Reasons to Keep (and Not Resell) Your Used Homeschool Curriculum

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Reasons to Keep (and Not Resell) Your Used Homeschool Curriculum • building a home library

When you use a literature-rich program for homeschool, you don't ever outgrow your curriculum. Although reading skill grows and Readers increase in difficulty, your Read Alouds, biographies, and nonfiction titles remain a valid part of your home library, enriching your experience again and again through the years.

That's why we encourage you to grow your family's library by keeping—not reselling—your homeschool curriculum. I'd like to offer you three reasons why.

#1 You have books ready to learn from again and again.

This is an enormous benefit. With Sonlight, your children enjoy so many favorite books that they will want to read repeatedly. And every time, they will learn something new. Or will learn something old more deeply.

This was Sarita’s experience with her children. She often found them reading and re-reading books they had read even years before. Because they were that much fun and that engaging. And each time, something new was planted in their hearts.

Now Sarita’s grandchildren pull out books from Sonlight programs they’ve finished. They cross-reference what they’re learning currently with what they’ve learned in the past: ancient ships, maps from the time before Columbus, animal facts (usually to prove a point to a parent).

If you sell your Sonlight books, or if you have to return them to the library, your children will miss this layered learning effect.

#2 You have book friends to turn to whenever you want.

When you read a book the first time and fall in love with it, you are finding out how the story unfolds. When you revisit a book, you remember (either entirely or at least a bit) how the story unfolds.

But now you can enjoy the pleasure of reading a story you know you love, with the memory of the first time you read it. And that past experience with the book makes the experience richer.

You notice details you missed the first time—the hints along the way. You know the book is beautiful, so you read it without the question of whether you will like it. You know that you do . . . and will again.

If you sell your Sonlight books, or if you have to return them to the library, you are parting with book friends.

#3 You make a statement about who you are.

While you can carry a large library of ebooks on a device, if your books are hidden on an ebook reader, you miss the social benefits that physical books offer when they quietly declare who you are:

  • what you like
  • what you learn about
  • what you do for fun
  • what satisfies your soul

A physical library tells everyone who enters your home a little bit about who you are as a person. The titles of the books themselves show your interests, concerns, and passions. They provide touch points for conversation.

If you sell your Sonlight curriculum, or if you have to return your Sonlight books to the library, you miss out on these relational anchor points.

SonlightCares is worth more than the $10 you save.

Of course, you can build a home library using the Sonlight booklist and taking it to any of our competitors. Many people do that. If they buy used, they sometimes save money. If they buy new, they might save $10 (literally—people experiment with that, and order from Sonlight in the future).

​​When people buy from others, we are still grateful that they homeschool their children. Of course.

​​But we end up feeling like a waiter who just had happy customers leave without a tip. A good waiter would be happy that the customers were fed . . . but left feeling a little flat about all the hard work offering such little return.

That said, if this year you’re only able to buy used—if you’re financially not able to afford Sonlight this year, even with the payment plan we offer—we understand, and bless you on your journey. We hope that you will keep us in mind in the future.

And if you’re shopping elsewhere to save $10, don’t forget that the SonlightCares package of benefits is worth far more than $10:

  • consultant available to answer your homeschooling questions
  • a one-year guarantee
  • discounts on other purchases for the rest of the year
  • IG repurchase discounts
  • college scholarship eligibility

Come. Join Sonlight families all over the world and help your children love to learn and love to read. Browse curriculum options to get started today!

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When Your Goals Don’t Match the Norm: Reflections on Senior Night

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When Your Goals Don’t Match the Norm: Reflections on Senior Night • homeschooling high school

My first Senior Night did not go as I had envisioned it. All year I had looked forward to the moment when my son would be honored with the rest of the graduating members of his high school baseball team. It was the only ceremony he would participate in beside his homeschool graduation. I knew I was in trouble when a young woman handed me a blank form to list my son’s accomplishments. She informed me that she needed it back in just a few minutes. Then she stood nearby, waiting. In that moment, my mind went totally blank.

Who Are We Serving in Our Homeschool

Other than varsity letters in baseball and being named to the All-Conference State teams, I could think of nothing that would be recognized by public school standards as an award. The other parents at Senior Night had filled out their forms months before for this and other year-end ceremonies. I felt like I was thrown into a test I hadn’t studied for— totally unprepared. Frustrated and feeling discouraged, I listened to the long lists of accomplishments, awards, and accolades and started feeling like my son and I didn’t measure up.

Discouraging moments like these are, unfortunately, a part of our homeschooling journey.

I berated myself mentally, "Why didn’t I do more?" And then I realized the truth.

I have my own list of accomplishments. My husband have always been intentional about our end goals as a family. And although our list was certainly different than the ones I was hearing recited on Senior Night, we know we chose the right path for our student. Our son's transcript will reflect the unique opportunities homeschooling offers us and the values of our family.

Can we be honest for a moment?  Comparison often threatens to derail us as homeschooling parents. The awards are not the problem. It is great to have incentives and to recognize accomplishments. I have even considered several Honors Groups we could join as homeschoolers. But don’t let fear of the blank form throw you off course. We must keep our goals for our children near to our hearts so we don’t take on courses or obligations simply to please onlookers.

Many homeschool families face opposition for their choice to homeschool, even from family members. That negative criticism is why we must be sure of our reasons to homeschool. I encourage you to write out not only why you homeschool, but also what kind of students you want to present to the world when your time as a parent-teacher is through. Knowing your goals will help you avoid getting sidetracked by negative comments or pressures.

Our Goal is Building Leaders for Our Community and Beyond

Over the next few hours I thought of all the ways we have been able to serve others and our community as a homeschooling family. We serve our community. My son watches his younger siblings every week so that his three teen siblings can volunteer as leaders. We serve our church family. Because homeschool give us a flexible schedule, when there is a need,we are often available when others are not.

As we are serving in the local food pantry, park projects, VBS camps, and the like, we are gaining skills that will make the lives of those around us better. Those hours may not earn a certificate or a pin, but the value is immeasurable to our children's growth as people. We are not working for a log sheet filled with community service hours, but for the lives of others around us.

Know Whose Weights You are Measuring With

My son kept a 3.89 GPA, using five high school programs from Sonlight. If I had enough time, I could have translated all those points and classes into honor categories and the like, but I am glad I did not have the time. The truth is that I am not schooling to meet any other measure but the one we had set for ourselves at the outset of this homeschool adventure. It is easy to take your eyes off your goals and begin to lose sight of your personal finish line. I am tempted, in those moments, to second guess myself.

As parents, we will always wish we had done more or had more time. As you prepare for the next school year, fine tune your plan. You should make changes when your see that they are clearly needed, but don’t alter your goals to create a pleasing exterior for strangers. Stay true to your goals as a teacher and family and commit to reaching them.

Finish Your Race with Joy and Gladness

After Senior Night faded, I realized over the last 13 years we had met every one of our academic and personal goals with our graduating senior. This year we graduated three of our kids and could not be prouder with our homeschooling experience. There were challenges and setbacks, but we persevered and are so glad we did. We raised both scholars and community leaders to the honor of God and not man. Our kids are the ones who will be taking these skills and turning them into a life—not a list.

As homeschoolers, we work not to fill a blank form of accomplishments and awards, but to fill up a living soul. Truly there is no greater task set before us.

Ready to explore an educational option that is customized for your family goals? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

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Using Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guide as a Morning Time Schedule

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How to Use the Sonlight Instructor’s Guide as a Morning Time Schedule • Sonlight morning time

If you’ve ever fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole of homeschooling, you have at least passing familiarity with the idea of morning time. Maybe you’ve heard it referred to as a morning basket, symposium, or circle time. The underlying concept is the same: begin the day with a gentle routine of reading aloud, singing, prayer, and perhaps recitations.

We Are Created for Ritual

I don’t mean ritual in the sense of some old, dusty, religious obligation. I mean it in the most vibrant sense possible, as a habit which is life-giving. Our hearts beat over and over and over, and we don’t dismiss this is as unnecessarily boring or old-fashioned. Our nervous system endlessly sends messages, the earth constantly spins, and the sun rises and sets again and again and again. "As long as the earth endures,” Genesis 8:22 says, “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."

Morning time’s allure, I think lies our heart’s longing for familiarity. We are created for rhythms. In parts of the world where the year is divided into quarterly seasons, we are dazzled with spring blossoms, summer heat, autumn colors, and winter chill (or, for those of us in the subtropics, wet seasons interspersed with not-so-wet seasons). But no matter the climate or hemisphere, with each change of season, there is a welcomed familiarity in the expected pattern. God created nature to run cyclically.

It’s no wonder, then, that we’re drawn to the idea of an intentional habit at the advent of day, one which will settle our hearts, direct our eyes upwards, and set a positive and nurturing tone for the day. Even the most spontaneous and free-spirited among us partake in ritual, whether we realize it or not, through the necessary and life-sustaining patterns of sleeping, eating, and personal hygiene. Circle time—or symposium, if you will—constructs a sturdy scaffolding around which to train the wandering vines of our mornings.

So how do you get started with a meaningful morning time schedule?

Morning Time is Already Built Into Sonlight

While you’re sorting through all those morning time schedules on Pinterest, there’s something already prepared for you in your big blue binder. Most Instructor’s Guides— especially for the ages where you’re still reading aloud to your children—have a section with Scripture passages, singing, and memorization/recitation built right in under the Bible heading.

These first few lines of your Instructor’s Guide are a perfect launching point for morning time, providing beautiful, consistent, and memorable start to your day. For example, over the course of History / Bible / Literature C, your student will 

  • listen to more than one-hundred and eighty passages of Scripture,
  • memorize thirty-six passages,
  • and learn to sing a number of them, too.

That’s a pretty incredible result from your short morning time investment!

If you wanted to extend your morning time a little bit longer, the Instructor’s Guide makes it easy. History / Bible / Literature B+C and C levels, for example, also schedule in Geography Songs, and nearly every level includes delightful poetry to read aloud. And of course, there are the wonderful read-aloud books you will enjoy together. In fact, Sonlight even has a specific term for the part of the Instructor’s Guide you can do while snuggled together in the living-room—the Couch™ Subjects

If you’re in a season of life where mornings just don’t happen—maybe you work an overnight shift as a nurse, or maybe your husband works in the afternoons and evenings and is home until after lunch—that’s okay. The point is not the hour on the clock (sleep is integral, too) but rather to create an intentional habit of togetherness. The point is just to get started.

Getting started is really more than half the battle sometimes, isn’t it? I know for me, there’s always one more load of laundry to throw in, or one more nagging task calling for my attention. But I’m amazed how much more smoothly my day runs when I just take a deep breath, sit down, and begin.

You, too? Let’s commit, together, to make morning time a priority. Let’s make it a goal to sit down and begin working our way through those first few lines of the Instructor’s Guide, drinking in the Scripture and songs. Later you can incorporate more topics into your morning ritual if you desire.

Before we know it, we’ll be well on our way to finishing the entire school day.

Start your morning time ritual now. Try 3 weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide (preschool through twelfth grade) for free.

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Planning an Intentional Family Morning Time

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Planning an Intentional Family Morning Time

When you are a homeschool mama with many young minds to nourish, finding a way to streamline home education holds heavy appeal. I’ve heard some people compare homeschool moms to teachers and say it must be easy when you don’t have 30 kids to teach. Sure! Instead we juggle multiple grades, climbing toddlers, dinner prep in the slow cooker, doctors appointments, and maybe even a basket of laundry or two.

In just a few years, I will be teaching four children. Even by combining my children for Couch Subjects such as history, science, and read-alouds, there are a lot of subjects left to cover individually for each child. Just thinking about it makes me want to flip the switch on the coffeemaker for a fresh cup of coffee.

I chose this lifestyle, so I accept it with little complaint; however, I also know that I need to be intentional to get through the school year well—one day at at time. A few years back, I began using a daily morning time with my two middle children who were close in age. My purpose was to complete their schooling in a short amount of time. Throughout that year something unexpected happened: My oldest wanted to listen in to her siblings' stories!

Towards the end of that year I realized, morning time could easily be something all the children could participate in together. I spent some time that summer creating a morning time that would include all my children. I was a bit uneasy, knowing that a good chunk of our day is in the morning. How were we going to get everything else completed each day? However, I knew if I wanted to simplify our days, morning time was the best way to do it. Over time I began to see many benefits to starting our day off with morning time.

Benefits We Gained from Family Morning Time

1. Simplicity

Morning time takes place sitting on the floor, gathered around a single book. A few subjects involved notebooks for the kids. I read aloud while each child had a notebooking journal or coloring book. By the time we finished each morning, we had 4-5 subjects completely done for the day without my feeling entirely depleted by it.  

2. Connection

As often as I can, I attempt to keep morning time unhurried. As a recovering type A homeschool mom, this is my moment of the day to remain focused on connection above productivity. If we are in the middle of a deep conversation about the Bible or Science, we just keep digging deeper. This is my chance to make time for fairy tales, silly poems, fun songs, and whatever other things I have the tendency to cast aside because they “aren’t productive.”

3. Togetherness

As a second generation homeschooler, I know that simply being together is often the most important and overlooked element of our day. My best memories of my own homeschool years are not all the boxes my mom ticked on her checklist but the moments we learned together.

Giving our kids an excellent education is important, but the relationships we are striving to build each day are equally as important. Morning time has given my kids a chance to work, laugh, and learn together as the foundation of each day.

4. Fun

Learning is not always going to be fun, but it is wonderful to start our day off with the subjects we are more likely to enjoy together. Art, music, and poetry are all subjects that bring my kids joy and get our day off to a breezy start.

What to Include in a Family Morning Time

When choosing what to include in our daily morning time, these are the general categories I try to cover. Fortunately, my Sonlight curriculum contains all of these elements, and I simply keep the materials together in one convenient spot. I've listed a few example books that we are using currently.

1. Something Biblical

Read a passage of the Bible out loud, work through a devotional book, or study apologetics together. Relaxing on the floor, reading God’s word has elicited wonderful questions that challenge and strengthen my faith alongside my kids'.

2. Something Mission Focused

Savor a biography or collection of short stories about missionaries. It could be a prayer guide that brings focus to places and people groups around the world who are unreached by the gospel. These stories are powerful ways we can learn about God’s amazing power each and every day.

3. Something Awe Inspiring

I try to choose a subject that points our kids to the amazing glory of God’s creation. Science or Nature study is perfect for this goal.

4. Something From The Past

History gets a slot in our morning time routine. Sometimes we use a book retelling true events from the past or sometimes we choose a Read-Aloud that's historical fiction.

5. Something Beautiful

I look forward to this part of our morning time! Dwelling on poetry, a work of art, or art created by God (nature) is calming and refreshing.

6. Something Musical

Last year I focused primarily on teaching fun toddler & preschool songs to all my kids. The older kids enjoyed passing down to younger siblings the songs they already knew. During Christmas, we studied The Nutcracker which was a highlight for all of us. On future mornings, we will learn about a composer, a hymn, or a piece of music.

7. Something to Remember

Each morning, I provide something for my children to tuck away in their hearts and minds. It could be a Bible verse, a lovely poem, or even a short saying. One year we memorized one Bible verse each week for the entire year; we had 36 verses memorized by the end of the school year!

Sonlight Curriculum is filled with resources which can be used to create a morning time focused on what is most important to our family. To start each day working together, with our hearts turned toward Christ, God’s plan for my children becomes my primary focus instead of my own plan for them. As a homeschool mama, I need that reminder that He is in ultimate authority over our days and I am only a facilitator.

 Try three weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide for free. Click here to get one for any level, preschool through twelfth grade.

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6 Keys to Homeschooling Children From Traumatic Backgrounds

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6 Keys to Homeschooling Children From Traumatic Backgrounds

We adopted my youngest son from our state’s foster care system over two years ago when he was seven and began homeschooling him when he was in third grade. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding. My son has a host of issues that stand in the way of his academic success, but homeschooling him gives him the opportunity to receive a gentle education tailored to his individual needs.

I know that in the last few years, I have cried many tears over this boy. At times, I am so proud of him that I can hardly stand it.  At times, I am so frustrated that I want to quit. Many parents take on the task of schooling a child with a traumatic background, and it can feel so lonely. Let me assure you, you’re not alone. There are many parents down in the trenches right alongside you. Today, I’m sharing a few things that I’ve learned in the last few years that have made it a little easier, because I’ve been there and I’m still doing that, and because you’re not alone.

1. Put Your Relationship First

Before they know their times tables, a child from a traumatic background needs to know that they are safe and loved. It’s essential. It’s a great idea to spend a few weeks every so often focusing only on your relationship—not on academics.

During this time, play games, have long talks, spend one-on-one time, and possibly most importantly, make eye contact. Eye contact is one of the best ways to communicate love, care and trust to a child.

2. Have a Never Fail Policy

My son carries the weight of his birth parents’ failure with him all the time. As backward as it seems, he feels like he failed them. That is a tremendous burden of failure for a child to carry, so school should never be added to that burden. My son is a year and a half behind in math, but he doesn’t know that. All that he knows is that we steadily keep working at math. If he doesn’t understand a concept, we don’t leave it until he does. In this way he doesn’t have to add that burden of failure to his already heavy load.

School is one thing that he knows he can succeed in, and that gives him confidence that he didn’t have before. The more confidence he has, the clearer his mind is, and the faster he will learn the next concept.  Think of homeschooling as a scaffold. If you skip one thing, you have built an unsteady, unsafe scaffold, but if you steadily work at each level until it is perfect, in time, you will get better and better at building it.  Therefore, the next several stages will go faster, because you’re confident that you will succeed.

3. Know Your Obstacles

If you go through an obstacle course blindfolded, you will never finish it.  You need to know what’s ahead of you in order to handle it. It’s the same way with children. My son came to us with an ADHD diagnosis and plenty of medication. But I never felt right about that, so I researched it and found that he didn’t have ADHD. Instead he has hypervigilance along with symptoms of PTSD. Treatment for these conditions was completely opposite that of ADHD.

Because of this revelation, we were able to find a doctor willing to take him off all his ADHD medicine. From my research, I learned that a weighted blanket on his lap and my occasional touch and encouragement would do wonders for him as he worked. Medicine can be a huge help, but only if it’s the right type. You wouldn’t take an ibuprofen for heartburn, and your child shouldn’t take ADHD medication for a sleep disorder. Always know what you’re dealing with, and if you aren’t sure, get a second (or third) opinion.

4. Take a Break

Parenting a child from a traumatic background is tough. Schooling them is even harder. When you feel frustrated, take a break. Give your child a pleasant surprise by letting him go outside for a quick 15 minute recess while you collect your thoughts and muster up a second wind.

While taking a break sounds selfish to a homeschooling mom, it’s one of the kindest things you can do for your kids. When you are tired and frustrated, you need a break. Feel free to take one.

It’s just as important to allow your child to take a break when they get overwhelmed. We have an old-fashioned bathroom, and my son loves to crawl into the claw-foot bathtub to think when he’s upset. When I see that he needs a break, I just say, “Do you need to go to the bathroom for a while?” It sounds odd, I know, but he always comes out fresh and ready to go. Time away from life every once in awhile is good for everyone’s soul.

5. Never Be Surprised

Kids are human. They sin. It’s imperative that you are never surprised by what they do. Never expect absolute perfection. It places too much pressure on the child and it’s exhausting for you. When you’re surprised by your child’s misbehavior, you will act on emotion, likely giving your child more attention for negative behavior than you need to.

Rather, have a list of consequences written down and keep it close by. When your child misbehaves, take a deep breath, remember that you aren’t surprised by his sin, and calmly dole out the consequence and move on to something else.  When your child sees that he can’t get a reaction from you, many of those negative behaviors will likely end.

6. Pace Yourself

If your child leaves fourth grade without knowing his multiplication tables, don’t panic. There is still time, and plenty of it. We treat homeschooling like a sprint. Each year, we bust out of the gate and push ourselves as hard as we can, but in reality, we tire out in the first few weeks. Just like the Tortoise and the Hare taught us: slow and steady wins the race every time. Even more so with traumatized children. Be consistent, and you’ll get there.

Most of all, grace is needed when you take on the task of homeschooling a child from a traumatic background.  Grace for your child, and grace for yourself will get you through.

Keep going.  Don’t stop.  Marathons are long and hard, but the sense of accomplishment at the end is so worth it.

If you are homeschooling a special needs child, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to connect with your homeschool consultant.

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8 Ideas for Nature Study in Urban Areas

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8 Ideas for Nature Study in Urban Areas

In the homeschool world, the idea of rural living pops up a lot. In everything from literature to suggested activities to Instagram hashtags, there’s widespread admiration for the wild outdoors, the idyllic farm, and acres upon acres of open land.

But the truth is, not all homeschoolers live rural lifestyles. We’re not all wading barefoot in creeks and catching frogs. Many of us are hanging up laundry in the living room after carrying groceries up half a dozen flights of stairs, or coaxing a little plant to grow in the narrow swath of sunshine that dances across the kitchen. As a child, I lived on the second story of a multi-family home, and have fond memories of watching magpies, doves, and sparrows from the concrete balcony. We took buses and trains rather than a car (we didn’t own one!) and shared a community garden with other families in the neighborhood.

If you’re a city-dwelling homeschooler, it can sometimes feel like you’re the odd one out, especially as the rural homesteading movement continues to grow in popularity. But would it surprise you to know rural homeschoolers are actually the statistical minority in the United States? Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows us that of the homeschooled students from which data was gleaned, only about 40% live in rural areas.

Forty percent! That means the rest—the majority—of homeschooled students in this country are based in cities, suburbs, and towns across America. While the reality of urban and suburban homeschoolers is a far cry from the folkloric ideals of prairies and pioneers, it’s no less valid—just perhaps much less represented in literature, on blogs and social media, and in homeschooling subculture in general.

This lack of representation, I think, really becomes apparent when we start talking about nature study. Many nature study resources assume every homeschooling family has access to unfettered acres, and will be observing plants and animals in a rural setting. If you’re based in a urban or suburban setting, you might feel like your opportunities to explore the nature world are limited. But even miles away from the countryside, there are so many fantastic ways to study nature.

1. Community Gardens

More and more community gardens have been popping up in urban areas in recent years.
This is an excellent way to really dig in (pun intended) to nature while teaching your kids where food comes from. If you’re unable to connect with a local community garden, consider starting your own, or putting together a container garden on your own balcony or stoop.

2. Wild Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation

There are many organizations across the country dedicated to rehabilitating injured wildlife, and some may even allow tours. You’ll have to do a little bit of searching to find out what’s available in your area.

3. Pet Stores

More than just a repository of cat toys and dog collars, urban pet stores can be an excellent place to observe animals, and to talk about the food chain. (Those crickets aren’t stocked as pets!)

4. Universities

Many universities, and even community colleges, have impressive collections of nature specimens. Depending on the fields of study offered by the school, the botany department might have a greenhouse of unusual plants, or the entomology department might have a great insect collection.

5. Saltwater Fish Stores

When I was in highschool, I had a pet shrimp. He was so tame, I could rest my clean, lotion-free hand in our saltwater tank, and he would sit on my finger and nibble on my cuticles. While a saltwater aquarium store definitely won’t let you you place your hand in the water, you might able to observe live rock, coral reef, peppermint shrimp, and other fascinating ocean life.

8 Ideas for Nature Study in Urban Areas

6. Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens are hidden away in all sorts of spaces. Sometimes, you’ll find one on the grounds of an art museum, and other times there’s a compact indoor greenhouse overflowing with colorful flora from around the world. These are such refreshing oases! My personal favorite, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a journey through the Spice Trade—cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and more.

7. Conventions and Conferences

Keep an eye on the conference calendar at the convention centers near you. Sometimes, although this it isn’t always well-advertised or widespread, certain conferences will offer free access to the public on select days. This is how we ended up attending an incredible Insect Expo—at no cost—when the International Congress of Entomology was in town.

8. Windowsill Gardens

The simplest and most economical nature study, of course, is sprouting seeds in tiny pots on the windowsill. The bean sprouts we grew in moistened paper towel and then transplanted to potting soil provided us with weeks of enjoyment—and even a tiny harvest of green beans.

If God has you in an urban area right now, don’t feel limited or alone. He knows. God has His people dotted all over the globe, in high-rises and cottages, in densely populated areas and in rugged wilderness. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; there is no place He cannot reach.” (Psalm 24:1). And he has you there, right where He placed you, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14b)

Ready to explore an educational option that gives you flexibility to explore and enjoy nature? Go to SmoothCourse and get started today.

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Why I Had to Break Up with Last Year’s Homeschool Schedule

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Why I Had to Break Up with Last Year’s Homeschool Schedule

In our first year of homeschool life, we had six kids under the age of eight. Those early years of homeschooling were full and busy. We loved the four-day schedule that came with (what was then called) Core K (now History / Bible / Literature A) because it allowed us to keep a weekly play date or other outing.

Along with the four-day weekly schedule, we chose to do school year-round because, in a house with a bunch of little people, it made sense to keep everyone in a routine. Our year-round schedule consisted of a pattern of roughly three weeks on followed by one week off and a few weeks off for Christmas break and vacation. If school was going particularly well, I could bank our weeks off and push forward for a week or two more of lessons before taking a break. With that kind of flexibility built in, we could take a week off when Grandma came to town, for example. Three weeks off was about the maximum the little ones would tolerate before they needed routine again. Thus, year-round schooling worked best for us for many years.

Then we hit life as baseball parents. Five nights a week, we were at the ball fields. That first year killed us. We found out that we needed to make some major adjustments. We decided we needed to break up with our year-round schedule even though it had served us well for so long.

Dear Homeschool Schedule, It’s Not You; It’s Me

Homeschooling is a life continually in flux. Everything changes from year to year.

These are all reasons your schedule might need to change. We waited a year longer than we should have to switch from year-round schooling to a semester schedule.

What kept me from making the switch? Part of me felt like I was failing if we gave up year-round school. It was a little bit pride and a little bit of fear.

I've always worn the label of a year-round schooler!

What if my kids lost their minds from boredom over that long summer break? What would I do?

That first year of the switch, we took our long break during the six weeks of baseball season. It was precisely when I most needed a break. I realized that if I burn out as teacher, school is not going to go well now matter how great my curriculum is.

I urge you—if you are feeling overwhelmed, look at your schedule and change. Maybe a year-round schedule would give you more flexibility.

Dear Homeschool Schedule, I Want to See Other People

In our older kid’s elementary years, we switched from a four-day weekly schedule to the five-day option because I wanted to spread out our workload. As these children entered high school, their grandmother (my mom) offered to teach them Science. It was a huge blessing to me as a busy mom to 10 kids.

With that offer on the table, we switched back again to a four-day HBL to make our fifth day Science Day when we traveled 60 miles to my mother's house. We also used that flexible fifth day to run errands and take outside lessons such as music or dance.

Dear Homeschool Schedule, We’re Growing Apart

The beauty of using Sonlight as our curriculum is that my 10 children have always homeschooled in groups, using at most three HBLs each school year. Some of those groups of children have stayed together from start to finish, like my oldest three who just graduated together this year. Some of the groupings have grown apart and merged in different patterns as needed.

For example, last year my 8th grade son moved to work independently in HBL F, and it has done wonders for his school work. My 4th grade daughter moved into the younger children’s group as her older siblings moved into middle school level work. After changing groups, she is now a leader instead of feeling left behind.

Dear Homeschool Schedule, I Just Don’t Love You

Is your school schedule making you miserable? Are you running too much, missing meals, and cramming in deadlines. Are your kids needing more breaks or less free time? I've been there. And here's what I learned—You can scrap the whole thing and start over.

Whether your family is large like mine or small or somewhere in between, know that every year brings new challenges and needs. Allowing yourself to break-up with your current schedule can be a wonderful gift to yourself.

My Sonlight Binder is the BFF That Stayed with Us Through it All

I don’t have to change our schedule much anymore. We have settled into our 14th year using Sonlight, but I remember the many shifts and adjustments we made to help us thrive while schooling at home. Change was a vital part of homeschooling. Breaking up with my homeschool schedule—again and again—to reinvent the flow of our family life was a necessary part of my role as a homeschool mom.

Looking back, I can see that the sooner I identified the need to make those small changes, the better the results were. Resisting the change only made the situation worse.

I love that no matter what our weekly schedule has been and what grouping of children worked together on a HBL, Sonlight has been able to accommodate us in every season of growth. What are you changing this year and what are you sticking with?

See what a Sonlight schedule looks like. Try three weeks of any Sonlight Instructor's Guide for free. Click here to get one for any level, preschool through twelfth grade.

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