Teaching the Hidden Curriculum by Integrating Sonlight into Life

Teaching the Hidden Curriculum by Integrating Sonlight into Life

If Charlotte Mason was right, education is a life. Education will restructure a life, but it’s a two-way street. Life also structures education, intentionally or accidentally. 

It is near-impossible to drum up a sustained interest in ancient literature if it doesn’t enjoy so much as a mention in everyday conversation. Conversely, the table saw used by an uncle for his job as a carpenter will arouse a fascination, regardless of its absence in the curriculum.

There is a curriculum in the space between lessons, in the figures who model ongoing, meaningful learning projects. Here are four ways you can take Sonlight to the in-between places.

1. Bring Math-U-See to the Workplace

I can sympathise with my daughter who sees mathematics as a distraction from real life. She would drop it in a heartbeat to connect with a friend, but I want her to experience the places where mathematics is actually the means of social connection.

One evening I asked a friend who owns an artisan bakery if he would let us come and be a fly on the wall, to see the inner workings of the bakery. (Whether we proved to be more like a fly on the wall or like a bull in a china shop, they invited us back.)

The next time, I brought the Math-U-See manipulatives in the car. Over lunch with the children, I interviewed the couple who owned the business. I asked them why they started it. I asked about their experience employing staff, and about the finances.

Before driving home, I turned to the backseats and used the manipulatives I had brought to explain income, expenses, and profit. 

Before we next visited, I asked my seven-year-old to be an investigative journalist. After questioning them, she wrote in her journal that they loved reading comments from satisfied customers and that they were using ratios to measure the right amount of flour. 

The next morning, the kids were playing baker shop featuring the 1:10 ratio and some very happy customers. The hidden curriculum had worked into their pretend play.

My daughter needed to see that the manipulatives communicated something, not just of educational value to Daddy, but of social value in a person’s life-work. 

2. Bring The Odyssey to the Dinner Table

Those who are not stay-at-home parents enjoy a special opportunity to flesh out the relation between your learning program and the adult world. They can set your learning to the tune of something bigger.

Set up a video call with the missionary family your church supports, and ask them if they have ever had to be honest with the government like Gladys in Gladys Aylward. Have your archaeologist sister-in-law over for lunch and ask if she has encountered superstitions like the archaeologist in Sticks Across the Chimney

If your conversation with your partner over dinner consists of nothing but money problems, scheduling, and an occasional movie, those little listeners may begin to believe that math only presents problems later in life, and that literature is something one grows out of altogether. 

On the other hand, if mom and dad have a conversation over dinner about the difference between the portrayal of violence in The Odyssey and in the Old Testament, maybe literature is a serious business. That’s when the hidden curriculum comes into focus. Maybe understanding cultural perspectives on suffering is a note in the song worth hearing, even when there is a schedule to worry about.

3. Bring Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the Trampoline

When I started homeschooling my kids, I would read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to my two eldest who bounced on the trampoline. I would walk around the trampoline, talking over the maddening squeak, putting the six-month-old to sleep in the encircling push-chair. I can’t say I was enjoying Alice, having read it aloud four times already, but this was a moment for the hidden curriculum. 

When I was a young teen, I played music to my father in the car. I was into Christian death metal. He wasn’t. Not only did he listen for hours, he would listen closely enough to analyse the music with me. 

Daddy, a former music producer, regarded my musical interests as more important than his. When it came to another day around the trampoline, I called Daddy’s humility to mind. 

There is a time for grammar, and there is a time for the fifth reading of Alice. Follow them to the trampoline and they will eventually follow you to the chalkboard.

It matters where you take the Sonlight curriculum. It matters

  • If you expose Math-U-See to meaningful work,
  • If your partner takes The Odyssey seriously
  • And if you take Alice to the Sisyphean trampoline.

Take the Sonlight curriculum to the in-between places and allow it to illuminate your children. The curriculum behind the curriculum is the life and heart of the purposeful parent. You are the hidden curriculum.

a Sonlight education

Be confident in your curriculum purchase by following three easy steps.

The post Teaching the Hidden Curriculum by Integrating Sonlight into Life appeared first on Sonlight Homeschooling Blog.

12 More Books from American History That Teach Empathy

12 More Books from American History That Teach Empathy

Here is yet another collection of great titles taken from Sonlight Readers and Read-Alouds that teach empathy.

When you read a book, you put yourself in the characters’ shoes, seeing the world through their eyes, and experiencing their feelings. This vicarious element of reading fiction and biographies is exactly how they promote empathy. When you can see someone else’s perspective, you can better understand their choices, their way of thinking, and their reactions.

Each historical fiction novel listed below is set in a period of American history. The realistic and historically accurate portrayals give your children a grasp of history in the most enjoyable way possible — through a narrative. You get the best of all worlds: reading skills, history content, and empathy. This is the Sonlight way of learning!

1. Walk the World’s Rim

by Betty Baker

from History / Bible / Literature D

A 14-year old Indian joins Cabeza de Vaca’s 16th-century expedition through the Southwest. This historical account paints a vivid portrait of Mexican life and the harsh conditions of a primitive Indian tribe. It may make you cry!

2. The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

from History / Bible / Literature D

A girl raised in luxury in the Caribbean struggles to adjust to Puritan New England. She befriends a lonely Quaker widow whom some call “the witch of Blackbird Pond.” There is no witch or witchcraft in this honest and inspiring story of Puritan life, but plenty of opportunity to develop empathy while learning about Puritan history.

3. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

by Jean Lee Latham

from History / Bible / Literature D

This fascinating true story follows the life of a poor apprentice who, shortly after the American Revolution, transforms navigation from an art to a precise science. Bowditch’s book is still a standard reference among mariners.

4. The Journeyman

by Elizabeth Yates

from History / Bible / Literature D

In this touching story, a boy, who is despised by his father because of his artistic bent, leaves home to find his place in the world.

5. Justin Morgan Had a Horse

by Marguerite Henry

from History / Bible / Literature D

This true story tells of of a young boy who trained the first all-American (but now world-famous) Morgan horse.

6. Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

from History / Bible / Literature E

This novel tells the powerful story of a young man for whom the Civil War spans five Aprils.

7. Caddie Woodlawn

by Carol Ryrie Brink

from History / Bible / Literature E

Caddie may become one of your favorite heroines! Eleven-year-old Caddie grows up with her six brothers and sisters in the Wild West frontiers of Wisconsin in the late 1800s. Indians, raging rivers, massacre scares, loving family life are all here. Caddie helps keep peace between the Indians and settlers.

8. Little Britches

by Ralph Moody

from History / Bible / Literature E

Ralph is barely 8 years old when his family moves to Colorado for the sake of Dad’s health, and the family tries to make a go of it on the ranch. It’s a classic true story of ranching in Colorado in the early 1900’s.

You’ll stay on the edge of your seat as you read about cowboy country among loving neighbors and murderous competitors.

9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

from History / Bible / Literature E

This must-read award-winning book is set in the post-Civil War South. The Logans are one of the few black families to own land: a cause for racial tensions and strife. it’s a story of overcoming unjust opposition.

10. King of the Mound

by Wes Tooke

from History / Bible / Literature E

When Nick is released from the hospital after suffering from polio, he’s sure his father will never look at him in the same way again. Once the best pitcher in youth league, Nick now walks with a limp and is dependent on a heavy leg brace. He isn’t sure he’ll ever return to the mound. When Nick starts working for Mr. Churchill, owner of a semiprofessional team, he meets Satchel Paige, arguably the best pitcher in the world. Not allowed into the major leagues because of his skin color, Satchel teaches Nick that some things can be overcome with hard work and dedication, and that just because you’re down, you’re most certainly not out.

11. A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt

by C. Coco De Young

from History / Bible / Literature E

When the bank forecloses on her family’s home during the Great Depression, 11-year-old Margo Bandini writes to Eleanor Roosevelt for help.

Fascinating plot twists and historical detail hold your attention. Heartwarming story of community cohesion and determination to do good. Powerful.

12. Miracles on Maple Hill

by Virginia Sorensen

from History / Bible / Literature E

In this heartwarming Newbery Medal winner, Dad has returned from World War II a changed man: withdrawn, touchy, unable to work.

The family moves back to the family farm where dad gets the healing he needs. You’ll love the description of maple sugaring!

For 30 years (since 1990), Sonlight is the industry-leading literature-rich homeschool curriculum.

The post 12 More Books from American History That Teach Empathy appeared first on Sonlight Homeschooling Blog.

Dear Homeschool Parent You Need a Hobby

Image of yarn balls with text How to Find a Hobby that Energizes and Refreshes You - TheHomeSchoolMomDear Homeschool Parent, I say this in the nicest possible way with my sweetest voice: YOU NEED A HOBBY! You need an interest outside of homeschooling. You need time away from planning and teaching and making crafts and blowing up things in your kitchen. You need to rest your voice from all the reading. You need something that is not pre-algebra equations. You need to plan a field trip for yourself and not another one to the zoo. Stay with me… Continue reading »

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What Our Interest-Led Homeschool Looks Like with Teens

Image of paint on paint brushes with text What our Interest-Led Homeschool Looks Like with Teens - TheHomeSchoolMomEarly on in our homeschooling journey, we tried many methods and styles of homeschooling. As my kids got older, I had to step back and evaluate what type of learning environment I wanted to create in our home. I had one vision, and it included all of us still sitting around doing as much together as possible because it was easier for me and because I thought that I had to do that in order to be ticking off the boxes for homeschooling the right way. However, my kids had other ideas. And, because it’s their education, I really needed to listen. This felt good and scary. Continue reading »

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Education Secretary Thinks Outside the Lunchroom at Homeschool Cookout

Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently visited with homeschoolers in Colorado as part of her six-state Rethink School tour in an effort to garner support for school choice. DeVos, who homeschooled two of her children at one point, voiced her support for parents who decide to go against the “same routine” that has become a hallmark of public education.

“These dedicated families have selected the educational environment that they think best meets the needs of their own children,” she said in a recent blog post describing her backyard cookout meeting with Colorado homeschoolers. “We should not stand in the way of their decision, but instead support and applaud the choices families make for their kids.” Those who were at the event said the conversation focused on their motivations to homeschool and the positive experience it has provided for both students and parents.

HSLDA is encouraged by the positive relationship that DeVos and the Department of Education are pursuing with the homeschool community. School choice has overwhelmingly been proven to have a positive impact on education in the United States, and homeschooling has a remarkable track record of success.

And while we are seeing positive signs from the Department of Education, HSLDA is still cautious about the use of government-funded vouchers, which DeVos has voiced support for in the past. HSLDA met with DeVos earlier this year (pictured above) to make clear that homeschoolers want to preserve our freedom and autonomy.

DeVos was asked during a press conference on her tour about vouchers, and she replied, “[I]t’s up to the people of every state to decide how that happens.” We will continue to monitor any and all legislation that could add red tape to homeschool freedom.


Photo Credit: Will Estrada


2018_2_7 - Valentine Giveaway_Weekend to Remember

When was the last time you were able to really get away with your spouse? To enjoy what you love doing together—whether it’s going for a hike, embarking on an adventurous road trip, reading a new book together, trying a new recipe, seeing a play, playing a board game, or just grabbing coffee?


It can be tough to find those moments. To-do lists and responsibilities often eat up most of our daily life, making intentional time with your spouse all the more precious!

We understand this struggle to balance daily demands with slowing down to enjoy your relationship. That’s why the HSLDA blog is hosting a Valentine’s Day giveaway: free passes to a Weekend to Remember getaway!

 FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember offers a distraction-free chance to invest in your spouse through encouragement, hope, and practical tools to grow your relationship. Here’s what one attendee said about it: “After 19 years we realized we haven’t really taken time to get to know each other. This conference reinvented us and sparked a new life in our marriage.”

Follow the directions below to enter for a chance to win free passes to this weekend getaway!

Also, did you know about various discounts available to HSLDA members through PerX and teacher discounts? PerX offers discounts to places like Choice Hotels and National Car Rental, including $100 off this FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. You can also visit this page to see a list of places that offer teacher discounts to homeschooling parents (Barnes & Noble, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels, to name a few).



  • To enter for your chance to win a free Weekend to Remember getaway, simply complete the actions through the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY form.
  • The giveaway extends from February 7 to February 14, 2018, at 11.59 PM EST.
  • A random drawing to select the winners will be held on Valentine’s Day, February 15 12:00 AM, 2018.
  • Winners will be contacted by February 19, 2018. Below, read the terms and conditions of the giveaway for more details.

We wish you a very happy and memorable Valentine’s Day!


Photo Credit: First graphic design by Anna Soltis.


The HSLDA Weekend to Remember Giveaway closes at 11:59pm EST on February 14, 2018. HSLDA employees and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate in the giveaway. The entrant must leave a comment on the blog post associated with the giveaway or email blog@hslda.org with their comment in order to qualify.

A random drawing will be conducted on February 15, 2018, and the winners will be contacted by email by February 19, 2018. Therefore, all entrants must use a working email address when entering in order to qualify for the giveaway* If a winner does not respond to HSLDA’s prize notification within 24 hours, that entry will be discarded and a new winner will be drawn, with the same response rules applying. Prizes courtesy of FamilyLife and the PerX program. Entrants will receive information about homeschooling news and resources from HSLDA. We value your privacy and will never sell or share your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

For questions or comments concerning this giveaway, please email BLOG@hslda.org

Free Summer Printables and Montessori-Inspired Summer Activities

This will definitely be an unusual summer. But summer activities can still be both fun and educational. I have lots of great summer resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers of preschoolers through first graders. I also have a new Montessori-inspired summer pack for our newsletter subscribers’ resource library! Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (at…

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The post Free Summer Printables and Montessori-Inspired Summer Activities appeared first on Living Montessori Now.

Free Juneteenth Songs and Educational Videos

Juneteenth is a holiday we didn’t learn about in school. We learned about the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective January 1, 1863. We didn’t learn about Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery … when enslaved Black people in Texas were given the news that they were free on June 19, 1865, 2½ years…

Read More »

The post Free Juneteenth Songs and Educational Videos appeared first on Living Montessori Now.

Letter Rolling Alphabet Activity for Preschoolers

Ready to be the coolest parent ever? Try letter rolling! You will amaze your kids with this fun, educational alphabet activity for preschoolers, toddlers, and kindergartners while playing with playdough.

Ready to be the coolest parent ever? Try letter rolling! You will amaze your kids with this fun, educational alphabet activity for preschoolers, toddlers, and kindergartners while playing with playdough. Alphabet Stamping Learning the alphabet is a fundamental part of every child’s education. The alphabet provides the necessary building blocks for reading and writing and […]

The post Letter Rolling – Alphabet Activity for Preschoolers appeared first on 123 Homeschool 4 Me.

Australia for Kids Printable Book

fun to color Australia printables to help kids learn about the boomerang, flag, vegemite, Sydney opera house, flag, digeridoo, kangroo, and more!

Go down under as you learn about Australia for Kids with these free printable books. These books help teach about Australia; their way of life, the culture, landmarks and interests. They will also learn about some iconic Australian animals like the native kangaroo. Australia For Kids Whether you are a parent, teacher, or homeschooler – […]

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