3 Reasons to Homeschool

3 Reasons to Homeschool

Everyone decides to homeschool for different reasons, but I want to share with you our top three reasons to homeschool.

Our homeschooling story began in 1991 way back in Southern California. We have continued to homeschool across the country, with numerous children (most of whom have now graduated) for the following reasons:

(Still unsure about homeschooling? Check out Should I Homeschool?)

Reason #1 – Education

Our kids are getting a solid education. Is it perfect? No. Are there gaps? Yes. Is that normal? I think so. Do we continue to hone and improve what we do? Yes.

Educating our kids at home has streamlined the academic process for the simple reason that there are fewer people to manage, no classes to change or halls and lockers to navigate, and no worksheets to slow us down. We learn the lesson; we move on. This pace has given our kids plenty of time to do things like scouts, sports, travel, read voraciously, study art, plant gardens, create things, help us re-build an acreage, serve others, write novels, participate in horseback riding, karate, and soccer, and pursue so many other interests.

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Reason #2 – Faith

Homeschooling allows your kids to have time to refine, define, and own their faith.

Of course, it doesn’t take homeschooling to allow kids to own their faith, but it does allow them time to own it before the world and peers, and a whole host of other voices, come along to batter and beat it into something almost, but possibly, not quite Christian. Our kids leave our home with a solid understanding of the Bible, including its history, language and culture, the history of the church, the importance and personhood of Jesus, and a glimpse at how imperfect people attempt to live a life of vibrant faith.

Is it perfect? No. Do we fail? Yes. Is that normal? I know so.

Kids grow up and decide and determine what values they’ll follow, what memories they’ll treasure, and which they discard. The voices of the world are loud and noisy, and there is no guarantee that any of our kids will grow up to follow much of anything they’ve been raised with. The whole idea that if we raise our kids a certain way, it will guarantee specific values and lifestyle in our kids is idolatry, pure and simple.

We get to follow God and be faithful to what He has called us to do. Our kids also have that choice- to hear and obey, or not. Twenty-eight years into this stint of homeschooling has taught me some hard lessons, and one of the most challenging has been to realize that everyone works out their own salvation with fear and trembling. We don’t get to take our kids, or our spouses, or anyone else to heaven — just us. But we can sure do our part on behalf of others, including our kids.

That being said, raising our kids with an understanding of the Bible, history, literature, critical thinking skills, and a knowledge of Faith is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. What they do with that gift is up to them.

Reason #3 – Family

It’s a busy world. Homeschooling has allowed us to spend hours together, playing, reading, learning, building, re-modeling, cooking, gardening, arguing, and laughing together. The good side of that is that everybody knows each other. The downside of this is that everybody knows each other.

Is it perfect? No. Do we get on each other’s nerves? You betcha’.

But really, how many people do you ever get to know well in life? Precious few. Add in social media and life online, and it’s no wonder that people are, literally, getting lonelier. Homeschooling has given our family time to sit around the fire watching fireflies and the Milky Way,  discuss great books, history, literature, and ideas for hours.  We can travel, sightsee, and fall in love with God’s world and each other. Quality time almost always demands quantity time. Our family has been blessed with plenty of both, and it has enriched each of our lives.

What are your top 3 reasons for homeschooling? Are they the same as when you first started or have they changed?

(Just now deciding to take the homeschooling plunge? Check out our post on Homeschooling 101.)

Do you currently homeschool? Or maybe you are considering it. Check out the three reasons why we homeschool. Are your reasons the same? Do you have anything you would add? #homeschooling #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #whywehomeschool

Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

Getting Started – Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

I’ve had several young Mommas (so young I could be their Momma!) ask me about homeschooling preschool and kindergarten recently. The biggest challenge of littles is keeping them engaged. Most still have a relatively short attention span, are quickly tired, and need to be fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key- routine is your safest bet.  

(Still considering homeschooling? Check out our post on three reasons we love homeschooling.)

So what are my tips for homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners?

Tip #1 – Morning Baskets

I would recommend developing a morning basket for littles. This method means they get your attention first thing, right after breakfast.  This basket is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it. Morning Baskets for littles can include card matching games, Kumon workbooks, Memory CD’s, Poetry, Simple Bible Stories, Phonics, and math games if they are ready for them.

After years of doing this, I recommend over-planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don’t get what you want, you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!

Tip #2 – Add in age-appropriate chores.

Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT, they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple- well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally! Life skills are a big part of homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners.

Tip #3 – Add in Some Books

If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.

Pre- Reading: Read aloud 15 min a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don’t limit your read-alouds to baby books.

Curriculum Suggestions for Homeschooling Preschoolers and Kindergartners

I think some table time is good at this age because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study. Art or History Cards are great to look at, even for pre-readers. Usborne, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press all have beautiful ones.

Christian Studies- Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they’ll remember for a lifetime. We also have loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children’s Bibles, including the Golden Children’s Bible.
We had tons of felts, and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber.

IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization– this is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are four sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic re-tellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will hear fantastic vocabulary and superb story-telling.

Letter and Number recognition– we used Kumon and Usborne workbooks, colorful, easily accessible, and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.

Phonics- We always used Alpha-Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low cost, no bells, and whistles, a practical approach.

Bible Study– Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children’s Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press, or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.

Memory Work – When our youngest was four, she learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several others hundred facts related to grammar, geography, Latin, poems and more because we regularly and diligently used CDs and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook-sized time-line. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT.

This is NOT to say that you should set them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CD’s, good DVD’s, books and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They are sponges. If you start early “training their brains to retain,” you’ll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.

More Fun Ways to Learn while Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten

Outside play, exploration, and nature walks – Nature journaling and nature tables are an excellent way for kids to display the cool things they’ve found as they explore the great outdoors! Homeschooling your preschooler and kindergartener should always be fun!

Read-alouds – At least 15 minutes a day; more is better ; )

Crafts and Art – There are so many fun art books, but in any case, an easel, paper, and paint is always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is excellent for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a whiteboard and for painting- easily wipes off- all for $15 bucks.

Gardening – This can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?

Open-Ended toys – Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers rehabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food; and old pots, pans, and measuring cups.

Art Supplies – Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to “Paint” in the bathtub, Whiteboards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).

Unstructured Outside Play – Trampoline, playhouses, daily walks, parks, swimming, Gardening, Sandboxes, Swings,

“Sound exploration” – Musical makers. Kids loving making sounds.

Cooking- My kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne’s First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.

Gross motor skill development–  For years, we had a “Step 2” playscape, complete with ladder and slide, IN our house.

Sandbox or table– a friend built a sandbox in their basement for their kids, and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.

Fine motor skill development – Have plenty of pens, pencils, markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, small toys (once they are past the “everything in their mouth” stage- legos, of course.

Travel/ field trips –  What better way to learn about the mail than actually visiting the Post Office? These types of learning experiences make learning fun AND educational.

Singing – the Wee Sing series, with books and CD’s are full of old favorites.

Daily Prayer – Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together, is a gentle way to teach your littles about what’s important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn’t know what to pray for, just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, “Thank you, God, for this day.” This year, we made an Easter garden.

Finally, as a word of caution…..Limit screen time.

There are so many apps, computer games, DVD’s, etc., and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You want your pre-Ker neurology to be hard-wired to people and words, not electronics. Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people-NOT screens.

For littles, almost everything they encounter is new and amazing. It’s so fun to explore the world together and to see it through fresh eyes. You don’t have to be super planned, but some planning does help and kids, again, thrive on routines. So what are you waiting for, take the leap to homeschooling preschool and kindergarten today!

Like what you see here but need more? Check out our post on Homeschooling Basics.

Are you considering making the homeschooling leap with your preschool or kindergarten child? Do you feel overwhelmed and under prepared? Let's us help you! At True North Homeschool Academy we strive to make your homeschool journey a success while fighting your overwhelm. Check out these great tips on homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #homeschoolingpreschool #homeschoolingkindergarten #newhomeschooler

How to Fail as a Homeschooler

How to Fail as a Homeschooler

(Portions of this post originally appeared on the Golden Grasses website- by Lisa Nehring)

It’s that time of year when parents are re-evaluating schooling options for their kids. I hear over and over again, “I want to homeschool (or my kids want to homeschool), but I’m so worried I’ll fail.” Having homeschooled for 25 years, we’ve seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler. Check it out. Maybe it will help you evaluate whether or not you have what it takes to succeed as a homeschooler.

(Wondering why we homeschool? You can find the answers here.)

1- Stop Learning 

I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy. If you want to fail as a homeschooler, model NOT learning. Model NOT reading, model intellectual apathy, fed on a diet of social media, low standards, and cultivated disinterest.

2- Be Prideful about your Kid’s Success and Ability

Be haughty and prideful when it comes to your own child.  They already know it all, why learn more? Your child is “too good” for every program out there. Also, refuse to let your child mingle with children you deem “less-than.” This not only sets them up to fail in homeschooling but also in life.

3- Never Ask Questions

Cultivate the attitude of disinterest; what you don’t know is boring. Asking questions requires vulnerability and humility. Don’t show either.

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3-Be Stingy & Hoard

Opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge; you need to keep whatever good thing you have to yourself. Don’t share, promote, develop, or go beyond your circle. Keep in mind the toddler rules, “What’s Yours is Yours and What’s Mine is Mine, What’s Broken is Yours.”

4- Be Fearful

Homeschool because the world is scary, and public schools are of the devil. Be reactive. Be closeted and fearful. Homeschool because there is nothing better. Hunker down for the coming of apocalypse zombies.

5- Be Lazy

Have the attitude that no matter what you do or don’t do as a homeschooler, it is better than what the public schools do or don’t do. So if you really don’t “do” school or even train your kids, that’s okay.  At least it’s better than what the public schools are doing, anyway, right?

(Trying to figure out how to succeed at this homeschooling gig as a Busy Mom, check out our post on Sacred Sanity – A Busy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling.)

6- Be Tolerant

Let your kids run wild in the name of homeschooling freedom. Allow them to break the rules, to be rebellious, to set a low standard for others at classes, co-ops, field trips, to subtly jeer and undermine. This tolerance gives the impression that all homeschoolers have low standards and ensures that no homeschoolers will be allowed that field trip in the future. It also provides that any homework assigned will be mocked, that work itself is not that important, and that co-ops should cater to the lowest common denominator.

7-Be Irresponsible

Make excuses; make them often and frequently, for yourself and your kids, regarding academic standards, character issues, things left undone, and overdone. Don’t take responsibility to educate your kids.

8- Be Idolatrous

Idolize your child, and their individuality to the point of extreme. Idolize creativity while sacrificing discipline. Buy into the cheap imitation of chaos theory that free expression without tools, time, or discipline will produce creative talent beyond our wildest dreams. In keeping with this, teach to your kid’s strengths (if you teach at all) and let their weaknesses go unchecked.

I’m sure that there are other ways to fail as a homeschooler, but these are the ones I’ve personally most often encountered over the years. And, True Confessions, My name is Lisa, and I’m a Homeschooling Failure myself, having participated in all of these at one time or another. Admission, so those in the know tell me, is the first step towards recovery. Good thing, because next, in honor of those in recovery as Homeschooling Failures, I’ll post How to Succeed as a Homeschooler.

(Have you decided that you’re ready to begin? Check out our post on Homeschooling 101!)

Having homeschooled for 25 years, we've seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler. Check it out. Maybe it will help you evaluate whether or not you have what it takes to succeed as a homeschooler. #homeschooling #homeschooler #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why do you need homeschool academic advising?

As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor and teacher, all rolled into one.

It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschooling forums and message boards who state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career and they came out just fine. And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.

Time and Money 

The average student in American is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.

Hacking High School for Future Success

The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:

  • Time to explore new opportunities and options
  • Time to prepare for a successful launch

When I am putting together our “school” for each school year I am thinking about academics. I am also thinking about extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids are developing and growing in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”), how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest, what kind of personality skills or traits that they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed.

(Need more great career advice for your homeschool student?  Check out all our other great career readiness posts!)

Why hire someone when you can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?

So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done, don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students interests or callings because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like.  They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.

That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.

I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who basically flunked most of last year’s courses. After digging a bit deeper I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish each year for more than one family; has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his Grandmas and neighbors driveways and walks) works full time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker), and has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash that he’d earned watching YouTube videos.

Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I was able to create a transcript for him that reflected the hard working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we were able to lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.

Similarly, I worked with a family earlier this year who has hopes of graduating from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that but he is also very interested in going into an art field, doing creative, free-lance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes.  These classes were coupled along with developing an online presence, going to professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.

Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling

Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.

Whether you have a fast burner or struggling learner- We Can Help!

Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling to just keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students from around the world for many years- from profoundly gifted to disabled. Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges as well as Ivy League schools. Every student has a story and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!

Check out our Podcast on Soft Skills, Academic Advising, Orienteering Course.

Do you have a plan for your child's high school years? If not, it's time to make one! Check out the perks of homeschool academic advising. #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #academicadvising #homeschool

Why Should Your Homeschooler Study Critical Languages?

Why Should Your Homeschooler Study Critical Languages?

Why should your homeschooler study critical languages?  Critical Language Study is a foreign language study that puts your homeschooler ahead of the pack.

Foreign Language study can be a struggle for even the most dedicated Homeschooler. It’s just hard to teach what you don’t know. Thankfully, there are so many great resources available now for instruction with fluent speakers and teachers, that it’s just a matter of finding a great fit!

So, why not ramp your foreign language studies up a bit by going after a Critical Language?

What is “Critical Language?”

A Critical Language is a term used to designate a language where the demand outstrips the supply. In other words, there is a high need for a language professional in these areas, but we can’t meet the supply.

These languages are essential for reasons of diplomacy, trade, and national security. Because diplomacy, trade and national security fluctuate, the list of Critical Languages fluctuates as well.  The current list for Critical Languages includes 60 languages, which can be found here https://www.nsep.gov/content/critical-languages.

Everyone knows that foreign language study enhances your Educational Opportunities, and contributes to Leadership Potential and Career Readiness.  However, these languages are often overlooked because they may be considered more difficult to learn due to a different alphabet, pronunciation or grammatical structure;  they are not closely related to English, like Spanish, French or German would be.

However, anyone who obtains proficiency in a Critical Language automatically has improved scholarship opportunities as well as improved career prospects, as jobs in government, international companies, non-profit organization or security services are looking for professionals with second language training.

What are the best languages to get ahead with your career?

Mandarin and Spanish are on the list, time and again. In fact, if you know English, Spanish and Chinese, you can communicate with 2/3 of the world’s population, which never fails to look amazing on a resume!

Interested in Career Fields that utilize these languages?

  1. Become a Translator (having to do with the written word)
  2. Become an interpreter- this has to do with the spoken word, (this would be more challenging than translating).
  3. Apply for a foreign language Intelligence Officer
  4. Work as a Foreign Language Teacher
  5. Work as an International Sales Manager
  6. Work in a business/ Customer relations that requires a foreign language
  7. Work in the military as a linguist/ Foreign Service Officer
  8. Work as a Humanitarian/International Development Services Offices
  9. Work as a Foreign Correspondent

Jobs Opportunity Listings for those with a Second Language

Scholarship opportunities available for those with Critical Language Training:

Professional Organizations for Language Study and Specialists

Relevant Websites and Publications

Interested in foreign Language study that will take you further? We offer Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, and Latin through True North Homeschool Academy. Get a taste of Chinese (at the top of every Critical Languages list you’ll find!) this summer with our Explore Chinese Culture Camp for K-12th graders!

Are you overwhelmed with choosing a foreign language study for your student? Let us simplify it today! Check out some great reasons why your homeschooler should study a critical language. #TNHA #criticallanguage #foreignlanguage

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