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. My husband speaks portuguese… it might be fun to have the kiddos (and me) learn a language that we can all speak together. Portuguese or maybe spanish…

  2. Definitey Spanish. My daughter has wanted this curriculum for a long time and she is only 6th grade. My son and husband are getting ready to take a trip to Mexico to see our friends and do mission work with them. My husband has wanted our family to study the language together.


  3. I’d like to boost my Spanish speaking skills.

  4. Italian is next on my list, as I am already fluent in Spanish. Then French, then renew German…(hey, a girl can dream!).

  5. We keep saying we’re going to learn German as a family, but I’d also like to learn one of the Romance languages, so it would be a toss up.

  6. I would like to learn French. My husband’s writing partner lives in Paris, and this past year, when resetting our lifestyle goals, it became clear to us that we needed to go to France, as a family, at least once a year. And one day, when I have a little more career freedom, we’d like to spend part of the year in Paris. To make that happen, I obviously need to brush up on the French I learned as a child. As such I would LOVE to win this give-away.

  7. Oh how would I pick a language? I need Spanish these days, and I’ve always wanted to learn to speak Chinese. Then there’s the minute amount of French I learned in h.s. and college – I could build on that. Or the German I picked up in my 20’s – it seemed to come naturally – could I be fluent? (Can you tell how much I’d love to win this?!)

  8. I’d like to learn to speak Spanish fluently. I learned a little when I studied abroad in Mexico for a semester. Plus, I am half Mexican, so people expect me to know it even though it wasn’t spoken in my home. I’d like to learn it for myself and to be able to teach it to my children.

  9. And now I’ve mentioned the giveaway on Facebook. 🙂 Thank you for the opportunity!

  10. I would love to learn Spanish. My kiddos are accomplished in Latin and it has instilled a love of languages particularly in my daughter. She is taking an on line Arabic course this year. Im a big proponent of learning languages. Through homeschooling and tutors, my children thankfully know more than me!

    Like the pile of books! Are you by chance, on goodreads? Great way to keep up with what others are reading and find suggestions for what to read next!

  11. I would love to learn Spanish. Thanks for the opportunity.

  12. ooh i studied 3 languages between high school and college, but ended up living in Asia and Australia where I get no practice with romance languages. Would love the Italian rosetta stone to refresh my brain and teach my girls!

  13. I would love to learn Chinese!

  14. Spanish!!!!!!!!!!!!! That way I would be able to communicate on our short term missions projects. Thanks for the opportunity!

  15. I liked/posted on Facebook!

  16. German!!

  17. I need to learn Spanish as we plan to be going to Mexico! Rosetta Stone has been highly recommended by quite a few friends of ours.

  18. I took Spanish in high school and college, but don’t have much to show for it. I’d enjoy really trying to learn Spanish as an adult!

  19. I just shared with my fb friends. Thanks for the opportunity!

  20. I’d go with Spanish (Latin America).

  21. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish! I really want to win!

  22. Chinese or Vietnamese–I can’t decide!

  23. I would love to use this to learn Irish…I’ve looked it up before but the expense made it out of the question!

  24. Tweeted.

  25. I’d love to learn Latin American Spanish so I can keep up with my 6-year-old who’s in a dual-language program!

  26. Our canadian family could use more french!!!

  27. What a great giveaway!! I always wanted to learn Chinese!
    Thank you for the opportunity.

  28. Spanish. Gracias!

  29. Melissa L. says:

    I am so excited to learn languages with my kids. I think we should learn Dutch!

  30. My son really wants us to learn Chinese!

  31. Oh, my! We were just looking at this, wondering if it would be worth it to purchase and if it could really work. This is our first official homeschooling year but we decided to pass on a second language this year.
    We’d choose French for sure. My father-in-law is French and lives in Africa. I’d love to have our family learn and surprise him!

  32. Michele Laramay says:

    We live minutes from the Canadian border, so french for sure. I would use it for my homeschool.

  33. Shalae Tippetts says:

    Right now it would definitely be Spanish, as we have so many opportunities to use it right now. Plus we’re doing homeschool this year and I have been wanting to use the Rosetta Stone to help my kinds continue with their Spanish that they were taking in dual immersion before we brought them home.

  34. I would really like to learn to speak Spanish. My husband’s family is Cuban, and I would love to be able to communicate with his grandmothers and follow the conversations at gatherings.

  35. I’ve been looking at the French one but it is so much money… my son just started taking French in school this year and I want to learn it to read French craft magazines.

  36. Shalae Tippetts says:

    Like you on facebook and posted about this great giveaway!

  37. I would love to learn Spanish so that I could get to know my husband’s extended family better.

  38. Would love to increase our Spanish skills. My 7 year old is just starting out and would love the Rosetta Stone program!

  39. I would love to learn German…well, more German. We lived in Germany for three years and I picked up enough to get by, but more often than not, the Germans would immediately switch to English when they realized I wasn’t a native. We really want to go back to Germany for a long vacation and I’d love to improve my skills!

  40. I would love to learn Chinese.

  41. Hmmm, I thought that I got that comment posted, maybe not, so I’ll try again. German, please! We lived in Germany for three years and I knew enough to get by, but most Germans would immediately switch to English as I stumbled through my German. We would love to return and spend an extended vacation in Germany, so I’d like to improve my skills for that future trip!

  42. I need to refresh my Spanish. I used to live in Argentina, but time (and lack of practice) has made me a bit rusty.

  43. I’d love to learn French, but Spanish would be more practical for my job.

  44. I think Italian would be wonderful. I took Spanish in college and high school, and also some French in high school. I have always wanted to try Rosetta Stone!

  45. I would love to learn French!

  46. We just moved to South America so we feel a real need to learn (Latin American) Spanish ASAP!

  47. I would try Spanish!

  48. We just started homeschooling the first of my three daughters. I would love to use Rosetta to teach them Japanese, so we can all interact when we visit family in Tokyo.

  49. My husband’s first language is Portuguese and I would love to speak it with him. I also wish I could speak his native language so that we could teach it to our son.

  50. There are several but I would want to start with Spanish since we have a heavy Hispanic population in my area.

  51. I tweeted about the giveaway… 🙂

  52. I would love to learn German (we are descendents from many German families)! 🙂

  53. Latin American Spanish would be our place to start.

  54. Also ‘liked’ SimpleMom on Facebook! 🙂

  55. Definitely Italian!!

  56. I would love our family to learn Chinese!

  57. Spanish would be useful to me, but I would love to speak German better….I “learned” it in high school and college as was required, but didn’t really get great at the speaking part!

  58. Allison in E ON says:

    We’d love the Mandarin course. My oldest daughter was born in China and we are taking classes (My oldest, myself and my Ethiopian-born youngest), but would welcome the at-home support.

  59. Christina Vickers says:

    Oh my goodness! I would so love to win this! We just started homeschooling our 4 yo, and another mom in the program we’re in was talking just last week about how our kids need to be bilingual. I have been wanting my kids and me to learn Chinese, but French would be a close second! Then, maybe Arabic…. what exciting possibilities! 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity!

  60. What a great giveaway! I would love to learn Spanish.

  61. I would love to get German for my kids. Their Opo doesn’t speak much English so it would be nice for them to communicate with ease.

  62. Christina Vickers says:

    I definitely like Simple Mom on Facebook, and I just posted about the giveaway! http://www.facebook.com/stinav96/posts/213476195372967

  63. Definitely Italian…..we hope to go to Italy in two years for a few moths with our boys and knowing the language would be great.

  64. I think I’d choose either Latin or French.

  65. I’m a homeschooling mom who loves the French language. I would love to win for me and foe my son!

  66. Oooohhhh, I’d love to try the Spanish version for me and my family!

  67. Jaime Smith says:

    I would love to learn Spanish!!!

  68. Shared on FB!

  69. That is easy. It would be Spanish. We are sending our son to a Spanish immersion school and I want to make sure that I can keep up with him!

  70. My family has been talking about doing this recently. I think we agreed that we would love to learn German.

  71. I tweeted @swurme.

  72. I know a little French but would love to become fluent and would LOVE to be able to teach it to my daughter! Then maybe I would master Italian and move onto Japanese, Irish, German, Latin…

    Thanks for the inspiring post, as always!!

  73. Great dare! I’d like to learn Arabic.

  74. Spanish, please 🙂

  75. I was just thinking this week that I’d like to learn Spanish.

  76. Spanish!!!

  77. I tweeted AND posted my tweet (including link to post) on FB! AND I liked Simple Mom on FB!

  78. I have Spanish speaking family, so I would LOVE to learn Spanish (and teach it to my kids!).

  79. My kids are learning Spanish at school. Would love to learn so I could help them practice.

  80. we would pick Spanish — so useful here in the US. thanks for the opportunity!

  81. i posted this giveaway on facebook!

  82. Well, if I’m going to teach a language to my son, I’d pick French. If it was for me to learn, I’d choose Finnish, Swedish or German … any of those would be far outside my English/French/Spanish skills, and also help me understand European patterns for sewing that I often pass over b/c I can’t understand them and an English translation isn’t always available! (and online translators often misinterpret sewing terms!)

  83. I’d love to learn Chinese… my younger brother has been living there for 2 years and I’d love to be able to visit and communicate!

  84. I would love to learn Italian. We are thinking about a trip there next year.

  85. I shared on FB. Happily!

  86. I tweeted!

  87. I’d like to learn French. My kids both speak it and I only understand a small portion of what they say. It would also help with the job hunt

  88. Stephanie Clark says:


  89. Janelle Steidinger says:

    I would love to do Brazilian Portuguese, as a jumpstart for us & our kids before we move there next year as full-time missionaries. Just started homeschooling, and I think our kids would really enjoy it as part of their learning experience!

  90. Michelle Y says:

    This is so difficult! I think Spanish would be most beneficial. But, I’ve already started learning French and Russian (high school and college respectively)…so maybe I’d rather do one of those. Or maybe Latin would be nice…

  91. I would love to learn Swahili since we will be moving to Tanzania in the next couple of years! Thanks for the chance!!!

  92. Stephanie Clark says:

    Posted to FB. Thx for the opportunity.

  93. We would love to learn French!

  94. I would really love to have command of Spanish or French. Spanish would be so functional for me to know and teach to my son. French because I’m a culinary student and have a dream of being able to work in France honing my skills but would definitely need to work on understanding and speaking the language first.

  95. Erin Messing says:

    We recently moved to Germany and I would love to learn the language beyond asking if they speak English or ordering bread (yummy!).

  96. I have a minor is spanish and do not remember nearly as much as I should! I would love to relearn it with the kids! Unfortunately they don’t offer Amharic or I would chose that as my son is from Ethiopia…