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. Jennifer Richardson says:

    Spanish. I’m also planning to homeschool (have a 2 yo and one due any time now) and I figure that’s the most useful language I can teach them at the moment. I took a year in college, but that was so long ago. Would love to try this!

  2. I posted on Facebook!

  3. Going to be boring and go with French or Spanish. (But wouldn’t Latin be amazing too?!)

  4. Well my first thought was Norwegian since my husband and I both have some of that in us, but it’s not on the list. 🙁 So my second choice would be Dutch, as that’s what the majority of our ancestry is and his step-mom is from the Netherlands!

  5. I would love to homeschool my son with Spanish (Latin America)

  6. We would pick Turkish. A group of our friends goes to Istanbul every year and we would LOVE to be able to speak with the locals while we are there!

  7. We’d probably benefit the most from Latin American Spanish.

  8. I’d like to brush up on my French, or learn Italian.

    And hurray for those intelligent conversations. We miss you. 🙂

  9. I would love to learn Italian.

  10. Liked you and shared it!

  11. Spanish! I learned French in school, but now I am being left in the dust by my kids in Spanish.

  12. As much as I’d love to learn Italian, I feel the need to study French. Both of my kids are from Haiti and it’s one of their national languages. It would be great to be able to communicate better on our next visit to my other adopted country. 🙂

  13. Probably German is the most practical one for me.

  14. I’d *like* to learn Irish. I started teaching myself years ago but had so much trouble with pronouncing the odd letter combinations I just sort of gave up.

    But brushing up on my French so I can help my kids learn it is probably more practical. 🙂


  15. I would love Spanish! I plan on teaching it to my daughters and I’ve heard so many good things about Rosetta Stone!

  16. Italian! My whole life I have wanted to learn Italian, but by the time I finished up French at university I was ready to graduate.

  17. There are so many languages that I’d love to learn! I wish I’d had the opportunities that your kids do to learn a new language while you’re young. I took some Russian in college, but for Rosetta Stone, I’d love to try the German software!

    I also tweeted and tagged you! 🙂

  18. I would love to learn Italian. My husband is fluent in Italian and I LUUUVE the sound of it! I can’t wait to look into the TED Talks. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Spanish!

  20. As much as I’d love to revisit my almost lost French I’d have to go with Spanish just for the pure practicality (which is why the first Little Pim videos we got for our son are Spanish).

  21. I’ve always wanted to learn French, but I’d also like to learn Italian (again). I lived in Italy as a child and was pretty fluent, but lost it over time since we never used it once we returned to the states.

  22. My kids are required to learn Spanish at school so I’d like to learn along with them!

  23. I don’t normally enter giveaways, but I LOVE this idea. Spanish por favor!

  24. I would LOVE to learn Italian!

  25. Meghann P. says:

    I’d love to learn French. My mom is learning it right now. We’re hoping to take a trip to France for a tour of their pastries!

  26. It’s hard to pick. I don’t travel much, but my son lives in AZ, so maybe Spanish. But my cousins daughter lives in Germany…..

  27. I would love to get back into the practice of speaking French! If it felt like a game instead of a college textbook I know I would learn more.

  28. Tough one…Spanish or French. Thanks for the opportunity. 🙂

  29. I would pick Dutch, my wife is 100% Dutch and her grandma speaks Dutch, I think it would be fun to travel over there too!

  30. I just tweeted about the giveaway! https://twitter.com/#!/gracefillhouse

  31. I would really LOVE to have the Korean learning kit. My husband is Korean, but moved to the states at age 6. He only remembers basic words. He can usually understand what people are saying, but doesnt know how to respond. We have talked about the importance of languages & would love to teach our children how to communicate with the family that still lives in Korea.

  32. Andrea Ginsberg says:

    I’d love to learn Spanish (Latin America).

  33. Spanish, so I could work in some of the bilingual schools in our area.

  34. I’d love to brush up on my German. The German program would be great!

  35. We’d love to learn Spanish! I took it in high school & college but didn’t maintain my skills…and now my husband and I would love to be able to interact with the huge Latino community near us.

  36. lisagrace alsbury says:

    I would love to learn Mandarin (Chinese)! My husband and I work with the international ministry here in our college town and we hang out with a lot of Chinese students. It would be fun to surprise them with our skills! : )

  37. I am 100% Dutch but can’t speak a word of the language and would love to be able to.

  38. Oh my gosh, I would LOVE to win a copy of the French software! Before my daughter was born, my husband and I wanted to learn French together and raise her in a bilingual household, but we kept procrastinating because the software is so expensive. It definitely sounds really intuitive, though…I never did well in foreign language classes and now I think that maybe it’s because they were taught in a way that made no sense to me.

  39. French. No, Italian. Wait. French. Italian. Definitely French. Maybe Hebrew. 🙂

  40. I would love to learn French with my six year old!

  41. Itallian!!!

  42. lisagrace alsbury says:

    Just posted on facebook! thanks for the giveaway!

  43. Ulla Schindler says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Every paragraph had me go “oh – gotta go back to that link but I want to read more first, link? Read on? Read on!”
    I became hooked on your site a few weeks ago and can’t stop telling people about the things I’ve read and learned so far. I’m raising my daughter bilingual and would love to learn Italian :o)

  44. What a fantastic gift. I would choose spanish – for work and a possible mission trip.

  45. I need to learn Spanish. NEED to!

  46. Leslie Barton says:

    We were actually going to buy Latin American Spanish, as our home town is in Florida and it would come in VERY handy to know some Spanish. Then my husband got laid off. I would love to win and be able to learn along side my four homeschoolers.

  47. I would love to learn Italian! I took courses in college, but seemed to come out with a better writing and reading ability, versus actual ability to speak!

    When my husband and I went to Italy on vacation, I asked an Italian man a question (in what I thought was passable Italian). His response was “I don’t speak English” and walking away. Needless to say, I could use more practice!

  48. So many choices! I’d probably go for either Spanish, German, or Russian.

  49. We would love to learn Spanish (Latin America). I have tried using simple workbooks, and looked at Rosetta Stone off and on-its just a little too pricey. I love reading your posts. Thanks for the chance to win it!

  50. Leslie Barton says:

    I linked to you on Facebook. Thanks for the great article and the chance to win!

  51. i love lots of languages but if i have to only pick one russian

  52. Just posted to Facebook. 🙂

  53. Spanish I think.

  54. I would love to learn french. I think that will be our first language for homeschool.

  55. Ulla Schindler says:

    I added to this via facebook and said Italian, but really would love to have the German one for my husband to learn. I’m teaching my daughter as she learns to speak now, and I often think about moving back and my husband would have to learn.

  56. I think we’ll try French.

  57. Amanda Gomez says:

    Spanish is the language to learn in our house! My in-laws are Mexican and speak Spanish. Would love to learn and teach my 3 little Gomez kiddos! Especially for when we finally take a trip to Mexico!

  58. While the Spanish would probably be more practical, I’d love to learn Italian. It’s such a beautiful language!

  59. Arabic, please but need to brush up on Navajo.

  60. Meghann P. says:

    I like Simple Mom on FB, and I posted about the giveaway. @Meghann Presley.

  61. Livemocha is another great language-learning resource for those of us who can’t afford Rosetta Stone.

    I would like to improve my Spanish so I can better communicate with the Hispanic population in my school and community.

  62. I would love to learn french so that I have a reason to go to France! I would definitely have to practice my new french language skills!

  63. What a great giveaway! I’d pick Swahili!!

  64. I would love to relearn Spanish. I took a couple years in high school, but my knowledge now is meager to say the least. In Texas, there are places where it would be SO useful. I wish I could speak Spanish every time I go to my local Mexican food store!

  65. Would love to learn French, since it is spoken is so many different parts of the world! Plus, it is a beautiful language and would give me a great excuse to go to Paris with my family.

  66. I would learn Russian. My fiance’s entire family speaks Russian and his grandparents do not even speak English so it’s very important for me to learn the language. I would also like to be able to carry on their heritage to my children so they will also be able to speak Russian.

  67. Ashley Cozzens says:

    I took Spanish in high school and would love to use this program to relearn the language and share it with my family.

  68. One of the top items on my bucket list is a trip to Italy, so Italian would be my first choice! (Even though I should say Spanish for the whole family, or Korean, so my children can communicate better with their cousins in Seoul)

  69. Tweeted the link~ @laurienaugle

  70. Either French or Dutch – French for work reasons, Dutch because my mother was from the Netherlands, but she never taught us the language.

  71. I would love to increase the little bit of French I know.

  72. I’ve always wanted to learn German. There isn’t a real need for it in the desert, but both my grandparents are German and speak a bit of the language so I’ve always wanted to learn. This would be a great way to do that. I keep putting it off and saying maybe once the kids are in school full time, but with Rosetta Stone, I could be learning now!

  73. Nicole Cipriano says:

    So timely, as Dear Hubby and I are trying to decide on a language to study for the family. We don’t homeschool, so we have to do this in the evenings or on weekends, but would LOVE to try Rosetta Stone.

    Portuguese would be MY first choice, as that is where the great-grandparents are from and we will be headed to the Azores in a couple of years.

  74. Jennifer B says:

    Tough choice, but the one I think would help me most is French.

  75. Spanish

  76. italian!!! what a great giveaway!

  77. French!

  78. Christine S says:

    Probably Spanish. Wow, this would be great for us since our daughter is just learning to speak now!

  79. I have ALWAYS wanted to learn French. I have no reason — but it’s on my bucket list!!

  80. Spanish! I’ve eyed Rosetta Stone for a couple of years now, but just haven’t been able to justify the purchase yet. What a great give-away.

  81. I think I’d choose Spanish. I’d like to learn something I’d use frequently. And as beautiful as Russian, French, Irish, and Welsh are, I’m not sure I’d find much use for them in Ohio. 😀

  82. German. My husband works for a German company and Switzerland is one of our favorite places to visit.

  83. We own and are using Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish, but would love to add French to the mix!

  84. I have always wanted to learn hindi. What a great giveaway!

  85. I’d like to learn Latin American Spanish

  86. I’d like to re-learn Spanish (Latin America)–I have a good grasp on vocab, now I just want to learn to speak it!

  87. Spanish!! I am a Zumba instructor and would love to know what all the songs I love are saying!!!

  88. French would be fun!

  89. So hard to choose but I’ll have to go with French :o)

  90. Elizabeth Schoen says:

    I would like to learn Turkish, because my husband is first generation American and it would be special if he could re-learn Turkish while our 3 yr old son and I get to learn the language! I believe it is important to help preserve some of the heritage of our families, and learning Turkish would open up to many new opportunities 🙂

  91. Spanish would be the most versatile, but Italian would be romantic. Right now I need to learn Arabic to better minister to a woman at church.

  92. It would have to be French, just like you guys! My husband and I would love to learn Spanish, but because we live in Canada, teaching our daughter French seems like the better, more practical choice.

  93. Christine S says:

    Liked you on FB and linked back.

  94. French! I posted on fb!

  95. I would love to win the French Rosetta Stone!! My 11 year old daughter is chomping at the bit to learn it. She uses her own money to buy French dictionaries and picture books and begs me to buy Rosetta Stone. She’d be sooooo excited if I WON it for her!

  96. Spanish! This was a difficult decision though. I think Gaelic would rock but probably wouldn’t be the most useful! LOL

  97. I would love to learn Italian

  98. I would like to learn Urdu…I’m already working on Hindi.