Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Employability Skills

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Employability Skills

Employability Skills

I’m often asked, “What are the top five skills a young adult should have?”  In other words, what employability skills should we be teaching our kids and students? I suppose after many years of coaching and mentoring young adults, I likely rattle these off much like a tour guide on a tour bus.  In case you’ve not had the opportunity to hear this lecture, read on. If you have, scroll on by – there’s nothing here to see… but I bet you won’t. The challenge is whittling down the list to just five, but let’s give it a try.

1 – Communications.  Professionalism, timelines and conciseness in communications, regardless of the medium is non-negotiable. At Apprentice University, we teach a class in Professional Communications. We assert that you may be the smartest guy/gal in the room, top of your class and all that jazz… but if you cannot communicate professionally, you’ll be labeled second rate.  And, contrary to the belief of many young adults, using your phone as a phone – as in a phone call – isn’t going away anytime soon.

2 – Timeliness. I’m often shocked at how many young adults do not manage their schedules with a calendar. Working from memory was acceptable in junior high, but as a young adult with demands on your time, scheduling conflicts, drive times, traffic delays, back to back meetings, etc., all place pressure on our schedules. Being timely in delivering a project, meeting attendance, phone calls, and so on, is crucial for one’s employability and career advancement.  Timeliness in communications demonstrates respect for the other(s) and shows you’re paying attention.  If you attended a school, or were homeschooled, and deadlines were mere suggestions – think again. Timing is crucial, absolutely crucial, when others are depending upon you.

3 – Technological Agility.  I recently overheard a young adult – not one of our students at Apprentice University, by the way – say, “Better not let Mr. B. know you don’t know how to do that…”  For certain, given my career in technology the last three decades, my expectations are probably higher than others when it comes to agility in using modern tools and technology.  Regardless, the workplace assumes you’ve mastered tools common to the office – regardless of your career path.  Whether you want to be a plumber, programmer or a policeman, you absolutely must master common technology tools found in an office.

4 – Critical Thinking. Few problems or opportunities present themselves with instructions.  Understanding how to think critically about a problem helps to combat the absence of an instruction manual.  We hear the phrase “critical thinking” all the time, but what exactly does such a process look like?  Let’s explore.

  • Defining the problem (or opportunity). A clear understanding of the problem being solved is half the battle. Albert Einstein is attributed to having said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
  • Divergent thinking. Imagining and brainstorming ideas to solve a problem starts with fresh thinking and considering all ways in which a problem might be resolved.
  • Design thinking. Much has been written about design thinking and this little article certainly will not do it justice. For our purposes, we’ll reduce design thinking to the art of starting small and iteratively improving upon the previous attempts.  At Apprentice University, we practice this skill routinely.
  • Evaluation means measuring one’s results, learning from what worked and what didn’t and adjusting accordingly.

5 – Failing. In this series I discuss failure in more depth in another article, but a critical employability skill is appreciating and accepting failure.  Today’s society looks upon failure negatively. I’m not talking about failing because you did something stupid or had a lack of judgment. I’m speaking of failure that is a certainty because you’re trying. Thomas Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 999 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”  Failure that demonstrates an insatiable appetite to learn from mistakes (like design thinking) is good, welcome and desirable and creates employability in often unusual ways.

Communication is Key!

Today’s top employees communicate effectively and timely. They leverage productivity improvements through technology, think both critically and innovatively about problems and aren’t afraid to try – and fail.  Those who refuse to communicate and are afraid to fail at solving a problem are destined to be frustrated in the modern-day workplace.

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018 He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Entreprenuer-ship

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow: Entreprenuer-ship


As the “gig economy” continues to grow, the likelihood those of you between 16 and 30 will be self-employed is nearly certain. It’s better to be prepared for such rather than scramble to make ends meet under duress. Those contemplating on the self employment route will soon consider themselves an entrepreneur – taking calculated risks for a return. Preparing to be an entrepreneur starts with the right attitude. I propose the following theory regarding entrepreneurship: Hubris is a sure-fire way to fail in business as an entrepreneur.


Before we begin, let’s add a few words to your vocabulary. Hubris, a relatively uncommon word these days, is defined as “excessive pride or self-confidence.”  Empathy, a similarly under recognized word, means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  Intuition is a critical ingredient to entrepreneurship and means “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” With our vocabulary level set, let me explain my theory…

Hubris & Humility

I propose that the deeply rooted intuition necessary for an entrepreneur to empathize for a customer, to understand their needs and to see opportunities, is supplanted by the callousness of hubris.  Further, I assert that hubris in your character is the opposite of humility and that humility is a required ingredient for empathy. We’ve all experienced the individual who is full of hubris, cannot be taught, has the answer to the problem before we finish describing it and delivers a ready-made solution for any and every challenge before them. Actually hearing, understanding and processing your challenge is unnecessary to this type of person.  In extreme cases, this person twitches while they politely permit you to finish describing your challenge. Let’s say you’re untangling a complex problem.  You seek advice from a friend who has, in the past, demonstrated they can listen with intentionality and focus. You want their undivided attention to assist you in solving your problem. You know their intentionality and focus while engaging with you (aka the modern-day phrase “be in the moment”) will enable them to experience the nuances in your word choice, pauses in your speech, inflections in your voice and the oh-so-important body language. You could have selected from among a dozen good friends, but knowing your friend will have deep empathy for your situation was a wise choice.  Generally, such people’s time is in high demand. Had you sought counsel from a less empathetic friend, you likely would have received proverbial “from the hip” advice.  This friend, while surely not possessing ill intentions, wouldn’t have listened intently nor with focus. Garnering their counsel likely would have resulted in minimally considered solutions and haphazard outcomes.

The Importance of Empathy in Problem Solving

Thus, empathy is required to fully understand and address a problem or opportunity.  An entrepreneur who seeks to have greater empathy for customers in a given market is much like the chosen friend above.  The likelihood they’ll produce a more thoughtful, insightful and more targeted solution to a business opportunity is greatly enhanced due to their focus on the problem they’re solving. Conversely, the entrepreneur who brandishes his hubris, knows it all and does shoot from the hip is incapable of possessing the empathy necessary to fully understand a customer’s needs. The next time you see a self-labeled entrepreneur brandishing their hubris, duck – and close your wallet!

Empolyability Ron Brumbarger

Ron Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others. He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth. He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and served as the company’s president and CEO until January 2018. He was tapped in 2006 by Indiana’s Governor Daniels and Ball State President Gora to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school. In 2013, he founded Apprentice University®, an award-winning, competency-based college of higher education, preparing future leaders.

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Healthy Imagination

Homeschool Tools for Tomorrow Healthy Imagination


Perhaps the most important tool in a young adult’s toolbox is imagination.  Imagining where your career might take you enables you to play out future scenarios without expending significant resources.  Game-changing innovations are often the by-product of a healthy imagination.  So how do you sharpen and direct your imagination?  Read. This. Post. Slowly. It’s meant to be an opportunity to let your imagination relax and stretch before running wild.

Actively Feed Your Imagination

First, actively feed your imagination. Look for new things to learn, places to explore, and people to meet.  Intentionally learn something new so you go to bed smarter each day.  For example, let’s say your home town has an old museum that you have driven by a hundred times. You wouldn’t be caught dead visiting there because it’s just not cool. That stuffy old museum has existed as long as you can remember. It’s a fixture on the street corner that neither you nor your friends would ever dream of visiting. However, at one time, something historically remarkable occurred which motivated thought leaders of the day to catalog and memorialize that event.  The museum has elements that were innovative and creative and still demonstrate exceptional imagination.  Even though something is “old,” what might you learn from the work of the past?

Converse with Others

Feeding your imagination requires you to experience new things routinely, and conversations with others is a great place to start. Begin by touring that old museum or seeking out conversations with people who are diverse from your traditional domain.  An intentional conversation with an elderly person who tells you their “story” forces your mind to see the world through a lens of yesterday. Conversely, spending a little time with a research scientist working to bring a new technology to market will cause you to imagine future scenarios and applications for their work.  Take time to feed your imagination.

Exercise Your Imagination

Second, exercise your imagination. Try this little exercise…  With the stage lights to the theater of your mind burning hot, the amp cranked, your cell phone off (and in another room), your gaming console in sleep mode and your headphones put away, pause and explore the picture out the window before you.  What do you see? Your car parked in the driveway? Trees in the background? The sidewalk in front of your house? The neighbor kids playing in the front yard? Same picture, different day, right?


Now… With your imagination in stretch mode and the theater of your mind prepared for showtime, think back to the day you bought your car. Remember the excitement and freedom you felt that day?  Think about where that little four-wheeled freedom maker might take you next. What about the trees? Consider the picture of the people who planted those trees so many years ago. What was their story? Why did they plant in that spot? Where are they today? How long have those trees been there?

Let’s explore the sidewalk for a minute.  The sidewalk in your picture was formed naturally right after Noah’s flood, right? Ehm… cough, no! Somebody took time to measure, dig, form and pour the concrete for that sidewalk – probably on a hot summer day. How many people helped pour that concrete? Because it’s old, it’s likely the concrete was mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow.  Maybe a dad used the “sidewalk project” as an opportunity to teach his sons the value of hard work.  Imagine a couple boys, one on each handle of that heavy wheelbarrow, clumsily pushing the heavy load from the mixing location to the wooden forms of the sidewalk.  They’re staggering and stumbling as they practice synchronized wheelbarrow pushing (a future Olympic sport!).  They pour the concrete while dad smiles.  Well done, boys.

How’d you do?  Was that stretch?  Might you set a reminder on your phone to do this for three times a day for five minutes?

What Did You Fail to Imagine?

Think back to our sidewalk and what you failed to imagine. Rewind those images of the dad and his boys pouring concrete.  In your haste to get through the movie of that dad and his boys, what did you fail to imagine? What color were the boys’ shoes? Did they have their shirts on? Were dad’s helpers all boys? Was one significantly older than the other? The scene was set to cause you to think the boys were small, yet their age was never stated.  Maybe they’re older and working in their dad’s concrete business. Did you fail to imagine the length of the sidewalk they’re pouring?  Did you fail to imagine how the concrete might be decorated?

What’s Limiting You?

As you consider decisions before you – academic choices, career options, or choosing a mate – pause and ponder what is limiting your decisions.  Are the limits placed upon your decisions self-induced?  Are you limiting your imagination through biases, prejudices (not talking about racial prejudices) and clichés due to your upbringing or cultural surroundings?  Or, heaven forbid, are the limits due to a lazy imagination because you couldn’t put down your smart phone?

Everything you see in your world is connected to a story.  The person you passed on the sidewalk, the kid boarding the school bus, even the mug you’re sipping coffee from has a story! It’s these stories which feed and stretch your imagination.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

Remember: repeat three times a day for five minutes.

Back to School for You, Mom!

Back to School for You, Mom!

Back to School for You, Mom!

Back to School for You, Mom!

Back to School for You, Mom!

You’ve combed the interwebs looking for the best deals…

You’ve spent hours visiting your favorite homeschool groups, social media pages, and blogs…

You have what is starting to look like plan…

You tell yourself that you are ready to get started!

I have a question for you, Mom.

What about YOU?

We get so wrapped up in preparing for our kids to have a successful school year, yet we don’t plan for US. That’s what I want to do in this article today. I want to talk about some sanity savers that will help YOU prepare YOURSELF for back to school!

The 4 20s

When attending a workshop held by Oginga Carr, a business coach in my network, I heard about the 4 20s. These are four things that you do every morning before picking up your phone or doing anything for anyone else. Here they are:

  • 20 ounces of water—Most water bottles are 16.9 ounces, but you can still find some 20 ounce bottled water, guestimate with your own water bottle, or find a 20 ounce water bottle.
  • 20 ounces of reading from a physical book—GASP! Who does THAT any more? The truth is that we are less likely to be distracted when we read from a physical book because it has no notifications popping up!
  • 20 ounces of body activation—Yes, exercise is what I mean. This is one that I have to get better with myself. Sigh!
  • 20 minutes of planning—What do you want to get done today? What is it going to take to get it done? Do you have it? If not, what can you use instead? Get things together before your family converges on you!

Chore and Responsibility Chart

Everybody in the house needs to help—and you need to LET THEM HELP! Let go of the perfectionist mentality and give your children chores. Take advantage of teachable moments because it is all stuff they need to know by the time they leave home anyway! Consider using a loop schedule to keep down arguments about turns. Here’s what loop scheduling looks like:

Sunday Monday
Trash Dad Mom
Kitchen Mom Kid 1
Laundry Kid 1 Kid 2
Living Room Kid 2 Kid 3
Den Kid 3  Dad

Definite Working Hours

If you work at home or run a business out of your home, establish definite working hours and get your family on board. Let them know that if no one is bleeding, on fire, or has severed a limb, you are not to be disturbed. Have things prepared for them to do during that time and teach time how to help each other! Call in reinforcements if you need to, especially if you have little ones.

Meal Planning and Prep

Having a meal plan can make dinner time simple and shut down time less chaotic. Start with family favorites and then develop a rotation based on what you know your family will eat without question! For freezer meals, you can use sectioned containers from Amazon. The ones we have are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven safe!

Mom Days

Contrary to popular opinion, you need to have a day and time to yourself to do the things that you enjoy. Doing so does not mean that you don’t love your family. The best thing you can give your family is a complete and whole YOU! So, even if it’s just going for a quick walk, movie and a snack in your room, or reading a book while they are doing their work. Make a way to do something for YOU!

Back to school isn’t just about them. You need to do things for you, too!

Tammie Polk Working and Homeschooling

Tammie Polk is a married homeschooling mother of three girls who has penned and published over 20 books on life, faith, family business, and fiction — all while working as a substitute teacher and virtual assistant, running two businesses, traveling to speak at various events, hosting an international radio show, and hosting her own events! When she’s not running the world, she enjoys gaming, crossword puzzles, and making board games.

True North Homeschool Academy links arms with homeschoolers world-wide to bring quality teachers, classes and programs to you! Check out our  Catalog!

Homeschooling Insider Reveals Ultimate Guide to Useful things: Outstanding Give-Away!

Homeschooling Insider Reveals Ultimate Guide to Useful things: Outstanding Give-Away!

We are starting our 27th year of Homeschooling. During that time, I’ve grown to rely on some things to keep us all going.  These are things I’ve used and loved for at least of few of our homeschooling years, (but probably much longer). Further down, I’ve added a few things I rely on to work from home.

Lap boards for the computer. We have a few.

White boards- small, medium, large. We keep a few in the Morning Basket, larger ones around the house, had one on the wall for years.

Our library cart (Ana White’s site, y’all!). Holds all of our curriculum. We put wheels on this one so it’s easily tranportable.

Gym membership. I hate getting there but love it when I’ve gone.

Revlon Nail Enamel, Charming, 0.5 fl Oz

Remington Foot and hand waxer and “Charming” toe-nail polish by Revlon. Serious self-care.

My functional medicine doctor- he has literally changed my life, tackling a problem I didn’t know I had and problems I did know I had. And because of him, Dynamic Greens; every day, mostly espresso. If you’re in the upper North Mid-west and need a referral, let me know!

Printer/laminator- I’m visual. I print everything. I’m kinesthetic. I laminate everything (seaonally).

Bullet Journal. I use a Moleskin and I love it. I’m a minimalist BuJu’er, and use mine two-sided. One side for detailed scheduling. The other for notes on work, books, life, brainstorming and more. I have more than one. I reference my BuJu’s from last year, too. In basic black, 8’x 5′, except I get the grid, not the classic

MK Cleanser and foundation and other stuff. It’s not your Granny’s skin care. My skin loves it, is smells girly and their skin care for teens has been the only thing that has really helped my acne prone teens overcome frequent break-outs (love the Charcoal Mask).

Organo Gold Coffee and Tea. Green Tea, every day. And coffee. Lots. LOVE this stuff! If you need some healthy java or tea, pick me to hook you up with the healthy, good stuff!

On-line Courses, club, Career Exploration and Testing, True North Homeschool Academy, of course!

Work at Home

  • LED Ring light takes FB lives to the next level by getting rid of drastic shadow! Worth.every.penny.
  • Headphones by Logitech
  • HD 1080P Camera
  • Google Everything
  • Pinterest
  • Word Press, Divi Theme, Yoast, WooCommerce

Some of you may have already started your year, or some of you might school all year long, or some of you might be making those final curriculum decisions before your new year starts. Whatever boat you are in, I’m sure you could use a little extra money for homeschool curriculum or resources; Am I right?

And NOW for the Back to Homeschool Give-Away! Enter to win a $250 Gift Card to Timberdoodle!

Homeschool Give-Away, Timberdoodle

I’ve gotten together with some fellow homeschool bloggers and we are pooling our money together to bless two homeschool families with a gift card to spend on their homeschools.  How does $250 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, or whatever educational supplies you might need?  Two people will win a $250 gift card to Timberdoodle!! We know homeschooling can put financial strain on families – whether it’s from living on one-income or buying curriculum for multiple children – the financial aspect of it can be stressful.  Our hope is that we can bless a couple of homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Now I know that is quite a few entries for you, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries.  And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning! Giveaway ends Aug. 15, 2018 at 11:59pm ET.  Must be at least 18 years of age.  Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter.  Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn.  By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers.  Please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions upon entering the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cross-Discipline Learning for Optimal Education

Cross-Discipline Learning for Optimal Education

We covered the basics of the of the Trivium in Part 1 and in this article we are going to dive into Corss Discipline Learning for Optimal Education.  We will extend the former discussion a bit, but first a little more about your brain. Your brain’s memory is like computer memory. If you were not aware, computers have access to two basic types of memory. Random access memory allows computers to jump to any point in memory and beginning reading. This would be akin to how we can open a book to a page and begin reading. Linear access means that a base memory location has to be read and then an offset followed to get to the relevant piece of data – think of the old reel-to-reel tapes you saw in the old 1950s spy movies. This would be akin to a scroll, such that wherever you are, you have to move in a linear fashion to the point in memory, I mean, the text, you want to read.

Cross Discipline Learning: Part II

Human Memory is Like All the Types of Computer Memory in One

Memory in the human brain is accessed both linearly and randomly. As a child (or an adult, for that matter), as facts are memorized in the grammar stage of learning, engrams are put into the brain, likes hooks, for us to randomly access that data at any point. From that point, we can access a linear train of thought. Cross Discipline learning allows your brain to integrate the linear with the random.

Then, as we move to the begin thinking dialectically, networking those points together, the data (reasoning) is accessed linearly. We have to ‘layout’ a logical argument, for instance. At least, laying out a logical argument is simpler than jumping to a point. Here, the lines begin to blur, as people and the brains are very complex and unique, and some people have very good recall, where others just do not. Some linear access points can become random access points, if that set of neurons are used frequently enough, or are coded with intense emotion, etc….

Not an Exact Science … Not Really

This is, at best, however, more of just a guideline to understand why I believe Subject Integration is very beneficial to learning. As we learn grammatically, common grammars between subjects can be used to hook into the deeper understanding of each subjects. I like the overly simple and convenient example of “variables” used in Algebra and computer programming. They are called “variables” because they can contain any value, and they are used in nearly the exact same way between both disciplines. So, by teaching, say, Algebra alongside a beginning programming course, students get double application (double dialectic?) of the grammar “variable”.

This kind of parallel can be found in many subjects, though not always so easy or convenient for a blogger to contrive. Still, another example does come to mind. I like language, and I want my seven-year-old to learn Hebrew. My seven-year-old likes to watercolor, and she has no interest in learning Hebrew. Surprise. The compromise, then, is the cross-disciplined application of both: I have her watercolor each letter the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. The consequence is that she still does not quite have them memorize yet, but she can fuddle her way through them pretty well, and she paints well.

Ergo …

Other applications of cross-discipline learning include the old-fashioned, but never outmoded, copying of scripture. Probably one of the best historical examples of Subject Integration: reading, writing, and divinity. 😊 The human brain “enjoys” cross-linking neural connections in new ways, and that is what subject integration is all about. Starting with grammar points, anchored into the psyche through rote memorization, the understanding of those various points, and the cross-linking of understanding, bring revelation, awareness, and sudden epiphanies of subject matter, which can create a sense of euphoria as well (yeah, some kids are literally addicted to learning). This is just how the brain works.

On a more serious note, have you ever wondered why jokes are funny (says the engineering looking at his own shoe laces while writing this)? Because the punch line forces your neural pathways in the brain to fire in a way that they likely never have fired before. Which is to say, you are forced to think different, even just for a moment. It’s funny, you know?

Mack Gammeter STEM Teacher

Mack Gammeter graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver with a Masters in Computer Science, a minor in Math, and nearly a minor in Chemistry. He has 15 years of industry experience programming C, C++, C#, OpenGL, DirectX, JS, CSS, HTML, .NET, MVC, CORE, SQL. He has taught STEM to university, high school, and junior-high level students – public, charter, or home schooled.

Our bundeled sets are specifically designed for Cross Discipline Learning!

Chemistry, Algebra I or II, C# Programming! Purchase all 3 for $900! (Save $90!)

Hebrew, Hebrew HIstory, Culture & Conversation, Bible in the Context of Israel!

Career Exploration Bundle!

$330 per class includes Scranton Performance Series test- Math, Reading, Language Arts & Lexile Reading Scores! Great tool for Mom AND fulfills state testing requirements! Dismiss