100 Reasons and 100 Dollars to Switch to Sonlight

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100 Reasons and 100 Dollars to Switch to Sonlight

Change can be hard. Even when we’re unhappy, our ruts of familiarity can keep us locked into less than ideal situations. Or maybe you’re fallen prey to the very common sunk cost fallacy. You’ve already invested half of a school year with a certain program or educational choice. It’s too late to change now, right? 

Absolutely not! If you’re not content with how your children are doing school right now, don’t hesitate to jump ship and choose something new. Their childhood years are so brief that you don’t want to waste even a few months on a school, a curriculum, or a method of learning that isn’t serving them well.

Switch to Sonlight and give your children the education you’ve been fantasizing about—one where both you and the kids are happy.

Here are 100 reasons to make the plunge to homeschooling with Sonlight. And through January 31, 2023, you can save $100 off your curriculum purchase when you switch.

Sonlight Has Great Books!

  1. Learn through engaging literatureno dry textbooks!
  2. Sonlight inspires a love for reading.
  3. “The fantastic literature that my whole family gets to experience. With 7 kiddos, there are always favorites that we can’t wait to read again, and again & again. I have had the blessing of reading some books over 5 times!! My kids tell me never to get rid of any of them. They want me to save them for the grands!!” —Amy T.
  4. Sonlight books will make you laugh!
  5. Sonlight books will make you cry!
  6. Sonlight books will make you think!
  7. “Finding books I would have never known about.” —Teri J.
  8. Sonlight books are springboards to more reading (more of the author, sequels, more on the topic).
  9. Sonlight exposes your family to multiple genres of literature.
  10. “The books excite my child and inculcate a habit of reading. She turns to the books whenever she's bored and even reads them to her younger siblings. I'm glad I chose Sonlight!” —Vidyadhar M. of Pune, India

Sonlight Science Is the Best

  1. Sonlight Science uses real books that beg to be devoured.
  2. “With a detailed schedule, real books, and do-able projects, I actually like science again!” —Harmony K. of Carlos, MN
  3. Science biographies inspire your young scientist.
  4. Science experiments have easy-to-follow directions and illustrations.
  5. “Even though my kids are 2 1/2 years apart in age, the Sonlight approach makes it easy to combine them into one Science program that we can do together.” —Molly Z. of Omaha, NE
  6. The science experiments actually teach scientific concepts. They aren’t fluffy, science-adjacent activities.
  7. Sonlight Science adheres to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  8. Science kits include what you need to actually do the experiments. No more last minute runs for supplies.

Sonlight Instills Christian Faith

  1. 30+ years of history: Sonlight is the original Christian literature-based homeschool curriculum.
  2. Pass your Christian faith to your children.
  3. Pray for the peoples of the world.
  4. Pray for missionaries.
  5. Boost your faith through inspiring missionary biographies.
  6. “Sonlight curriculum is the essence of our homeschool – because of Sonlight, our children love books, love history, love learning, and most importantly, are learning to love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.” —Anna C. of Selmer, TN
  7. “I didn't grow up in a Christian home. As a mom trying to prepare my children to be ‘in the world but not of the world,’ I felt a little under-equipped. With Sonlight, the Instructor's Guide helps me spot places in books that don't align with Christian beliefs and gives great descriptions of why so I can best explain these ideas to my children. Sonlight is helping me equip my children to go out into the world on their own, spot the lies in our culture, and speak against them. I am thankful to have Sonlight on my side!” —Dayna W. of Tyler, TX

Sonlight Challenges Minds

  1. Sonlight develops a love for learning.
  2. Sonlight teaches children to think critically.
  3. Sonlight ignites your student’s imagination.
  4. Sonlight’s approach teaches history in context (versus just memorizing dates & facts).
  5. Sonlight builds an impressive vocabulary in students (and parents).
  6. Sonlight lays a solid foundation for future academic and career pursuits.
  7. Connect current events to historical ones.
  8. “Sonlight books have been a launching pad for many family discussions. For example, after reading several of the Sonlight Preschool books about Thailand we asked a family friend who was a missionary kid in Thailand to spend an afternoon telling us even more about her childhood. Sonlight books have broadened and shaped our world.” —Emily F. of Barboursville, VA

Sonlight Makes Financial Sense

  1. Sonlight is economical because you can teach multiple children the couch subjects with a single level.
  2. Upgrade your Instructor’s Guides at a discounted rate when programs are updated.
  3. Payment plans.
  4. A money-back guarantee.
  5. Use an HBL again and again with younger children.

Sonlight Lightens Your Load

  1. Relax! The lessons are fully planned
  2. Get every subject you need in a single order.
  3. Discussion questions in the IG help you talk about books with your kids even if you haven’t read them yourself.
  4. Zero prep: Open-and-go Instructor’s Guide | Take back your Sunday nights!
  5. Save time—combine multiple children with a single program.
  6. “The flexibility and that it’s prepared for me! This has been a year of craziness, and the fact that I can just grab what we need and have a full day without having to stress about it has been a huge blessing.” — Katie B.
  7. “Homeschooling with Sonlight has allowed us to continue small scale farming by eliminating time spent planning lessons.” —Melissa A. of Mt. Jackson, VA
  8. Organize your curriculum with color-coded labels.

Sonlight Flexes in So Many Ways

  1. It’s easy to adjust Sonlight to fit your family schedule.
  2. The Instructor’s Guide can serve as your homeschool planner. 
  3. You can easily adapt and flex your curriculum to meet your child’s needs: skip things, rearrange things, make it more challenging, etc.
  4. “We live in Uganda and need to travel frequently for work, both within the country and for periods of several months out of the country. Sonlight gives us the flexibility to be able to move together and embrace the opportunities of living between very different cultures. We can pack up our bags of books and off we go, enjoying learning the whole time.” —Catriona W. of Kampala, Uganda
  5. Customize your curriculum packages with multiple options: choose reading levels, add extras, remove items you already have.
  6. “When Calvin was born in September, I planned to take several weeks off of school to adjust to having a new baby. Two weeks after his birth, the rest of my kids were starting to go stir crazy—they were ready for routine again! Sonlight's open-and-go Instructor’s Guide and fabulous books made it so easy to jump in again. It's a huge blessing to know all of our children will grow up surrounded by such quality literature.” —Rebecca B. of Pomeroy, IA
  7. Each program is 36 weeks of instruction, a full school year. But you can go at your own pace, choosing year-round school or even working through the 36 weeks over 18 or even 24 months time.
  8. “Sonlight fits perfectly into our hectic life. I'm a single mom with two little guys and a new baby. I feel blessed to be able to use a curriculum that allows me the freedom to grab a book, and read to my kids wherever they are ... on the couch or outside on a dirt pile.” —Jacy G. of Harrison, AK

Sonlight Inspires Hearts 

  1. Sonlight provides worthwhile historical heroes for students to admire.
  2. With Sonlight, you’ll have amazing family discussions about difficult topics.
  3. Reading fiction develops empathy.
  4. “[On] the last day of our first year of homeschooling, we stacked our entire year's curriculum and then removed one book at a time as we briefly discussed a fond memory we had about each one.” —Sarah R. of Loveland, CO

Sonlight Is Good for Families

  1. Develop stronger family bonds.
  2. Build a cherished family library right in your home.
  3. Mom and Dad learn alongside their children.
  4. Sonlight’s great books provide fodder for dinner-table conversation.
  5. Sonlight is efficient learning, leaving more time for kids to play, sleep, daydream, and just be kids.
  6. “Our kids benefit from a diverse learning experience by having both Mom and Dad as teachers, and we get to spend fun, quality time together as a family doing joyful learning that otherwise wouldn't be possible given our family schedule.” —Cherish P. of Cape Girardeau, MO

Sonlight Is Rewarding

  1. Impress family members with your understanding of historical events!
  2. You get to experience the thrill of the moment when your child realizes they have learned to read.
  3. “No busywork.” —Evie S.
  4. “The living books cultivate meaningful conversations and bring life to every subject. Making the switch to Sonlight has been a blessing to both my children and myself!” —Lacey D. of Centralia, WA
  5. Enjoy learning together when siblings share the same History / Bible / Literature program.
  6. “Couch time is the BEST time! 📚🐛💙💙” —Karen D.

Sonlight Has Perks

  1. The Sonlight Connections app offers support. For example, veteran Sonlighters come alongside and guide you.
  2. Download a complete scope & sequence for every program. Perfect for your homeschool portfolio for state evaluations!
  3. Placement tests help you find the best fit for curriculum.
  4. The no-drama Sonlight Connections Facebook group is a place to chat with other Sonlighters.
  5. Sonlight Cares perk: early access to sales.
  6. Sonlight Cares perk: extra discounts.
  7. The Sonlight Scholarship.
  8. Tune in to the Sonlight Connections podcast for encouraging episodes.
  9. Free online events so you get the advantages of a convention without leaving home.
  10. Advisors not only help you choose your curriculum but help you troubleshoot problems throughout the year.
  11. A free print catalog to browse.
  12. The InquisiKids podcast gives your kids entertaining nuggets of information. 
  13. Sonlight is on TikTok!

Sonlight Covers All the Academics + the Extras

  1. Grasp the big picture of history with the Timeline Book.
  2. Easy-to-do crafts complement your history studies.
  3. Lap book kits teach and review your history lessons.
  4. Geography is integrated into the history material. 
  5. Thanks to the Markable Map, geography is no-stress and really works.
  6. Use the math comparison chart to pick the ideal math curriculum.
  7. Add age-appropriate electives like art and music to your curriculum with just a couple of clicks. 
  8. Carefully curated extras and supplements feed the voracious or gifted learner.
  9. “There are no activities to constantly gather supplies for. It's all planned for me, and my kids and I are learning so much together!” —Shannon B.
  10. “It's our seventh Sonlight Box Day, and this is why we keep coming back. Because what arrives on our doorstep every year is so much more than just a box full of books. It's a box full of quiet snuggles on the couch and exciting scientific discoveries. A box full of windows into other lives and other cultures, of many miles to walk in another's shoes. It's a box full of new things to experience, new ways to grow closer to each other and to God. A year full of joy and laughter, and maybe even a few tears, all packed up neatly in that big, beautiful white and blue Sonlight box. We can't wait to dive right in!” —Laurie H. of Fresno, CA
  11. No more ignoring poetry! It’s part of every HBL.

Sonlight Methods Really Work

  1. “I put off using Sonlight for several years, curriculum hopping around. We just finished our first year using all Sonlight curriculum and it was probably our best homeschool year yet. Sonlight has made teaching our kids very doable and what they are learning is really sticking with them.” —Laura E. of Cheyenne, WY
  2. The natural approach to writing equips kids to express themselves well.
  3. Sonlight is a print-based curriculum so kids aren’t staring at screens all day.
  4. Sonlight is a parent-intensive program, so you’re there nurturing your children and learning alongside them. 
  5. “We never knew that we actually loved history until this year with Sonlight!” Nicki B. of Gillette, WY
  6. “I love how Sonlight's curriculum uses a spiral method to teach and reteach topics, especially within the science curriculum. My kids learn about a topic at a simpler level, then read a book that discusses it more in-depth the following year. We circle around to similar topics at deepening levels, thus building on previous learning and growing my kids' mastery.” —Amanda P. of Omaha, NE

Don’t put off this change any longer. Switch to Sonlight and give your children the education you’ve dreamed of. It’s never too late, but make this shift before Jan. 31, 2023 to take advantage of the $100 savings on top of Sonlight’s already discounted package prices!

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11 Books to Inspire Christmas Conversations

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8 Books to Inspire Christmas Conversations

It’s officially my favorite season. Christmas fills my house with joyful music and family gatherings as we wait in hopeful expectation for Christ’s arrival.

While carols, gifts, and yummy treats are nice, the true meaning of Christmas is much better, bigger and broader than the boundaries of one day. I invite you to remember and reflect on why we celebrate. Let us not forget that Christmas commemorates God’s perfect love coming to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” 

Isaiah 9:6-7

The true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus arrived on Earth to rescue us from our sins. In His arrival, we garner hope and peace with God. Let us remember and rejoice, that God gave His Son to us to make us part of His family.

To inspire Christmas conversations among your family, we’ve collected some favorite Sonlight Christmas books. These books provide an outlet to not only experience the Christmas season in other cultures but also in other walks of life. From homelessness in France to Yorkshire farmland, use this list to explore the true meaning of Christmas with your children.


A Christmas Carol

1. A Christmas Carol

The classic Christmas tale captures the spirit and meaning of Christmas. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he visits his past, present, and future to finally open his heart to those around him. This story is filled with love, goodwill, mercy, and self-redemption.

SEE THE BOOK

The Gift of the Magi

2. The Gift of the Magi

When a couple struggles to scrounge up enough coins to buy Christmas gifts worthy of their devotion, they make sacrifices to afford the perfect gift. After realizing what the other has done, they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found right in their humble apartment and not in a store.

SEE THE BOOK

The Light at Tern Rock

3. The Light at Tern Rock

A simple but pleasurable Christmas story for all ages. A boy and his aunt are stuck on a lighthouse island over Christmas. When the retired lighthouse keeper goes out to the rock to substitute in for the current keeper, she brings her nephew. They fully expect to be back to the mainland in time for Christmas. But as the days pass … something has gone wrong. This is a story about betrayal and forgiveness. A telling lesson on how to prepare one's heart for the coming of the King when there is so much anger and hurt.

SEE THE BOOK

The Family Under the Bridge

4. The Family Under the Bridge

Set in Paris at Christmas. A homeless family meets a homeless man who begrudgingly adopts them, and they form a new family unit. A delightfully warm story.

SEE THE BOOK

The Wonderous World of Violet Barnaby

5. The Wonderous World of Violet Barnaby

Reeling from her mother’s death, father’s new marriage and two new step-siblings, Violet finds a letter from her mother that includes a list of things to do to celebrate the yuletide season. With a good look at family, and how to deal with emotions, Violet learns some moving lessons.

SEE THE BOOK

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

6. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

A comical and impactful story of incorrigible children who discover the true meaning of Christmas. When the dictatorial pageant leader breaks her leg, a hapless mom has to figure out how to lead the pageant. This is both uproariously funny (truly laugh-out-loud funny) and a tear-jerker.

SEE THE BOOK

A Christmas Carol Picture Book

7. A Christmas Carol Picture Book

Pages of beautiful watercolor and digital media illustrations make this Christmas classic retold a perfect choice for younger family members. All the key elements of Dickens's timeless story are intact, but scarier and sadder points are missing. A charming introduction of an age-old story to a younger generation.

SEE THE BOOK

Year Down Yonder

8. A Year Down Yonder

A lovely story of a middle-class high school girl from the city thrown into rural 1937 living with her country grandmother. The vast changes in landscape and tradition give this young lady quite the shock, but the story is filled with adventure and heart-warming experiences. There is a lovely chapter on how Grandmother surprised her granddaughter for Christmas.

SEE THE BOOK | SEE THE PROGRAM HBL 100

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

9. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

A few days before Christmas the Vanderbeeker family finds out that their curmudgeonly landlord refuses to renew the lease on their brownstone. Five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to change his mind. A wonderful story of sibling cooperation and community among neighbors, this is a perfect family read-aloud.

SEE THE BOOK

James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small

10. James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Travel to Northern England in the early 1900s and explore the tales of a Yorkshire country vet. From the animals to the townsfolk, these stories are family treasures. The highlight is The Christmas Day Kitten; the story of an unlikely dog owner pushed into cat ownership. When a stray cat brings a woman her kitten on Christmas Day only to die hours later, the women and her Basset hounds welcome the kitten into their life. One of the best gifts this human has ever received and it turns out she is a cat owner at heart.

SEE THE BOOK

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas

11. The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas

Told in brief, daily narratives by seven year-old Vicky Austin, this is a wonderful story of one family's tradition of doing one Special Thing each day before Christmas. Full of creative ideas for holiday activities, the story also focuses on family relationships as they prepare for a new addition to their family.

SEE THE BOOK

Do you have a favorite Christmas book?

What books inspire Christmas conversations in your family? Tell us in the comments or share your favorites with #sonlightstories on your favorite social media outlet.

Exlplore Sonlight's 25 Days of Christmas Traditions

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.


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The History in Your Nativity Scene

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During the Christmas season, I pass by my nativity sets every day. I have several in my house and at the Sonlight office. Their beauty brings a smile to my face.

But their simple beauty is not a fairy tale – most components of nativity sets are rooted in history. Our faith is a historical faith based on real events. So let’s dive in to that fascinating reality.

Two thousand years ago, Palestine was ruled by Rome. For the first time in the Roman rule, Rome was no longer a republic, but an empire. As the supreme ruler, Caesar Augustus wanted to know exactly how many people he had in his vast empire. So he ruled that everyone had to return to their hometown to register for taxes.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth. It’s at least 80 miles to travel from Nazareth to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem. Quite a trip by donkey for a very pregnant woman!

So they went to Bethlehem to comply with the Emperor’s decree. God also orchestrated this decree of a pagan ruler to fulfill a well-known prophesy. Long before, the prophet Micah had written:

”But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
–Micah 5:2

Sonlight gives me freedom to be with my family

"I enjoy being home with my boys. Homeschooling is a special way to guide and watch them learn. Sonlight provides a very thorough curriculum that gives me freedom to keep my focus on my children. That is so valuable to me!" The M family, Sonlighters from Louisville, KY

When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, everyone was in upheaval. Everyone was moving from place to place, each trying to figure out how to comply with the census, trying to appease a ruler who was off in another country and didn’t know anything about them.

So there was no room for them in the inns of Bethlehem. Perhaps an innkeeper took pity on this young couple when he offered to let them use his stable. Mary delivered her baby there. And since there is no furniture in a stable, Mary used the manger as a bed for her baby as she rested after the birth.

But why are there a group of social outcastes in the nativity set as well?

Shepherds in those days were not welcome in polite society. Jewish law said that a shepherd could not testify in a court of law.

This discrimination against shepherds seems a bit ironic. Think of Abraham, Moses, Jacob and David – some of the most revered patriarchs of the Jewish faith. They were all shepherds! But somehow by this point in history shepherds were considered an underclass.

So here was a poor, probably uneducated, dishonored group of people that were the first to hear the good news about Jesus. And when I think of Jesus, this is the group He often specifically seeks out. He has a heart of compassion for them and wants them to hear His message; He wants to honor them with this important good news.

And so an angel comes to announce the good news of Jesus, followed by a host of angels singing to the glory of God.

I know a believer in India who jokes that this is the time we need to bring in the Bollywood theme – with dancing and music – because the presentation to those awestruck shepherds was dramatic and big. In Christmas pageants in the US, we usually have the angels just stand there and sing, but it likely was quite the exuberant presentation!

And what about those mysterious wise men?

God put a special star in the sky to announce the birth of the Christ. Back in the days before cell phones or newspapers, this was like a cryptic announcement on a billboard in the sky – available to all who looked up at night. But you needed some background to recognize that star’s significance.

And the people who had that background and acted on the gravity of what they saw was this group of magi, or wise men, from the east.

If you go back in Jewish history, there was a time when Israel was taken into captivity to Babylonia. Among that group were members of the Jewish intellectual class, such as Daniel. Daniel and others would have had contact with Babylon’s wise men, these astronomers who studied the stars and advised the king. Scholars believe that Jews spoke to these wise men about a prophecy concerning a special star that would signal the coming of a crucial king one day in the future.

At least 500 years passed between Daniel and Jesus, and that knowledge had been kept alive among the peoples of the east. So around Jesus’ birth, wise men in the east saw the star and said, this is the star we’ve heard about, let’s go and meet the king. So they probably loaded up a large entourage for the dangerous trip, and set off.

When they arrived in Jerusalem the wise men asked King Herod where they could find the one born King of the Jews. Usually a baby is born a prince; they aren’t kings automatically. But here we have a baby who from His very birth was counted as a King. Amazing!

Herod’s advisors knew the prophecy that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, so the wise men set off. And thus we get this beautiful contrast of who comes to see Jesus, and who Jesus came to earth to save. Jesus came for the poor Jewish outcast as well as the rich, influential Gentile. I think that’s shorthand for saying Jesus came for everyone.

When they found Jesus, the wise men presented Him with extravagant and expensive gifts. Shortly thereafter, Joseph and Mary flee with Jesus to Egypt to escape the violent Herod who wants to kill this new king. We assume the poor family used the money from the wise men’s gifts to fund their journey and survive in a foreign land.

It’s truly an amazing story filled with real people set in time.

So why do we pull out the nativity sets?

I set them out because they remind me of the beginning of a journey where the Father sent the Son so we can know God. No one has ever seen the Father, but we know Him through Jesus who came and lived and walked among us.

And so as we celebrate Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us – let us remember that we celebrate for a reason - and with joy.

Blessings to you! Enjoy this season and have a great Christmas!

Sincerely,
Sarita

Exlplore Sonlight's 25 Days of Christmas Traditions

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What Did Mary Know? A Christmas Devotional

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What Did Mary Know? A Christmas Devotional

I've listened to the Christmas carol, Mary, Did You Know, at least 30 times this season. I find it gorgeous, and I can't stop thinking about its central question: Mary did you know?


Watch a beautiful a cappella rendition of a favorite Christmas carol


Did Mary know? I wasn't sure what Mary knew. So I re-read the Gospel stories again. And I think the answer is yes and no.

What Mary Knew

Bible scholars talk about how all Jewish girls at that time dreamed of being the mother of the Messiah. It was promised that a savior was coming, a redeemer was coming. So when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, I imagine that Mary was surprised and maybe a bit concerned, but I doubt she was flabbergasted. She knew that somebody would bear this baby.

The angel gave Mary an idea of who her baby would be. He told her she would have a son and that she should name Him Jesus. He said her son would be great, that He would be called the Son of the Most High, that He would gain David's throne, and that His kingdom will never end. The angel ends this with the assurance that this will all come true, for "no word from God will fail."

Soon after, Mary goes and visits her cousin Elizabeth, who lived in another town. When Mary walks in the door, Elizabeth's first words are "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!"

What did Mary make of this?

I doubt she was beginning to show yet. So how did Elizabeth know her news? Elizabeth continued with the remarkable question, "Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

As further testimony to Jesus' identity, a stunning thing happened the night of Jesus' birth. When Mary was recovering from labor, a group of shepherds showed up in the stable. Think of how strange this would be. But they came with an amazing story. They had been out in their fields when a brilliant angel appeared with good news:

"Today ... a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

Luke 2:11

The shepherds left their fields and hurried to Bethlehem. They relayed the story to Mary, sharing the message that her son was indeed the Messiah.

Then, Mary received more wonders when she and Joseph followed Jewish rituals and took Jesus to the temple on the eighth day. A devout man named Simeon showed up. God had told him he wouldn't die until he had seen the Messiah. When he saw the baby Jesus, Simeon took the boy into his arms and essentially said "I can die in peace now because I have seen the Lord's salvation, a light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel." Wow.

Next, a prophet named Anna came up and spoke about the child as the redemption of Israel. This was not Mary's ordinary trip to the temple!

Much later, the wise men came. These foreigners bowed down and worshiped this young boy. They brought Him kingly gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – not your typical baby gifts. Further testimony to Jesus' true identity.

So that's at least part of what Mary knew. But what did she not know?

What Mary Did Not Know

  1. While she might have had an inkling of Jesus' origins, Mary probably did not understand that Jesus was in fact God incarnate. That wasn't the traditional Jewish understanding of the Messiah at the time. So as the song wonders, she probably did not know that Jesus had walked where angels trod, that when she kissed her little baby, she kissed the face of God.
  2. Mary did not know the miracles Jesus was to perform. While God has used the prophets of old to perform some miracles, they were never in the magnitude or awesomeness of Jesus' work. Mary would later discover that, as the song says, Jesus would walk on water and calm the storm with His hand. She would see how the blind would see, the deaf would hear, the dead would live again, the lame would leap, and the dumb would speak the praises of the Lamb.
  3. Mary probably expected Jesus to be a political figure who would free the Jews from Roman rule. That's likely how she understood the promise of Jesus as a deliverer, a redeemer, the Messiah. She would discover that Jesus had actually come to redeem the whole world, to make us all new. May it be so.

Though Mary didn't know everything, she became not only the mother of Jesus, but also one of His followers. We don't know much of her story after Jesus' resurrection, but we know she was part of the early worshiping community. She embraced the larger work that her son, the Messiah, had come to do. She rejoiced in her Savior. May we do the same!


Want more encouragement?

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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.


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How to Make a Mid-Year Switch to Homeschooling with Sonlight

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How to Make a Mid-Year Switch to Homeschooling with Sonlight

#SONLIGHTSTORIES

"After two years of using a computer/video-based curriculum, something wasn’t working for us. The program left no space for fun, exploring, or developing my little one's interests. Most of all, our relationship began to suffer. Our homeschool day consisted of my supervising Gracia to pay attention to computer videos.

"It was a challenge to make the decision to move to a literature-based curriculum because English is my second language. But it broke my heart to realize that learning had become a burden to my daughter. This was not what my husband and I had in mind when we decided to homeschool; we wanted our kids to love learning. I wanted to learn with my children. I wanted learning to strengthen our relationship while discovering the world together, not for education to be a barrier between my children and me through a computer screen.

"So I took the challenge and switched to Sonlight! All my original expectations about homeschooling were met with Sonlight curriculum!! After a week of starting homeschooling with Sonlight, Gracia asked me when the vacations were going to be over. We were having so much fun that she hadn’t realized we were doing school!"

Maria del mar Gaytan in Miami, FL

We’ve all been there. Something is not working for your child when it comes to education. It's a terrible feeling that can keep you up at night, worried about how to fix the situation.

  • Possibly your curriculum isn't a good fit.
  • It could be a teaching approach that is causing frustration or boredom.
  • Maybe your child's school environment is toxic and causing anxiety.

You know there's a problem. But should you push through and tough it out to the end of the year? Or is it time to try something new—midway through the school year?

If your school experience is more frustrating and less productive than you would like it to be, don’t waste any more time. You can have the homeschool experience you want. Switching to a new curriculum or ending your relationship with the school system doesn’t have to be a painful process even if you are mid-stream in the school year.

Don't let sunk costs in a bad situation keep you stuck. And don't think that you have to wait for a fresh school year to switch. You can make a switch at any point. The sooner the better!

Don't worry about the fact that there's no way you can complete a full year's worth of curriculum in the school year that's left. It's okay! There are three options for dealing with that situation when you make a mid-year switch to homeschooling with Sonlight.


I made the switch to Sonlight with my older children in History / Bible / Literature D, and I haven't had a moment's regret since!

#SONLIGHTSTORIES

"Rosalynne absolutely loves reading, and Sonlight provides her with such a rich combination of books that speak right to the heart. I made the switch to Sonlight with my older children in History / Bible / Literature D, and I haven't had a moment's regret since!"

Lena Q. in Kincheloe, MI

1. Stretch Out a Sonlight HBL

Choose a Sonlight program for you child based on two factors:

Then begin on Week 1, Day 1 of your HBL Instructor's Guide no matter if you're starting in October or January. Work through the program until your school year is finished in the spring. Stop for the summer wherever you are in your History / Bible / Literature curriculum.

For skill-based subjects like Math, Reading, and Language Arts, finish your programs over the summer.

In the fall, pick up the History / Bible / Literature program wherever you left off before summer break. As far as the skill-based subjects, advance to the next level.

There are variations of this method depending on how much time you have left in your school year and what History / Bible / Literature level you choose. The bottom line is this: Finish the skill-based subjects to keep your child advancing and stretch out the History / Bible / Literature to cover all or part of the next school year.


After three years of working with Dutch schoolbooks and trying to fill in the gaps, we discovered and switched to Sonlight with much thankfulness!

#SONLIGHTSTORIES

"We have been a homeschooling family for more than 9 years now on the mission field in Madagascar. After three years of working with Dutch schoolbooks and trying to fill in the gaps, we discovered and switched to Sonlight with much thankfulness! Sonlight curriculum reflects what I want for my children, deep in my heart."

Anita R. in Madagascar

2. Get Ready to Advance with Skill-Based Subjects

If you are close to the end of the school year when you switch to homeschooling with Sonlight, it may not make sense to start a History / Bible / Literature program at all. In that case, choose your Skill-based subjects (Math, Language Arts, and Reading) and complete those before the next school year so that you can advance on time. Without an HBL element, you can fill your days with those skill subjects. Start fresh in the fall with an All-Subjects Package.


We switched to homeschooling last year and were blown away by the difference in my daughter's learning.

#SONLIGHTSTORIES

"We switched to homeschooling last year and were blown away by the difference in my daughter's learning.

Putting together a whole curriculum myself was overwhelming and left me constantly second-guessing if I was doing right by her education. With a 1-year-old running around and another baby on the way, I knew that we need a well-rounded and engaging curriculum for the coming year. Sonlight to the rescue! With the quality of books we received and her initial reaction, I'd say we made the right choice! "

Megan W. in Kokomo, IN

3. Complete Most of the HBL and Call It Good

If you have time to complete most of a year’s worth of History / Bible / Literature, you might decide to simply call it good when its time for your school year to end. Sonlight programs are so rich that you will likely have had a very full year regardless of the number of weeks you’ve finished.

Advance your child to the next level in the fall right on schedule.

Whether you choose one of these ideas or come up with your own unique variation, switching mid-year does not have to mean skipping your summer break or working extra long days just to check every box.

Seize the opportunity to revitalize your child’s education with something fresh. And, as always, the Advisor team is here to help you find a path forward.

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6 Ways to Give Your Homeschool a Progress Report

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6 Ways to Give Your Homeschool a Progress Report

“Okay, let’s do the AAR,” my husband said after a church event our family had organized. We gathered in the living room and one by one gave our two cents, down to our youngest child. “I really liked when we sang the songs, and I liked sitting by my leader, but the bounce houses were way too crazy! We need more grown-ups watching the bounce houses.” she stated. 

This type of family meeting has become common practice in our home. The term AAR comes from my husband’s time in the military, and it stands for After Action Review.

The After Action Review

In the military, after every mission, the soldiers come together and critique how it went. They debrief with questions like

  • What went well?
  • What needs to improve? 

It was clear to us that the practice of constantly reviewing our work is a beneficial practice for multiple areas of life from work to home, even to our ministry at church. We have found it to be particularly useful in homeschooling.

While most public schools are sending out progress reports for the students, I find myself asking my kids for a progress report on their homeschool experience. It's a great way to remind yourself of all you're accomplishing and warding off that feeling of being behind in school. Here are a few ways that we give our homeschool an AAR.

https://www.facebook.com/sonlight/videos/2486207808185619/
Enjoy this conversation between Deana, the author of this article, and Stephanie from Sonlight. They talk about giving your homeschool a progress report and making sure your child's school work is in that sweet spot of not too hard and not too easy.

1. One Word Association Game

Every few weeks, we will play the one word association game. I’m sure that you’ve heard of this. I spill out a trail of words fairly quickly, and my kids tell me the very first thing that comes to mind. It may go something like this…

You say…. Your child says….

  • Cats... Fuzzy
  • Popsicles... Cold
  • Reading... Fun
  • Swimming... Summer
  • Math... Confusing

This simple evaluation technique gives you a lot of information in a short amount of time, and the best part is that your child thinks you are playing a game! Most of the time, the first word that comes to their mind is usually their deepest, truest feeling about each word, so I have found this evaluation method to be pretty accurate.

I usually make a few mental notes about the words my kids choose, and then we circle back around to discuss it later. 

2. Feelings Chart Word Association

This is a more formal variation of the one word association game. In this variation, you’ll need to hand them a feelings chart and briefly go over it, explaining any emotion words that they may not know. My favorite emotion charts have faces that help the child to understand the feeling even if they aren’t a reader or don’t know the emotion word yet. 

In this exercise, you simply go through a typical day and have your child choose an emotion word for each school subject or schedule block. 

3. Listen In…

My girls had the sweetest conversation yesterday in the car. It went something like this:

“I read Hill of Fire today and it was so good! I loved the part about the volcano.” said my youngest.

“I remember Hill of Fire! It was one of my favorites too! Just wait until you get to A Question of Yams! It’s a really good book too. I also really liked The Big Balloon Race. You have a lot of really good books coming up!” exclaimed my oldest.

“I know! I can’t wait to read the one about hot air balloons! I’ve never ridden in one before and I’ve always thought they were really cool!”

“You will love it then!”

That conversation is all I need to know that our reading program is on point.

When your children are actively engaging with the books they read to the point of discussing them with others, you are on the right track! That’s the best evaluation you can get.

So listen in occasionally and see what is making your child tick or causing them to wilt. These organic conversations are one of the best ways to evaluate your child’s schooling, as they are usually very honest with siblings and friends.

4. High/Low

This is a pretty simple evaluation that you can use either on a daily basis or every few weeks. Dinnertime makes the best backdrop for these conversations.

You simply go around the table and have everyone state the highest part of their day and the lowest part of their day. This is a good way to identify struggle areas. If you notice that your child says that science was the lowest part of their day more than once, that's a red flag that maybe you should look into what they dislike about science time. 

5. Parent-Child Conference

A spin on the more common parent-teacher conference, the parent-child conference is every bit as important. In a parent-child conference, the parent interviews the child to find trouble spots. Questions may include:

  • Out of a perfect score of 5 stars, how many stars would you give our homeschool?
  • What is your favorite thing that we do together during school each day?
  • What is your favorite subject in school?
  • What is your least favorite subject in school?
  • Name one thing that you wish were different about our school.
  • How can I be a better teacher for you?
  • What is the hardest part of our school day?
  • What is your all-time best memory of our homeschool? Worst?
  • Would you recommend homeschooling to a friend? Why or why not?

6. A Simple Rubric for Academics

A Simple Rubric for Academics

If you’ve been homeschooling for very long, you’ll probably agree that there is a point in every subject where your child is not bored, but they are also not too challenged. I call this the sweet spot.

A child who is not being challenged will sometimes act out or perform poorly simply out of boredom. A child who is being too challenged will act out or give up because they feel the task is impossible.

As homeschooling parents, we want to find the sweet spot...the place right in the middle of too hard and too easy. To do this, you can use this simple rubric for each subject in your homeschool day.


Subject: _________Too ChallengingJust RightNot Challenging Enough
EmotionsChild complains about this part of the day, seems to dawdle rather than begin, may seem to feel defeated before trying

Child begins work promptly and finishes in an appropriate amount of time, seems to feel accomplishment after completing assignmentChild finishes work within a few minutes, seems bored, may dawdle or push back on the assignment or have a bad attitude
Level of IndependenceChild struggles to begin, asks lots of questions, will not work alone even after practicing with Mom or DadChild works independently for the most part, with a few questionsChild completes work with no help at all, all answers are correct
Sense of AccomplishmentChild seems to feel defeated even after finishing work, no sense of accomplishment, may feel exhaustion after taskChild feels a sense of accomplishment after completing task and still has energy to do something elseChild feels no sense of accomplishment, seems to feel indifferent even though their work is perfect, may even have a bad attitude

GET A PRINTABLE COPY OF THIS RUBRIC


Many times, our children are really trying to communicate with us when they complain or act out. And most children do not really mean, “I hate math.” What they really mean is, “I don’t think I’m good at math and therefore, I think that I hate it.”

I firmly believe that when kids are in the sweet spot of learning, feeling that little push of challenge followed by a sense of accomplishment, they are truly enjoying their education. I would even go so far to say that a student who feels that every subject falls in the just right category is a student who doesn’t hate any subject.

Learning is such a natural thing for a child. It is built into their very make-up, so hating any subject could be an indicator that something is not quite right. If you do find that your child is consistently not in the sweet spot, it may be time to switch curriculum.

A Word of Caution

Please remember that you are asking for honest answers, and these honest answers will not always feel good to your heart. Please don’t take these answers personally. Your child needs the ability to be open and honest with you, so please let them know that in these times, when you are asking them about school, any feeling is valid.

It’s also okay to hear their honest answers and not change anything at all. Remember, you are the decision maker, and ultimately, you know what’s best. However, simply giving your child a safe space to share his feelings has value in itself. 

Asking for and valuing our children’s opinion of their school experience not only helps us make informed decisions about curriculum and schedules, but it helps them to know that they have a voice in their own education. There is power in knowing that your thoughts can help change the way things are. It is my prayer that this simple practice of AAR will translate to even bigger opportunities for their voices to be heard in the future.

Homeschool Placement Tests

Use our free homeschool placement tests to find the perfect fit in Sonlight curriculum.

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5 Simple Ways to Celebrate Advent as a Family

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5 Simple Ways to Celebrate Advent as a Family

Advent is the beginning of the Church Year. Following the liturgical calendar, this sacred year includes the seasons of

  • Advent
  • Christmas
  • Epiphany
  • Lent
  • Holy Week
  • Easter
  • Pentecost
  • Ordinary Time
  • other holy days

Advent lasts for roughly four weeks beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas leading up to Christmas Day on December 25. Since Christmas falls on a different day of the week each year, Advent can begin anywhere from November 27 to December 3. Advent is followed by twelve days of Christmas, culminating with the day of Epiphany. It is considered a time of preparation, remembrance, and anticipation.

Advent Versus Christmas

During the season of Advent, we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming as a baby in Bethlehem, looking backward, remembering how Israel prepared for the long-awaited Messiah. We also look forward to Jesus’ second coming to bring peace on earth, longing for and expecting at any time Jesus’ return in glory.

Advent and Christmas are often confused. In North America, many people begin celebrating Christmas before it arrives because stores decorate for Christmas and play Christmas music hoping to boost the shopping season. Advent should be more subdued in tone. It should be a time of preparation that precedes the celebration so that we can reflect and meditate on the purpose of Christmas. The term advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning coming or arrival.

A quick internet search will produce an overwhelming list of creative ideas, but as you decide what to add for your family, starting with something simple is always a good idea. Give yourself grace when thing don’t go according to plan. Small, meaningful moments may not be instantly life-changing, but over time they can create a home culture focused on Jesus.

Build a tradition of celebration by daily slowing down to remember that we are called to be a different people than the hustle-and-bustle culture around us. Let this be a season of quiet faithfulness and reflection. Consider these five simple ways to celebrate Advent as a homeschool family.

1. Celebrate Advent with Readings & Discussions

The simplest way to honor Advent is a daily family time with a short reading and family discussion. So easy! And yet so meaningful!

Here is a free resource to help you intentionally celebrate Advent in preparation for the Christmas season: daily scripture readings and literature cards.

  • Daily Advent readings —questions to encourage discussion within your family.
  • Daily Christmas literature titles —wonderful books to enrich your enjoyment of the Christmas season.
FREE Advent Study | An Introduction to Advent: Simple Ways to Celebrate as a Homeschool Family

2. Celebrate Advent with an Advent Wreath

Place an Advent wreath in your home and light the appropriate number of candles for the week during a daily family time. Pinterest is full of ideas for making an Advent wreath, but it does not need to be complicated. Traditionally, you would use 3 purple candles, a pink one, and a white one, but if all you have is white, then go with white!

Each day, light the candle and read the scripture reading for the day. You can choose to add a few additional activities such as

Don’t overcomplicate it. Choose only one or two things to add; short and sweet is often best!

3. Celebrate Advent with Music

Advent music reflects the season’s emphasis on waiting and expectation, whereas Christmas music focuses on the joyful celebration of Christ’s arrival. Here is a short list of songs that would be appropriate for Advent:

  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley
  • Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes – Philip Doddridge
  • Imagine – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Gerard Moultrie
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout – Rory Cooney
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – ancient hymn
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
  • Savior of the Nations, Come – Ambrose, 4th century; Martin Luther
  • Soon and Very Soon – Andraé Crouch

Create your own playlist and save Christmas songs for the 12 Days of Christmas (the period of time between December 25 and January 6).

4. Celebrate Advent with a Calendar

A calendar is a fun way for children to mark the days as they get closer to the day of celebration. Again, an internet search will reveal many creative ways to create your own calendar at home, and stores carry all sorts of them for purchase. An easy, inexpensive way is to create a chain of construction paper, one link for each day of Advent. Then each day, tear off a link of the chain for a visual reminder of how many days are left before the big day!

5. Celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree

An alternative to the Advent Calendar is decorating a Jesse Tree. A Jesse Tree has special ornaments that represent a collection of scriptures that tell the overarching story of Jesus beginning at the beginning. Each day you read the scripture and place the ornament on the special Jesse Tree. A great resource is Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift.

However you choose to celebrate, may these weeks fill your home with joy and peace as we anticipate Christmas. 

Want more? Discover Sonlight's Advent Unit Studies!

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