Thank you so much Merit! Here is the meta tag.
Music is a Life Skill

Music is a Life Skill

Many of us consider music an elective and one of those homeschool subjects that we may “get to.” But I contend that music is a life skill which informs us in many areas of our lives. Chiefly, It allows our kids to develop executive functioning as well as transferable skills.

I encourage you to carve out time for music. Just consider that you probably already do. What’s on your playlist? How many hours a week do you listen to music while you workout, or are in the car? Music is an integral part of our lives. Accordingly, the songs we listen to, the movies we watch, as well as the worship we offer can change our mood and – above all – lead to redemption. 

Close-up of female hands correcting music score

A Universal Language

Music is a Universal Languages, along with Math and Latin. As has been noted, we can communicate to others with music, even if we lack a common language!

I’ve teamed up with Melissa Grande, a professional Musician and one of our amazing True North Homeschool Academy teachers to talk about some of the obvious benefits of studying music!

10 Benefits of Studying Music  

  1.  Stress Management & Therapeutic Benefits – Music calms the soul, gives kids the ability to express emotions and work off the wiggles! It utilizes many neural pathways to learning. Music education is kinesthetic, and auditory, but also visual as they develop eye-hand coordination and the ability to read music.
  2. Quick Thinking Skills – playing an instrument requires the student to think quickly. That requirement increases exponentially if they are playing with a band of any kind. Kids become quick thinkers as they have to check what’s going on with other musicians.
  3. Social Skills – these become well developed through music as students learn collaboration & communication skills. Skills are required for coordinating with others in the home about best practice times. Social skills are used when working with other musicians, coordinating with teacher and developing as a performer. 
  4. Responsibility and Discipline – are a natural outcome of music studies as students learn to take care of their instruments. It also requires that they focus on practicing and tough out the physical hardship of developing their craft.
  5. Problem Solving – is one of the many gifts of studying any art. Students must simply work to understand the music. The sounds of their instrument and how to create music with others involve problem solving skills.
  6.  Time Management and Deadlines – are integral to developing as a musician. You must show up to lessons on time, show up to practice and performances while juggling other responsibilities and demands. 
  7. Pride in Accomplishments (and learning that you have the ability to Do Hard Things). We want good things for our kids, and might even have to guard against serving up fun too often. Instead, teach them to hold out for deep joy and fulfillment when they have overcome and can enjoy their accomplishment.
  8. Perseverance and Patience – we know that good things come from years of practice and investment. Excellence comes with practice. Our kids learn this as they wrestle with loving their instrument and playing music over the long term.
  9. Creative Expression – this might seem obvious but is not to be overlooked. Music allows our kids – and us- creative expression. Who hasn’t lip-synced at the top of their lungs in the car alone? Who hasn’t cried, hearing a touching song, or choked up singing Handel’s Messiah? Music moves our spirit and soul and unlocks hidden emotions and allows us to become more fully human.
  10.  Self Expression – along with creative expression, music allows us to express ourselves as individuals. We all have a song to sing and a beautiful story to tell. Music allows us another avenue to share that with others! 
Pretty young musician playing classic digital piano at home during online class at home, social distance during quarantine, self-isolation, online education concept

A Lot of Bang for Your Homeschool Buck!

Music is one of those courses of study that give you so much bang for your buck. Your kids learn a fantastic academic skill, that can garner them scholarship dollars and amazing opportunities. As they develop their skills, music will help them maintain their positive mental health. They will develop transferable skills that will hold fast throughout their lives. 

Not sure where to start with Music Education in your homeschool? Check out True North Homeschool Academy Music classes. We believe in and value music education so much that we offer k-12th grade opportunities that will inspire and delight! 

Boy with a clarinet plays music. Online music lesson concept

Check Out K-12 Classes to Get Their Creative Energies Flowing

  • Music at the Movies– a life changing Music and Apologetics course! Pair this with Strategy: War and Peace for an integrated approach to world view and history !
  • Introduction to Music Theory -learn the Basics of Reading Music
  • The Art of Songwriting – perfect for budding musicians and writers! 
  • Introduction to Voice – learn how to sing- this course can also count towards science credits.
  • Art & Music I – one of our most popular Elementary classes last year! This is a Charlotte Mason inspired course that teaches Art through the Seasons. Children learn to play the tin whistle along with learning about music.
  • Art & Music II – for those who couldn’t get enough of Art and Music I. (or for older kids) Students will again have inspiring Art through the Seasons lessons and learn rhythm through bucket drumming! 

From Handicrafts to Technology

Take a look at more than 30 electives available on our website. True North Homeschool Academy offers elective courses that are creative and practical.

  • Adapted Life Skills
  • Watercolor, Winnie the Pooh & You!
    Video Editing Basics
  • TNHA Full Year BIble Class - Story of Christianity for High School
    The Story of Christianity
  • TNHA Apologetics online class
    Introduction to Apologetics
  • TNHA Personal Finance Course for High School Homeschoolers
    Personal Finance
  • YES
  • TNHA Product Image Art Class Form & Color High School online class
    Form and Color
  • TNHA Online needle arts class in knitting and crochet
    Knitting & Crocheting
  • TNHA Product Image New TESTAMENT Single Semester Class
    New Testament Survey
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Middle school or Junior High Students who want to be challenged may also join this high school level class.
    Photography & Digital Technology
  • TNHA Product Image Art & Music updated 2021-2022 school year Level two
    Art and Music Level 2
  • True North Homeschool Academy High School Economics Online Class
  • Old Testament History
    Old Testament History: From Adam to Nehemiah
  • Leadership for the digital age online class for high school homeschoolers
    Leadership for the Digital Age
  • Introduction to Voice
    Introduction to Voice
  • The Art of Songwriting
Celebrate Back to School!

Celebrate Back to School!

Back to School with Confidence!

Hey there, homeschooler! Can you believe it’s about time to prep for the coming school year? Summer is rushing by, as it always does, and back to school sales are starting up again. 

Before you are in the midst of all of the fall activities starting back up, take some time to prepare so that you can get back to school with confidence! 

The best way to start the next school year off fresh is to make sure your starting point is clean and uncluttered!

Declutter from Summer 

  • Get rid of outgrown/ unused clothes and shoes
  • Host a Coat or Clothes Drive for your local shelter.
  • Sort through School Supplies and get rid of outgrown or worn-out items
  • Sort through School Workbooks, Curriculum and Textbook, Compost, throw and donate worn out and outgrown items.

Once you’ve donated and thrown away outdated and worn out items, you are ready to think anew about what’s ahead! It’s going to be a great year! 

Tips for Shopping

Have your kids help with the planning and shopping:

  • Ask them what they want to study and how they want to learn it.
  • Give them a budget, catalogs and see what they come up with.
  • Award a prize to whoever finds the best deal!

If you are curriculum shopping, it might help to check out our Typical Course of Study for High School and Typical Course of Study for Junior High. 

Make plans to get the books you need. Decide whether you will be going to the library regularly or purchasing books.  

Remember that back to school sales are a great time to get supplies for your school year activities, crafts and hobbies.

Low angle of excited small daughter giving high five to mother and screaming while celebrating successful online shopping using laptop at table in light living room

Back to Homeschool Supplies

  • Lap Desks
  • New Water Bottles
  • New Fun Socks or PJ’s
  • Fill a backpack for a student in need or donate a meal to the food pantry together. 
  • Purchase homeschool family t-shirts 
  • OR create tie-dyed homeschool shirts for field trips or bleach dye them.

Don’t forget the digital tools your kids will need. Now is a good time to purchase, upgrade or replace them.

  • Password Organization tools
  • A plan for organizing each students online work- papers, passwords, 
  • Internet safety and classes or clubs.
  • Noise Dampening Ear phones -public spot for online classes.
  • Basket to gather phones and other electronics at night so everyone gets a great night sleep 
  • Tablets/ cases/ chargers 
  • Computers/ cases, chargers
  • Extra Charging cords and power banks
  • Earbuds
  • Lap Desks 
  • Bluetooth speakers

Develop Daily Habits

You’ve got the stuff, now consider HOW you are going to manage your days and weeks.

Waking and Sleeping/ Nap routines

What soothing rituals can you incorporate into your daily routine to cue your and your kiddos that it’s time to start or end the day? Here are a few ideas:

  • Peppy or soothing music
  • Smoothie or fruits and greens drink
  • A brisk walk or a family read-aloud.
  • Plan and Create a Morning Meeting or a Morning Basket.

When we had a houseful of kids, starting the day off with the youngest calmed and soothed them. Our Morning Basket was one of the most fun parts of our day and we all loved gathering to study together!

Other Tools and Resources That Make Homeschooling Easier

Do you need to think about adding in any of the following? 

  • Live online classes
  • Self paced classes
  • Local co-ops/ class days
  • Community Service
  • Memory Work Time
  • Read Alouds
  • Bible Study
  • Foreign Language Study
  • Music and Art Study
  • PE
  • Fun and down time? 
  • Homeschool Clubs

Home and Homeschool Planning Tips

Plan for the Inevitable so that you can manage keeping the house clean and people fed and clothed while homeschooling and possibly working as well. 

  • Meal planning, shopping and prepping
  • General pick-up and cleaning plan
  • Laundry plan

Create Learning Stations in your home to build routine and muscle memory. You don’t need vast amounts of space. You can really create a “station” with a simple basket or shelf. 

  • Science “Lab”
  • Art & Music “Studios” with log sheets
  • Book Nook
  • Group together kids’ kitchen tools, recipe books and cooking supplies
  • Audio Learning Lab
  • Foreign Language Lab
  • Writing Workshop
  • PE course or equipment/ log sheets
  • Unit Study or Lap book/ Scrap-booking 

Think about Weekly/ Monthly/ Seasonal Routines and Events/ Happenings

What days off or prep time is needed for each, who is budgeting, doing the prep and clean up afterwards?  Remember to add these to your calendar so you can quickly see what is coming up and avoid scheduling conflicts.

  • Field trips
  • Vacations
  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Co-ops
  • Church and Bible Study
  • Nature Studies
  • Weekly Meeting with each student to go over planner and assignments from 6th grade on up
  • Weekly Family Planning Meeting 
  • Vacations/ trips for travel

Create First Day or Week of School Events

  1. Host an Open House for your fellow Homeschool Friends or a Themed Book Event
  2. Create a “Day of discovery” for the first day of school:
    1.  Balloons outside their door
    2.  New toiletry items in the bathroom
    3. A new school planner 
    4. Yummy special breakfast items
    5. Awesome morning basket finds etc.
  3. Plan a bonfire and cook S’more’s with friends
  4. Create a paper chain countdown a week before school begins
  5. Create a vision board for the year
    1. Gather magazines
    2. Tape and glue
    3. Spend time creating together
  6. Create a bucket list for this school year
  7. Have your kids write a letter to themselves for the year- include goals, hopes, dreams and then save it to send to them through the mail at the end of the year.
  8. Take a First Day of School Picture
  9. Make a What We Did this Summer timeline 
  10. Create a first day of school video or Instagram reel, to look back on at the end of the year.  (don’t forget to tag us! @truenorthhomeschoolacademy )
  11. Give your kids a book they’ve been wanting, complete with “Book Worms” to snack on (gummy worms)
  12. Create a school supplies/ books Scavenger Hunt so they can discover what they’ll be learning throughout the year
    1. Find a new backpack or book bag first so that they can add their supplies to it. 
    2. Have them find fun school supplies like glitter pens, stickers, etc.
    3. Have them find actual school curriculum along the way- like Math book
  13. Make a Schultutue! 
  14. Purchase a new board game to play at the end of the day together
  15. Make a school banner and choose a school motto/ colors./ name
  16. Discover what School is like around the world with this short video.
  17. Learn with a messy and fun science day
  18. Celebrate with a messy art Day
  19. Have a Silly String war at lunchtime
  20. Plan and prep special meals throughout the day or plan a special tea and scones event for the first day of school.
  21. Decorate your homeschool room together
  22. Start a scrapbook, Blog or Instagram account together that you add to and curate
  23. Have a “not back to school” celebration- Hit up a park, zoo or museum when everyone else goes back to school or even go somewhere fun for a couple days/ week-
  24. Start your the year off by camping
  25. Play the “M & M” Game with your kids and let them tell you about themselves!  

Podcasts & Blog Posts That Will Help You Plan

Whether you are a veteran homeschool parent with years under your belt, or new to home education altogether, we hope that you will find some ideas here that inspire your “back to homeschool” celebration!

Advanced Placement for the Homeschooler

Advanced Placement for the Homeschooler

Advanced Placement for the Homeschooler. Is this even a thing? Launching our homeschooled students can feel trickier than ever before. We have college costs and world view to contend with.

Many homeschooling parents are looking for the least expensive, most time effective way of getting their kids through college, with a degree, vocational training and minimal debt. And for those purposes, you may want to consider Advanced Placement classes (known as “AP”) as part of your overall strategy of launch success.

In this article, True North Homeschool Academy teacher, Dr. Jim Stobaugh , a well-known college admission coach and author, answers some common questions about the AP Tests.

Q: What is the difference between AP and other college credit options?
A: AP is preferred by most colleges because it is created and closely monitored by universities. Dual enrollment & especially CLEP are a hit and a miss–universities prefer certainty.

Q: What is the minimum score necessary to equal credit at college?
A: Normally a score of 3 although William & Marry, for example, allows a score of 2. Parents should phone the admission departments at colleges.

Q: How many hours is an AP course worth and how many hours can I take to college?
A: 3-6 hours per course depending upon the consenting college. Most college allow 18-28 hours. Vanderbilt, for instance, will transfer in 18 hours but only if the score is 4-5.

Q: When should my student take an AP course.
A: When he/she is ready! Normally 11th or 12th grade, but in some cases 10th grade. Speak to Dr. Stobaugh about this.

Q: How much time will my student have to spend completing AP work?
A: Normally 1 hour per day (5 hours/week).

Parents must find a cooperating high school. Students will have an option to take the exam onsite or at home digitally.

Here is a list of high schools that administer AP exams:


What is an AP Scholar Award?

What is an AP Capstone Diploma Award?
Advanced Placement tests can be an important and integral part of your college process and plan, setting you up for college success, scholarship money and unique opportunities.

Advanced Placement Classes from True North Homeschool Academy

We are currently offering 3 Advanced Placement tests through True North Homeschool Academy:
Earn college credit while still in High School!
Buy an AP Bundle for greater savings!

About Dr. Stobaugh

Dr. Stobaugh has had more than 25 books published including the SAT and College Preparation Course for the Thoughtful Christian (2016), and The ACT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student (2012), as well as a critical thinking literary writing and history series.

He is the pastor of Mt. Laurel United Church of Christ, Boswell, PA, an evangelical Protestant church not too far from the Flight 93 crash. Jim and Karen reside on a farm called The Shepherd’s Glen in the Laurel Highland Mountains, Hollsopple, PA. You can read his blog and order his services at

Stand Out!

Stand Out!

Stand Out: How to Maximize your High School Years

Each year there are roughly 15.4 million high school students in America, with 25% of those students from 24,000 high schools. Each of those high schools has a “Best;” the best football player, scholar, performer, linguist, etc. Competition is stiff for both college and university scholarships.

Furthermore, the number of honor students in India is greater than the number of total students in America, and with today’s global market, future college-goers are competing with scholarship dollars and opportunities internationally. Standing out from the crowd will garner your student scholarship money and opportunities that being one of the many will not.

Group of people working in charitable foundation. Happy volunteer looking at donation box on a sunny day. Happy volunteer separating donations stuffs. Volunteers sort donations during food drive

What is a Stand-Out Factor?

A Stand out factor can be many different things but they are most likely to include:

  •       Initiative –student initiated, led and directed
  •       Passion – student has personal investment
  •       Individuality –has to do specifically with the students core values
  •       Strategy –student has strategized to achieve

I would also recommend that a Stand-Out Factor include:

  •       Positive impact on others
  •       Uniqueness
  •       Broad Reach & Big Win

With technology so readily available, it’s almost easier to develop your stand-out factor than ever before. Young creative entrepreneurs can self-publish novels, music, videos, and movies. But, publishing doesn’t automatically make something Stand-out. How can you tell if you have developed your stand-out factor? It’s the difference between ordinary and extraordinary!

What’s a stand-out factor? It’s the difference between ordinary and extraordinary!

Lisa Nehring, Director, True North Homeschool Academy

Stand Out Students

Below I’ve listed some of the ideas students that I’ve worked with have actually done to develop their own ability to stand out:

  • Write, perform and publish a quality play, book, music or film
  • Develop art skills like throwing drawing and painting, pottery, creating stained glass windows/ lamps, blacksmithing, etc and enter art contests
  • Hike a trail for a cause or a challenge 
  •  Raise money to travel abroad and serve on a mission            
  • Breed and trademark a type of fruit or flower
  • Breed and sell a pet- iguana, dogs, miniature cows
  • Win money as a prize bowler, archer, skier, etc.          
  • Start a business, track your earnings and impact
  • Help run a state or national political campaign, work as a legislative Paige,
  • Study and Perform Shakespeare
  • Learn multiple languages, particularly Critical Languages
  • Travel internationally; create guidebook or blog about travels, do international community service or charity work
  • Do hundreds of hours of Community Service 
  • Build a functioning web-site
  • Build something impressive- like a Robot, Drone or Plane, or replicate all of the Enterprises’ ships as models 
  • Earn a license or Certification– pilot’s, drone, PADI
  • Learn tech- 3-D Printing, Robotics, Photoshop, Photography and it’s many digital uses!
  • Earn Awards such as the  National Latin Exam, German National Exam 
  • Participate in and win National Competitions- Geography, History, Bible, Poetry
  • Participate in CAP or Jr ROTC
  • Turn your interest in performing into becoming a juggler or clown
  • Turn your interests into an opportunity to impart your knowledge to others and teach a skills you’ve learned in person, or online
two female soccer players on the field

Use What You Have

Identify and develop areas where your students show interest or talents and skills they are already using. You might also consider areas that you, as the parent, can coach or develop in your student. If you have a passion or hobby and your student shows interest, I would venture to say that that is an area that would be perfect to develop into a stand-out factor. 

Outsource When Needed

On the other hand, each of our kids shows talents and abilities that we might know nothing about. In which case I would encourage you to research and find resources that can develop your student’s interest beyond your knowledge.  Resourcing your student doesn’t have to be expensive, as there are so many great online tutorials now. Literally, the world is at your fingertips with the tap of your fingers. At the same time, don’t overlook local resources. My older kids took horseback riding lessons from a National Barrel racer in return for mucking out stalls. 

Developing your student’s stand-out factor might garner those students scholarship dollars and opportunities; it might lead to jobs or even a career. At the very least, it will develop your student’s overall sense of ability and accomplishment, as well as soft skills, such as work ethic, communication skills, creativity, and critical thinking.

High School is the perfect time to develop your student’s stand-out factor, through clubs, projects, and course work that helps them understand themselves and opportunities more robustly, such as our Orienteering Course. 

If you need help identifying or knowing how to further develop your student’s stand-out factor, we’d love to help! Check out our Academic Advising program and Parent Membership programs!

Athletic Young man swimming the back crawl in a pool. Swimming competition.
After Action Your Homeschool Year

After Action Your Homeschool Year

Doing an after-action review on last year’s homeschooling might be the last thing on your mind. After all, school’s out for summer! We had a great year, learned a ton, read the best books, and wrote some amazing papers – commence summer schedule, baby!

But before you move on from this year, after-action your homeschool year. If you do, I promise it will save you time, money, and frustration!

What is it?

What is an After Action Review? It’s a structured de-briefing to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be improved for the future.

Personally, I believe that after-actioning our homeschooling year can put our hearts and minds at ease, re-focus our energy and resources and help us be intentional as we plan and prepare for what’s ahead. This type of review allows us to objectively let go of things, activities, curriculum, and even schedules that did not work and embrace what did work. As a result, we can move ahead with confidence!

After Action: Assessment

  •  Homeschooling curriculum, activities, events, clubs and more- what all worked?
  •  What didn’t work in your homeschooling life this past year- curriculum, events, activities, clubs, challenges, etc.


  • Mom evaluation: did the curriculum work for you? Did you love it, like it, tolerate it, hate it? Did you enjoy using it?
  • Kid evaluation: did the curriculum work for the kids? Did you love it, like it, tolerate it, hate it? Did you enjoy using it?
  • Avoidance evaluation: What curriculum did you all avoid; was there anything that did not get used regularly enough to be beneficial?
  • Super star wins: curriculum that you all loved and couldn’t wait to get to? Double down on that!

Extra Curriculars

  • Time investment
  • Travel investment
  • Expense
  • Too rigorous or Not rigorous enough?
  • How did they fit into overall goals?
  • Was social interaction challenging, healthy and beneficial?

Assess Co-ops, on-line classes and other outsourced programs:

  • Double check your expectations compared to what the program delivered.
  • You invested time, money, planning and effort to participate; was  it beneficial enough to continue?

Determine what you will continue and what will you change/ get rid of:

  • Programs
  • Events
  • Activities
  • Sports

Sort and Organize

  • Papers
  • Notebooks
  • Curriculum
  • Books
  • DVD’s

If it was completed: donate, sell or compost it. If you are keeping it, clean it up and put it back on the bookshelves. Want to keep those sweet memories? Make a scrapbook for a fun summer activity! Remember to go through clothes, shoes, and winter gear while you are at it. The kids grew at the speed of sound this year!

Garden office with laptop, smart phone, glasses and coffee on a wooden table in the backyard, stay home during corona crisis, copy space, selected focus, narrow depth of field

Teacher Training 

As you after-action, think through areas that you need more training or encouragement in and strategize how you’ll get the training that you need.

Also, determine an area you want to build your own copiousness in this year and make a plan for actually doing it. Nothing keeps homeschooling as exciting as knowing that you’ll all be learning and wrestling together through materials, gaining skills and knowledge! Don’t forget to add in some fun and a break from your regularly scheduled programming so that you are refreshed and ready for what’s next! Looking for awesome community and fellowship? Join our Mom’s Membership. You will benefit from support and three LIVE and interactive events online each week!

Look Ahead 

Assess what you need to have an amazing next year:

  • Make a list of curriculum
  • Supplies
  • Clubs
  • Extra Curriculars
  • Camps & Workshops
  • Events

Start with a solid Personalized Learning Plan you’ve created yourself or work with one of our qualified Academic Advisors to create your next amazing school year. Check out the Survive Homeschooling Highschool ebook, full of information about credits, transcripts and electives, charts and helpful information about testing, and more!

After-actioning can give you a great sense of accomplishment for all that you’ve done this past school year and set you up for stellar success in the future as well as a relaxing summer!