So Many Books: How to Organize Your Homeschool Library

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Current curriculum organized on laundry room counter.

Whether you have just one Sonlight package in your home or—like our family does—multiple years’ worth, it won’t take long to realize that organizing your school books is essential.

There’s no one right way to get the job done, and I’ve heard a myriad of methods in our thirteen years using Sonlight. The key is to find a system that works well for your family, one that that allows you to easily find the books you need when they’re scheduled in your Instructor's Guide (IG).

Factors in Play When Organizing  Books

First decide what matters most to you when it comes to a organizing a home library. Here are three common priorities:

  • Space—The amount of room you have available for books determines how many you keep and where they’ll go.
  • Convenience— All students and adults need to easily access books, while possibly making them inaccessible to very young children and/or pets.
  • Appearance—Books are kept in an orderly manner that doesn’t create a cluttered feeling in the room or are incorporated into the home’s décor by use of specific furniture or accessories.

Some Books or All the Books

For many years we had shelf space only for the current year’s books. The books one child had finished and the next child wasn’t ready for went in clear totes that were stored in closets or garages. I labeled each box with what History / Bible / Literature, Science, or Language Arts program was stored inside.

Our current home has a floor to ceiling shelf that’s several feet wide, allowing us to have access to all of our school books constantly. (Yay!)

massive bookshelf for years of Sonlight homeschool curriculum

Where to Put the Books

During our years of homeschooling, we’ve lived in three homes and had a different way of handling books in each one. Convenience and independence are important to us, so the primary goal has always been that each child could easily get and put away their own books.

  • In the beginning, current books and IGs were kept on a bookshelf in our oldest kids’ bedroom and unused ones were stored in a detached garage.
  • In our next home, the current year’s books were on shelves in the living room, current IGs were left open in a row along one side of our hallway, and each week’s books were stacked next to the corresponding IG. The curriculum we weren’t using was packed away in the upper shelves of a bedroom closet.
  • We currently keep all books on the floor to ceiling shelf I mentioned earlier, upper level packages on the top, and lower level on the bottom. A long counter in our laundry room is where we leave current IGs open and have a small bin for each child’s books they need that week.

Putting The Books in Order

While the other factors are pretty straight-forward and objective, arranging books is where personal preferences come into play. I’ve known people who shelve books according to subject (Readers, Read-Alouds, History, etc.), while others prefer to organize by title or author’s name. In each of those cases, some apply their method to each Sonlight program individually and others combine their packages on their shelves. Some put all the books from one package together, but don’t worry about the specific order they’re in.

The method that works best for our family is grouping books by package, and then lining them up in descending height order. When the first book gets finished, it goes to the left of the tallest unread book, beginning what will become a row of completed books in descending height before the row of books waiting to be opened. This satisfies my desire for things to look orderly and allows kids too young to alphabetize to put books away.

Separating read and unread books makes it easier for kids to find the next book their IG calls for and gives tangible representation of the progress they’re making throughout the year. Over time, it’s also proven to be a good way for older kids to describe specific books to their younger siblings—“It’s about this tall, really thin, and has a blue cover.” These kinds of explanations seem to be incredibly effective for finding books.

Sonlight book labels

Whatever approach you take to organizing all your books, using Sonlight’s book labels will simplify things immensely.

Once your books are organized in a way that makes sense for your family, you’ll find your school days run more smoothly. Just be prepared to adjust your book organization plan as you accommodate new living situations or changing family dynamics!

Eliminate the stress of homeschool planning. Peek inside a Sonlight Instructor's Guide.

If you love an organized homeschool, you'll love Sonlight. Your Instructor's Guides are like a personal homeschool mentor who plans and organizes your entire homeschool year. See more and get IG samples here.

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How to Know When It's Time to Switch Homeschool Curriculum

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How to Know When it's Time to Switch Homeschool Curriculum

When we decided to homeschool, I knew that the perfect curriculum was out there somewhere, and I was absolutely positive I would find it.

Then we started homeschooling. I quickly realized that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution. Thankfully, after that first really tough year, we found Sonlight. It was a great fit for our family and has been since then.

That year, we immersed ourselves in World History via Condensed HBL B & C, and we loved every minute of it. We also chose Horizons because it was a solid math program with plenty of spiral review. What I didn’t take into account was that my oldest son hated to write. Most days, just the sight of the work page was enough to start the tears flowing. We hung in there with it for months, hoping he would get used to it, but he never did.

The great thing about that time is that I learned a lot about my son. I learned what helped him succeed and what held him back. I saw him soar with the Read-Alouds and the simple Sonlight Language Arts assignments. I saw him struggle through the lengthy math pages. I found that even when I cut out half the problems, just the sight of the page was overwhelming for him. It was a learning year for both of us.

The next year, I found Right Start Math, and my son and I absolutely loved it! Within a few days, he went from hating math time to anticipating it. The hands-on nature of the course and the simple, sparse work pages were something he knew he could do. He was feeling success for the first time in math, and I could not have been happier.

Over the last seven years of homeschooling my four children plus a few extras along the way, I have learned a lot about regularly evaluating your curriculum choices. Here are a few keys to remember when you are wondering if it's time to change curriculum or stick with what you've got.

1. Understand and Accept that One Size Does Not Fit All

I shared above that my son did not do well with Horizons. Well, when my daughter came along, she did not do well with Right Start! The first time I laid a colorful page of Horizons math problems down in front of her, I knew that she was vastly different. She came alive, adding her own flair to the illustrations and happily making sure that she used her best penmanship on each problem. I realized that I had made a mistake. Because of my son’s experience with Horizons, I had assumed that it was a bad curriculum. Actually, it just wasn’t right for him, but it worked just fine for my daughter.

So the first step is to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum. What works for your neighbor may not work for you. On a smaller scale, what works for one child may not work for the next child.

2. Be a Student of Your Student

Understand that you may not get it right the first year, and maybe there will be hiccups along the way, too. After all, kids grow and change. That’s okay!

What you will want to do is to become a student of your student. Learn what makes them tick and what makes them wither. You may even keep a journal about how they are learning, what is working best, and what they are struggling with. I truly delight in knowing my children well. It serves me well when I am choosing their Christmas gifts and when I’m choosing their curriculum.

  • For example, I know that my oldest son can cover a lot of material if he enjoys the book. I also know that he needs to see the value in his work. He is not a fan of busywork in any form or fashion. He also loves to know why something works. In math, he doesn’t want to know how to do it. He wants to know why it’s done that way.
  • My youngest son is a true science buff. He will do anything if you can relate it to science. In math, he is much less analytical. He gets bogged down with the why and just wants to know what's required of him.
  • My daughter excels in writing and would rather write than just about anything else. She loves creativity and appreciates anything that allows her to exercise the creativity coursing through her veins.
  • My youngest child is really bright and gets easily bored with schoolwork. She needs a challenge, and she likes to move and wiggle.

All of this information drives my ability to make informed decisions about their curriculum, and it helps me to stay tuned in to their potential struggles.

3. Watch for Cues from Your Children

Your children will give you clues if the curriculum isn’t sparking joy or encouraging progress. Look for these signs that a curriculum isn’t working:

  • A change in attitude toward schoolwork
  • Tears on a weekly or daily basis
  • A sense of defeat even before beginning
  • Big emotions such as anger or frustration
  • No academic progress over a period of time; seemingly stuck in one place
  • Significant gaps of knowledge
  • Craving a challenge that the curriculum does not provide
  • Boredom on a daily basis

4. If It’s Not Broke....

...don’t fix it! If your curriculum is serving your children and you well, don’t change it! I have made this mistake more times than I’d like to admit. Shiny curriculum catalogs and pretty websites are sometimes hard to resist. Everything looks so good!

But, don’t be easily swayed when things are working. Most of the time, the choice to abandon ship on a curriculum when nothing was broken is a choice that leads to wasted time and money.

5. Does it Fit Your Teaching Style?

While much of finding a good curriculum fit is about your child, you cannot discount the role that you play in it. When you evaluate your curriculum, think about this:

  • Does your child’s curriculum work for you at this stage in life?
  • Do you enjoy teaching it?
  • Are you learning and growing alongside your child?
  • Are you frustrated by it?
  • Is it user-friendly?

Over the years, I have switched various parts of our curriculum several times, and the conclusion that I have reached through all the trial and error is that there is something to say about simply being consistent. For a short time, I became convinced that Sonlight Language Arts wasn’t enough, so I began looking around and trying other language arts curricula.

Once my search was done, I had realized two things. First, the grass was not, in fact, greener on the other side of the fence. There was nothing that proved to be a better fit for our family. Secondly, the time I lost while looking for the perfect language arts curriculum cost my son. The lack of consistency in instruction created gaps in his knowledge that we had to go back and correct (with our beloved Sonlight Language Arts!). So be careful when you evaluate your curriculum and honestly consider your motives. Make sure that you aren’t just wanting something new. Be sure there is a valid reason to switch.

I’m thankful for the wisdom I’ve gained from my successes and my mistakes in homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be able to share these so that maybe some of you new homeschool moms and dads will not make the same mistakes. I’m thankful for the voices that did this for me in my early years ,too, even though I didn’t always listen.

Remember, when you do make mistakes, it’s all part of the journey. Homeschooling is all about studying your children and knowing what makes them tick as well as knowing yourself better. Homeschooling teaches you to lean on God as you pray for Him to give you the wisdom and serenity to set your hands and heart to the task before you.

Curious to see what Sonlight might look like for your family? Try Sonlight FREE and see for yourself firsthand!

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The Power That a “Not Yet” Attitude Brings to Your Homeschool

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I watched a TED Talk recently that inspired me. Carol Dweck started with the example of a Chicago school that has a grade labeled “Not Yet.” The idea, Dweck says, is that we are in a process of learning. Just because we don’t know something now doesn’t mean we won’t know it later.

Learning takes time. Our home-life, children, homeschool direction, and lives are constantly growing and changing. We are works in progress, continually learning how to become better versions of ourselves.

Most adults understand that perseverance can help us to grasp something or to get better at things we struggle to master.

  • We didn’t learn to tie our shoes the first try.
  • It took time for us to learn to read.
  • We have to rehearse our lines before we can perform them masterfully in a play.

We adults understand that repetition—practice—comes before mastery.

We have to help our children learn the same lesson: perseverance will pay off in the end. We do that by helping them keep on trying when they might want to give up.

Dweck calls this “Not Yet” attitude the growth mindset. Its opposite is the fixed mindset—“If I don’t have it now, I’m never going to get it.”

Our mindset affects (or certainly reflects) how we interpret daily interactions and events.

People with a fixed mindset believe they were born with certain traits or skills, and no matter how hard they try, their skill set will remain pretty much the same. Interestingly, rather than believing—as growth mindset people do—that practice makes perfect, people with fixed mindsets view their shortcomings as obvious proof of their incompetence. And, believing that no amount of practice will raise them from their current state of imperfection, they stop trying before they begin.

Those with a growth mindset, by contrast, believe they can improve with practice over time.

According to Dweck, most people seem to hold to a fixed mindset. However, she says, you can uproot this attitude and teach your children to adopt a growth mindset and teach them the power of not yet. Children are great mimics, she says, and so when we adjust our own mindset to reflect what we want out of our children, they will follow.

Have you ever heard one of your children exclaim,

When you hear words like these, think of them as opportunities for you to change your children’s inner dialogue. Remind them that

As parent teachers, we teach our children history, science, math, Scripture, even how to do the laundry or boil an egg. We weave in our beliefs and core values along the way. It’s equally important to teach them resiliency and the grace to make mistakes. The greatest artists, writers, and athletes gain success beyond their inborn, God-given talent by means of practice, patience, and perseverance.

When we teach our children that their brains and talent are the mere soil upon which they must then build, we are showing them the way to success through a not yet mindset.

Remember that Thomas Edison tried over 10,000 different materials to create his light bulb filament. None of them shone for even 100 hours (his predetermined requirement for success). But Edison refused to give up. He said, even after his first 10,000 filaments burnt out: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." He, along with virtually every other great inventor, allowed himself to fail in order to ultimately succeed.

The Bible clearly teaches a growth mindset. Use these Bible verses to kick-start your children’s (and maybe your) inner dialogue of positivity.

I can do it!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I am brave enough to try again!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I’m not scared of this challenge!

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

May you and your precious children grow in your ability to tackle tough topics, wrestle through new ideas, and victoriously move forward as you homeschool and learn together with a not yet mindset.


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You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more. Plus, you'll be the first to hear about product updates, special offers and more!


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Easing the Special Needs Student Into Homeschool After a Break

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Easing the Special Needs Student Into Homeschool After a Break

Most kids thrive with the more relaxed, open-ended rhythm of the holiday. But transitioning back into the regular school routine can be a challenge for anyone, let alone children with special needs, learning disabilities, or behavioral challenges. Anxious homeschooling moms circle their Back to School Day in red pencil in their minds, gritting their teeth and bracing for the worst as the date approaches.

Change, and More Change

It's human nature to balk at a return to

  • expectations
  • intense concentration
  • less free time

Who among us relishes diving in to real life after the end of a restful vacation?

The problem is the disruption on top of a disruption many children with special needs feel at the end of a break. While days without math and science were novel and fun, they were still a disruption of the understood routine of life. Since most holiday respites don’t actually last long enough or contain enough predictable rhythm to establish a new routine for a child, going back to the original plan doesn't feel like a return to normalcy. Instead, it’s yet another change: a second shift on top of the first. The cumulative effect is a huge drain on a child’s coping skills.

Never Pick A Monday

Knowing this burden of change helps moms develop a re-entry battle plan for their students with special needs. One trick I’ve learned over the years is to take a cue from my local school district: never start your normal schedule back on a Monday if you can help it.

The short week that comes with selecting a Wednesday or Thursday allows a burst of the old school routine… and then a quick visit back to the relaxed days of being able to choose whatever diversion you wish.

Go Gradual

Another valuable tip is to not dive back into a full schedule all at once. Cherry pick a few favorite or more-easily understood subjects for the first few days. This method allows the child’s sensory system to settle back being focused on school work without the added challenge of taxing academics too.

Save the Hard Restart

It’s tempting feel the tingle of a fresh start in January and decide to mix up your homeschool. If you have a child with special needs, this is not the time for changes. Don't:

Again, your child’s neurological and sensory systems are working overtime to compensate for what feels to them like an abrupt aboutface. Let the dust settle before you bring in the New Order!

If, even after carefully wading back in to school routines, you find that your child is more resistant than usual, vocalizing complaints, having difficulty staying on task, or otherwise is off, consider maintaining a bit of routine over the future breaks. Many children—even those considered neurotypical—have an easier time over extended breaks if they keep one foot in the homeschooling world.

Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options for a homeschool curriculum that's built on routine but with plenty of room to flex.

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Thriving in the Doldrum Season of the Homeschool Year

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Thriving in the Doldrum Season of the Homeschool Year

“Mr. Chris said the time between Christmas and spring was always the longest time of the year. It’s true, Marly thought, going to school day after day. Snow fell and fell and melted and melted and then fell again. The roads were icy and piled on either side with old drifts as high as the car. . . . [T]he new gifts got to be just ordinary things lying around with the things you’d had forever and forever.”

 —Miracles on Maple Hill

Homeschooling in January and February is, for many families, the most disheartening. The lengthening days are not lengthening enough to make a difference, the weather in many parts of the country is not ideal (and for families in Texas and Florida, the glorious weather can make homeschooling less appealing).

And for whatever reason, the Sonlight schedule pages seem to move most slowly during Weeks 18 through 30.

Here are some suggestions to help you beat the doldrums. Any one of them might work for you in this season—you might pray through the list to determine which is right for you right now.

1. Determine to Press Through

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to simply keep going. All jobs have their less-than-ideal moments, as any worker can testify.

If you choose to keep going, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in perseverance. It’s a good choice.

2. Re-evaluate

Many families find it hard to get into a groove at the beginning of the year. It can be hard to recover the groove after Christmas break.

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to step back and see if there’s an easier way around.

Take some time to figure out what isn’t working and why.

  • Is math taking too long, and destroying the pace of your day?
  • Are younger siblings' disturbances making Read-Alouds last twice as long as they should?
  • Are you dealing with unpleasant attitudes in your children or yourself?
  • Are there unrealistic expectations, sapping your joy?
  • Is there too much pressure from friends or family so you never get a break?

Once you’ve identified the problem, seek a solution. If you can’t think of an answer, prayer is a good option. You can also ask an Advisor or seek help in the Sonlight Connections Facebook group.

If you choose to make changes, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in flexibility and creative problem solving. It’s a good choice.

3. Take a Mental Health Day

This is an option that Sarita offered her children when life's pressures became too heavy.

Sometimes the best way through an obstacle is to rest, so you can make an attempt another day with renewed strength.

Whether you take a day or a week to regroup, it can be a blessing to have some extra hours to deep clean or work on character training, to bake with young children, or to read sequels of beloved books.

Call it a snow day if you need an excuse. Though unlike public school snow days, you get to pick a day that’s convenient for you, no matter the weather.

Not sure you can afford the time off, and still end your school year when you wished?

You might need some creative scheduling, but you can probably make it work.

  • Whether you’re doing a 4-Day or a 5-Day program, you can double-up a subject or two a day so you finish a week’s schedule in three days or four.
  • You can opt for a few audio books, or have an older child wash the dishes while you read ahead (or catch up on reading, as the case may be).
  • You might skip a few science experiments and watch the Discover and Do DVDs instead.
  • You can move books to become summer reads, plan to end math a little early or push it to the next year (depending on the program, some programs include review at the first part of the year anyway).

If you choose to take a rest, you are offering your children a valuable lesson in self-care and grace. It’s a good choice.

However the Lord leads you in this season, both the Sonlight staff and your Sonlight sisters (and a few brothers) are cheering for you.

You will get through this season.

As Marly found, in Miracles on Maple Hill, “Then the miracle happened.”

Spring will come again, with all the hope and beauty and good cheer.

Sonlight Advisors

Talk to an Advisor if you aren't sure whether your homeschool problems are the case of simple doldrums or something bigger.

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Does Sonlight Work for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

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The F. family from Lutz, FL has homeschooled for the past 13 years. In this photo, Sydney (16) reads The Hawk and the Dove from Literature 230 with her favorite pet and constant companion, Mango.

Does Sonlight's literature-based homeschool curriculum work for kids on the autism spectrum?

It's a common question! And while it's easy for us to say, "Yes, Sonlight works for kids with autism!", you would probably prefer to hear those assurances from the people who are most qualified to make that statement. You want to know from moms of special needs kids that Sonlight—yes, even with all its Read-Alouds—is going to be a home run for your own child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

So we asked Sonlighters with ASD kids one simple question:

  • How does Sonlight work for your ASD kiddo and you?

Here's what nine different moms reported back.

Short Daily Lessons with Repetition

Courtney B. of Huntington, WV says, "One of mine is what would have been considered Asperger's when that was a diagnosis. I specifically picked Sonlight Language Arts for him because of the short daily lessons that build on each other. Sonlight reviews the same material, a little more in-depth each year. The continuous review is good for my son."

"And I like that it works for my other two boys as well. Neither of them are ASD, and one in particular is advanced, so Sonlight's versatility is nice for our family."


Seeing From Another Perspective

Andrea T., is mom of a navy family currently living in Corpus Christi, TX. She answers, "Mine is Asperger's. Sonlight has been wonderful for us. We’ve used it for 6 years. When I had struggles with the story writing in the Language Arts, I’ve modified to fit his concrete manners."

"The books are wonderful. They have helped him see things from another perspective, and he’s learned so much along the way."


She Finally Feels Confident!

K. Montefusco of Chester, VA says, "My daughter is high functioning but is on the spectrum. She also has ADHD and anxiety. When we pulled her out of school in second grade, she told me she 'just wouldn’t ever be smart like other kids.' Since she was convinced that she couldn’t do school, I wanted something that looked as little like what she thought of as school as possible."

"She is now in 7th grade and working on grade level in every subject, which we honestly weren’t sure would be possible. She does very well with reading and oral discussion, but she does not do well with traditional tests at all. Sonlight lets her learn in a way that works for her. She can read books while hanging upside down off the couch, and it doesn’t matter."

"She may have struggled in public school where she was expected to sit still and quietly and memorize facts, but she finally feels confident and she has learned so much. I have used Sonlight for two other kids with success too. We are so happy that we found Sonlight!!"


He Loves to Read!

Allison B. of Kraft Marietta, GA explains, "My son, who is six, has high functioning autism and is gifted. For us, Sonlight is the perfect fit as he hyper focuses on books. He absolutely loves to read and to be read to, so he cannot get enough of school."

"He especially loves the Science readers; we could sit and read the Book of Knowledge all day. His attention does tend to wander during the fiction Read-Alouds, but by allowing him to do something with his hands, like building with LEGO, he is able to enjoy the stories."

"Honestly, my favorite part about Sonlight is how I can tweak it to each individual child but still instill a love of literature and learning in all my children."


Learning History Through Fiction

Laurie B. in Walker, LA has two sons with ASD. She says, "Our two sons, 14 and 15 years old—both on the spectrum—have loved Sonlight through the years. The historical fiction allows them a better understanding of history through the characters."

"We have used immersion into books to teach them since preschool. Their speech therapists loved Sonlight’s choices in books. We were able to use the books for everything from phonics, empathy, play therapy, life lessons, wrong and right, and of course history!"

"Now in high school, they appreciate being able to work at their own pace. The love having a set plan to follow and the independence it allows them. My 15-year-old specifically appreciates that Sonlight tells the good and bad of history—the truth."


He Asks for the Read-Alouds on Days Off

Amber C. of Hinesville, GA says, "My son is high functioning and has ADHD. He’s four and extremely advanced. Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten works AMAZINGLY well for him. Hearing what happens in story form helps him retain information because he’s very auditory. We do active reading, so I ask questions and engage him throughout each reading. He’s loving it. We’re off school this week, and he asked if we could do our Read-Alouds today. So we did, and it was a great, relaxed family time. We will never even consider another program for our children."


Learning at Her Own Pace

Ruthe F. from Lutz, FL says, "I love homeschooling because my daughter Sydney, who is on the autism spectrum, is free to learn at her pace, along her siblings, with those things (or chickens) that make her feel at peace. I love Sonlight because of the structure and peace of mind it provides the teacher. What a joyful challenge homeschooling is!"

Sydney is pictured at the top of this blog post.


Read-Alouds and Discussion Require No Motor Skills

Cynthia H. of Champaign , IL tells us about her son, "Caleb is autistic and gifted, or as we called it—differently wired. The Sonlight Readers have been an excellent fit! They help his reading skills grow and expose him to a world of ideas and places that he wouldn't choose on his own. The variety and quality of the Sonlight reading list has not disappointed us yet! I love that so much of the curriculum is done out loud. Caleb struggles with fine motor skills such as writing, so a program like Sonlight with Read-Alouds and discussion is easy for our family. I always hear "One more chapter, please"


Excelling Beyond Expectations

Ruth K. of Colon , MI tells her story, "Our son was diagnosed with autism several years ago. The local school district recommended placing him in a self-contained special education classroom. We chose to keep him home and use Sonlight alongside his siblings. He has excelled far beyond anyone's expectations. It is a challenging journey, but seeing him bonding with his siblings over a good book make me very thankful for Sonlight."


So there you have it—nine moms who are successfully using Sonlight to homeschool kids with ASD with Sonlight. It works for them! It may work for you, too. And if it turns out that the fit isn't right, you are covered with our Love to Learn, Love to Teach™ guarantee.

If you have questions about using Sonlight for your child with ASD, we have experienced homeschooling moms who would love to talk to you. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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Homeschooling Multiple Kids? You Need to Know This One Truth

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Find Peace By Accepting This Truth About Homeschooling Multiples

Are you homeschooling multiple kids? Have you ever opened your book to start reading only to realize you're missing at least one of them? This is my life everyday. Without fail, I’ll look up from the second page of the Read-Aloud to notice one child has run off to let the dog outside or grab a cup of water.

Admittedly for a long time this drove me crazy. To be completely honest, sometimes it still does.

Similar Experiences But Different Outcomes

If you have a similar issue, I want you to try a small experiment that helped me realize perhaps one of the most important lessons about homeschooling multiple kids.

Think of a recent family activity. It could be a Read-Aloud, a movie, or even a family vacation. Ask each child separately about the event: what they remember, what they liked, and what they disliked.

For instance, we recently took a beach trip. Both of my older kids spent a ton of time with their dad, collecting shells. They both had a chart of shell names which Dad helped them use to identify the shells in their buckets.

Once home, one child could recall the names of almost all of the shells. The other, who was much more interested in building sand structures and using the shells for castle decorations, was able to recall the names of only two.

Even though they were theoretically having the same experience—shelling with dad on the beach—their impressions were different. They retained different information and remembered different details.

Each Child's Unique Learning Journey

The same thing happens when you homeschool. If a topic sparks a child’s interest, he or she may be more taken with that subject than another child. So many things aside from sheer love of learning can also cause this effect. Sleep, exercise, diet, and social life all affect a child's unique experience on any given day.

This is a huge revelation! Even when given the same information under the exact same circumstances, our kids may hear, interpret, or process information differently. Our kids' learning experiences are going to be different. This is true even if we fight to make sure everyone is there and everyone is paying attention every single time we start to read.

Individualized Education

So, what can we do with this truth? We can learn to let go of trying to make sure all of our children have an identical education.

It’s not possible.

It’s not necessary.

It may even lessen one of the great benefits of homeschooling—being able to learn something new from each other.

If you always wait for everyone to be ready, healthy, and engaged every single time you start to read or go over new material, you will make little progress. You will also likely be frustrated and worry for your sanity. Let it go!

Although it was the hardest thing for me to accept when I first started homeschooling, not all of your children are going to learn the same thing everyday. In fact, that’s not a realistic expectation regardless of how you school or the ages of your children. All kids are different, and on different days they are all going to have different experiences.

No matter how hard you try, no one student’s schooling will be exactly like another. No student’s education is the same. And that is a good thing.

Sonlight works especially well for multiple children that are 1-3 years apart. Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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