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:
- Finding Balance
- Setting & Achieving Goals
- Managing Life Areas
- Time Management
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
- Workplace expectations
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:
- Task management
- 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.
Looking for help with teaching your teen Life Skills? Life Skills 101 Orienteering and Entrepreneurship. Taught live online at True North Homeschool Academy!
Join us on Facebook too – our page Life Skills for Homeschooled Teens is a great community and we share tips and laughter along the way!
Re-Set for the Win!
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!
Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget
Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget with Your Kids with the rest of us at True North Homeschool Academy! We are proponents of teaching teens how to budget while they are still at home.
A fun and easy way to introduce the life skill of budgeting with your kiddos is to allow them a specific amount to do their Christmas shopping with and then have them create a budget with the money.
It’s not a difficult task and can be quite fun. In fact, my teens love budgets because it permits them to spend money, and hopefully, your teen will feel the same way!
So, get the Christmas budget download worksheet, and let’s get started.
Super Simple Christmas Budgeting
- Have them go down the name category listing friends, family, and mentors for whom they want to buy gifts.
- Next, real quick, have them jot down any particular ideas they have for gift ideas. If they aren’t sure, have them leave it blank.
- Now, have your teen write at the top of the money section their TOTAL amount of money they have to spend.
- Talk through cost for different items they definitely want to purchase. They may also want to brainstorm, creating some of their gifts.
- And finally – once all the money is spent on paper, encourage your teen to take the budget with them and have fun Christmas shopping!
Christmas budget lesson – DONE!
We hope you love the FREE Christmas Budget worksheet. We have included a bonus Christmas Wishlist worksheet as an early holiday gift to you all!
If you are planning your Christmas homeschool lessons and celebrations now you may also want to take a look at other helpful articles like our Holiday Book Ideas, and Unique Gifts for Tweens & Teens, creating Holiday Traditions, and Celebrating Christmas!
Creating a Christmas Shopping Budget
The True North Homeschool team is wishing you a sweet Christmas season, sweet homeschool families!
Homeschool for College Credit – A Review
Homeschooling for College Credit by Jennifer Cook De Rosa is a beautiful how-to manual for hacking college credit.
For anyone with kids who plan to go to college, it is a must-read.
The average student graduating from college takes six years instead of 4 and has, on average, $27,000 in debt. It’s also important to factor in college completion rates. According to Alissa Nadworny, 6 out of 10 students who start a college degree never complete it. Those saddled with debt, without an economically feasible plan to pay it off, may end up in deferment. Currently, more than half of student loan debt is in deferral. This affects quality of life on many levels.
Undergraduates can take out up to $57,000 in school debt and graduate students up to $135,000 in debt. Given the stats, it just makes sense to look for an antidote to the college debt disaster. This book is the antidote!
This 300+ page tome is chock full of fantastic information.
Chapter Headings Include:
- Congratulations: You’re a Guidance Counselor
- Thirty Ways to earn College Credit
- Behind the Scenes
- High School Planning
- Dual Enrollment Advice
- Transcripts and Record Keepings
- Homeschool Exit Strategies
- Completely Free Tuition
Unique & Worth Every Penny
What makes this book unique and worth every penny can be found in Chapter 2: Thirty Ways to Earn College Credit.
This chapter goes way beyond the standard fare of CLEP, DE, and AP and the Big 3 and includes companies, colleges, hacking MOOCs for test prep, and so much more. My daughter, for example, is studying her 3rd foreign language in High School and is professionally interested in becoming a translator. Guess what? There are exams specific to language mastery, that can be taken from anywhere in the world that rack up college credits if your students have mastery in a foreign language.
This is a pragmatic book, one that talks about how to guide your teen in a way that makes sense. Included is some tough love regarding degree killers: time, money and socialization, the ROI of a degree (Yes! And why aren’t government loan dollars somehow tied to this?) how the trades are worth considering and strategies for teens who don’t want to go to college. This book is chock full of worthy information that every parent of high schoolers should be thinking about and considering, along with their high school student.
One of my favorite chapters is how to go to college for free. I love it because it is creative and thorough and includes eight different ways your student can earn free tuition.
This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about their high school student’s future.
We are entering a massive shift in the world of work, and young adults burdened with debt or lack of skills/training will be ill-equipped to handle the fast, global changes that are already taking place. This book will help you assist those young people in your life to strategize a clear, concise plan as you homeschool for earning college credit as efficiently and economically as possible.
Jennifer Cook DeRosas does the research for you. It’s all here, in her highly informative and easy to read book, Homeschooling for College Credit; Your guide to resourceful high school planning.
I highly recommend it!
Couple this book with Beyond Personal Finance and join us for Life Skills for Teens. You might also want to read some of the resources we have here on the blog, including Yes! Your Child Can Learn a Foreign Language and High School Dual Enrollment Tips.
If you don’t already follow the Life Skills for Homeschool Teens Facebook page, you will want to bookmark it to keep up with other parents of teens and get the latest scoop on resources for teaching those essential life skills plus encouragement and fun with other homeschool parents who have the same concerns that you do!
What are Soft Skills? Soft Skills are those personal attributes that allow us to interact well with others, allowing us to have peaceful and healthy relationships. They are also known as power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are those skills that everyone seems to understand implicitly. They are related to manners and social mores. For kids with learning disabilities, however, soft skills can be elusive and confusing.
Hard skills are easily definable skills that are often job-specific, such as knowing how to speak German, code a computer, or write in cursive; those skills that get us the job. Soft skills are more difficult to define and are those skills that allow us to keep the job. You know the adage,
“You are hired for your hard skills, you’re fired for your soft skills.”
What are Soft Skills?
3-t have recently heard about the “4 C’s of Education.” These would include
- Collaboration (Teamwork)
- Critical Thinking
Public Schools are beginning to work specifically to train kids in these basic soft skills, as they are so necessary for success in academics, job ability, and stability, and managing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Communication, in particular, is easily identified as the queen of soft skills, as without it, we can hardly function.
Communication Skills Consist of 4 areas:
Employers are currently stressing the need for students to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to persuade by written and spoken communication. In particular, they want to hire those who can “sell” (i.e., persuade) both orally and using the written word.
Collaboration is better known as teamwork. Can you lead, follow, and interact maturely with other team members? Do you problem solve and handle your own emotions well, or are you causing problems for others on your team? Do you understand the team hierarchy well? Are you willing to lead, follow, and get out of the way?
All of these skills go into being a good team player, at different times and various seasons.
Critical Thinking is the ability to analyze facts and form a conclusion, using deductive and inductive reasoning, formal and informal logic, and the scientific method. Critical thinking allows us to be proactive, instead of constantly reactive, strategize, and take the long view, deferring our own short term gratification for long term pay-offs.
Creativity is all about thinking outside the box, generating new ideas or tweaking old ones to fit new situations, and interacting with materials, people, and resources in unique ways.
Time and Distraction Management
Time and Distraction Management is the ability to manage one’s time effectively to accomplish small and large tasks, repetitive as well as on-going tasks. This also has to do with the ability to manage distractions, be that a little sibling, social media notifications, or our self needs or interest. Developing good time management habits is critical to being able to interact with the world maturely.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Flexibility and Adaptability require having the ability to change and flex as needed. Our world is growing increasingly complex with radical and sudden shifts occurring on both a micro and macro scale. We must teach our kids to flex and adapt as needed as well as to know how to set appropriate boundaries and to stand firm when time and circumstances demand it.
Work Ethic is the value that hard work is intrinsically valuable and worth doing for its own sake. Having kids who are diligent and detailed oriented in their work can mean the difference between success and failure in so many areas of life.
Leadership is both the ability to research and prepare for what’s ahead as well-being to lead, guide, or instruct a group or individuals, teams, or organizations.
In a world that makes it increasingly easy to “block” or “ghost” someone, loyalty is a soft skill worth developing. Standing by one’s faith, family and friends is the mark of someone with integrity and other well-formed, soft skills. Everyone is irritating, demanding, and in need of salvation and standing by and next to each other while recognizing our own and each other’s humanity is what being loyal is all about. The soft skill includes patience, kindness, self-control, and the willingness to overlook the other’s failings.
Integrity is the foundation of all soft skills. It is the quality of basing our behaviors on principles instead of situations, being honest and morally upright—integrity based on the Gospel of Truth, instead of our own or others’ desires.
What are Soft Skills? Soft skills are those skills that take a lifetime to master and can always be improved upon.
All of us have soft skills that come naturally to us, and those that are a struggle. Regardless, we can all develop a lifestyle of learning so that we continue to grow and develop to glorify God-given who He has made us to be, and in doing so, shine His light in a world that is growing increasingly dark.
What are Soft Skills and Where do I Find Out More About Teaching Soft Skills?
Click on the links in this post to view courses offered by True North Homeschool Academy teachers who have goals that are aligned with yours as a homeschool parent.
We believe in the importance of Soft Skills so much that we host a weekly podcast on Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age!
Please join us over at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network for more great discussion and information on Soft Skills!
Coping During a Crisis
Coping during a crisis takes thought and intention, which might be in short supply when a crisis hits. Ten years ago, we had one of those years. You know the type; the tough, painful type. Maybe you can relate. One Thursday morning, as we were all getting ready to leave for work and co-op, we discovered that our house was on fire to the point of being totaled by the insurance company, although it did not burn down. A day later, our college-aged daughter, several states away, landed in the ER. Four days later, my 47-year-old sister died. My husband contracted bronchitis and then pneumonia, and then back again. We threw away around 90% of our possessions, but we had to inventory it all first for insurance purposes, an exhausting and laborious process. We went from an extended hotel stay to a rental to an unfinished house during the worst flooding in our area in a century and had to walk through 4″ of freezing cold water to our only working shower for the first month after we moved back into our house. My Dad died a few months later.
Yeah. It was one of those years. It was stressful. We learned a lot. Including, set up and clean up are at least half of every project, it’s o.k. to rest and take breaks as needed, huge jobs don’t get done in one sitting, laughing and crying are good for the soul and sleep is cheap medicine. We had to let go of things we treasured. We had to embrace the new – even when it felt scary and uncertain.
Maybe you are needing some help coping during a crisis, even when we aren’t exactly sure what the emergency is or when it will hit.
Here’s a shortlist of helps as we all get through one of “those years.”
- Stick with your routine: When in crisis, do the familiar habits, as much as possible. This will lend a sense of normalcy and familiarity in otherwise unusual circumstances. This is especially important for younger children who rely on the familiar to tell them that the world is safe and all is well. My kids listened to the Story of the World CD’s for hours after our fire- to the point my son memorized portions of it. Jim Weiss’s voice was familiar and kind in a year of loss and upheaval.
- Create a new routine: when and if the old one is disrupted, create a morning time with Mom, Dad, and whoever else is home where you share a cup of coffee and cocoa, and chat. Create rhythms to your new normal- read for an hour after breakfast, walk the dog after you read, make lunch, do laundry, etc. When we were living in the hotel, after the fire, we spent hours, literally hours, at the hotel pool doing what I called “Pool school.” It was fun, easy, and relaxing.
- Rest & laugh: stress is exhausting. Give yourself permission to take a nap or take a break. Do something relaxing, like watching a movie, going on a walk, taking a warm shower. Something to get your mind off of the current situation and settled. Lower your cortisol levels and breath deeply. Did you know that 15 minutes of laughing is equivalent to a 2-hour nap, releases endorphins into your system, lowers your cortisol levels and gives everyone around you permission to relax? Not sure what to laugh at? Dick VanDyke’s re-runs are a great place to start.
- Realize that you really don’t have that much control over things in life anyway: your paygrade, no matter what your position, is not that high. So, take a breath and realize that God is in control, and He is a good God who loves His people well. You don’t have that much power, but you can know the One who does. And that is great comfort and great joy, regardless of whatever upheaval or frightening circumstances we find ourselves in.
- Be thankful: no matter what the stress, there is so much to be grateful for. The sun comes up every morning. Spring is coming. We live in a time with hand-soap, modern medicine, and paved roads.
And for those of us homeschooling, life continues, in many ways, as usual. My Orienteering class and I had a great live on-line meeting today, with students from coast to coast participating in an excellent discussion and break-out rooms.
What were we talking about? The Life Skill of Self-Care.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the term- I prefer the term “stewardship” because it recognizes that some things are beyond our control, but we can steward well regardless. The kids went around our Zoom room and shared what was happening in their part of the world, which ranged from school shutdowns to advised homestays.
We then broke into break-out rooms, and they came up with lists of ways to cope during a crisis, utilizing four categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional. Here’s what they came up with:
Ways to Cope During a Crisis
- Spiritual – Stay in the word, pray, listen to worship music, and go to on-line church. Keep talking to God; keep connecting with Christ. Work on creating fellowship with others, even during a time of quarantine.
- Social – Call and text people, set times for FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. Write letters. Check-in with friends daily, if even with a simple text message, and make chat and coffee dates on-line!
- Emotional – Do something that makes you happy; eat cake, take showers, limit your news intake! Stay informed, but keep good boundaries to avoid depression and catastrophizing the situation. Read something inspirational. Celebrate the everyday.
- Physical – Get outside, walk the dog, and teach her a new trick or two, work-out. Don’t neglect yourself; practice regular hygiene (which can be disrupted due to change of schedules or depression). Hot showers are a great way to relax and unwind.
And while class was in session, one student put on a crazy St. Patty’s Day Hat (Celebrate, y’all!) and they all made plans to meet up outside of class via google hang-outs! Which is precisely what we’re talking about!
Need support as you cope during a crisis, or even when you’re not? We love to come alongside fellow homeschoolers, those who planned to homeschool, and those homeschooling as an emergency measure! Check out our FaceBook page and groups for fellowship and occasional freebies for moms and kids- a great place for a little self-care.