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.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. I would like to win Latin American Spanish for my homeschool. Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. I also liked this on Facebook. Thanks

  3. sam rhoades says:

    our whole family is attempting to learn spanish! we have no foreign language courses offered in our schools, so we are going at it from home. this would help enormously–

  4. I would love to learn french!

  5. French!

  6. Mandarin Chinese! My dad, sister, and I have travelled to Taiwan, but they both took classes in the language and I did not. I’d love to catch up and then go back with a little more power to communicate!

  7. Spanish please! I would love this to brush up on my own skills, and to teach my kids.

  8. My daughter is determined to learn Spanish, even though we live in Tanzania, where it is not used. But when/if we move back to America, it should come in handy!

  9. I would love for my whole family to be able to speak Spanish. We hope to live in a Spanish-speaking country at some point!

  10. I would love the chance to learn Mandarin. Rosetta Stone is a great program.

  11. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. I’ve been so many places where it would come in handy!

  12. Spanish (Latin America)

  13. I posted the article to Facebook. Thanks for the opportunity to win something so cool. 🙂

  14. I would love to own Rosetta Stone for French! My husband has always wanted to learn French and it would be so much fun to win the French program to surprise him with it and learn it together!

  15. Definitely Japanese. I used to speak it regularly and now have been removed from it for about 4 years. It’s time to brush up and use it again!!

  16. Leighann of D-Mom Blog says:

    My 7yo asked me this week if she can move to France someday. So I’ll say French since I get to move with her and haven’t spoken it in years. But I’d really love to brush up on my Italian too!

  17. I want to learn Spanish.

  18. Right now, I’d love to try the Latin curriculum, as that’s what my boys and I are doing this year. Down the road, though, I’m thinking the Spanish curriculum would be awesome as well!

  19. Our family would LOVE to learn German!

  20. I would love to learn Mandarin Chinese!

  21. My nephew is being raised bilingual French/English so I’d love to brush up on my high school French and become truly fluent with Rosetta Stone!

  22. I learned French in school starting when I was 5, so I understand the benefits of learning a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th!) language. My son is starting preschool next week where he will learn basic German, so I would have to choose German so I can learn along with him!

  23. Just posted the article over on Facebook as well! Thanks heaps!

  24. Czech, so I’m totally bummed they don’t offer it! I have a decent base in both Spanish and French, but I’d like to go further in both!.

  25. Wow, what a cool giveaway! I sure wish Rosetta Stone would work with Linux — my husband is a nerd (bless his heart), so that’s what I’m stuck with.

  26. Jennifer Berg says:

    I would like to learn Spanish

  27. Nothing like homeschooling to make you realize how much stuff you have forgotten (or never learned). As I am ending the homeschool phase of life (grudgingly), I have been considering all the options for keeping my brain in shape. Therefore, your post is a timely one for me. Have always heard wonderful things about Rosetta Stone, but could never fit it into the homeschool budget….especially with everyone wanting to learn a different language. Would love to learn French!

  28. Pam in Missouri says:

    Definitely Mandarin Chinese! My kids are from China and I’ve been wanting us to dive into lessons together. RS would be great for us all to work on.

  29. This is such a tough one to answer! I’d love to learn Mandarin because so many people speak it and one of our dearest friends speaks Mandarin so we’d have a native speaker to practice with. However, learning one of the classical languages like Greek or Latin sounds wonderful too!

  30. I shared on FB!

  31. My husband’s company might be moving us overseas and this is perfect timing! We would love to learn Swedish!

  32. I would love to learn Spanish or maybe Turkish, I love learning new languages!

  33. I’d love to learn Spanish. I think it’s the language I’d use the most!

  34. I also tweeted this giveaway. 🙂

  35. Great giveaway. Thanks! Hard choice. Spanish would bemost useful but French would be a lot of fun.

  36. I posted a link on facebook. Thanks for that option since I don’t have Twitter I can never use that entry option!

  37. What an awesome giveaway! I would love to learn spanish because I could use it (and not lose it) in my area, BUT I would also love to learn Italian

  38. French! French! French!

    It was my major in college, 10 years ago, and I’ve grown SOOOOO rusty since I’ve only been back to France once since graduation, and once to Montreal. I really want to pass down the language to my kids, but I’ve noticed that now when I speak in French, I am translating my English thoughts into French instead of just speaking it semi-fluently.

  39. I posted to facebook

  40. Pam in Missouri says:
  41. I think although Spanish would be practical, I really want to learn Swedish.

  42. I would love to learn Polish. My dad speaks it but my siblings and I never learned because my mom didn’t know how to speak it. I’ve taken a very basic class but it wasn’t enough to learn more then some simple words like “hello”. What a great surprise for my dad if I learned Polish!

  43. Shannon Moorman says:

    I’ve been to Germany for months at a time and used to be practically fluent. But living in Canada, I’d love to learn FRENCH!!

  44. I would *love* to learn Italian (and teach it to my son)! Might even be able to get DH in on this one 😉

  45. Shannon Moorman says:

    I posted on Fbook about the giveaway! FRENCH, please!

  46. I think I’d like to learn spanish! I live in Texas, so it’s always helpful! I tried taking it in college and was horrible!

  47. Francais!

  48. I would love to learn French or Spanish because I am in college for nursing (ADN) and I think that either of these languages would be helpful in my career.

  49. Posted a link on FB 🙂

  50. We’d love to learn French so my boys can converse with their cousin who lives in Paris.

  51. I facebooked about the giveaway!

  52. Dee Cee Speicher says:

    I would love to learn Spanish – took two years in high School & didn’t learn a thing! 🙂

  53. I’ll say Italian or Spanish. Thanks for the giveaway!

  54. Brandy Laughlin says:

    My husband and son would love to learn Japanese. We are hoping to go as a family one day.

  55. I would love to learn Latin!

  56. Defiitely Spanish. We’re getting ready to move to an urban area to help with a church ministry, and I was already thinking how I wish I had retained more of the Spanish I studied in college!

  57. There are so many I would love to learn, but I would have to pick Spanish. It’s one I could use just about every day around here.

  58. As a mom of a one year old, I’d really like to raise my son to be bilingual. Maybe all of us moms can change the US from only being a monolingual country! I already have ‘liked’ the Facebook page. 🙂 Thanks for another great message.

  59. I would learn French for the same reason you described in your homeschooling post last week–it seems to be the most useful. You can get by in most European countries, lots of African countries, and even many Spanish speaking counties. I’s most often a second language in places where it’s not the first language. Plus, it has lots fewer words than many languages and not a very complex syntax so I’ve heard you can get fluent faster than many others. I’d love to learn with the kids and then getting a months group of French speakers together to keep it up.

  60. Enter me please! I have always wanted to try Rosetta Stone but it was a little too pricey to try on a whim. I would love GERMAN! Danke!

  61. What a fantastic post and giveaway!! I’d love to learn Mandarin.

  62. My husband and I have been looking into rosetta stone for awhile now! But you’re right, it is pretty darn expensive. We’d like to learn Arabic. Both of us have a real heart for missions and know that the Lord has called us overseas, so we’d love to be able to learn Arabic before we go!

  63. Two kids headed into high school this year…homeschooled. We would love to learn Spanish as a family!

  64. My six-year-old boy wants to learn Mandarin Chinese! And I’d love to learn with him.

  65. I would love to learn Italian! It would be more practical to learn Spanish. But who wants practical? LOL

  66. I took French in high school, but I’d love to learn Spanish!

  67. Lots of good options, but I would go with Latin

  68. Spanish!

  69. Latin – I think it buys you a lot, educationally speaking!

  70. I would probably learn Italian or Spanish. I love the sound and idea of italian but it isn’t the most practical.

  71. German or Spanish for me. Spanish is probably more practical though, since so many people speak it in the U.S.

  72. My daughter wants to learn french!

  73. I tweeted (twittered?) about the giveaway

  74. I studied German in college a decade ago and it’s gotten RUSTY. So I would go that route!

  75. Shared on FB. Thanks Tsh.

  76. Tweeted, too.

  77. Danish! Our family is moving there shortly. My husband has been there since April and our sons (16,14 and 11) can’t wait to join him there.

  78. Ooh, hard choice! I’d have to say Spanish for me, as it would be the most useful.

  79. we’d pick Welsh or Farsi or Russian…something practical!

  80. I work in opera and would LOVE to get the Italian Rosetta stone. This has been on my wish list forever, but I’ve just not been able to scrape up the cash!

  81. I would LOVE to get the Spanish (Latin America) for my wee one! We already teach her simple words in Spanish, but would love to implement a bit more when she gets older. Awesome giveaway!

  82. I would love for my kids and I to learn Spanish!!

  83. “Liked” on facebook and shared!

  84. French – because my daughter’s are starting it in school this year!

  85. Our daughter is in a dual language program and is learning Korean so I’d definitely choose it too.

  86. After traveling to Portugal years ago, I think Portuguese is so beautiful! I would love to go back someday and not only listen to the language, but speak it as well. Thanks for such a great post!

  87. Karen Johnson says:

    I would love to learn Spanish (Latin American) and encourage my kids and their Dad to learn some of it, too.

  88. Just tweeted about this great-giveaway.

  89. Brianne Allen says:

    I am torn between Russian and Spanish. Oh and French. There are too many choices.

  90. Susi from Germany says:

    I’d love to learn Italian! Grazie!

  91. I tried to learn French before I went to Congo last November and had minimal success. I’d love to try again.

  92. I’d love to learn Greek!

  93. Erika Russell says:

    Spanish for our whole family! I think French is such a beautiful language, but Spanish is just so practical…

  94. Very difficult decision! I’d love to learn Spanish (Latin America).

  95. I ‘like’ you on Facebook.

  96. I took French when I was in school but now I wish I knew at least a little Spanish since my husband has family in Ecuador. Thanks for the great giveaway!!!!

  97. Spanish. For many reasons, one of which is that my daughter will go to a dual language elementary school and I want to be able to keep up with her!

  98. I like Simple Mom on Facebook and posted the giveaway too.

  99. I’d want to re-learn french and have my kids learn it too!

  100. FRENCH! That’s the language I would love to master with my kids. I’ve contemplated getting Rosetta Stone but the price is rather hefty. Winning the giveaway would be fabulous.