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Teach Your Teens to Make SMART Goals

Teach Your Teens to Make SMART Goals

It is NEVER a bad time to create goals and a plan to accomplish them. Want to change the world? Want to change ANYTHING?! SMART Goals will get you there! What are SMART goals?

These types of goals are an excellent tool to teach your tweens and teens; a skill that will travel through time with them, allowing them to go farther, faster! And if you happen to live with a teen who lacks inspo, or can’t quite get on board the mom train, having them set their own goals using this method might just be the thing! Together, let’s walk through what makes a goal SMART so that you can impart this simple, but powerful skill, to your teens!

To create S.M.A.R.T. goals means to create goals that are:


Creating crystal CLEAR goals means you know exactly what you want to accomplish.


How can you measure this goal?  I like to start with where I am and create a path that will get you to that goal.  Other people like to start at the end and work their way backward.  Whichever way helps you create measurable steps for your goal – do it!


Accomplishing ANYTHING takes action, so just consider this part of the process of creating your awesomeness. Take each step on the path towards reaching your goal and create an action plan for it.


It’s important to have goals that are realistic enough to be achieved. Unrealistic goals, by their very nature, are going to be impossible to reach. Teens, in particular, might not have the life experience necessary to know what goals are realistic or not. It’s good to dream, but when it comes to goals, realistic goals will allow the goal setter to hit the mark! 


Lastly, put deadlines on each step of your path.  For all of the procrastinators out there – having deadlines will keep the wheels turning. Some people love completing tasks right before they are due.  Not gonna lie, I kind of give myself an invisible shiny star when I meet my deadlines.

Attain Your Goals With These FREE Printables

We created a worksheet for your teen to work through.  State the basic goal idea at the top, go through defining parts of their goal and then at the end, they rewrite the goal using the information they added with date and time for their stated, time bound goal.

Keeping an eye on your goal helps you stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish.

Once your teen understands these types of goals, have them complete the worksheet. When it is complete, have them put their S.M.A.R.T. goal where they will see it everyday. 

Accomplishing goals doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, sometimes creating new goals is a matter of finding clarity on what you are truly striving for. 

Teens are developing adults and one of our goals is for them to have self agency- the ability to start and complete a goal on their own. Learning the fine art of goal settings, particularly SMART goal setting, is one giant leap towards maturing as a young adult! 

Goal Setting – Dreaming

Before we can set goals, we have to dream a little; giving time and space to our hopes. Setting SMART goals will be a great reality check for your teens as they’ll have to create actionable steps to reaching and achieving their hopes and dreams. The very act of creating these types of achievable goals will help them develop Critical Thinking Skills!  

And while some teens have specific and clear plans about where they want to head and how to get there for most, it’s probably a bit more vague. For those teens, check out our New Year’s Teen Reading Challenge. We’ve curated twenty-four great books that will equip your teens academically, scholastically, spiritually, and socially-emotionally and created a fun Bingo Challenge that they can use for a month, or the year! These books will equip and encourage your teens, building their skill-set muscles! 

Practice Setting Goals

The BINGO Reading Challenge is a fun opportunity for your teen to practice setting goals in the new year while gaining skills and information from the books on the BINGO list.

Download and print the challenge out. Your teen might want to take this challenge with a homeschool group, co-op or their friends.

Need Help With Goal Setting?

Not sure how to get started with dreaming big and creating SMART goals for your homeschool? Our Academic Advising team to the rescue! Our experienced Academic Advisors understand the challenges and benefits of homeschooling and are ready to help you create an actionable, personalized smart plan for your teens high school career and beyond, saving you time, money and frustration! 

We hope you find the resources here on the True North Homeschool Adventures Blog helpful – please let us know if you do!

It’s a New Year: Let’s Do This!

It’s a New Year: Let’s Do This!

It’s a new year and time to dream big and envision what’s ahead! Are you struggling with setting goals for the New Year?  I love breaking out my new Bullet Journal and setting up the yearly and monthly calendar pages and thinking through hopes and dreams.

BUT, I break down a bit on the goal setting! For most years, I already have a rough schedule, with work related trips penciled in, along with house and business projects. Therefore, adding “goals” can feel daunting. I begin to feel like I’m already hemming myself in with stuff to get done and the year hasn’t even started yet!  Plus, if your year goes like mine often does, it’s important to leave flex room for the unexpected blessings and challenges which inevitably take place. 

That being said, I also recognize the power of writing things down. So, I have this tension between not wanting to get too specific, but also wanting to live fully in the coming year. What’s a girl to do? If you, like me, have followed the 4 Present Rule, this should look familiar 

The 4 Present Rule:

  • Something they Want
  • Something they Need
  • Something to Wear
  • Something to Read

It’s such a fun and simple way to organize gift giving!

Why not organize the New Year in a similar fashion? This new way of looking at the New Year will help you clarify where you’ll be intentional about, providing clarity as you invest  your time, money and resources!

Organize the New Year

Word of the YEAR! _________________________

  • Something I Want 
  • Something I Need 
  • Something I’ll Share 
  • Where I’ll Succeed 

This simple exercise can help us sort through what’s important and where we want to focus our time, money and energy. It can clarify our calling and vision, which is always helpful as both can be easy to lose sight of in the midst of daily responsibilities.

Planning using a “Word of the Year” can be so clarifying. What’s our focus? One year my word was “PRAY”. I purchased  a 1 x 4 foot piece of art that says, “Pray Big” (I get that it’s two words, not one,  but work with me here). I wrote down scripture verses about prayer, which I kept in my Bullet Journal, and kept a prayer jar. My word of the year offered focus, clarity and a constant adjustment as I headed True North.

Clarify & Simplify

We all have wants and desires.

Being clear about what I want allows less important wants to diminish, and allows me to brainstorm about how to get what we ultimately want. What do I need to sacrifice, invest in, double down on to really, truly attain what I want? 

We all have needs.

Identifying my needs allows me to put time and energy into an area that I might have neglected or pushed off. As a result, I can identify those areas that are simply wants, not needs, and then re-categorize and focus our priorities. 

We all have something to share.

We all have wisdom, strength and resources that will benefit others. Identifying where I’ll share keeps me from that easy path of good intentions and takes me down the road of generous giver. 

We all have areas in which, if we allow ourselves to dream, we hope to succeed!

Identifying where I’ll succeed this year allows me to believe in my own success, plan and work for it, and ultimately benefit from it.

Write the Vision

Habakkuk 2:2 says, Write the vision, make it plain. The simple act of writing can bring our hopes and dreams to fruition! As you can see, writing down our hopes for the future is simple, but powerful! I challenge each of you to take some time as we head into the New Year to write down your big, God-sized Dreams! 

Resources for a Successful New Year

Not sure what direction to head with homeschooling? Our Academic Advising is just what you are looking for! Our experienced Advisors save you time and money and take your student farther, faster! Homeschooling success is in YOUR future!  

True North Homeschool Academy specializes in education. To us that includes equipping and encouraging parents as they learn with their children. We support families not just students.

Check out the free printables and links below and find out more about our True North Navigators. It’s a membership group for parents with fellowship, mentoring, an online book club, and monthly learning sessions that focus on encouraging and equipping you to be the best Christian home educator you can!

Holiday Fun for Everyone!

Holiday Fun for Everyone!

Christmas is such an important faith-based holiday and we love it at our house. We decorate our 100  year old house, inside and out, with lights, trees and joyful holiday sounds and scents. Our family saves favorite movies and books for the season, storing them with Christmas decorations – and have a long-standing rule that no Christmas videos or music gets played in the house until after Thanksgiving. Because we all have our favorites, we look forward to sharing them together, once the Holiday Season begins! Below we’ve gathered Scripture, books, movies and more, to encourage, inspire and share the love and joy of this season of light! 


On Christmas Eve we read the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, either before or after a Candlelight Church service


Advent is such a sweet time of anticipation and sharing your love for the Lord and the anticipation that we share in His return! Advent is also a special time of gathering in the weeks before Christmas to share important scriptures and songs together, to light candles and to share our living faith with our family!

How are Christmas and Channakah related? For those of us who are curious about how the Old Testament continues to inform our faith, this is the perfect season to look at how Channakuh and Christmas are related, and how Channakuh might inform our faith. 


Y’all know that we are bibliophiles around here, and what better time to delve into some great books? We love to put some of our favorites in baskets around the house, and often find ourselves curled up on a couch with a cozy blanket, hot chocolate and a good read.. Now is definitely the time to start a family read-aloud, and depending on your schedule, you might want to read a book a week, as part of your Advent celebration. Below is a great list, compiled from our friends at our FaceBook Group True North Homeschool Tribe. 


I love a good movie, as much as I love a good book! Some of our family favorites. 

TNHA Blog Posts 

To get you in the Holiday Spirits, we have several blog posts from years past that will encourage and inspire you this Christmas season! 


We have music lovers in our house and they know the artists, titles and lyrics from music across the decades! 

  • The Messiah by Handel  if you don’t listen to anything else this holiday, find a rendition you love! 
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas– so much fun!
  • It’s Called Christmas by Go Fish
  • Silent Night other hymns are always appropriate! 

Crafts and Activities

  • Decorate Gingerbread houses- the pre-made kits make it so easy
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Bake and cook together. We love using family recipes
  • Decide on a service or charity that your family will contribute to and think of ways to bless it with your time and creativity
  • Make Paper Snowflakes and decorate your windows 
  • Have a Holiday Open House and invite friends 
  • Make orange/ clove pomanders.
  • Go Christmas Caroling
  • Have a cookie exchange and share the cookies with your co-workers and neighbors

The Christmas Holiday is a beautiful one, as we remember the birth of our Savior. It can also be a tough one, as we remember and miss loved ones who have passed away, or deal with difficult family relationships. Determining how we’ll celebrate- perhaps simply, or maybe all out, can give this season a sense of purpose and joy. And serving others always reminds us that we have many blessings, despite hardships and trials, which we know we’ll face. 

Regardless of our circumstances, we can rest assured that the Living Christ came into the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. Alleluia! Come Lord Jesus! 

Lisa Nehring

Lisa’s most memorable gifts were an engagement ring tied into a church Christmas ornament and a month-long backpacking trip to the High Uinta’s Wilderness areas – two grand adventures that changed her life. Along with gathering gifts (and gratefully receiving them) she owns, blogs, and teaches here at True North Homeschool Academy, which offers live online and self-paced classes, clubs, transcripts, testing, Special Needs resources, a vibrant active support community and more! Working at a job she loves and is passionate about, along with homeschooling, is one of her most favorite gifts of all!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and hanging out in her Facebook group; True North Homeschool Tribe.

Let your Light Shine this Christmas

Let your Light Shine this Christmas

Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16

Christmas is often known as the Season of Light, and for good reason. It is the Season of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who brings light and redemption to each dark corner of lives and to this world.

This Christmas season, I would challenge you to share with your family and friends how the transforming power and light of the Gospel and Jesus, changed your life. 

In other words, share your testimony

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul.” Daniel 4:2  

What better time? 

Sharing your testimony is like sharing family stories (and I hope you do that, too). Family stories of how your relatives met and married, moved or stayed put, children that were born or perished. These family stories ground your kids and give them a sense of identity and place in history. Even more so, when they hear stories of the faith of their fathers- and mothers! 

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” 1 Chronicles 16:8 

We often forget to share our stories of faith. We dismiss it, thinking others will find it silly, or it will be awkward. Sharing our testimony- or of a time when God showed up in a mighty way in our lives- strengthens our own faith and gives courage to those looking for some. It can be a touchstone that our children refer back to, and it is a simple act of obedience. 

“I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Psalm 22:22

Keep it Simple

It doesn’t have to be complex. It doesn’t have to exploit transgressions. It can be simple.

For instance: 

I grew up in a religious, but not Christian ,home. My father had been an ordained pastor, but grew disillusioned with the pastorate and left the church. Our family attended church when we visited my Grandparents and occasionally on holidays. In high school, my sisters and I walked to our local Methodist Church on Sundays and I attended a Catholic High School. In college, I struggled. I struggled with health issues, and floundered spiritually. Meanwhile, my parents had been invited back into the church by former parishioners and my Dad had gotten re-ordained. During a particularly trying week-end, when I was home from college, my Dad led me in the sinners prayer. I actually prayed that prayer on a dare. A dare to God. If He was real, then He would show up. I can’t describe exactly how He did that, and it is simplistic to say that I went to bed in darkness and despair and woke up to light and hope.  But, lIke Mary Magdalen says, in the Chosen, “I was one way… and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between… was Him.”  I committed myself to Christ that night and I have been committed since. 

Through the years, God has shown up in big and small ways, directing, guiding, leading and exhorting. I don’t struggle with knowing if he exists. To me, that score is settled. The Master of the Universe is alive, present, holy and powerful. He loves His people and has a perfect plan for this world and for all of His creation. He is a good, good father, a gentle shepherd, a powerful adversary, a Holy Lord and a perfect Love. God loves me and He loves you. He knows you by name and you are His. You can come to him- even when you are burdened, heavy- laden by burdens or sin, in despair or full of sorrow, loss and anger. He can take all of that and wash you clean and pure, give you a new name and write you in the Lamb’s book of Life. He is faithful, true and worthy of all praise! 

Isaiah 12:4 “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted.”

Declare the Deeds of the Lord!

The Psalms exhort us to declare among the peoples the deeds of the Lord. 

This Christmas season, let’s declare the deeds He has done in our lives and join in prayer that the light of the living Christ shines brightly in our homes, in the hearts of each family member! 

3 Ways Your Testimony Brings Glory to God

  1. Your testimony shows God’s power and love in a way that is personal to you and relatable to your family members 
  2. Your testimony allows people to rejoice and praise God together as they revel in the great things He has done for someone that they know and love. 
  3. Your testimony is proof that the Adversary, who seeks to kill, steal and destroy from you, is defeated in your life.  

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11

This Christmas Season, we pray that the light of Christ shines brightly in your home. 

Resources for Your Family

Now that we have encouraged you to share your testimony let us share a personal testimony guideline that will help you structure your personal testimony. This workbook from Powerline Productions will help you keep it simple and meaningful!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens!

Experience Based Gift Ideas for Tweens and Teens are not wrapped in paper but in love!

The holiday season is just around the corner! Gift-giving is an important part of our Holiday tradition, along with stringing miles of lights and decorating multiple trees, filling our large farmhouse with holiday cheer!

If you are in a rut with gift-giving or feel like it’s materially oriented and has lost the joy of giving and gratitude, consider giving gifts that will contribute to experiences and that you can share together.

Hobbies & Shared Experiences

What hobbies, skills, or crafts grab your kids’ interest that you could encourage? Is there a local guild or artisan around who could mentor them? What about including YouTube links in a card as part of the present?

One son has been greatly interested in blacksmithing. I found some professional equipment for him used, along with a potential mentor, who is also now on the look-out for us for additional materials. The equipment isn’t new (some of it is antique) but it’s in great condition and good enough quality that he can get his feet wet without a huge financial investment. We were excited to find a former homeschooler, turned YouTuber, whose contact information will be part of the gift.

Books, Magazines & The Arts

Don’t forget magazines as a present that gives all year long.

Don’t limit your selections to “kids” magazines- we’ve had issues of Science News, National Geographic, Biblical Archeology Today, Artifax, and others laying around for years.

It has always amazed me how much information our kids glean, and what interests are piqued by reading books and magazines that are beyond their “ability” or from a different worldview than we hold. Reading and discussing articles together is a great way to have a conversation that can go far beyond the topic!

We’ll also be purchasing some Met Opera tickets to enjoy together- did you know that you can experience the Met live as they stream live performances, probably to a city near you.

The website includes great information about the performances, performers and so much more! During the actual live stream, you’ll get to hear interviews with the directors, performers, and producers, see behind-the-scenes staging and production, and be invited into a unique world of music, dance, and theater!

Learn & Support Local Artists

Our area hosts a small film festival that shows indie films and documentaries, many of which are award winners. Because it’s local, we often get to meet people somehow related to the film and hear interesting tidbits about the film selection along with other unique details. Our local festival shows films bi-monthly at local theaters, the crowd is often interactive and friendly and the movies are thought-provoking and discussion-worthy!

Call your local movie theater and see if there’s a film festival in your town!! Our local festival is great about making sure we know which movies are not suitable for youth and children, but you can always check the listing ahead of time to ensure that they are wholesome. We are buying season tickets this year as a family gift and look forward to some great viewing!

Create your own film festival at home with these fun scratch-off posters. Commit to a regular monthly or bi-monthly viewing with your kids and sit down to some classics like The Princess Bride or Karate Kid. Invite some friends and family and make it a party!

The Great Outdoors & Togetherness

Hit the trails!

Most cities have lovely bike or walking trails. Our mid-sized city has tens of miles of biking trails. Give commitments to biking somewhere together on a regular basis. Make it even more fun by adding in some early morning pedals to get coffee or hot chocolate together- or commit to evening summer rides to a favorite restaurant or Shakespeare in the park!

Give your kids coupons with times and dates, committing to a weekly conversation and coffee date – just you and them – sans electronics.

Not sure what to chat about? Check out our free list of Tween/ Teen Winter Convo Starters.

Get creative this Holiday season and celebrate your interests and relationships!

Educational Gifts

I’d love to hear about your creative, relational, or experience related gifts so leave us a comment below. An educational gift keeps on giving. Try gifting your techy child a gift card for one of our computer science classes, or your music loving child an opportunity to take voice lessons and your art loving child art classes with professionals. Or offer these experiences as gift ideas for their grandparents! Check out gift cards here.

Lisa Nehring

Lisa’s most memorable gifts were an engagement ring tied into a church Christmas ornament and a month-long backpacking trip to the High Uinta’s Wilderness areas – two grand adventures that changed her life. Along with gathering gifts (and gratefully receiving them) she owns, blogs, and teaches here at True North Homeschool Academy, which offers live online and self-paced classes, clubs, transcripts, testing, Special Needs resources, a vibrant active support community and more! Working at a job she loves and is passionate about, along with homeschooling, is one of her most favorite gifts of all!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and hanging out in her Facebook group; True North Homeschool Tribe.