A lifelong learning dare: go beyond board books

This giveaway has now ended. Check back soon for the winner!

You know what’s one of my favorite side-effects to homeschooling? As the primary teacher, I get a second education. So far just in this school year, I’ve already re-learned the significance of the Fertile Crescent in ancient agriculture, the names of the major types of muscles, and how to correctly pronounce “homme” in French. It’s fun.

I’m a big believer in being a lifelong learner. That’s our main goal for our children’s educations (no matter where they go to school), so it only makes sense that it’s a personal goal as well. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. And 12+ years this side of university, my thirst for knowledge is far from slaked.

Parents—especially moms of teeny-tinies— often go on mental autopilot. We’re so busy taking care of the little people in our lives, we rarely exercise our brains because they’re just so full from menu planning, playdates, and reading board books.

I don’t think that should be. We should always be learning new things, not only because it’s setting a good example for our kids, but because it just makes life more interesting. It gives you something to talk about over the dinner table.

I’ve already shared some ways I like to pursue a lifetime of learning, and I go into a bit more detail in my new e-book (project 44). Here are a few more.

1. Join a book club.

This past January, when we were still living in Austin, I joined a book club on a whim. I hardly knew anybody in that group, but I was in the mood to meet new people and to read books I normally wouldn’t. It was a blast.

This monthly meeting got me out of the house, provided intelligent conversation with other women, and put something new on my nightstand I wouldn’t have thought to check out at the library.

Use MeetUp to find a book club near you, or just ask around at libraries or bookstores. And if you can’t find one, start one yourself.

2. Soak in TED talks.

Second to listening to my podcast (Ha! subtle, no?), listen to TED talks as you’re folding laundry or starting dinner. This non-profit started in the early 80s to bring together people from technology, entertainment, and design, and has since exploded to become the place to hear from the best-of-the-best in a variety of fields. Their mission is simple: to spread ideas.

At their annual conference, over 50 speakers take an 18-minute slot to speak their mind. Then they post all those talks on their website where you can listen, free. There’s really, really good stuff to stretch your brain. Some of my favorites are Jamie Oliver (he actually won the 2010 TED Prize), Mark Bittman, and Ken Robinson. Oh, how I love Ken Robinson. I could listen to him talk all day.

3. Learn a new language.

Living overseas, this was easy—more likely, I had to find a quiet spot to think and speak in English. But now that we’ve been stateside over a year, I miss hearing the cacophony of different languages. Most everywhere in the world, locals speak at least two languages. Americans are most definitely the exception.

It’s never too late to learn a new language, especially with so many available resources. Your brain can handle it, I promise.

Tate is learning French with Rosetta Stone for school, and I’m jumping in alongside her. She’s able to go as slow as she needs and repeats the lessons as many times as she wants. And since it’s on the computer, it feels like a game to her. Heck, it does to me, too. It’s fun.

I used Rosetta Stone when I lived in Kosovo to help teach English to Albanian teenagers. We used it as a family to learn the local language when we lived in the Middle East. I guess you could say we’re fans.

It’s not cheap, but it’s one of the best language learning resources out there because it teaches you language the way you learn your first language. You start by listening, then by putting meaning behind the noise, followed by mimicking, and finally, tying it all up with writing and grammar skills. Far too often, we approach language in the opposite manner.

Rosetta Stone is a great tool in the home to help you pursue a lifetime of learning. Sure, world travel is best. But if that’s not realistic, this resource is golden.

And guess what? One of you will win a copy of Rosetta Stone, in whatever language you choose!

Wanna try French, like us? Or how about Italian, like Jamie’s family? Or Chinese, Swahili, Welsh, or Pashto? You can choose from level 1 in over 30 languages.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post, telling me which language you’d like to try! (If you’re reading this via email, you must hop over to this post and leave a comment here.)

2. To get a second entry, mention this giveaway on Facebook, first liking Simple Mom and then linking to this post (here’s the URL: http://lvsm.pl/oIbwVS). Then come back here and leave an additional comment, telling me you posted.

OR, you can…

…Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including the link to this post (http://lvsm.pl/oIbwVS) and including the handles @SimpleMom and @RosettaStone. Then come back and leave an additional comment, telling me you tweeted.

This giveaway will end tomorrow, Saturday, September 3 at 11:59 pm PST. I’ll announce the winner soon after. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I would love to learn to speak Russian.

  2. Phronsie Howell says:

    Honestly, I’d like to boost my Latin skills. My husband wants to do Latin American Spanish. (Which admittedly, I need to brush up on considering my dad’s side of the family lives in Mexico.)

  3. Spanish please!

  4. I would like to learn tagalog, so I can understand my in-laws

  5. Phronsie Howell says:

    Facebook posted!

  6. Spanish (Latin American) for me, too–it would be fun to dust off my high school/college Spanish while learning with my 4 year old!

  7. I would love the German progam, as my husband and I want to live there one day!

  8. I’m torn between me learning more Arabic and letting my kids start with French (like I did) or Spanish (which would probably be the most useful).

  9. I would love to learn Latin and also want my son to learn Latin!

  10. I posted this giveaway on Facebook! Thanks for the opportunity!

  11. it’s a toss up between tagalog & spanish. hmm…or even latin. 🙂 thanks for the chance!

  12. Well…I’m Hispanic but I can’t speak Spanish so the first language I would want to learn is Spanish. Then German….then Hebrew…then Italian…

  13. Jessica D. says:

    I’ve always wanted to learn Italian!

  14. I think I’d go for French – hard choice!

  15. I posted this to Facebook! Thank you!

  16. I’m currently using Rosetta Stone to learn German, but would like to learn Norwegian, as well! 🙂

  17. I was just thinking about how I feel like my brain is turning to mush with the lack of stimulation! I’d love to learn Spanish!

  18. I posted a link to Facebook, too. Thank-you!

  19. I’d LOVE to try the Rosetta Stone German … mostly for my KIDS! I already speak some German but don’t know how to best teach my children.

  20. While I’d love to learn Chinese to move to China….the kids and I are learning Spanish right now. So I’d have to say Spanish.

  21. It’s a toss up between French and Spanish! 😀

  22. German!

  23. What language don’t I want to learn!? I would have to settle on Russian.

  24. I’d love to learn some Italian as we’re off to Tuscany for a holiday next year.

  25. wow, that’s a very hard decision…. I’d like to say Chinese, but I don’t know if I want to tackle something that difficult right off the bat, or work on something closer to home, like Spanish. I hope I win!

  26. I also re-posted this on Facebook (and I already ‘liked’ Simple Mom before this!) 🙂

  27. also just tweeted about the giveaway! 🙂

  28. Jessica D. says:

    Posted on FB!

  29. This is a tough choice. I think though I’d want the Chinese one.

  30. I’m torn… I know that Spanish would be re most useful, being in southern california. But, my boyfriend and I really want to visit Japan next year and I would love to learn a bit of the language first. Thanks for the give-away opportunity!

  31. Italian would be fun to learn!

  32. I think I would love to learn Chinese (Mandarin). Or perhaps perfect the French I barely can remember! Great giveaway! Thanks!

  33. I really need to learn German as we’ve been in Switzerland a year and still know very little!

  34. I liked Simple Mom on Facebook and included a link! Thanks again! Would love this one for my daughter and I!

  35. French! My daughter needs to start learning it, and I need help teaching her!!

  36. Just posted about this on Facebook.

  37. Turkish. I already have Greek and Macedonian down so Turkish seems like the logical next step from here.

  38. I would use it to learn Hindi, so I could communicate better with Inlaws and teach my kids

  39. I want to learn Spanish.. have done a few lessons from this course on my friend’s computer.. Winning this getaway(I hope) will be nice ..
    Thanks 🙂

  40. I would LOVE to learn Spanish. Living in California this is basically a must! : )

  41. I’m not actually looking to enter the giveaway since I already have Rosetta Stone. I just wanted to say that I’m learning French too. I find RS a little repetitive sometimes, but I suppose that’s just part of learning a language.

    I’m learning because the family I married into is French Canadian. My husband and I are raising our little girl bilingual. So if I’m going to have any chance of helping her on her homework, I better learn French fast!

  42. I already liked Simple Mom on Facebook, but I linked to the post!

  43. I would love to learn French.

  44. I’d love to learn French!!

  45. I would love to learn Latin American Spanish!! I think we could put it to use. I have been wanting this for our homeschool for a while now. I would love to win!!!

  46. Chinese por favor!

  47. I posted on facebook too!!!

  48. Brazilian Portuguese! My husband is fluent, and I desperately want to be able to speak it with him and our daughter.

  49. Chinese! Seems to make sense the way the world is now!

  50. Spanish. We recently moved to Portland and the Mr. works with a ton of Spanish-speaking people. He’s been picking it up here and there, but we’d both love to learn it fluently. 🙂

  51. Tweeted as well (RachelDallaire) 🙂

  52. I’d love to learn french.

  53. we are adopting our son from South Korea and would love ti learn some Korean, but rosetta stone is pricy so we haven’t started yet

  54. Sara Lester says:

    Difficult choice- Latin or Spanish? Maybe German or tagalog? Ideally, I’d like my kids to speak several languages.

  55. Sara Lester says:

    I already like Simple Mom on Facebook, but I posted the giveaway.

  56. I would love to learn Spanish! My husband and I both have lots of family that can speak Spanish fluently, I figure it’s about time we joined the club. It would be great for my son as well.

  57. I would love to learn tagalog as I already understand quite a bit and have a mean grip on the dirty words!

  58. I’d like to learn Dutch, as both my parents are Dutch and we hope to take all of our kids there on a trip in a few years. It would be neat if they could understand some of their cousins!

  59. I posted on Facebook as well as commented earlier.

  60. I’d love to learn modern greek. After spending a semester in Greece I wish I had kept working on the language!

    Oh and btw, if any of you needs/wants a penpal in Spanish (from Spain), I volunteer! I miss having penpals so much! It’d be a fun way to practice the language, Spanish for you and English for me.

  61. Posted on Facebook!!! 🙂

  62. No doubt in my mind!! French!

  63. Italiano 🙂

  64. I’d love to learn Spanish!

  65. I would love to be able to learn Spanish with my 10 year old son Alex. What an exciting offer!

  66. Hmm, I’d love to relearn French…if you would call a few years in high school knowing a language. Or Spanish to be able to speak to another group of patients in their own language.

  67. I just shared this offer on Facebook!


  68. I’m thinking Italian. Yes, Italian would be nice 🙂

  69. Would love to be able to communicate more with the neighbors in German! You’re right, Americans are one of the few countries that doesn’t encourage learning another language. We are blessed living in Germany that so many are willing to make up for our shortcomings!

  70. ann austin says:

    I would love to learn Welsh. I would love to know it before I go there.

  71. I’d like to learn French

  72. I would LOVE to learn INDONESIAN. I live in australia and deliberately chose a sponsor child from a near by country with the dream of going to visit. It would be very useful for me to speak the language. Cheers

  73. Danyel Moulden says:

    For me, it’s a toss up between German and Italian. I’ve been to Italy three times for liberty ports while I was in the Navy- Naples, Rome and Trieste. And I am completely in LOVE with it! I can’t wait to go back WITH my husband!!!

    However, I have also been teaching my daughter german since she was very young, because that it where her Oma (great-grandmother) is from. (She was a war bride who moved to the US in 1948, during the Berlin airlfts. It started with a “german baby VHS tape that I bought when she was little. Taught basic words, colors, animals and such. She would watch it in the mornings while I got ready for work. (I think I still remember most of them too!!) Later Katerina (Katie) , my daughter, and I used to count to german, spanish and then english while we curled her hair as it was growing out from a “scissor experiment’ when she 2 -3 years old. “einz, zwei, drei,…. uno dos, tres….one, two, three…” Eventually we got up to 20 in each of them, but that is all momma knew!!! Throught the years, I’ve tried to pick up a little here and there, with “word -of the day” calendars and the like.

    Well Katie is 14 now, and a freshman in H.S. Thankfully she has decided to go with German as her language. And we are saving up for the trip to Germany with her class at the end of her Junior year. But momma doesn’t want to fall too far behind. Anyhow, thanks for the opportunity to share a little about my lovely daughter, and how I missed my calling as a linguist. 🙂

  74. I would love to restart my Spanish. I’ve let so much lapse and I’d love to learn it along with my kids!

  75. I would love to speak French…my husband speaks pretty well and I always wish I could keep up with him when he’s talking to French-speaking peopel!

  76. Anna Mango says:

    Bengali – do they have that one?? Or japanese!!

  77. I would love to learn French since my husband is fluent! It would be great to speak it in the home so our children could be immersed in it.

  78. I would love to learn to speak Spanish!

  79. Like ya on fb & posted about the giveaway!

  80. Tweeted!

  81. There are so many languages I’d love to learn! I think I’d start with Spanish though since I’ve taken a course of it in university.

  82. I would have to go with Spanish. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  83. oooo so hard to choose just one! Um first choice maybe Hebrew or Greek as I’m currently studying theology. Second choice would probably be French as two members of my family already speak it – makes it easier to practice. Third would be Italian – it’s top of my list of places I’d like to visit. But mostly I’d just like to learn another language so I can teach my kids – I’ve always wanted them to have the opportunity to speak more than one.

  84. I think spanish would be the most beneficial for me, but how fun would it be to learn chinese! cool giveaway!

  85. Dani Gibson says:

    Spanish would be awesome. I’ve heard great things about Rosetta Stone:)

  86. Jennifer Ott says:

    We’d love to learn Mandarin as a family! Thanks for the chance!

  87. I would love to learn Swedish!

  88. we are pursuing an international adoption and would love to learn more spanish!

  89. I am definitely a lifelong learner! Thanks for you tips on how to further facilitate that.
    I would love to win a free rosetta stone as well. My son really wants to try japanese. I would love brusing up on my french!

  90. I would pick French.

  91. I “like” you on fb and I shared this post on my wall.

  92. Wonderful post, thank you! I’d want to relearn French first, and then move on to so many others!

  93. I also liked and shared the link on FB:


  94. I linked to you on FB.

  95. I would love to learn Spanish. It would expand opportunities in my own city to meet and learn from other people!

  96. There are many languages that I would love to learn, but Spanish is the language that would be most useful for me in our current place in life.

  97. Such a hard decision! I would say Spanish, then French, then German……..:)