If you’ve read my blog posts, you know that we love Sonlight. Of course we do. We are readers and writers and folks who think that the Gospel is deserving of the effort it takes to collect the Passport stamp. So Sonlight? Natural fit.
This year, Sonlight is celebrating 25 years as a company, and is hosting a monthly blog party as a way of introducing even more homeschoolers (new and old) to their curriculum. I am all in favor of winning more minds to the idea of reading as a way of life and learning, so I’m playing along. This month’s theme is a simple introduction. And while I’m pretty sure any post in which I attempted to sum up everything and everyone would come up with a word count that would be staggering even for my norm, I’m going to make a stab at it. Hold onto your hats.
We’re the Schwarzens: a family of ten (eleven in May, God willing) that’s been homeschooling since the spring of 2002. We’ve recently relocated to North Carolina by way of Kathmandu, Nepal. Prior to our sadly short stint as field missionaries, we made our home on the wet side of Washington state for a huge chunk of our lives. Our children range from 18 to in utero, and have come to us by way of both adoption and biology. For fun, we watch English Premiere League football, birdwatch, spend time exploring nature, learn new stuff, and play games. Our homeschooling philosophy centers on Christ (our Savior), character (our hearts), and connection (building the Kingdom of God through our gifts) first and foremost, with a strong emphasis on academic excellence as a means of glorifying God.
Christopher and Heather
We’re the co-conspirators who head up this brood. When it comes to homeschooling, Christopher handles Bible study for the older boys, French for all interested parties, Physics, and all math above Algebra I. I (Heather) am responsible for the rest of the teaching, with a heavy emphasis on making sure that all of our graduates come out on the other side with the ability to compose written work that doesn’t make me hide my head in shame. Christopher’s hobbies are drawing with oil pastels, reading decent fiction, dreaming about someday owning sheep, and international travel with an emphasis on training local believers. I’m far more boring: I read, I write, I knit, I sew, I bake, and I’m learning to use a Turkish spindle.
Our 18 year-old Nepali daughter will graduate from +2 (non-required continuing education, but not university) this spring in Kathmandu. Despite years of trying to persuade the American government to grant her a visa, we have been unable to be united as a family except during our time in Nepal. Babita’s hope is to become a teacher. She has a wicked sense of humor, a strong love of her people, and the ability to serve as a Pied Piper of small children for miles around.
We began homeschooling Mary Hannah just prior to her first year of kindergarten, and were delighted to be able to see her don a cap and gown in May of 2014. Part of her high school education included pursuing doula certification through Bastyr University, and she’s currently filling her time taking classes in American Civics, Economics, Music Theory, and French. Fluent in that language, she hopes to someday travel to the country and order something fabulous from a cafe.
Right now, Mathaus is our oldest student. He’s a high school freshman, and our strongest candidate for “traditional four-year college student.” Mathaus plans on studying film, and loves living life behind a lens. He’s also an excellent cook, plays the keyboard, and writes science fiction stories for fun. This kid is a homeschooling mom’s dream: he works hard, loves to learn, and engages in fulfilling conversation on everything from the use of levers in ancient building to Homer’s choice of words in The Odyssey.
Sitting on the edge of tween and teen, twelve year-old Jack is currently in 7th grade. He thinks math is easy, but Adam and His Kin is the most boring book ever. Jack is a master builder with paper, cardboard, Legos, anything. He wants to be a pilot, and enjoys studying a thick manual detailing the most minute facts of flying machines. Jack is not always the easiest kid to homeschool; he keeps me honest when it comes to taking the safe route in homeschooling. Fresh, engaging, real-life application is the way to keep Jack a happy homeschooler.
We were blessed by the addition of Phineas when he was just 14 months old. Since then, we’ve learned a whole new vocabulary of life as a special needs family. Homeschooling Phin requires a learning curve of adaption, repetition, and creativity. Phin’s needs keep us constantly learning and growing– and expanding our ability to meet a whole variety of learning styles at once.
In a classroom setting, we’re pretty sure our 6 year-old first grader, John Mark, would be labelled ADHD. Thankfully he’s at home, where he can jump his way through addition facts, get his hands dirty in science, and read while wearing furrows in the carpet in a rocking chair. John Mark loves the adventure of decoding words and thinks studying birds is the best thing ever.
At four, our Birdie is a precocious little lady who is delighted to be able to write her name and is looking forward to the day when those letter sounds she’s been practicing come together as whole words. Birdie is a classic girly-girl who colors, stickers, and dances her way through her days.
Our 2 year-old whirlwind keeps us on our toes with questions, demands, and a whole lot of go, go, go. We have a Montessori approach to toddlerhood, and Simon is knee-deep in learning fine motor skills and the nuances of practical life. Soon enough, he’ll be a big brother … and will learn the new word, “wait.”
So that’s us. If you’re stopping by via the Blog Party, leave us a comment so we can return the visit and get to know you!