Twenty-three luggage tags. That’s a lot of luggage tags no matter who you are. Sure, we probably qualify for large family status at seven members, but, still, keeping up with 23 pieces of luggage is a difficult task for anyone. Our flight was no average trip for a family vacation. No. This flight was taking us on a three-year adventure to Germany—our second such adventure during our time as an Army family.
One of those twenty-three luggage tags was specifically dedicated to our Sonlight curriculum. In preparation for this move, I spent an afternoon figuring out which books my kids were going to need while we were in transition. I kept with us about six weeks of material per kid as well as the Student and Instructor's Guides for those weeks. I then mailed the rest of the year’s school work to a friend who already lived in Germany. We were going to be in a hotel for weeks, if not months, and I didn’t want us to miss too much school work. The movers drove away with our couch, most of our clothes, our photo albums, and our beds, but we had our Sonlight books with us.
1. Homeschooling Eases the Transitions
Research shows that moving is one of the top five most stressful life experiences. It doesn’t matter whether the move is to a new house or to a new country… moving is very stressful. Military kids move often and ours were facing an overseas move. It was my job as mom to make things as smooth as possible. I love that homeschooling my children brings them consistency that they couldn’t get otherwise.
Because we homeschool:
- They didn’t have to face going to a new school.
- They were able to dive into their familiar books, which, as you know, can be like friends in and of themselves.
- They were able to continue the work they started earlier in the year with no break in their scope and sequence.
- They had sense of home even while we were between homes.
Reading aloud to my second grader and watching my teens enjoy their Readers gave me peace. Moving is difficult for anyone, and having this one bit of stability during a move makes things much more tolerable.
2. Characters in Books are Friends We Take With Us Anywhere We Go
My second grader and I started Detectives in Togas while in the hotel in Germany and we finished it last week sitting on our own couch. The day after we finished it Parker (8) said, “I can’t wait to see what happens next in Detectives in Togas! Oh, man! We finished it. I’m sad we finished it.” I love that Parker was so invested that he missed the characters when the last page was turned. Sonlight’s selection of books introduces us to characters we really connect with. It’s like having friends who can travel with us, bringing a sense of consistency and familiarity to our new home.
According to the National Military Family Association, “Military children will say good-bye to more significant people by age eighteen than the average person will in their lifetime.” Because of these constant goodbyes, having familiar characters in the books we read provides a comfort to children of all ages.
3. The Sonlight IG Provides Consistent Structure to Our Days
Kids flourish with structure and predictability. Being an Army family means our lives are unpredictable, but Sonlight provides us with much needed structure. Within the Instructor Guide, each day’s work is easy to see and that makes getting the materials ready each day a breeze. If I hadn’t had that structure prepared for me, we would have gotten much less done during our season of major transition. It would have been incredibly difficult for me to pull together what each child needed to work on while preparing for the move; therefore, I would have been tempted put school on the back burner. Thanks to the Instructor Guides, we were able to have structured homeschool days even when the rest of our world felt completely unstructured.
4. Sonlight Takes Care of School So I Can Focus on the Logistics of Life
Because Sonlight has done all the work for me, I can focus on the logistics of moving our family when the Army gives us new orders. The kids know each day what is expected of them and can keep up with their work with very little direction from me. In the older kids’ History / Bible / Literature programs, the Student Guide has notes written to the student explaining why each particular book was included in the year’s reading. The kids can see their vocabulary words and answer questions for the chapters they read even if I’m preoccupied with unpacking boxes and hanging pictures.
5. The Missions-focus of Sonlight Helps Us Focus on Others
We are a patriotic family, as you may imagine. We love America, and yet we struggle with the temptation to feel it is the center of the world. Through the missionary biographies in every History / Bible / Literature program, we have read about and prayed for many other cultures. We have learned how God loves all people and that many countries live in very poor conditions compared to our own.
And being an Army family stationed overseas, we are able to feel firsthand what it is like to live in a place that is not our home. Sonlight’s missions-focus reminds us of our calling to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Our difficult transitions seem mild when compared to the challenges faced by missionaries like Bruce Olson and Mary Slessor. Sonlight has taught us to be others-focused by pointing our hearts toward Christ and His people who live all over the world.
We move often, and it’s not up to us where or when. I am so thankful for Sonlight and its amazing selection of books, clearly organized and with all the preparation done for me in the Instructor Guides. I’m grateful that the missions-focus helps us recognize that our challenges aren’t really all that bad. Sonlight allows me to focus on the emotional, spiritual, and logistical needs of my family, all while knowing that their educational needs are being met in the meantime.