Beyond Personal Finance by Charla McKinley is a comprehensive high school program. She designed the course to give young adults a thorough understanding of money, budgeting and stewardship before they graduate from high school. The author, Charla McKinley, describes this course as a smash-up of Dave Ramsey and the Game of Life.
Designed for High School
While the Dave Ramsey course is excellent, it is really designed for adults who are in financial trouble and need a way out of that trouble.
Most high school kids have a difficult time understanding what that could look like. Money is, after all, something most of them don’t have much of, think much about or struggle with. A benefit of Middle-class America is that our kids have their needs met and a good portion of their wants provided for, too. As a result, most teens have an abstract rather than concrete understanding of money. As one of the students in my high school class said, “Bills? I don’t have any.”
And that is exactly why Charla wrote this course. To give kids an idea of what kind of money questions and issues they will face as young adults and how to plan for, manage and think about the monkey wrenches that life continually throws in the way of all everyone out there “adulting.”
Lessons Included in the Course
This program consists of lessons in the following:
College and Careers
Car Purchase Apartment Rental
Credit Cards and Interest
Baby & Payroll
Layoffs and Reconciliations
The Dangers of Divorce
As you can see, Charla does not hold back. She addresses head-on difficult issues like layoffs and divorce. And while everyone says it won’t happen to them, the statistics say that 43% of American workers will be laid off at least once during their working years and 42-45% of all first-time marriages will end in divorce (and that number rises to 60% for second marriages). Monkey wrenches mess up even the best plans and these are life skills that will prepare our young people to overcome some of those obstacles.
Having Fun While Thinking of the Future
Think of this as a High School Cost of Living Project on steroids. One thing I love about this program is that there is vocabulary included in each chapter. Kids get a great overview of things like withholding tax, deferment, and depreciation. This course is meaty but not boring. Each chapter includes information and goofy videos like Identity Theft, that keep everyone laughing as they tackle serious stuff.
The Teacher’s manual is thorough and includes key terms, answer keys, charts and all the information needed to utilize this program in a class or co-op. Not all of the pages in the teacher’s manual are numbered, however, which makes it hard to track. I went through and tabbed sections for easier use. In my perfect world, I would have loved chapter objectives and a more structured, traditional Teacher’s Manual. This one has so much information, it can be overwhelming. But the value of the program makes it worth taking the time to tab each chapter and highlight the information you want to cover for each class period.
I’ve had several of my kids work through a COLA before and facilitated others students as well, and Beyond Personal Finance is the most comprehensive program that I’ve seen that gives kids real-world information that relates to where they’re at in life- as young adults about to embark on a great adventure.
It’s is a fantastic preparatory program- perfect for homeschools, co-ops, class COLA days or UMS programs! We’ll be utilizing this program with our True North Homeschool Academy online Orienteering class!
Students who are seniors and have completed the BPF program are also eligible to apply for their $1000 Scholarship Program. Visit the website to get all the details and requirements. The deadline to apply for that is no later than May 1st. Follow them on social media for updates on the program. If your high schooler needs more career exploration, check out our Young Professional Series of e-books.
Sign up for your chance to win a BPF program of your own! We are giving away a single student pack worth $150.00. You can see the product HERE.
The prize is a fun 20 lesson immersive course designed for middle school and high schoolers to learn personal finance skills.
We found RightStart Math 14 years ago when our two youngest were starting out on their math journey. They loved RightStart Math- the games, the abacus. Math was fun. My daughter, now in Algebra II, has kept her abacus through all these years!
We are doing yet another review of RightStart Math, this year with a couple of giveaways to boot. Why? Because we love this program and it works!
Let’s start by talking about Level A. Level A helps students understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction to 10, place values to the hundreds, money, clocks, basic geometry and measurement. Card games are introduced. And seriously, folks, the card games are fun, interactive and will take your kids to math success!
Included in Level A you get the Right Start Math Lessons, Worksheets, Level “A” Appendix, and Yellow is the Sun book.
The book begins with objectives for the level by math subject and includes:
The book also tells you which quarter of the book these areas will be covered in. Next is a list of “living book” suggestions, along with the materials needed for particular lessons that are not included, all of which are easily found at home- such as sticky notes, tape, etc. Then a note from Joan Cotter (the developer of Right Start Math) about how the program was developed along with thoughts on how to teach math, and how this program differs from others.
Daily lessons are straightforward and simple to implement with specific learning objectives, along with materials needed clearly stated at the top of each lesson. Daily lessons also consist of warm-ups, activities, worksheets, and games. The lesson pages are then divided in half visually with “Activities for Teaching” listed on the left-hand side of the page, and “Explanations” listed on the right-hand side of the page. The Appendix includes songs, activity cards, and Assessment Checklists. It is so simple to go through the book sequentially or to pick out lessons that need to be reinforced. The structure of the book is simple and straightforward.
The First Lesson – Level A
In the first lesson, children hold up their hands and sing a simple song, then tiles and tally sticks are incorporated. Lessons include tactile, auditory and visual modes of teaching, utilizing and integrating various neurological pathways for optimal learning. Games are integral to the program and are an excellent way for kids with executive functioning issues to build not only their math acumen but overall neural integration. The Activity Pack includes several game decks: a money card deck, multiplication deck, fraction cards, and the basic number deck.
Level A helps the child understand quantities based on 5’s and 10’s, addition and subtraction through 10, place value to 100 and basic geometry and measurement. Money and clocks are introduced and problem-solving is emphasized.
This math program is well-organized for the teacher and is a fun, dynamic and interactive way to introduce basic math facts with your littles. The program acknowledges the strengths and challenges of young learners, capitalizing on both to create an exceptional math learning environment!
Level G and H
Level G and H are geared towards Middle School Mathematics and early geometry. Like the other levels in the RightStart Math series, each program includes a lesson manual, complete with lesson objectives, materials lists, activities, and extras. The program emphasis is on students taking charge of their learning, and it is assumed that they will be teaching themselves, as they go through the book. The materials for this class are worth gathering ahead of time and include a T-square, 30-60 and 45 Triangle, 4-in-1 ruler, Goniometer, mm Arc Compass, a Scientific Calculator and the math card games book.
Each lesson follows the same format where students read the lesson, look at figures and patterns, read the extras, and then summarize. But that is not all – children are encouraged to read the lesson again (gaining not only math acumen but study skills!) to look for vocabulary and define terms, and then read the lesson again to look for details. This builds critical thinking skills as they read for detailed information. Also, included are review lessons and assessments for understanding. This is a sequential, skill-based program, so understanding previous skills will ensure later success with the program.
Both levels include:
Spiral-bound Lesson Plan Book
Spiral-bound Solution Manual
3 Ring Binder and Worksheet Results Rubrics
Math Dictionary: the student co-creates this
Records: a place for students to record need-to-know information
Certificate of Achievement
The program is laid out in an easy to use, easy to succeed format, that makes math comprehension and learning do-able, accessible, and honestly, fun. Math games are an integral part of the program. I love how kids can record the number of times they played games. Games build math literacy, competence, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity as students search for information and solutions.
Level H is a continuation of Level G, with the added bonus of the History of Math woven through this level. Daily Card Games are included and students are expected to work independently. This is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to Geometry and will set your student up for Geometry success through High School and beyond!
Right Start Fractions
We were also given the Fractions Kit to review. This kit comes with a lesson book, workbooks, 3 Card decks, and 2 fractions charts. Are you intimidated by the thought of teaching this complex subject to your kids or your “non-mathy” kid isn’t succeeding with the program that you are currently using? Is one of your children struggling in your homeschool? You are going to want to stop what you are doing and purchase the RightStart Fractions Kit.
Lessons begin with the basics- simple enough for everyone to understand- and continue through more complicated lessons. Concepts are solidified while building on each other in a way that is fun and engaging. I love how Dr. Cotter (the author and developer of the Right Start Math Games program) has woven games in and throughout each part of the program. Math becomes associated with fun and success!
At True North Homeschool Academy we love RightStart Math; all the levels, all the games, all the fun, all the learning, all the math mastery. Kids learn math. They realize that it is doable, enjoyable and is figureoutable. Win-win for everyone!
A Special Offer
Thanks to RightStart Math for this special offer for our readers. You will get 15% off your order when you use the discount code NDHSA20ME at checkout online PLUS you get free standard shipping within the US.
This set includes everything you need to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions as well as a solid introduction to percents in just 42½ days!
The RightStart™ Fraction Kit includes:
The new RightStart™ Fractions Lessons Book
RightStart™ Fractions Worksheets Book or E-WorkBook
Fraction Charts (set of two)
Basic Number Card Deck
Multiplication Card Deck
Fraction Card Deck
You can enter multiple times for more than one chance to win over the next two weeks. Follow us on Facebook, visit RightStart, share our Pin to one of your boards on Pinterest, follow us on Twitter and leave us a comment here on the blog! Lots of chances to win this wonderful resource!
Stories shape culture. I have been influenced by stories my whole life so I know this is true. As I started having children and reading to them, I discovered that I loved finding good books that would influence the way they saw the world. My goal is that they will grow a heart of compassion, gratitude, contentment, and wisdom – all of the good things that make up a good life. I was asked to share some of these books with you, and it is my pleasure to pass on a few of the treasures I’ve come across over the years. Since Christmas has just passed, these special books have been on my mind!
Everyday Acts of Kindness
Papa Panov’s Special Day is a classic folk tale adapted by Leo Tolstoy. The version I love is retold by Mig Holder with illustrations by Julie Downing.
This book was gifted to me by my big sister, she remembered it being read to us kids and wanted this classic to be passed on to our children. I don’t know if I’ve ever read this story out loud and not had tears streaming down my face at the end.
It’s a story of an old shoemaker in a small Russian village who was alone during the holidays that year, and while reading his Bible he thought about how if baby Jesus were to come to his place he wouldn’t have anything to give him. Then he remembered a tiny pair of red baby shoes, the best shoes he’d ever made. He thought he could give him those. As he dozed off reading the nativity story, He heard a voice, it was Jesus telling him “ you wished that you had seen Me, that I had come to your little shop and that you could give me a gift. Look out into the street from dawn to dusk tomorrow and I will come. Be sure to recognize me, for I shall not say who I am.”
The next day which was Christmas Day, he spends the day looking for Jesus. In the process, he sees many needs and helps people through small acts of kindness. In anticipation of missing his visitation from Jesus, he tells the story to each of the recipients of his kindness. They thought he was strange for expecting a visit from Jesus but wished him well for being so kind to them.
Over and over, he was worried that while visiting with the others that he had possibly missed the One he was hoping to meet. At the end of the day, His heart was heavy and he wondered if it was only a dream after all. “ I wanted to believe it so much. I wanted Him to come” And at once it seemed like someone was in the room, through his tears he saw a long line of people passing across the little shop, all the people he had seen and spoken to that day. As they passed, they whispered one by one, “Didn’t you see me? Didn’t you see me Papa Panov?”.
“Who are you?” he asked. And he heard the same voice as the night before…” I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me water, I was cold and you took me in. These people you have helped today-all the time you were helping them, you were helping me!”… So He came after all. I’ll remember that whenever I read the Christmas story. The gospel story is so beautiful. I cry almost every time.
An Extraordinary Gift
Ordinary Baby, Extraordinary Gift by Gloria Gather and illustrated by Barbara Hranilovich is a simple summary of the whole gospel story; from the promise God made to fix the mess we made in the garden through the promise that he would come to us. This book focuses on our relationship with God and His plan to redeem what was lost. My favorite quote from this book is: “ who would have ever guessed it! God thought of the best way to have his friends back. He would be an ordinary baby. That’s the way He planned it, maybe, so that we would come to him and not be afraid.”
The first part of the book is that summary and the last part of the book is a poem, which is actually a song. The book originally came with a CD, but we lost it before actually listening to it and we don’t have a CD player anyway. It’s worth typing out- I think it’s beautiful!
He was just an ordinary baby. That’s the way he planned it, maybe, anything but common would have kept him apart from the children that he came to rescue. Limited to some elite few, when he was the only child who asked to be born, And now he came to us with eyes wide open, knowing how we’re hurt and broken, choosing to partake of all our joy and pain,
He was just an ordinary baby: that’s the way he planned it, maybe, so that we would come to him and not be afraid.
He was ordinary with the exception of miraculous conception; Both His birth and death he planned from the start.
But between his entrance and his exit was a life that has affected everyone who’s walked the earth to this very day.
With no airs of condescension, He became God’s pure extension.
Giving you and me the chance to be remade. He was just an ordinary baby; that’s the way he planned it, maybe, so that we could come to him.
So that we would come to him and not be afraid.
Song of the Stars
My newest Christmas book addition is a board book called Song of the Stars-a Christmas Story written by Sally Lloyd-Jones with paintings by Alison Jay.
I love this book! I’m especially fond of good board books both because they are a rare find, and because small children won’t rip the pages. And I love reading to toddlers. This is quick enough for some toddlers but moving enough for any age to appreciate.
The beginning says, “ the world was about to change forever. And it almost went by unnoticed…”
The back of the book has a wonderful summary of this beautiful rendition:
The entire universe is breathless with anticipation… the joyous news spreads out across fields, deserts, oceans—from stars, to trees, to robins, to flowers. Sheep tell their young. Angels sing to shepherds. And together they all join in nature’s great chorus of praise to the newborn King. The long-awaited child has come.
Towards the end of the book after sweet anticipation is built up for the grand finale, “the animals stood around his bed. And the whole earth and all the stars and sky held its breath…the One who made us has come to live with us!…and they gazed in wonder at God’s great gift. Lying on a bed of straw wrapped in rags— a tiny little baby. Heaven’s Son sleeping under the stars that he made.”
A Good Foundation
I’m pretty sure there is no greater task than to share what we know of God to our children, and hopefully, they will build their lives on the foundation that we give them. These types of books are a great start!
I love to share the story of Jesus! To communicate the meaning of the nativity and shape the culture and atmosphere in our home is a joy to me. I encourage you to drop the focus on material things that is typical of the Christmas season and the stress of starting a New Year and pick up a few good books that bring us back to the greatest story of all time: the precious story of Jesus and His plan to redeem the world unto Himself.
If your New Year’s resolutions include adding more reading or more read alouds to your homeschool, I hope you will add one or more of my beloved books to your wishlist. Include them and their joyful message in your holiday celebrations and everyday reading! And remember that we are what we read – stories can shape our culture and our hearts!
About the author: Becky Brunz is a homeschool mom of 7 and avid reader of literature!
(The following is a review of the book Screens and Teens by Kathy Koch, Ph.D. For more information on Dr. Kathy and her book, check out her website.)
Raising happy, God-fearing children is an extremely complex task in a world filled with so many sources of information. Well-meaning families are completely overwhelmed by the prospect of managing the huge online world. Furthermore, the online world is changing so fast that parents born in the nineties will have as much to learn about as parents of the sixties and seventies.
Enter the book Screens and Teens…
Well-meaning parents find their protests against the media invasion into their families completely ineffective. Teens only hear their parents reactions as criticism and wall off during critical periods of their life and development. Rather than providing an outlook rooted in blame, this book acknowledges that media addiction is not their fault- they are a new product of the fast-changing world. However, the fresh approach offered doesn’t shirk the teen’s responsibilities associated with online access.
This book can be a game-changer because it is simplifying a complex topic into simple, straightforward solutions and interventions. The author’s answers have proven effective in reclaiming families overwhelmed by technology. She speaks from a Christian perspective on who we are and who we are called to be that stretches beyond a random sprinkling of Bible verses.
This view is critical since it helps give a clear understanding of why the internet is so successful. Playing to our five core needs of identity, security, belonging, purpose, competence, it pretends to offer all your child needs. However, these needs should be met through relationships with God and each other.
Key ideas in the book help parents understand the problems and provide solutions. In Screens and Teens, Dr. Koch divides up the challenges posed by media into five lies incorporated into a teen’s life who has been raised by media. If they have been raised by social media, even a small extent, these ideas will be present in their world view.
These lies include –
#1 – I am the center of my own universe
#2 – I deserve to be happy all the time
#3 – I must have my own choices
#4 – I am my own authority
#5 – Information is all I need so I don’t need teachers
Each of these beliefs and attitudes is examined individually, and examples are given of how this plays out. For example, if your child is always complaining, ‘I’m bored,’ he or she may be under the influence of the lie, “I deserve to be happy all the time.”
The author doesn’t stop at naming the challenges. She shows the solutions stemming from understanding what is going on. She relies on an understanding of life from your teen’s perspective. It also shows how to work with the beliefs and perspectives, not against it. Understandings of concepts, such as how your teen is operating on ‘relationship-based opinions’ are powerful tools in working painlessly with your teen. Parents matter, and if you know how to work with your child, you can be a major force in the direction of their life.
Why is this Important?
As a young adult, I can vouch for the accuracy of these words in describing both peers my age and younger. Furthermore, the world we face is so different from the challenges of our grandparents and parents, and we have no one to look towards for guidance. Avoiding tech entirely is not an option. Without technology and social media, teens would be socially isolated and unable to function in a work atmosphere.
The environment created by rampant tech is dangerous. As she says, teens today are “addicted, tired, stressed… and depressed.” As a pediatric nurse, I’ve personally witnessed the results of this new world of media. I’ve worked with many stressed kids. Some meet criteria for actual mental health diagnosis, but most are just normal kids who have become overwhelmed by the amount of social interactions they are trying to maintain. An incredible number of my patients have cited social media as one of the key stressors that caused them to act on plans of self-harm. Given my experience, I cannot stress the urgency of being aware of the tech crisis enough.
How can I make it work for my family?
Each family is different when it comes to how they manage technology. I recommend reading through with highlighters and seeing what sounds familiar. She sets examples of how these challenges are expressed, in word for word phrases, you might hear from your teens. Then read and implement her small and simple responses to begin working on rebalancing your life.
Implementing even a few of Dr. Koch’s suggestions from Screens and Teens will be enough to create a healthy tech reset. She shares so many stories of the families she has saved and strengthened through responsible technology use. Could the next one be yours?
Sarah Frederes is a homeschool graduate and a Dakota Corps Scholarship recipient, which allowed her to attend and graduate from college debt-free with a Summa Cum Laude and a BSN. She is the oldest of eleven children and has a love and passion for music, parrots, writing, gardening, and photography. You can find more of her writing and lovely photography on her personal blog All That is Gold.
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