Homeschool Conventions: Everything You Need For The Best Experience

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Are you considering attending a homeschool convention this year and not sure where to start? Wondering if it’s really worth your time and money? This comprehensive guide answers your questions and has everything you need to decide if a homeschool convention is right for you.

Homeschool Conventions For Homeschooling Families

Over the years, the opportunity to attend a homeschool convention has increased to include national conventions, regional conventions, smaller local conventions and even online options. The good news is, no matter where you live or how you approach learning in your home, there is likely a convention available to suit your interests and needs.

The Benefits Of Attending A Homeschool Convention

Homeschool conventions are popular, in large part, because they provide practical, actionable support to homeschooling parents and families. Here are just a few of the benefits of attending a homeschool convention.

1. Learning opportunities for parents

Homeschool conventions typically offer an array of parent workshops, seminars, and keynote speeches. Often presented by educators, curriculum providers, and experienced, veteran homeschoolers, these sessions include a wide range of topics. You'll find presentations on various homeschool teaching methods, curriculum choices, state homeschooling laws, as well as resources for gifted and special needs students.

2. Curriculum research and exploration

An additional benefit of attending many homeschool conventions is the opportunity to browse and compare curriculum options from various vendors. Seeing the curriculum in person allows you to see and experience the materials first-hand. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions directly to the company representatives.

3. Connection and networking with other homeschoolers

Homeschool conventions also offer a chance to meet and connect with other homeschoolers. This is a significant benefit for most convention attendees. Experienced veterans or those just starting out all have the opportunity to connect, share, and network. This provides immense support and encouragement.

4. Motivation and encouragement

For many homeschooling parents, homeschool conventions provide a much-needed boost of motivation and encouragement. Being in the company of other homeschoolers who share similar goals and struggles can be incredibly uplifting and empowering.

5. Legal information and support

Homeschool conventions often include workshops on homeschooling laws and regulations. This aspect of conventions can be particularly helpful for new homeschoolers, navigating the legal requirements for homeschooling in their state.

In summary, attending a homeschool convention provides access to valuable learning opportunities, curriculum exploration, networking with other homeschoolers, encouragement, and legal support.

What To Expect At A Homeschool Convention

If you plan on attending a homeschool convention in person, here are a few tips and tricks to help you maximize the experience.

  • Wear comfortable shoes! Walking around large exhibit halls filled with curriculum vendors is fun and exciting. It can also be hard on your legs and feet.
  • Bring a sweater. Even in the middle of summer, air-conditioned auditoriums can be so cold that it becomes difficult to listen to the presenter.
  • Take notes as you go, but try not to get overwhelmed. You will be exposed to a wealth of resources and valuable expertise throughout the convention. Trying to capture and retain all of it is impossible. Think of a homeschool convention as a huge buffet where you get to choose the items that work for you, and leave the rest.
  • Give yourself time to plan and process what you take away from a convention. There is no rush to implement everything in your homeschool immediately. We recommend you take some time to process what you learned before making any sweeping changes in your homeschool.

Visit Sonlight At A Homeschool Convention Near You

We are proud to support homeschoolers around the world as we participate in various in-person and online conventions throughout the year. We hope to see you soon! Check out the convention schedule for the most up-to-date list of where you'll find Sonlight at conventions throughout the year.

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3 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Homeschool as You Celebrate Spring

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3 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Homeschool as You Celebrate Spring

When the first day of spring is right around the corner, there’s a good chance your homeschool family—like mine—is feeling a bit of spring fever. My yard may still have puddles and leafless trees, and we have several weeks left before we can pack away our Instructor's Guides for summer break, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pause to enjoy the changing of the seasons.

In fact, a short break from our regular routine to focus on a season that’s all about life, growth, and renewal may be the perfect way to rest and rejuvenate before tackling the end of our school year.

Whether we scatter a few activities over the course of a couple weeks or dedicate one whole day to seasonal fun, the following ideas are a starting point for my family as we decide how we want to mark the first day of spring.   

1. Get Outside to Enjoy Spring Nature

The best way to see how nature is changing is to be in it, so we’ll definitely be walking out the front door. Weather and schedules will dictate what we end up doing, but here are some options we’ll consider:

  • Walk through our neighborhood or go on a hike. Pay attention to bulbs in bloom, blossoms on trees, and nests in trees.
  • Visit a farm to see the baby animals.
  • Plant some seeds or flowers. If the weather is uncooperative, make a plan for what we’ll plant and where it will go.

2. Savor Books About Spring or Poetry

Whether we want to read something overtly educational or choose something more for pleasure, there’s no shortage of ways that reading can be part of our celebration.

3. Create Beautiful Things

I’m definitely not the kind of mom who does arts and crafts, but that doesn’t mean my family can’t make things to celebrate the season. Whether we choose things that are to be enjoyed purely for their beauty, serve a more practical purpose, or are a combination of those goals, we’ll find something to create.

  • Dry and press flowers from our walk or hike. Then use them for making bookmarks with contact paper or for adorning blank cards which we can mail out to friends.
  • Prepare a meal that highlights spring produce or bake some distinctly spring-themed desserts. Then invite friends or family over to eat with us or deliver the food to homes or workplaces.
  • Let each person select the artistic method they prefer—writing a poem, painting a picture, or carving a wood figurine—to create something that represents spring to them.

Whether you get outside, open books, create things, or do something entirely different, I hope you’ll join me in taking some time to savor the beginning of spring before we move forward to complete our school year.

Spring is also a perfect time for considering your curriculum for the fall. Request a Sonlight catalog and start planning your programs.

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2023 Sonlight Scholarship Winners Announced

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Submit can homeschool through high school! Meet this year's bright, accomplished, servant-hearted Sonlight Scholarship winners. These exceptional Sonlight-educated students are poised to make a difference in the world. As the winners of our annual Sonlight scholarship competition, they have each been awarded $20,000, $10,000, or $4,000 for college.

Many of these students have used Sonlight since they were young. They’re headed into promising careers in engineering, arts, medicine, missionary work, music, and more. Most are headed to their college of choice, and many have superb SAT or ACT scores.

But they are also kind, big-hearted young adults. Through ministry and volunteerism, they live life with Jesus in their hearts and long to share God’s kingdom with the world.

$20,000 Scholarship Winner: Malia S. of Asuncion, Paraguay

Awarded $5,000 Per Year

Malia is a high school senior, born in the United States. For the past decade, she has lived in South America: first, in Bogotá, Colombia; and currently in Asunción, Paraguay. She speaks English and Spanish at home and is pleased to be picking up some Guarani. Malia plays the oboe, swims competitively, volunteers at church, enjoys jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, and regularly experiments with cookie recipes.

At an early age, Malia bought into Sonlight’s educational philosophy “hook, line, and sinker.” Her love for literature fueled her schooling. Her library is replete with hundreds of tattered covers, most of which came in eagerly-awaited, yearly Sonlight mailings. Aside from her family and close circle, her mentors and friends through the years have included Eloise McGraw, E.L. Konigsburg, Louisa May Alcott, Jules Verne, J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Agatha Christie, and Leo Tolstoy.

After arriving in Paraguay, Malia developed a strong interest in tropical disease and community health. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed her to work with recently discovered tribes in Paraguay’s Chaco region, disadvantaged communities in Asunción, and those suffering from lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and Hansen’s disease (leprosy).

In 2021, Malia created Project Willing to help resource a leper colony in Sapucai, Paraguay. Project Willing gets its name from Luke 5: The leper said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean;” and the Lord said, “I am willing.” Project Willing currently supplies all non-prescription medical supplies for the colony’s 60 residents and is investing in long-term sustainability projects. Malia’s continued, close contact with the residents has been life-changing. Please visit for more information.

In college, Malia plans to pursue a course of study focused on psychology and community health to effect more positive, multi-disciplinary solutions to health challenges in disadvantaged communities at home and abroad. Malia plans on taking a gap year to continue her in-country management of Project Willing and current study of tropical disease in Paraguay.

Malia S.

$10,000 Scholarship Winners: Petra H., Ebahi O., Alyssa S., and Timothy B.

Awarded $2,500 Per Year

Petra H., of Orting, WA, is determined to follow God wherever He leads. Inspired by many of the stories she read while using Sonlight curriculum from K-12, she feels that God is calling her to serve in the Middle East. In preparation to follow this calling, she spent her high school years teaching herself Arabic. She has always enjoyed the freedom that homeschooling has given her to pursue her interests and has used that time to lead her own children's Bible club, sew her own historically inspired clothes, participate in a speech and debate club, and spend her extra time studying anatomy and physiology. During high school, she developed a love for chemistry, biology, and medicine, which helped to lead her in the direction of nursing. To confirm both her calling to nursing and her calling to the Middle East, after graduating in May of 2022, she decided to take a gap year. For the first five months, she worked with an organization in Israel that helps Arab children born with heart defects receive life-saving surgery in Israeli hospitals. During this time, she feels that God truly confirmed her calling to nursing. After spending Christmas with her parents and four younger brothers, she returned to the Middle East and is now working to improve her Arabic and study the culture while helping to homeschool the children of Christian workers there. She is looking forward to attending nursing school at Dordt University this fall. She trusts that God will lead her in His will, and she prays that He will grant her the strength to follow Him wherever He leads.

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"

Lamentations 3:22-24

Petra H.

Ebahi O. was born into a missionary family and has traveled internationally her whole childhood. She grew up watching and then working alongside her parents as they served in several countries, including Benin, Nigeria, and Romania. As she grew and fell in love with the Lord, she developed one main life goal that dictates all her choices: to glorify God. She was blessed to have the opportunity to serve in medical missions in Benin, help care for orphans, teach English in Romania, and so much more as she tried to serve in any way she could. She also loved participating in her youth group and later becoming a mentor to younger girls and other homeschool students.

Ebahi was taught with Sonlight her entire education. Sonlight provided the rigorous but flexible curriculum that her family's travels required. She took 10 AP Courses and enjoyed challenging herself academically. She also had the freedom to thoroughly pursue her other interests such as pottery, dog training, animal rescues, and helping homeschool her younger siblings. Whenever stateside, she enjoyed dancing and was part of a performance group. Homeschooling allowed her to experience real life much earlier than her peers, as well as have some incredible adventures (such as being chased by an elephant). It also allowed her time and opportunity to develop a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She cannot wait to teach, the Sonlight way, to her own children one day.

Ebahi has many ambitions and ideas. The Lord has guided her into her next step; she will be attending the University of Notre Dame, where she will study Civil engineering. She personally experienced the daily hardships many people face their whole lives due to terrible living conditions in the developing countries where she lived. As a result, she would love to use her degree in developing countries where infrastructure is severely lacking, or train and support missionaries. Wherever The Lord leads, she hopes to always be a light and serve others selflessly as Jesus did.

Ebahi O.

Alyssa S. was born to Global Workers Mark and Kim S. in Armenia in 2005. At the age of 5, she started homeschooling. A year later, the S. family discovered Sonlight and fell in love with homeschooling. They never looked back. They continued to homeschool with Sonlight with Alyssa's two younger siblings, Maddy and Caleb, and during their move to Spain.

Alyssa is proud to have homeschooled all through school. She is thankful for the flexibility and tailored learning that homeschool allows, the love of learning she acquired, the international perspective, and how homeschool grew her relationship with Jesus. In all their travels, the S. family read Sonlight books in 10+ countries. Through school projects, Alyssa felt the Lord calling her to study nursing and serve women in developing countries. In Grade 10, she began training as a doula, and has been able to serve in that capacity on three continents.

Alyssa has also been privileged to co-lead her youth group's missions team, a pioneer ministry dedicated to raising missionary awareness and engagement among Spanish youth and sharing the love of Jesus in Spain and across the world.

In Grade 12, she began teaching ESL classes to two homeschool families. As homeschooling is very rare in Spain, this was a unique and special connection for her.

Alyssa graduated high school in Spain in 2022. She is thrilled to begin studying nursing and looks forward to building on what she learned with Sonlight and stepping into the adventure the Lord has for her.

Alyssa S.

Timothy B. has been a missionary kid for his whole life—first in Kazakhstan, and now in Hovd, Mongolia. When reflecting on his past eighteen years, he describes them as “everything but what I expected them to be”, and between countless international flights, twelve unexpected moves, and frequent thousand-mile road trips in sub-zero temperatures, it’s clear he means it. Despite this, and maybe since he doesn’t know any better, he thoroughly enjoys his life, having learned never to be apprehensive about the future, since he is convinced that God knows what He’s doing. However, he has also learned to always be prepared, and has picked up lots of useful skills like puppet-making, graphic design, carpentry, building huge Lego dioramas, playing the violin, and writing.

His education has been a jumble of local Kazakh-language schools, online classes, homeschool co-ops, and 12 Sonlight cores—which have given him an inquiring mind and a love for learning. Now, as Timothy finishes high school, he plans to further his education at Concordia University, Nebraska, where he will study music. He says it “will be yet another big corner-rounding in my life. I am about as daunted by it as by the prospect of spending thirty-six hours in a busy airport terminal: it may alarm me slightly, but I am more excited than anything else.”

Whatever new, unexpected adventures await Timothy at college, he knows that “wherever you are there are people who need Jesus; and you can be a missionary anywhere, whether or not you are called to a certain group of people, or to a certain church—and even if you are, that does not limit who you can share the Gospel with!” Timothy doesn’t know yet exactly what kind of future is in store for him, but he is confident that God does.

Timothy B.

$4,000 Scholarship Winners: Sophia C., Caleb G., Avielle S., Micah E., Frederick R., Lauren P., Esther N., and Ezekiel D.

Awarded $1,000 Per Year

Sophia C. of Augusta, Georgia, has been homeschooled since kindergarten and has used Sonlight materials throughout her educational journey. The youngest of six children, she is the fifth child who has applied and been selected to receive the Sonlight scholarship, for which she is extremely grateful. Wanting to become a physician assistant, she will use the scholarship at a Christian college beginning this fall.

Sophia is a strong leader as evidenced by her role in Science Olympiad. As project leader and top scorer for the team, she has won 12 regional awards in fields as diverse as cryptanalysis, rocketry, forensic science, and ornithology. A member of the varsity math team and two honor societies, she is also dual-enrolled at a local university.

Sophia has sung with the church choir and the chorus of a local school since her elementary years. She has performed with four different theatre companies and has performed in 17 different productions, 14 of them musicals. In February, she appears in a community theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and in April, she is Maria in The Sound of Music at a local high school. In addition to acting, singing, and dancing, she has built sets and dabbled in choreography.

Particularly meaningful to Sophia has been the weekly Bible study group with other high school girls as well as a two-week intensive apologetics course with Summit Ministries this past summer in Colorado. She also traveled with her grandfather, a retired seminary professor, to India and enjoyed delightful fellowship with Indian believers. Beloved “Aunt Fifi” to five nieces and nephews, Sophia loves her family and does not bat an eyelash at reading Good Dog Carl one more time. In her spare time, she likes to crochet, dabbles in songwriting, and relaxes by playing the piano.

Sophia C.

Caleb G., currently living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has loved reading and stories since he was three years old. That love of books lead to his love of Sonlight since 1st grade. While, at least according to family and friends, Caleb is a smart, thoughtful peacemaker, he readily admits that “I often struggle with indecisiveness, anxiety, and selfishness.” Though, considering his National Merit Commended Scholar status, CLT score of 117, and his numerous synchronous volunteer positions, his family and friends are probably closer to the truth.

Caleb grew up in China and had a close friend group of other international students there. One of his favorite memories is the time his friends freely volunteered, with no hesitation, to help his family through a difficult move. In 2020, Caleb moved back to the states in a futile attempt to escape the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the boost from his friends led him to volunteer through the ZTA homeschool honor society and Roots and Shoots Youth farm. He has also been able to try new, American experiences since joining a local homeschool co-op, including co-captaining a soccer team and a quiz bowl team. In his free time, Caleb enjoys playing strategy board games such as Power Grid and Dominion.

Caleb’s favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11, overused and abused as it is. “’For I know the plans I have for you’ – this is the LORD’s declaration – ‘plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” This is fortunate, because as of yet Caleb has no knowledge of the details in much of His plan. What he does know is that he plans to pursue his love of books and study God’s spectacular creation in college. Caleb also hopes to study abroad and attend an honors program, but most importantly, will represent Christ and serve others wherever he goes.

Caleb G.

Avielle S. lives in Douglassville, PA, and has used Sonlight for her entire education. She is a National Merit Commended student. Avielle has been playing the piano since age five and the violin since age nine, and she feels called to serve God through music. She has participated in many orchestras, including at the district and regional level. Avielle plays keyboard on the worship team at her church, an experience which allows her to use her skills to glorify God. She has also volunteered in the church nursery over the years and loves helping out at Vacation Bible School every summer. Avielle has gone on several mission’s trips to Costa Rica with a team from her church, where she was able to minister to kids. Last summer, she had an equally impactful experience on a mission’s trip to Kentucky with her youth group. Avielle has been accepted into the Honors Program at Liberty University and plans on majoring in music performance. Besides playing in professional orchestras, she would love to teach private piano and violin lessons in the future. However, regardless of her future career, Avielle will follow 1 Corinthians 10:31, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Avielle S.

Micah E. of Hockessin, Delaware opened her first Sonlight book in kindergarten and has rarely been without one since! In addition to exploring the world through good literature, she has spent the last 12 years of her education expanding her view and gaining rich experiences through a variety of extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities. Her history and education through Sonlight has allowed her to confidently pursue roles of leadership in her community, church ministries, and youth groups.

Supported by the strong backbone of Sonlight, Micah has tailored her education to match her unique interests and skills. She maintained a 4.0 GPA while pursuing honors and dual enrollment courses and developing a love of calculus, physics, English, and chemistry. She has played varsity soccer and swam throughout her high school career and can often be found doing MMA and CrossFit-style workouts.

Much of her joy, however, is found in the arts. Whether she is watching the Prix de Lausanne, studying music theory, harmonizing with a Sondheim musical, leading worship for two youth groups, or simply enjoying classic literature, this is where Micah prefers to spend her time. She has been involved in speech and debate classes and won Best Witness in the Delaware High School Mock Trial Competition, which she competed in for two years.

Additionally, Micah has been an avid baker since age 3 and started her own baking business during the fall of her junior year. She gets great satisfaction from experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious treats for her family and community.

Above all, Micah’s faith reigns supreme in her life. Though she is currently undecided as to what she will be studying over the next four years, she trusts that God will guide her to an area that will make use of her analytical and creative mind and that He will use her to impact both her local community and God’s kingdom.

Micah E.

Frederick “Eric” R. of Beavercreek, OH, has used Sonlight’s gospel-oriented curriculum since 3rd grade. Eric loves music. He has studied piano for 10 years and participated in the National Piano Playing Auditions for 7 years. He also plays French Horn in the Springfield Youth Symphony, and was hand-picked from the symphony members to play in both a brass and woodwind quintet. As the symphony’s former operations director can attest, “Eric is undeniably talented, but what makes him so special and vital to our program is his discipline and preparation for every rehearsal.”

Eric also has a love for God and a passion for His church. In the words of his father, “[Eric] genuinely wants to serve the Lord in everything he does…” He has been blessed to serve his church as an AV technician, working in a two-man team to run audio mixing, slides, and the live stream. He is also greatly involved with his church’s yearly VBS program. Because of his love for God and his heart of service, he was chosen to be part of the Youth Council, helping to lead the youth group and foster a spirit of discipleship.

When not reffing or playing recreational soccer, or working in a neighborhood mowing business, Eric spends his remaining free time teaching himself multiple computer coding languages and working on his own engineering hobby projects. To aid in the completion of these projects, he has also taught himself basic linear algebra, 3D printing, and custom circuit board design, among many other things. Eric dives into new projects without being intimidated by the work required. Because of his passion for solving engineering problems, Eric is planning on attending Cedarville University or Grove City College to study Electrical Engineering. While he doesn’t know what the Lord has in store for him, he trusts that God will use his education to be a blessing to those both inside and outside the church. Eric desires that his life would exemplify 2 Timothy 4:7-8 and that all he does would be to the glory of his Savior.

Frederick R.

Lauren P. of Chicago, IL has homeschooled since 3rd grade, and has used Sonlight throughout. Homeschooling has given her the flexibility to lead government and ministry organizations in her community, training up future leaders, and serving disadvantaged children. She plans to major in political science to further this passion.

One way to seek change is to get involved with the government process. Since the start of homeschooling, Lauren has participated in TeenPact Leadership schools, a weeklong program in every state where youth learn about government, civic engagement, and servant leadership. For the past three years, she held a position as staff, first in her home state, and then in multiple states, running a week-long program for her peers. This year, she had another opportunity to get involved with politics first-hand, serving as a legislative intern for a delegate in state government.

Lauren also has a passion for caring for children in need. Growing up in Chicago, she has been surrounded by the brokenness of families, and the crumbling ruins of a foster care system where less than half the children who enter it ever see their parents again. Several years ago she became involved with a solution to that problem -- Safe Families, an organization that cares for children in crisis before they have to enter the foster care system. Desiring to find a way to serve these children and families, Lauren formed a support arm of Safe Families at her church to come alongside hosting families taking in children in crisis with a supply closet to provide basic supplies to alleviate any financial burden. She has promoted Safe Families across the 11 locations of her church and Chicago to further spread the word, and now serves as a ministry lead for Safe Families for Chicago and leads a team of youth who oversee this branch.

TeenPact and Safe Families are two large parts of Lauren’s story, as are her families’ two international adoptions of three children. But she is first and foremost a follower of Christ with a passion for children in need.

Lauren P.

Esther N. of Siloam Springs, AR, has always wanted to be a missionary. Sonlight’s missionary stories reinforced those she heard from global partners who visited her home and church. Sonlight Curriculum, which she used pre-K through high school, introduced her to great books and helped her develop God’s heart for the world.

Esther desires to build relationships with people from different backgrounds and share God’s love with them, so she joined the volleyball and track teams at her local public high school. She’s interacted with non-believers daily and had a positive impact on her teams. Her volleyball coach says, “Esther recently shared her testimony at an FCA special event. Her boldness to tell others what God has done for her was inspirational and showed me her heart for the Great Commission.” Esther has developed her athletic abilities and been a light for Christ as she has participated in public school sports, earning all-conference honors in track and recognition from her teammates for “…being willing to step up and run at a moment’s notice, being competitive and hard-working, and showing integrity and dedication.”

Esther is passionate about little kids. She is an in-demand babysitter. She’s volunteered at an after-school tutoring program and helps at a non-profit that works with children with disabilities and their siblings. She teaches Sunday School and has worked as a summer camp counselor for elementary girls. Her associate pastor writes, “Esther is uniquely gifted in working with children. Not only can she instruct them well, but she is aware of the greater needs that they may have in life. Esther also transitions very easily with children, from talking about life and school to talking about Christ.”

In her free time, Esther enjoys baking, sharing her delicious cupcakes, scones, and cookies with her teammates, family, and friends. She loves to read.

Esther plans to attend John Brown University where she hopes to grow academically and spiritually and develop skills she can use working with children and in the mission field at home or overseas by studying elementary education, intercultural studies, or family and human services.

Esther N.

Ezekiel D. of Taichung, Taiwan has used Sonlight since kindergarten. After his family moved to Taiwan to become missionaries when he was six, he attended a missionary school for two years, but the benefits of a homeschool lifestyle were undeniable and he returned to homeschooling, giving him time to explore the beauty of Taiwan and its culture. Living in Taiwan, he has been involved with ministry from a young age and enjoys working in ministry alongside his family. He has helped with multiple week-long evangelistic Bible camps for Taiwanese high school students, has helped host multiple trips to teach special needs students, and is part of a group of seniors traveling to Malaysia this spring to do outreach with local students. He is an active member of the Taiwanese house church that meets in his home and a leader of the student-led youth group at the local missionary school. One of his favorite parts of ministry is showing off his adopted homeland to Americans who come to Taiwan to help staff summer camps.

Ezekiel has been blessed by a continuing homeschool partnership with the missionary school, allowing him to participate in numerous extracurricular activities, including track, cross country, and soccer, where relaxed Covid restrictions finally allowed his team to travel to an international tournament hosted in Thailand his senior year. He has also played trombone in the band and a small brass ensemble since his freshman year and acted in plays and musicals throughout middle and high school, including The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie and two Broadway musicals, most notably playing Laurie in the Broadway version of Little Women.

Ezekiel’s plans for the future are to attend Bible college in the Midwest and he is undecided about his future plans, but growing up overseas has given him a love for foreign cultures and languages, so he is looking for opportunities to serve in ministry anywhere God sends him.

Ezekiel D.

Could Your Young Learner Win a Sonlight Scholarship?

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

Did you know we've awarded more than $1.8 million to Sonlight graduates to date?

Each year, our charitable foundation offers a number of college scholarships, ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, spread over four years. Each year, the Sonlight Foundation offers the following scholarships:

  • $5,000 per year
  • $2,500 per year
  • $1,000 per year

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

The Sonlight Foundation recognizes that academic giftedness is only one type of giftedness. If your student is gifted in academics, service, music, art, or has a heart for missions, we encourage you to submit an application.

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3 Homeschool Hacks to Get You Through Winter and Past Spring Break

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Getting through the space between winter holiday breaks and spring is not for the faint of heart. One year we barely recovered from spring break. It took all of the fortitude I could muster to get us back into doing school again. I dragged my students reluctantly into May,  resolved never again to take a spring break from homeschooling.

The truth is—the break was not the problem. Lack of enthusiasm and sustained vision was our trouble. I regrouped, made some observations, and then tweaked our post-holiday schooling.

Have you had a winter season like that? Dragging along, kicking and screaming through the winter thaw, just hoping for spring? And then when spring hits, you just want to end the year immediately? Try one of these ideas to sail through winter and keep going past spring break into your well-deserved summer break.

1. Incorporate Board Games All Winter and Spring

Kids love board games and card games. As adults, we seldom make time to play them.

Winter means a lot more time inside for those of us who live in the Midwest. Dark nights and cool temperatures can lead to long boring evenings and the siren's call of the big blue screen. To keep screen time at a minimum, I purchase a new games and let them pop up every few weeks through the dark winter months and early spring.

With a supply of games at different learning levels, there is always something new to play on a night that seems too long or a lackluster homeschool day. Most games teach something even if it's simply following instructions and taking turns.

2. Make Room for Play and Field Trips During Winter and Spring

In winter I have to be intentional about getting the kids outside. This year has been terrible. We always seem to be short on snow gear. It is an extra expense; those gloves aren’t cheap. And since snow is still fairly infrequent, snow gear doesn't fall into the necessity column of the family budget. Those restraints mean less time for the little kids to run outside when the temperature dips below freezing.

I can tell you the lack of physical activity outside has an effect on us because every night at 7 p.m. the whole house just loses its mind. There is a lot of running and wrestling. It looks like a three-ring circus.

To compensate for the lack of outdoor play, winter is our season for indoor field trips. We keep our Science Center pass handy to check out the new exhibits. There is never enough time to get through the whole building on one trip. And having an annual pass means we don't have to try! We spend a longer time in just one section of the museum, focusing only on that one area. I find this sharper focus helps the kids explore and observe with intention.

We try to incorporate low cost learning trips wherever we can:

  • library
  • plays
  • movies
  • tours of municipalities

These trips help us stay enthusiastic about learning.

3. Shift the Homeschool Schedule for Winter

In winter we tend to get up early, probably because of the lack of evening sun and fewer evening activities like baseball and other sports. I encourage the kids to do their main subject work first thing in the morning. This means they are often done before noon. We move our reading time where it best fits our day. I tend to read to everyone at lunch right now. There have been years when bedtime reading was a better fit for us in the winter seasons.

Don’t let your schedule get you bogged down. You can change it in incremental ways over the whole school year.

The Power of Observation

If you see a shift in participation or attitudes, take the time to make an inventory of what is going on in your school.

  • Are there new activities?
  • Shifting bedtimes?
  • Inconsistency?

All of these can affect your day negatively. Making small changes can help you feel like you are back on track again before you are overwhelmed. These three hacks have helped me manage my 10 kids through winter and into spring! What tricks do you use to make it through the tough months and into summer break? Leave a comment!

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10 Ways to Breathe Fresh Air into February Homeschool Doldrums

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10 Ways to Breathe Fresh Air into February Homeschool Doldrums

If you've had the joy of using World History, 1 of 2 (HBL G), you know all about the doldrums. Milo, the beloved hero of The Phantom Tollbooth gets stuck there, where "nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes."

Does that ever feel like your homeschool—especially in winter and especially in February? Nothing is happening; nothing is changing. Perhaps you're in a mid-winter rut and you don't like it.

Well, since your solution is bound to be different than Milo's, I have some encouragement for your February blahs.

February Homeschool Doldrums are Normal

First of all, know that this is normal. It seems that homeschoolers everywhere know about the mid-winter doldrums. For a myriad of reasons, this season can feel like a daily slog.

But if being caught in the doldrums at sea means there is no wind, no movement, then the way to get out of the homeschool doldrums is to change something up. So don't sit in the doldrums; give some movement to your homeschool. Do any of these ideas inspire you?

1. Change your music

Do you ever put music on while you do school? It can really change the mood in a room, especially during February homeschool doldrums. Try a classical music station, Gregorian chant, pure Mozart, or even a relaxing nature soundscape. When it's time to clean or make dinner, try jamming to your favorite music from high school. It might really lift your mood, and your kids will love laughing at you as you sing out loud to the old school music you once thought was cool.

2. Change your schedule

Could you switch up anything to make the day more fun? Maybe start a Read-Aloud at breakfast, after your Bible reading. Or add an extra break for a family game in the middle of the day. Or re-evaluate your entire schedule if it's just not working for you.

3. Change your electives

Have you always dreamed of introducing your children to art, music, computer coding, quilting, candy making, woodworking or anything else out of the ordinary? February homeschool doldrums could be the perfect time to start something new and fun, whether that involves new electives or enrichment or the tools you already have at home. You could even cut back on other academic work for a week to do this if you want.

4. Focus on relationships

If family relationships are causing background stress in your homeschool, you have the freedom to take a week off and focus on building those relationships. Go on dates with your children. Or let them choose fun activities throughout the day and join them in whatever they want to do. Take time to get down on their level, listen, and learn more about how they see the world right now.

5. Take a break

As you might catch from the previous two points, it's really okay to take a break if you need to. Can you swing a short road trip to a nearby city for a few days? Is there somewhere nearby you've always wanted to go? You can teach all sorts of things as you plan for the trip—about budgeting, research, food prep, maps, and more.

6. Change your breakfast

Seriously. Starting the day out with something different may help everyone feel more excited for the day. Find some smoothie recipes online, or take your kids to the store to pick out their favorite herbal tea to sip each morning as they start on their work (which will make them feel very grown up).

10 Ways to Breathe Fresh Air into Your February Homeschool

7. Change where you do school

Go to story time at the library and then stay afterward for a fun research project of your child's choice. Get outside whenever the weather could possibly allow it. Try new field trips. Take your schoolwork to a coffee shop. Schedule a homeschool play date with another homeschool family and break the day up between work and play. (And if you're already worn out from too many outings, then do the opposite and change things up by staying home more and giving everyone time to breathe.) Get creative and break up those February homeschool doldrums!

8. Change your downtime

If you feel stuck in the house with young children, head online to find some simple but fun activities to shake up those long days indoors. Here are two lists to get you started:

9. Change your attitude

Let's be honest. Sometimes homeschooling is made harder because the teacher's attitude is off. If you find yourself getting unusually frustrated or angry at your kids, if you're truly exhausted, or if you're constantly daydreaming of an easier life that involves beaches and spas and freedom ... take time to talk with your spouse and God about what's going on. Can you think of something that could help you?

10. Change your family time

Would you like to start a new family tradition? Maybe you want to declare that every Friday night now means homemade pizza and a board game. Or maybe you'd like to sing a song together before dinner each night. Or start a volunteer project as a family. Just try to think of something that helps give shape to your days or weeks, and strengthens a sense of family.

I also believe that anything worth doing for the Kingdom is bound to encounter resistance from the enemy sometimes. And trust me, raising and educating our children to be equipped to do whatever God calls them to do ... that counts as something worth doing for the Kingdom. Satan would love to discourage you and tell you all sorts of lies to keep you from thriving in whatever God has called you to. So our first defense should be to pray, ask for God's help and remind ourselves of truth.

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Meaningful Lent and Easter Books for Kids

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Meaningful Lent & Easter Books for Kids

Easter is a time to reflect on the sorrow of Christ's death and the joy that comes with His Resurrection. As a homeschooler, you have the blessing of flexibility in your school schedule, and you may choose to set aside some time in your homeschool days to mark this holy season.

One meaningful way to do this is by adding a few books to your home library. Take a small amount of time every day to read from these powerful stories about Easter, and be reminded of the sacrifice and joy that mark this season of Christ's greatest gift. Or, if you'd prefer a more structured option, you can find a schedule to go with these books with the Lenten Unit Study.

The following links are Amazon Affiliate links. Sonlight is eligible to earn a commission of sales.

Our Favorite Lent & Easter Titles

  • This deeply felt retelling of the Easter story will inspire families to celebrate love, forgiveness, and hope all year round. - Love One Another
  • This captivating story takes you through the season of Lent, culminating on Easter Sunday. In a quest to save his Father, Amon sees the jubilant crowds on Palm Sunday, is present during the daring betrayal of Judas Iscariot, and witnesses the ultimate sacrifice made on Good Friday. - Amon's Adventure
  • Your child receives, opens, and reads their own personal mail from God. Beautifully illustrated Bible stories are accompanied by a special Bible verse and encouraging letter. - Easter Love Letters from God
  • Uses a creative take on the Bible story of Christ’s triumphant entry by introducing the young donkey who has yet to realize his important mission. - The Donkey That No One Could Ride
  • This book explains how and why people all over the world celebrate Easter. It tells the biblical story of the Resurrection and explores how people honor this day with traditions. - The Story of Easter
  • This story presents the life of Christ as a journey, beginning in Bethlehem with His birth, then moving on through His resurrection and ascension. Journey, Easter Journey!
  • Robins have built a nest on the window ledge at Grandmother’s house! Tressa witnesses the daily drama of the robins’ nest and learns how God cares for all creatures. - The Story of the Easter Robin
  • An unforgettable picture book that uses majestic rock art, Scripture, and simple yet powerful text as the miracle of Easter unfolds across the pages. - He is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter
  • Features an adorable polar bear talking with her father and learning about God's design for the Easter season and what it really means. - God Gave Us Easter
  • Rhyming text follows two children as they celebrate Easter with their family by decorating eggs, going to church, and returning home to an egg hunt and Easter dinner. - Easter
  • Simple text and photographs describe the springtime holiday of Easter, when Christians commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. - Easter
  • This gentle introduction to the biblical account of Jesus's final days on earth is perfect for preschoolers to learn the true meaning of the holiday. - The Story of Easter
  • This exquisitely illustrated retelling of the Easter story brings its familiar events to life. Rediscover the wonder of the first Easter morning. - On That Easter Morning
  • Follow along with Christopher, a ten-year old boy who wants the real story of Easter. His family reads him the story of Easter straight from the Gospel of Luke. - The Very First Easter
  • Springtime is special, and Easter is the most magical day of all! Ride a fawn past ducklings and lambs in your dreams, and wake to Easter Sunday. - A Tale for Easter
  • Features the Easter story, retold in simple language. Colorfully illustrated and useful for beginning readers. - The Usborne Easter Story
  • An allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings are a picture of humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama. - The Lightlings
  • The Biblical accounts of Jesus’s miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection, brought to life. - Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus
  • Emma and her little brother hunt for Easter eggs, go to church, and join family for a big meal. - Emma's Easter
  • Candace decides to give her classroom garden a little help . . . but soon discovers patience is the best plan after all. - Grow, Candace, Grow
  • Davey the donkey carried King Jesus into Jerusalem. A few days later, Davey saw the King carrying a heavy beam of wood. He couldn't understand it—until another donkey helped him see that the King was being a Servant on behalf of His people. - The Donkey Who Carried a King
  • A story that illustrates how Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people from their spiritual death. - The Prince's Poison Cup
  • The Bible gives us many names for God and tells us what they all mean. And when we learn a new name for God, we learn something new about him, too! - God's Names

Sonlight Lent Unit studies include 48 days of lesson plans and materials to guide you from Shrove Tuesday through the day before Easter.

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Simple Ways to Celebrate Lent with Children

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Simple Ways to Celebrate Lent with Children

Here are a few ideas to start meaningful Lenten traditions for your family. Following the format that we use when we design a Sonlight Unit Study, these suggestions include literature, crafts, and cooking.

A Devotional Spine for Your Lenten Study

This year I found a resource that I plan to use for my own Lenten devotional time: LENT IN PLAIN SIGHT: A Devotion through Ten Objects by Jill J. Duffield. The author focuses on ten ordinary objects in order to draw meaning from Jesus’ last days. With each object, the author focuses on scriptures that incorporate the object. For example, the week that focuses on bread, you read Exodus 16:4 where it talks about bread from heaven, and on the next day you read Mark 7:8 about the dogs who eat the crumbs under the master’s table.

Although this devotional not written for children, you can benefit from the devotional yourself and then share what you learn with your children, doing simple activities to reinforce what you read and learn.

Sadie’s Favorite Chicken

For example, the week you learn about bread you might bake a homemade no-knead bread. Or the day you read about bread crumbs, make breaded cutlets. My niece loves this chicken recipe so much that we now call it Sadie’s Favorite Chicken.

Breaded Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 thinly-sliced chicken breast, pounded eve thinner (or however many you need for your family)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (my family likes Progresso seasoned Italian breadcrumbs)

Breaded Chicken Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the egg and place it in a dinner plate.
  3. Sprinkle the bread crumbs onto a paper towel and place it next to the dish with the egg.
  4. Place an empty dinner plate next to the bread crumbs.
  5. Dip a chicken cutlet in the egg, coating both sides. Let the egg drip in the dish before moving the chicken to the bread crumbs.
  6.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of the cutlet and using the blade of your hand, pound the bread crumbs into the chicken. Flip to the other side and repeat the pounding.
  7. Place the breaded cutlet in the clean dish. Repeat until all the chicken is coated.
  8. Lay the cutlets on the prepared cookie sheet and either spray with olive oil cooking spray or brush olive oil on with a pastry brush.
  9. Cook for 10 mins then flip and coat with oil. Cook an additional 5-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Do not overcook or the chicken will be tough.
  10. Serve with slices of lemon.

Need more ideas? The week you focus on oil, you could make an olive oil lamp (do an internet search for ideas) and make ladokouloura (Greek olive oil cookies.) Fasting is one of the practices during Lent. When Greeks fast, they abstain from eating animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs). Since these cookies are vegan, they make the perfect sweet treat during nistia (lent).

My family really enjoys cooking and eating, so I would probably find additional traditional Lenten or Easter recipes. For example, what are traditional foods from your heritage? What would your ancestors have made for the season? In Italy, we make chiacchiere (or cenci) for Fat Tuesday (they are fried in oil – very rich!) and pastiera napoletana for Easter.

Here are additional suggestions to consider during the Lenten season.

Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Shrove comes from the word shrive, which means to give absolution after hearing confession. It was the last day before the period of fasting began so it was an opportunity to use up and not waste those foods that couldn’t be eaten during Lent. This is where we got the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday because they included eggs, fat and milk, which were forbidden foods. In the French-speaking world, the day is known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday and in Italy and Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as Carnevale. For 2022, Shrove Tuesday is on March 1.

Ash Wednesday is on March 2, 2022. If you are not of a liturgical background, try to find a church near you that will have an Imposition of the Ashes service. This is a solemn service where we are marked with ashes in the same manner that we were signed with the Cross in Baptism on the forehead.

5 Spiritual Disciplines for a Beautiful Lent

In celebrating Lent, we hope to foster a deeper spiritual awareness through the practice of disciplines that will allow us to more fully experience the joy of the Resurrection.

For music, listen to Sonlight’s Lenten playlist on Spotify.

1. Self-examination and Repentance

If you are not familiar with the typical disciplines practiced during this season, we begin with self-examination and repentance. (Joel 2:12, Corinthians 13:5, Psalm 139:23-24). Each person should think about how they have fallen short of the glory of God and repent (turn away from) any sin they can name in their lives. They should ask God to reveal any sin that is hidden from themselves.

2. Prayer

If you don’t already make it a practice to spend daily time in prayer, develop a new habit and plan to set aside some time to focus daily on prayer. (Philippians 4:6-7). Brainstorm with your children a list of people you can pray for.

For example

  • Monday - family members
  • Tuesday - neighbors
  • Wednesday - friends

You might even reach out at the beginning and ask for ways you can pray for them. Then check back in after Easter for an update. Record their prayers on 3x5 cards as well as any answers.

3. Fasting and Self-denial

It is tradition to fast and practice self-denial during Lent but Jesus also expected his followers to spend some time fasting. Jesus said to his disciples “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16) implying that it will be done. With younger children you might suggest they abstain from a favorite food or activity. Brainstorm together what that might be. It should be reasonable but not easy. It should be something you should notice or miss. Try giving up something that has a stronghold in your life.

4. Bible Reading

Reading and meditating on God’s word is another common Lenten practice. (Joshua 1:8). There are scriptures in the book I mentioned above, or you can read the passages in Amon’s Adventure if you have that title. Use the questions for reflection.

5. Almsgiving

Finally comes almsgiving or giving something away—the twin to giving something up. (Proverbs 19:17)

You can give away money, your time, or your resources to serve others sacrificially. One idea is to create a giving jar and donate the contents to a favorite charity. Children can deposit a coin for every act of giving they do in the family. Encourage them to think of various ways they can give kindness to their siblings: ask your sister to go first at lunch time, allow your brother to borrow the toy he asked about, tell mom that you will dry the dishes all week even if it isn’t your regular chore. Another idea is to shop for a food pantry. Let the children pick out something they would want to eat.

As you decide what new experiences you want your family to have during this time, start with some simple traditions. Give yourself grace when thing don’t go according to plan. Small, meaningful moments will create a home culture focused on Jesus.

May these 40 days (not counting Sundays – they are little Easters) bring renewal to your heart. May you experience joy in your faith, and your life as you are spiritually fed and nourished in your disciplines. Declare your dependence on God as you deny your cravings.

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