As Thanksgiving approaches followed closely by Christmas, life can get a bit… hectic! This week’s life skill tip is all about simply being thankful! Haven’t heard of The Penny Challenge? Stay tuned for this fun and simple way to instill thankfulness!
Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
As my household, we could use this reminder as well.
So, we are doing a penny challenge.
Each of us are being given some pennies to hide around the house. Over the next week or two, as we find them, we are to think of something we are thankful for that has happened on that day. Then the finder of the penny gets to keep the penny. It might be simple, but sometimes a simple token; like a penny, can remind us to pause and be thankful for our many blessings!
Raising Thankful Kids
We want to create teens that are thankful in season and out of season. It might be the key to helping them push through that hard time. And look, we know hard times will come; it’s the nature of life! Counting his blessings made all the difference for Willie Nelson,
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
Even better the BIBLE says it!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Sure, life is going to throw you lemons, but if you can see that those lemons are helping you become who you were meant to be not only will you be more pleasant to be around as you go through that season, you will also be on the lookout for ways to make that lemon work in your favor.
If your kids love gamifying learning -and which one doesn’t, be sure to check out Classical Memory classes as well as Personal Finance. Both classes, along with many others at True North Homeschool Academy are specifically designed to make learning FUN, with interactive, dynamic games, challenges and great discussions!
How to Plan a Field Trip to the Local PumpkinPatch
It’s fall and the weather is crisp and glorious and perfect for a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. Why not use this opportunity to teach your tweens and teens about how to plan an event?
Event planning is a great way to build your tween/teens executive functioning skills as it requires creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration! All tools that will benefit themselves and others as they learn and grow. Expect that some of your kids will have some natural ability at event planning while others will need to be shown a basic structure and reminded of it.
Event Planning is Easy When Using This Basic Structure
Name of Event:
Follow Up Activities
Supporting books, films & YouTube Videos
Adding Goals Keeps Field Trips Focused
I also like to add in Goals for field trips. Goals can be as simple as, “have fun” and “fellowship” or more academic such as “to grow in our understanding of world politics”. Goals help keep us focused and can help us understand how much of an investment we want to make in terms of both time and money.
Extend the Learning With Follow-up Activities
Additionally, follow up activities are a great way to extend the learning and fun! Again, simplicity can rule- – carve the pumpkin and roast the seeds; or simple events can turn into larger events- invite friends over for fall potluck and bonfire!
Supporting Books, Films and YouTube videos can preface the event or be add-ons after the initial event, to extend the learning, great memories and fun that is sure to be had by all.
Example of a Simple Plan
Name of Event: Visit to the local Pumpkin Patch
Who Family and friends from co-op
What Trip to the local Pumpkin Patch
When October 2021
Where You Pick Pumpkin Patch; 45 min from home. Need water bottles, simple snacks and shoes.
How Much $5 car, $10 for corn maze, $4 pumpkin, $4 Caramel apples and $5 Gallons of cider- $45-50, not including gas.
Examples of Follow up Activities:
Decorate your pumpkins: carve, paint or permanent marker, depending on ages.
Create a pumpkin vase for fall flowers
Roast pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
Roast pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin soup or pumpkin bread
Scoop seeds from pumpkin and clean well. Boil the seeds for 10 minutes; then toast them in the oven at 350 for approximately 20 min (watch so that they don’t burn).
For savory seeds, toss with a few teaspoons of garlic and rosemary, curry powder or cilantro lime seasoning.
For a sweet and salty snack, dust with pumpkin spice blend or cinnamon and sugar!
Pumpkin Spice Latte for Momma
Prep Time: 5 minutes, serving Size: 2
2 cups milk
1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)
2 heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin
Pour all of the ingredients into a pot and heat over medium-high heat until the coffee is steaming hot. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream & cinnamon. Enjoy!
Event Planning Helps Your Teen & You!
Helping your teen grow their event planning muscles will help them handle projects that require multiple steps and follow through on the tasks assigned to them. It also develops soft skills that are so necessary for them to navigate in today’s world.
And while they are learning, they are helping you. It is important to enrich your family with fun activities that build memories but it can be time consuming. It may take a couple of times with you overseeing what your tween or teen is doing, but before you know it, you will be able to provide them with the resources and support they need and let them take some planning off your plate!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Check Out K-12 Classes to Get Their Creative Energies Flowing
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.
The future of work is an important topic. It’s where our kids will live. We are training our kids for that future, whether we are mindful of it or not. Homeschooling offers us many opportunities to prepare them.
Today’s students will be working at jobs not yet created, working in technology that is just now being developed, and will be part of a fast-paced and ever-changing world. Technology is developing at a rapid pace!
Today’s workforce is quad-generational with different values, motivations, and work styles. Work is less structured and more agile. Employees want flexibility and immediacy and customer expectations are growing; they want immediacy in response and getting their needs met. Furthermore, technology is accelerating the pace of business.
What Economies will Play the Biggest Roles in the Future?
Big Tech Economy
Let’s take a look at each of these economies and consider some of the new technology that will affect and change the future!
Big Tech Economy:
Robotics & Automation
AI will affect industries across every aspect of life:
3- D Printers
3-D Printing is changing industries across the board
Sensors more widely adapted for business
The expansion of data will require more analysts
Behavioral scientists & Gamification experts
help people detox
get the most out of people
People looking for sustainable lifestyles
Tech will be stewarded and managed by IT
Managers and automation will take over many dull, dirty and dangerous jobs
Living high tech will force us to embrace emotional work
As always, I recommend start with the end in mind and working backwards. What kind of lifestyle does your student want to have, where do they want to live, what work do they believe in and want to invest in doing?
Assess your student, your current resources, and your location, as all of these offer various challenges and opportunities.
And don’t forget that you are one of your student’s best resources. What are your areas of interest and trained vocation? Your kids have a jump start on whatever it is you share with them, because of what you already know.
If you aren’t sure where to start to prepare them for the future of work, begin with a typical course of study and build from there. Still unclear? Our Academic Advisors would love to help you craft a plan for success!
True North Homeschool Academy classes that will set your student up for future success:
As you can see, homeschooling provides unique opportunities to prepare for the future of work! If you want to read more about how to help your children explore careers take a look at our blog post on How to Accelerate Your Career as a Homeschool Student and take a look at the classes mentioned above to learn specific skills.
For many people, it seems like life has two options: achieving goals and enjoying life. Neither one of them seems as if they are one hundred percent fulfilled. There seems to be a broad spectrum on the scale of go-getters and over-achievers to those who slack in all departments.
How many times have you heard your student saying they don’t have enough time or they are overwhelmed with all the things? For so many homeschool families, the demands of work, career, education, family, and homeownership seem overwhelming. All while striving to teach our families how to achieve goals and enjoy life in a balanced manner.
Avoid the Overwhelm
Do you wish you had someone to partner with you in helping your teens learn to achieve goals and enjoy a balanced life?
We are doing that for you with the Life Skills 101 course offered at True North Homeschool Academy! Your students will learn how to prioritize life, learn how to set and achieve goals, and sharpen skills for living life on their own as an adult. In this full-year course, four broad areas are covered in depth. They include:
Setting & Achieving Goals
Managing Life Areas
Throughout the course, students will learn how to navigate these various areas as they prepare for launching into the next phase of life.
If you think about life being balanced, you might envision a seesaw in the position of being directly balanced in the middle with no ups, no downs, and simply managing to stay in the middle ground.
What does it mean to be in balance, if life has its difficulties? When you are in balance, you maintain your equilibrium while life’s ups and downs come to visit. Of course, you go through the various emotions as circumstances both good and not so good work their way through life.
Being in balance means intentionally, no matter how hard it is, choosing how you will show up under any given circumstance.
Do your teens need to learn how to achieve balance? In Life Skills 101, we will discuss ways to:
Take inventory of the various areas of life.
Create and implement a plan for finding and keeping life in balance.
Create action steps to help bring things back into balance when things get challenging.
Sometimes, the unexpected can throw you off. In Life Skills 101 we teach how to hit the reset button when life throws you a curve and knocks you off balance.
Setting & Achieving Goals
Does your student want to author a book, be a young entrepreneur, or simply get to appointments on time and have a clean room? Learning how to break large goals down into manageable tasks is at the core of the Life Skills 1010 curriculum. From identifying a dream or aspiration to making a plan to achieve it, this class allows the student to take the time to dream, research, investigate and plan for the future.
It’s like a snowball effect. We will focus on how to start small and continue rolling that snowball down the hill. Before they know it, your kids will have a boulder of success coming their way!
Managing Life Areas
Teaching teens to manage all the things of life is a full-time job! Letting go and letting them step into managing their own lives, can bring a sense of panic to every homeschool mom. The Life Skills 101 course partners with families to teach teens how to live a whole, full, and complete life. Learning to break your life down into categories and then addressing each. This creates a launch pad into adulthood that your teen can return as they expand the skills and confidence on living life successfully. Throughout the full-year course, students will learn what it takes to become independent and manage these aspects of daily life.
Cleaning & Organizing
Food shopping & meal planning
Budgeting & personal finances
Resume, cover letter, and interview skills
At the end of the day, so many life skills are achieved by learning solid time management. Students learn how to identify the most important tasks and how to say no to time-wasting activities, or behaviors. Students will sharpen their skills in:
Balancing work and play
Throughout the course students will use a variety of technology and digital tools to create projects, turn in assignments and find the best tools to help them successfully navigate life in a digital environment.
Life Skills for a Successful Launch into Adulthood.
There are many challenges each of our kids will have to face. Let’s help them learn how to achieve goals, fulfill dreams, and live a life they love. Find more information about Life Skills 101 here.
I hear all the time that you need to “de-school” when you bring your kids home from public school. It drives me crazy because it’s probably not what your kids really need.
People say this because it places blame on something external (school) and removes guilt (you didn’t know what else to do, you’re not sure what you are going to do). But it’s really a myth.
What kids need when you bring them home from public school is a re-set.
A “re-set” allows for a growth mindset. De-schooling implies that school is the problem. And really it’s probably a delivery problem, or a pedagogy problem, or a seasonal problem; not necessarily a school problem.
Why not? I’m glad you asked. School is an important aspect of our culture. To “de-school” assigns a negative aspect to school. And I get it- maybe school was a negative thing in your kids’ life. But, listen; as parents, we need to help our kids learn to re-frame. This is a really important skill. And schooling will be a part of their lives for a while, maybe a long while, depending on what they do in life. And we want our kids to have a growth mindset when it comes to school, academics, and education, right?
Re-Set for the Win!
Re-sets imply that you are looking for alternatives, aren’t stuck, and realize that you have options. Even homeschoolers need the occasional re-set. Like when you run into Covid and it wrecks your schedule, or you go back to work but keep homeschooling, or someone gets sick or has an accident or your kids become teenagers or you hit menopause. What was working might not work anymore. But, seriously, it’s not that big of a deal. You just hit re-set.
So, what’s a re-set, anyway?
A re-set is when you set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.
As I look back, I see some examples of re-sets in my life that I’d like to share:
When we moved across the country with five kids, one of which was a nursing babe, we spent the spring painting the house from ceiling to floorboards and packing up. Lots of life skills, great books on tape, and hospitality happened that spring!
When we lived in a hotel for six weeks and then ten months in a rental after our house fire. We spent hours at the hotel pool, watched a crazy number of movies, and listened to Story of the World on CD so much that my then 9-year-old had parts of it memorized. We did Writing With Ease every morning poolside because my then littles revealed in the routine of school. Once we hit the rental, we spent hours sorting, inventorying damaged belongings and staining, painting, tiling, drywalling, brick-laying, etc as we remodeled. Maybe not a very “scholastic” year, but boy-howdy, our kids learned a lot of life skills, like dry-walling, but also resiliency and how to tackle a massive project – like a house remodel.
When I went back to work and we kept homeschooling- we made use of enrichment and academic co-ops and did school 3 days a week. Our Morning Basket was a really important part of our staying connected during that time.
When all of our kids grew up and moved on to college and beyond except our youngest. She does the majority of her school online now and our homeschooling consists of great discussions and her sharing newfound knowledge that goes beyond my expertise in areas that are of great interest to her.
Re-sets are just part of life and can provide a positive re-frame. Especially when you find yourself pivoting in your educational choices or in life in general. As we head into 2021, it’s a great time to assess what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what needs a re-set.
Tell me your thoughts on the issues! I’d love to know!