug the ones closest to us,
  • sweep the floor,
  • make the beds,
  • sing aloud,
  • wipe out the sink,
  • fold laundry,
  • wash dishes,
  • dictate a spelling list,
  • chop vegetables,
  • read aloud,
  • teach a math lesson,
  • run errands,
  • pick up toys,
  • clean the bathroom,

and a myriad of other selfless, seemingly-mundane tasks.

Hold Fast to Your Hope

These tasks, my sweet friends, are as rich an offering as gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It is in God-focused perseverance where joy is to be found, even in the dry seasons were there is no oasis, and all is parched. God will meet you there, in the kitchen, in the laundry room—for these places are holy, hallowed, high ground.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,” writes the prophet Habakkuk in chapter three,

“And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold

And there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.”

Friends, won’t you partake of the Lord’s joy and strength during this difficult season, and join me—in simply doing the next thing?

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

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Ways to Engage a High Schooler with Literature

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email


4 Ways to Engage a High Schooler with Literature

It’s easy to engage a high schooler with literature if the high schooler already loves literature. And there’s the rub.

To add to the rub, as it were, Sonlight high school history and literature courses are so compelling, so engaging, so packed to the gills with great titles—who wouldn’t love literature presented to them in that manner? Many a high schooler, I’m afraid.

If you are homeschooling a literature-reluctant high schooler, take heart. Just as you may have had to be creative in how you presented material to your younger student, you will need to take the time to figure out how to make the study of literature attractive to your high schooler. As a mom who’s been there and done that (and been there and done that, repeat. . .), I’ll happily share some of my tricks. Take what you can use, and enjoy the ride!

1. Choose Important Titles, But Choose Them Wisely

It might be impressive that your high schooler has War and Peace under her belt, but if she’s hated every page and made the whole family miserable in the process, what’s the point? The way I see it, those truly arduous books can be assigned by someone else—maybe in college, by a professor who isn’t me and for a grade I don’t have to assign.

2. Add Challenging and Interesting Projects

When our high school junior read The Grapes of Wrath, her knowledge of the Great Depression wasn’t terribly deep. I assigned her two projects that I knew would stretch her and also serve as her midterm final:

  1. Design a multimedia presentation (using one or more media) presenting researched material on the life of John Steinbeck, his major works, and prominent themes.
  2. Research each of the main themes John Steinbeck wrote about The Great Depression and write a short paragraph describing each:
  • The Dust Bowl
  • The power of banks over the people prior to The Great Depression
  • What led to The Great Depression
  • Dislocation of people (i.e., forced to move from one location to another)
  • Living conditions for migrant workers
  • Dislocated people and clashing cultures (Think about how the Central Valley is home to so many diverse cultures and how that began.)

3. Go Places

Teenagers will often balk at the suggestion of a field trip, but once they get where you’re going, an impression is made on them, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

Back in 1984, a less than enthusiastic teenager was driven from San Antonio to Carlsbad Caverns, and as her family made their way across the desert, she turned up the volume on her Walkman and practiced her stellar eye-rolling technique in the back seat of the station wagon.

But that teenager is 47 years old now (and, coincidentally, me) and she recognizes how dazzlingly beautiful those caverns were and that she will likely never have another opportunity to see them again in her lifetime.

Like the story of being driven to see the caverns, we set aside a Saturday to take our high schooler to the John Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California after she finished reading The Grapes of Wrath. She was definitely unsure about spending an entire Saturday doing something so literary, and so we suggested she bring a friend to soften the blow of such an outrageous parental educational requirement.

And then something curious happened. By the end of the visit, she was sharing her observations about Steinbeck’s life, making a mental list of the movies that had been made from his stories, and planning to watch them with us over the next few months. She also asked if we could drive by his childhood home once we left our tour because she learned while there that he grew up just two miles from the site of the Steinbeck Center. Her interest had been piqued.

4. Consider Other Forms, Such As Film

Yes, it’s okay to watch the movie. It also counts if you listen to the book being read instead of laying your actual eyes on the pages yourself. I personally wouldn’t prefer to substitute the movie or the play for actually reading or listening to the unabridged book, but there are circumstances where this approach might be appropriate. Viewing Shakespeare, for instance, is essentially listening to a word-for-word rendering of the written version because he wrote plays, not novels. So yes, do that.

What other mediums might appeal to your high school student? Art? Athletics? Science? Dance? Where can you tie the literature you are requiring them to read to the interests that are consuming their energy at the moment?

In the end, literature still might not be your high schooler’s favorite subject, but with a little creativity and some good old fashioned obligatory academic elbow grease, you can craft a year that both challenges and inspires your student in ways neither of you may have expected.

Educating high schoolers? Get your free guide for Homeschool High School Transcripts.

Share on Pinterest
Share this post via email

Tagged , , | Leave a comment