4 Questions to Ask Your Harshest Homeschool Critics

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We’ve all met a homeschool critic. From the well-meaning neighbor who retired from teaching in 1997 to the UPS guy who doesn’t have children but is sure your local public school is the best in the state,  it’s annoying to have acquaintances or even total strangers question your family’s educational choices.

What’s worse, however, is when you have a dedicated critic like a friend or close family member you see often. This in-your-face critic feels compelled to spout a negative opinion or get in a dig at every gathering. Ouch.

Engaging With Grace

It’s tempting to snap back with a snarky retort, but Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that a gentle answer turns away wrath. A simple, “Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind,” is often all it takes to redirect someone whose intent is generally good.

But critics whose badgering is less benign rarely take a subtle hint, no matter how much grace is behind your response. If you’ve decided that it’s time to engage in conversation with your harshest of critics, here are some thought-provoking questions to start the dialogue. The hope is that they will set your critic on the path of understanding… or at least help him or her back off a tad.

1. Ask “Have you met a homeschooled adult?”

I like this one because it highlights the greatest concern most critics are hinting at: your children will be scarred or somehow made different (read weird, abnormal, or stunted) by skipping the traditional classroom experience. The answer to the question is usually no, which actually brings up a great point. More likely than not, they have met someone who was homeschooled… they just couldn’t tell.

2. Ask “Would you like to meet another homeschooling family?”

The unknown quantity is often much more likely to garner suspicion that the known. Offering to point out fellow homeschoolers at your son’s next birthday party might be enough to normalize the things that set you apart in your family or church circle. If nothing else, it provides solidarity!

3. Ask “Have you spent time in a classroom recently?”

It’s one thing to harken back to “the good old days” of first graders spending most of their time engaged in play and hands-on learning. It's quite another altogether to consider the consequences of the decades-long obsession with test scores and the ever-creeping skills race as its filtered down to early elementary. Critics who think that age-appropriate educating is happening in a modern classroom might be encouraged to look into what really goes on nowadays.

4. Ask “What do you think a homeschool day looks like?”

Your critic might envision your typical homeschool day as a day of basically lazing about and calling it school:

  • You roll out of bed just before noon.
  • You count time spent playing a video game as math.
  • Your kids read serial novels all day in lieu of actual language arts instruction.

Giving your harshest critics the chance to voice their assumptions allows you to set the record straight.

Educating Your Critics

The purpose of asking engaging, open-ended questions is not to shut the naysayer down, but rather to bring them to a place where they can admit that their picture of homeschooling might be incomplete. Don’t expect them to stop asking questions, but encourage them to ask better questions.

Ultimately, you may open the door to the critic's admission—however reluctant— that homeschooling might not be as evil as they think it is.

Knowing When To Surrender

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this dream scenario will ever happen. If it doesn’t—even after you’ve invested time and time again in gracefully extending an olive branch—it might just be time to admit defeat. Some people will cling to their view that homeschooling is a poor choice no matter how gently you attempt to defuse their dislike. In that case, all you can do is find a way to smile, wave, and move on.


This no-strings offer lets you test drive the Sonlight way of learning with a novel and discussion guide. Sign up here.

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Winners of the 2019 Sonlight Catalog Cover Contest

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2019 Sonlight Catalog Cover Contest Winners Announced

One of the things that we love about our catalog is that we get to feature real photos—and stories—of our customers. Thank you to all of the families who shared #sonlightstories for the 2019 catalog cover contest! And congratulations to the three winners featured below!

WINNER: E. Family of Murrieta, CA

2019 Sonlight Catalog Cover Contest Winner • E. Family of  Murrieta, CA

In this picture, Kadence (12), Carter (10), Reagan (7) and Marcus (5) spend time outside re-reading some of their favorite Sonlight books.

Reading time becomes a family affair every day. Sometimes an older kid will read aloud to the others, sometimes they each read their own book.  But they all end up laughing at the funny parts and sharing what is happening in each of their books. After 5 years of using Sonlight, I love how close my kids are to each other from reading and learning together every day. My kids don't think reading is 'school' because they enjoy it so much. They even go back through and re-read many of the Sonlight books we read together the past year.”

Erica E. of Murrieta, CA

WINNER: H. Family of Bridgeport, WV

2019 Sonlight Catalog Cover Contest Winner •  H. Family of Bridgeport, WV

In this picture, Seth (14), Hadley (12), and Ruthie (10) enjoy Sonlight books on our favorite swing outside.

“Our Sonlight journey began many years ago because opposite work and school schedules tore our family into pieces. Sonlight gave me the tools and confidence to try homeschooling and rejoin the two pieces of our family. Eight years later it has done so much more than allow our whole family time together. Homeschooling with Sonlight has taught us so many wonderful life lessons and broadened our horizons and point of view so much farther than our small West Virginian town. We know about true heroes who have overcome many obstacles and yet still succeeded. We have an amazing amount of Bible knowledge and memorization that has helped turn my babies into the fine young men and women they are today. Thank you Sonlight for being there to guide me step-by-step, and thank you for choosing meaningful stories that have molded my children into who they are today.”

Allison H. of Bridgeport, WV

WINNER: C. Family of Hampton, UK

2019 Sonlight Catalog Cover Contest Winner • C. Family of Hampton, UK

In this photo, Liya (11), Joshua (3), and Zara (7), enjoy the school day in the beautiful surroundings of the rose gardens in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, London.

“We love Sonlight’s literature-rich curriculum because the stories get our kids thinking about different people and places all over the world and the included discussion points are great for character building,” says Elisa C of Hampton, UK. “I also love that as a busy work at home mum, lesson plans are all taken care of. I can just enjoy learning alongside my kids without the stress of planning what to teach next. Having great books to read is without doubt one of the reasons my kids absolutely love reading. My eldest daughter always reads her readers for the year during the summer break or as soon as our Sonlight box arrives so that by the time we start school in September she’s going through them a second time!

And her bookish example has definitely rubbed off on her younger siblings. Zara doesn’t go anywhere without a book and Joshua insists on having several books read every bedtime or he just won’t sleep! We’re so grateful to have found Sonlight because we couldn’t imagine homeschooling without it!”

Elisa C. of Hampton, UK

Share Your #sonlightstories Year-Round

Thanks again for making this year's contest a success. Keep sharing your #sonlightstories year-round! We love your Box Day photos, your day to day experiences, and the end-of-the-year #sonlightstack shots of all you've accomplished.

Thank you for sharing your Sonlight Stories with #sonlightstories
Use the #sonlightstories hashtag when you share on social media.

You can also log into your account on sonlight.com anytime to upload both images and testimonials. You never know when something you submitted may appear in a catalog, on our homepage, or on the Sonlight blog.

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7 Family Rules for Being Good Stewards of Technology

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Technology is a blessing. Through advancements in technology in the last few decades, we have gained access to more information than we ever could have imagined.

  • Do you need to renew your vehicle registration? No problem. That will only take five minutes online.
  • Do you need to know who starred in that movie about an alien life form? Easy….just ask Siri.
  • How about those calculations? Grab your smartphone.

We have never had easier access to information in the history of the world.

But with this fairly new rise in technology and information comes a whole other challenge...being a good steward of it. And that sometimes causes technology to feel more like a curse.

  • Instead of using the dictionary, our children can simply ask Alexa the definition of phagocytosis.
  • Instead of referencing the curriculum to figure out the answer to an algebra problem, our kids can use an app to show them the right answer.

It’s both amazing and scary to see how much we have begun to depend on our technology.

To borrow a line from Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” With technology, we have great power at our fingertips, but we also have an immense responsibility to be good stewards of it. In response to this desire, my husband and I have developed 7 rules for managing technology in our family.

Some may find our rules too constraining while others will find them far too lax. You will need to find the right balance for your family. Hopefully, my family technology rules can serve as a starting point for having the conversation with your spouse and kids.

1. No Technology Before Kindergarten

Thankfully, we did the bulk of our baby years in the age before the smartphone, although our last two kiddos came in time for me to feel the temptation to hand them my iPhone. I know what it’s like to need a distraction, but we have been raising babies for hundreds of years without screens, and we can still do it today.

I have seen some of the negative effects of technology on children in the early childhood years. Kids who enjoy a lot of screen time each day tend to be easily bored and difficult to stay focused. They also tend to lack the fine motor skills they need for learning readiness, becoming accustomed to a simple, one-finger swiping motion.

It is imperative that we guard those early years and allow babies to be babies. They will fuss; they will throw fits in public. But over time they will also learn to occupy themselves. They will learn the art of being bored. They will begin to look around and notice unique things, attempt a new task that seems intriguing to them, and their curiosity will flourish. Hang in there, moms and dads! It will be worth it!

2. Stay Behind the Curve on New Technology

We have been blessed not to be able to afford the newest technology. Because we cannot buy our children all the newest gadgets, we have been able to dramatically limit their exposure to technology. Staying slightly behind the curve of technology has kept our kids from getting too attached to the latest and greatest.

Electronics tend to be very expensive immediately after release and gradually go down in price the longer they are on the market. Waiting for a few months or even years allows you to purchase less expensive used or refurbished electronics. I’ve also noticed that rather than having a consumer perspective, my children seem to care for the electronics they do own because they know that their systems are not easily replaceable.

3. Set Clear Boundaries for Technology

The best electronic advice I can give is to set clear boundaries around electronics and stick to them. In our family, we play video games only on weekends. There is never a conflict when it comes to homework during the week, and this rule keeps them going outside to find their entertainment. We have found that even on the weekends our kids are too busy doing other things to over-do their screen time.

And yes, we even hold to this rule during the summers. We are big fans of kids being outside, and summers are for exploring the great outdoors, not being cooped up inside. We also give our children opportunities to be bored. Boredom is the birthplace for creativity, and extended electronic use suppresses creativity.


4. Start with a Flip Phone

It is difficult for me, a 35-year-old woman, to manage my time on my smartphone. So it does not make any sense to me to hand the enormous temptation to a child and say,

  • Don’t spend too much time on this device.
  • Don’t go to any websites you shouldn’t.
  • Be responsible with social media.
  • Remember that nothing is private on this device.
  • Don’t hide anything from me.

The list could go on and on. Using a smart phone is a huge responsibility for any adult, much less a child. So we decided a while back that when it was time to get our children phones, we would start them on prepaid flip phones.

A flip phone allows us to contact our child when needed and vice versa. It allows him to have age appropriate phone conversations with his friends. It also carries little chance of him spending too much time on his device with no data plan. I have to also add that it is incredibly satisfying watching him experience texting on a flip phone. Three or more taps for each letter...ahh, the nostalgia!

5. Establish Electronic-free Zones

Dinnertime is sacred in my mind, and I am a firm believer that phones and iPods should not make an appearance at the dinner table. Thus rule #5 is that no electronics are allowed at mealtime.

We also do not allow portable gaming systems in the living room. If my children want to play video games, they must do that in their rooms. Family time is for the family, not video games.

6. Use Technology with Safeguards

It is imperative to set up filters and safeguards when it comes to electronics. There are a myriad of filters available for families now, and they can be frustrating when they block perfectly decent websites. But it is infinitely worse to find out that your child has opened the door to pornography.

Passwords can provide another layer of protection for electronic use. Most streaming services have parental controls that help you regulate what is being watched even when you aren’t around, although you may not want to fully depend on that. It is so important to preemptively set up these safeguards because temptation is strong when so much information is available at your fingertips.

7. Model Good Stewardship of Technology

This is quite possibly the hardest part, but whether we like it or not, our children watch us. They are going to treat electronics the same way that we treat electronics. We need to practice discipline so that they learn to practice discipline. We need to model good stewardship of our electronic devices.

We are the first generation of people raising children in an age of immense exposure to technology and information. We are the pioneer generation for managing our time well on electronics. We need to do this well, and we need to be proactive in raising our children in this era.

I always love to hear what other people do, so I’m curious, what are your family rules for technology?

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Is It Okay to Have a Hobby Other Than Homeschooling?

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Is It Okay to Have a Hobby Other Than Homeschooling?

Is it okay that I want a hobby outside of homeschooling? My four boys are 7, 5, 3, and 1. For the past eight years, my hobbies have included breastfeeding, potty training, laundry, feeding people, and researching homeschool curriculum. I'm longing for something that I can invest my time and energy into. I'm with my children all day long, and I’m grateful for that. But I know I would be a better mama, teacher, and wife if I had an outlet outside of those roles.

Amy, a homeschool mom

Approximately 200 homeschool moms responded to Amy when she posted this question in a Facebook group. It obviously hit a nerve! If you are struggling with this longing or finding it hard to carve out time for a hobby, you are not alone!

Many of them said, “I’m in the same situation. I wish I could develop a hobby of my own."

Many others answered with a resounding, “Yes! It’s good and healthy to develop a hobby beyond homeschooling! Your family will be profoundly blessed when you are healthy, strong, and inspired.”

What Do Other Homeschool Moms Do For Personal Enrichment?

Check out this eclectic list of potential hobbies enjoyed by other homeschool moms. Maybe you will discover one you’d like to develop. Don’t be afraid to try something new; you may surprise yourself!

  • Stamp collecting
  • Breeding and showing rabbits
  • Reading
  • Playing Pokémon Go
  • Joining a book club
  • Attending MOPS
  • Cooking
  • Blogging
  • Working out at the gym
  • Crafting
  • Coloring
  • Doing ministry for church
  • Going to a nice restaurant
  • Getting a pedicure
  • Participating in a Bible study
  • Thrift store shopping
  • Writing
  • Crocheting
  • Knitting
  • Volunteering at a local museum
  • Playing the piano
  • Embroidering
  • Starting a small business
  • Blessing other young moms with babysitting
  • Practicing Taekwondo
  • Attending local lectures and concerts
  • Painting
  • Dancing
  • Taking local classes
  • Doing Jazzercise
  • Swimming

How Homeschool Moms Make Time for Personal Enrichment

In that original discussion launched by Amy's question, plenty of moms chimed in with how they make self-care and hobbies a priority. Here's a recap of some of the ideas they shared:

  • I’m one of those people who likes to wake up early. That’s when I exercise and enjoy a hobby like reading or crafting.
  • Even though my kids don’t nap any more, we’ve kept an hour-long quiet time in the afternoon. Each child is in a room quietly resting or reading. That’s when I enjoy my hobby.
  • I schedule it into the homeschool day. For example, when my children do their devotions, I do mine. When my children do their quiet reading, I do mine. When they work on an art project, I work on one, too. When they play outside, I go out with them and garden.
  • My hobby is important enough to me that I use screen-time to make it happen. I allow the kids to watch a 30 - 60 minute show each afternoon while I work on it.
  • I have to be ready to take the opportunity when it comes. If I want to read more, I carry a book in my purse, in the car, and keep one in the kitchen. If I want to knit, I do the same thing with my knitting project.
  • I hire a sitter for 2 hours every week and use that time for self-care. It’s that important!
  • Once a month, my husband takes care of the kids from dinner until bedtime. I go out for a quiet dinner and enjoy the free time however I’d like.
  • My husband puts the children to bed every night. I use that personal time to relax or enjoy a hobby.
  • I intentionally pursue hobbies that help my family like using medicinal herbs, cooking, photography, and fostering animals. Then, we are all invested in the hobby and I feel personally enriched.

This week, pray about and plan a way that you can continue to grow as an individual. Remember that your family will be blessed by your strength, well-being, and rich inner life. Let us know your plan so we can cheer you on! Leave a comment below or join us in the Sonlight Connections group.

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Being a Homeschool Curriculum Junkie—How & Why to Just Say No

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Being a Homeschool Curriculum Junkie—How & Why to Just Say No

Do any of these descriptors apply to you in relation to homeschool curriculum?

  • You sell curriculum and still have shelves brimming with books and resources?
  • You frequently loan your not-in-use curriculum to friends?
  • You often switch curriculum? And then switch again?
  • You have a reputation of having tried every program under the sun?
  • You sometimes mistakenly buy items you already own?

If so, you might be a homeschool curriculum junkie.

The Curriculum Junkie in Her Native Habitat

A curriculum junkie is a homeschool parent whose main hobby seems to be researching and collecting curriculum. Her shelves are lined with books, CDs, supplies, and manipulatives—much of it barely used. She will offer to loan you books to peruse, and sometimes will even admit that she has multiple copies.

This is the person who has already heard of the next new thing or can easily rattle off the pros and cons of all twelve math programs she has used over the past three years. She knows when every used sale in that area takes places, too, usually because she’s both a buyer and a seller. She’s a treasure trove of information and an unabashedly enthusiastic homeschooler.

The Pitfalls of Being a Curriculum Junkie

While some consider it a badge of honor to be a curriculum junkie, there are some decided downsides:

1. Expense

Buying curriculum is an expensive hobby. Even the cheapest resources add up when you are constantly on the hunt. Buying things that are a deal isn’t saving you any money if you already have something at home on the shelves that can get the same job done.

2. Inconsistency

There is no consistency or flow for children whose parents routinely revamp their methodology. Students who stop and start new curriculum throughout the year may never find a rhythm with their learning. Both of these are important parts of the learning process. Predictability can be bad, but more often than not, it’s actually quite good. Settling comfortably into a familiarity with how information is being presented lets kids focus on the content instead of the structure.

3. Energy Drain

All of the work of researching and hunting down curriculum diverts precious time and energy. As a homeschooling mom, you have a limited amount of your greatest resource: YOU! You probably have a hundred plates you have to keep spinning; it's no wonder you end up feeling pressured, pulled, and burned out. Why add another plate of curriculum hopping when the thing you’re pursuing is just another version of something you already have?

How to Say No to Homeschool Curriculum Overload

So how do you steer clear of the trap? How do you find what you need and stay on top of options, but not become the curator of your own curriculum museum?

1. Look to Trusted Sources

Ask for recommendations from friends whose learning styles are similar or whose homeschooling bent is aligned with yours. Consult the websites and catalogs of companies whose offerings have resonated with you in the past.

2. Don't Curriculum Shop as Recreation

Making a habit of perusing used sales pages or picking up odds and ends whenever the mood strikes doesn’t make financial sense. Find other ways to have a good time that will replenish your soul or improve your homeschool.

3. Recognize the Signs of Curriculum Distress

There are definitely times when you need to steer the homeschool curriculum ship in a new direction. But don’t fix what isn’t broken.

If your child is content and growing with the current science curriculum, don’t waste your time looking for something bigger, better, or newer. Be content with what you have! Look for the signs that things need to change as your cue to shop, not your own restlessness.

4. Allow Time for Curriculum to Work

One of the major pitfalls of being a curriculum junkie is the cycle of inconsistency it sets up for students. Bringing in a new piece of curriculum automatically comes with an adjustment period. Deciding a few weeks into a new program that it won’t work short circuits that normalization time. Don't reset the clock when it’s possible that the first one would have eventually worked out with a bit of patience.

5. Have a Long Range Homeschool Plan

Knowing your long-term goals helps you plot your course effectively. If you know that your son will cover chemistry in tenth grade, then there’s no reason to collect three other chemistry programs designed for middle schoolers when he’s in seventh grade. Avoiding senseless purchases isn’t just frugal, it’s good stewardship of your resources, your family, and your homeschool.

Try Sonlight for Free!

If you tend to curriculum hop or piece together programs from a wide variety of sources and are exhausted by the constant change, try Sonlight. It's complete and fully planned so you can stop the curriculum habit and settle on the one program that works.

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The Ultimate Summer Bucket List of Life Skills for Homeschoolers

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The Ultimate Summer Bucket List of Life Skills for Homeschoolers

Parents needs summer vacation as much as their children! It's a time to relax and recover. But summer days are also a great time to squeeze in topics that might be neglected during the homeschool year—like life skills!

Homeschoolers joke about having a life skills day when they put aside the books to clean house or prepare for a big move. But there are plenty of life skills outside of cleaning and downsizing that often get overlooked in the favor of grammar, geography, and geology.

Try these out this summer! Each skill can be adjusted to give the children the amount of information and practice they need for their age.

Home Economics Life Skills for Kids

There are several areas included in home economics, any of which would make for fun summer learning.

  • Cooking and Baking Being adept in the kitchen is a great skill to prepare your children for adulthood, but it has the added benefit of being helpful to the whole family right now. Teach your child how to make meals and snacks this summer so they can take some of the meal preparation tasks off your to do list in the fall.
  • Nutrition Teaching your children about macro nutrients, vitamins, and the body's insulin response will empower children to take better care of themselves with healthy food choices.
  • Child Development Knowing how to feed, change, and entertain small children can help your students prepare for life as parents or find jobs in childcare such as babysitting.
  • Home Management Let kids peek behind the scenes of what it takes to manage a home: paying taxes, basic upkeep, deep cleaning skills, and household repairs are all necessary skills for future homeowners.
  • Sewing From making clothes for themselves or for their dolls, to replacing buttons and hemming pants, sewing is a life skill that lengthens the life of your clothes.

Auto Repair Life Skills for Kids

Basic automotive repairs are skills every driver should be aware of. By the age of 12 (sometimes sooner), children can start to do basic car maintenance.

  • Emergency Skills Teach your kids how to change a tire, how to safely jump-start a vehicle with a dead battery, how to contact AAA for roadside assistance, what to do in an accident, etc.
  • Basic Car Maintenance Children should be able to check tire pressure, add air to tires, check the oil levels, and refill the wiper fluid.
  • Emergency Preparedness Skills Children should know about car insurance and how to contact emergency services. They can learn how to stock and check an emergency kit, check the spare tire to make sure it’s in good working condition, and regularly check to make sure emergency equipment (jack, jumper cables, etc) are in good working condition.
  • Vehicle Safety Teach your children what to do if their car starts smoking, steering stops working, or the engine stops while they are driving. Teach them how to respond if they get pulled over by a police officer and the need to always carry their license with them. Cell phone safety, dealing with friends who want to drive under the influence, what to do during a flood or blizzard, and road rage are all important to discuss.

Financial Life Skills for Kids

All children should learn how to handle money at some point. Saving money is a hard skill for some people to master, and budgeting confuses plenty of adults.

  • Budgeting Have your children help you with the household budget. Let them see how much you spend on different categories, and help them find ways to reduce costs in your household. Show them daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly expenses and how you keep track of when each needs to be paid.
  • Balancing a Bank Account Show them how to keep track of what’s being spent and deducted. While balancing a checkbook might no longer be a needed skill, it is important to keep track of how much money is in your accounts to watch for mistakes and catch when accounts have been hacked.
  • Taxes From property taxes to sales taxes, the amount that goes to taxes is usually stunning to teens. Help them see how sales tax is calculated, when it applies, and the other types of taxes they may encounter as an adult.
  • Giving/Tithing Explain how your family gives money, how you decide who to give it to, and how much to give.
  • Gifting From birthday and Christmas funds to general generosity to strangers on the street, go over the importance of giving money as well as spending it.
  • Saving There are two categories to teach when it comes to saving money. The first is how to save money on expenses by comparison shopping and cutting costs through frugal choices. The second is putting money aside for emergencies or for special projects.
  • Credit Children need to be taught to use credit responsibly, to keep credit under control, and not to spend more than they can afford to repay. The younger they learn this skill, the better the chances they will have fewer credit issues as an adult. Teach them how a credit score is calculated and start working on building their own credit score when they are older teens.

Computer Life Skills for Kids

Children grow up as digital natives today, but that doesn't mean they know all these practical computer skills! For those who like to limit electronics, teaching these topics over the summer keeps screentime from being a distraction to their regular studies.

  • Typing Most children can learn to type in a few short weeks, making this a great skill to learn over the summer. A fun typing program can help whittle away the hottest hours of the summer and give them a skill to help them with their writing assignments over the rest of the year.
  • Creating Digital Documents Writing a paper, creating a poster, or making a spreadsheet are all simple yet valuable skills to teach.
  • Programming Many children love learning to code and program and will happily spend many hours teaching themselves with a few resources.
  • Research Teach your child how to safely and accurately research. Sonlight includes tips on how to research each time they assign a research writing assignment in their Language Arts programs, but good research can always be improved. Teach them how to use keywords to search up information, how to evaluate the quality of a site, how to compile research, and how to structure a bibliography.
  • Internet Safety Show your children how to protect themselves online, how to restrict information they put online, and how to identify sites and people who may be misrepresenting themselves.

Safety Life Skills for Kids

In addition to the forms of online safety mentioned above, there are many other aspects of personal safety that are easy to teach but important to know.

  • Identification Safety Teach your child to memorize their full name, their parents' full names, address, and phone number.
  • Vehicle Safety Know car seat and seat belt rules.
  • Water Safety Cover swimming and lifesaving skills; avoid running near water. Touch on boat safety.
  • Fire Safety Hold simple fire drills. Teach your children to keep low, stop drop and roll, and alternate exit routes.
  • Kitchen Safety Train your children how to use knives, how to put out kitchen fires, and how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Stranger Safety Make sure your kinds know what to do if they get lost. Teach them some basic self-defense tactics and what to do if someone asks them to do something they shouldn’t.
  • Body Safety Discuss good touch/bad touch and what to do if they ever feel uncomfortable about a touching situation.
  • Tornado Safety Teach your children how to identify the sound of a tornado siren and how to find a safe area.
  • Hurricane Safety Go over the difference between warnings and watches. Discuss your family’s evacuation plan.
  • Allergy Safety Make sure kids know how to read food labels, how to use an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector), and when to call 911.
  • Physical Safety Teach basic first aid.
  • Survival Safety Go outdoors to learn how to build a fire, catch food, establish a clean water supply, and build a shelter.
  • Firearm Safety Instill in your children both the dangers of firearms and, as appropriate for your family and local culture, how to use firearms safely.
  • Secret Safety Discuss what secrets are okay to keep and which are not. Make sure children know when to tell parents secrets.

Many life skills can be taught in a short time period. Some need as little as twenty minutes, and others can be covered in a couple of days or a few weeks. Consider adding in a few life skills over the summer to help round out your child’s education and give your children confidence in their ability to take care of themselves and meet any life challenges they face.

When looking for life skills resources, start with Sonlight Electives. They are carefully curated so you can trust they are the cream of the crop.

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3 Ways To Give Your Summer Structure

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3 Ways To Give Your Summer Structure

Summer promises freedom. And, oh, do we crave that freedom—freedom from the obligation of daily assignments, the to and fro of weekly practices, and the hectic pace of co-op schedules.

But then, sometime around the five-week mark of an extended school break, things begin to shift the slightest bit. That lack of structure begins to feel like a lack of purpose.

You’re working harder to get kids motivated to do much more than scroll a screen, stream another episode of their favorite show, or follow you around the house reminding you that they’re bored. Those grand plans for outdoor fun have played out, you’ve lost all interest in making yet another Pinterest craft, and you can’t spend every day at the pool without it, too, losing its luster.

What’s a mom to do?

1. When in Doubt, Read

The easiest way to inject structure into a summer that’s starting to fizzle is to create a loose, low-pressure reading list. Any Readers or Read-Alouds that didn’t get covered during the school year can be tackled in the hotter months, as can extra books that don’t fit elsewhere but you don’t want to miss.

Sonlight’s Summer Readers are also a fabulous, no-stress way to gain some balance in your days. From early readers to high school, adding some daily reading time anchors the day and gives it some shape—and offers some creative conversation points, too. My family maintains a daily reading time after lunch year-round. That little bit of predictability is often enough to ward off the summer crazies.

2. Field Trips That Won’t Leave You All Wet

Visiting your neighborhood pool is great. Trekking to the beach is fabulous. Dipping in the lake is wonderful. Even outings to local splash pads and fountains are fun. But eventually, the crowds and the heat will get to you… and you’ll crave something of the beaten path.

Summer is the perfect time for off-season field trips. Gather with a group of friends, or just journey as a family to find indoor and outdoor educational pursuits that will get you out of the there’s-nothing-to-do rut:

  • picking produce at a local farm
  • attending free workshops at big chain hobby stores
  • taking advantage of discount movie days
  • bowling
  • touring the printing press of your local newspaper
  • holding an ice cream crawl
  • roller skating

3. Did You Say School?

But what if what you really want is a little taste of, well… normalcy? Maybe the kind of structure you need to help your days is school. Before you panic or picture your kids mid-mutiny, consider: a super light schedule of just three math lessons per week might get your children's brains engaged, and help them enjoy (and appreciate!) that leisurely afternoon building a tent village in their own backyard.

School might feel like a dirty word between June and August, but it might very well be the answer to helping ward off boredom, cut down on bickering, and ultimately extending the joy of those long weeks of summer.

An interest-led unit study, or lessons in something you don’t get to during the normal school year (baking? sewing?) are educational, fun, and often just enough to help you and your children feel like their summer was an oasis of respite instead of a waste.

20 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight
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