Coming Full Circle

There's an old saying that says, "What goes around comes around." As a second generation homeschool mom living in Kalispell, Montana, Sonesta Smith has come full circle from being a homeschool student to becoming a homeschool mom. Taking her love of learning even deeper, today she's the one responsible for choosing the curriculum, making lesson plans, and meeting the educational needs for her two inquisitive daughters, Khaila and Jasmine.

Together with her husband, Greg, Sonesta has learned to deal with the typical problems faced by most homeschooling families. Living on one income with a tight budget, Sonesta began homeschooling by creating her own curriculum from free, online educational resources, worksheets, and materials. However, she soon realized there weren't enough hours in a day to create an entire homeschool curriculum, teach it, and deal with the daily responsibilities of being a wife and caring for a home. After hours of research to find an affordable curriculum that would fit her family's learning styles, Sonesta found homeschooling success with her eclectic approach that included Switched-On Schoolhouse® (SOS) from Alpha Omega Publications®. This is her story:

Q: What factors led to your decision to homeschool?

Sonesta: After experiencing the difference between public school, a private Christian school, and homeschooling myself as a child, I knew that a homeschool education was something I wanted to give my own children. My parent's efforts to legalize homeschooling in our state and dedication to provide me with a godly education also had a great impact on my life.

Q: How did you first learn about SOS, and why did you choose it for your eleven-year-old daughter, Khaila?

Sonesta: I first read about Switched-On Schoolhouse in a catalog while researching homeschool curriculum, and I always wanted to give it a try. So, when my younger daughter, Jasmine, required more one-on-one teaching time while learning to read, I decided to purchase three SOS subject areas that my older daughter could work on independently. Hoping to develop good study habits, I also picked SOS for my daughter's curriculum because I wanted her to learn how to study in order to take tests successfully.

Khaila studying Switched-On Schoolhouse Bible (photo submitted)

Q: What features do you and your daughter like most about SOS, and how has it benefited your homeschooling?

Sonesta: Learning how to homeschool with SOS was easy. Within a week, my daughter and I felt comfortable with the interactive, multimedia format. Since my daughter is dyslexic and struggles with reading, she especially appreciates Switched-On Schoolhouse's text-to-speech feature that allows her to hear lessons read out loud, while simultaneously reading them to herself. Working with the computer is a real motivator, and now she frequently works ahead in her lessons at her own pace.

Q: In addition to your regular homeschool curriculum, what other activities do you include in your daughters' education?

Sonesta: Khaila and Jasmine's education also includes volunteer work in our small, closely-knit community. They babysit and help with crafts and activities at the nursing home. We also take advantage of field trips and study topics together with other families in our homeschool group. Other extracurricular activities include classes at the local art center and involvement in our church's children's program.

Q: How has teaching your own children changed you personally, and what new lessons about homeschooling have you learned?

Sonesta: I've learned that homeschooling is a lifestyle and not just academics. Learning together as a family is the most important thing about homeschooling, and I love the fact that I'm the first to see my daughters discover new things. The financial trade off is more than worth being a part of my children's lives on a daily basis. After five years of homeschooling, I've also realized this important fact: homeschooling is always evolving and never static. I've learned to take one day at a time, throw preconceived expectations out the window, and forget about trying to "do school" at home. I'm so thankful for the privilege of teaching my own children at home and the many ways Switched-On Schoolhouse has made our homeschooling easier and more fun!

The Smith Family - (left to right) Mom (LaVonne), Greg, and Sonesta
                                  Khaila (middle) and Jasmine (front) (photo submitted)

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