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Tips for Teens: De-Stress Test Taking

Tips for Teens: De-Stress Test Taking

Standardized Tests & Teens

If there’s a hot topic among homeschoolers, it is probably standardized testing. Many homeschoolers avoid standardized testing and since Covid, mandatory state testing has taken a back seat in many states, with requirements becoming lax and even non-existent. 

This is in part due to the fact that in the last few decades, standardized testing has taken a front and center seat in the educational world. Some states require testing at certain grades for data, funding, and even graduation.

Nationally, students are encouraged to take the SATs or ACTs, based on their goals post graduation. No matter what age your student, or how great of a test taker they may be, standardized test stress is real.

De-stress the Test

Here are a few tips and ways to help get through standardized test stress. 

  1. Scores do not equal worth: Remind your child that a score does not determine their worth. Their inability to do geometric equations does not take away from the fact that they may be an incredible musician. They also do not determine your skill as a homeschool parent. Just because you are not teaching to the test, does not mean you or your child are inept or incapable. Test scores are data points, not worth scores. 
  2. Process of elimination: these standardized tests are just that, which means they are almost 100% multiple choice. The best thing you can help your student learn how to do is eliminate the obvious wrong answers. Each eliminated “no”, raises their chance of choosing the correct answer. Even a 1:3 chance is always going to be better than 1:4. 
  3. Do what you know first: these tests are usually taken in booklets, and students complete them one section at a time, and are timed. For a math section, for example, it is better score wise for your student to go through the section and complete the questions they can answer easily/quickly, and then go back and do the harder ones. Skipped questions aren’t penalized, but incorrect answers are. In each reading section, after reading the short story, answer the easy questions first. 
  4. Use the scrap paper: students are often provided unlimited scrap paper to do math problems, outline writings, etc. Many students avoid using it because they are afraid it makes them look “dumb,” because they can’t just do the work in their heads. For many, this can be detrimental. Encourage your child to use scrap paper and to ask for it if not provided.
  5. Be Prepared: for most students, testing is arduous. Brick-and-mortar schools often do testing weeks and spend nearly full days, for 2 weeks, fulfilling the standardized tests. Sleep, hydration, and filling foods, can help keep your student’s constitution going through the task at hand. The ACT test, in particular, is designed as an endurance test. These types of tests have about four hours of information crammed into three hours.

Prepare your child and understand the strategy for each test. For example, is the student penalized for leaving answers blank, or for attempting to answer, even if the answer is wrong? This type of information enables students to do well on that exam.

Less Pressure for All

Additional things to remember that may help lessen your stress as well as your student’s:

  • Many school districts rely on testing to also help determine their state or even federal funding each year.
  • Schools use test results to determine how many classes they may need to provide extra support for those who scored “below basic” in areas like reading and math. 
  • These benchmarks are volatile. “Standards” change regularly. The standard for a third grader in PA may be very different for a third grader in Wyoming. Both may change many times between now and 2030. Neither is wrong or bad, but they are different.
  • Low or average SAT or ACT scores do not automatically mean your child won’t be able to get into a post-high school program. More and more institutions are seeing that these scores are not an end-all-be-all, and are looking more at the actual transcripts and experience students are coming in with. This includes trade schools.

Tests Scores & Scholarships

While lower test scores won’t keep your kids from attending an institution of higher education – higher test scores can result in more scholarship dollars. Given the rising cost of post- secondary education, 1 point on the ACT/ SAT  can be the difference between no scholarship money, $10,000 or even a full year in tuition dollars! 

Resources from True North Can Help

Did you know that True North offers Performance Testing, published by Scantron? This is a valid and reliable test that meets all state testing requirements. Unlike other standardized tests, the Performance Series test can give you great insight as a parent of your student’s capabilities, with specific course objectives based on test results.

Other standardized tests have a range of questions from “lower levels” to a level or two “above” the standard. The Performance Series Test is intuitive. Offering your child the chance to answer increasingly difficult, or easier, questions. This gives you a more accurate idea of where your child may be academically. 

Get More Information And SAVINGS!

Have more questions? Aren’t quite sure where to start? Check out our Advising services and get more information on our Performance Series Testing at the Advising & Testing page. True North also offers test prep classes periodically, so check back with us about those.

Use the coupon code PERFORM5 and save $5.00 on any individual level of the Performance Series tests until January 16, 2022.


Anna Knaub

Anna is an experienced educator and True North Homeschool Academy teacher. She teaches elementary history classes and high school literature courses. Anna is also active in facilitating homeschool clubs including clubs that focus on life skills such as event planning.

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:

SPECIFIC 

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

MEASURABLE 

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!

ACTIONABLE

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.

REALISTIC 

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! 

TIME BOUND

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!

A Birthday Celebration Fit for A King

A Birthday Celebration Fit for A King

Christmas is a birthday. Not just any birthday; Christmas is a King’s birthday.

As this was stirring in my soul, I decided to research how nations celebrate their sovereign’s birthday. So, let’s look at how countries with a King, or Queen, celebrate their birthdays.

King’s Day in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Koningsdag, or King’s Day, is celebrated on King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, April 27. King’s Day is a national holiday. Stores close down. People celebrate with parties, parades, concerts, and all kinds of festivities. The king and his family join the people in their celebrating.

The people take to the streets, along with the royal family, and paint the town orange! Since the king is a member of the House of Orange, everyone wears orange and waves orange flags. Some people even wear orange wigs. Amsterdam’s famous canals are filled with orange as festively decorated boats fill the waterways.

Vendors sell yummy streets and many folks set up a place to sell or trade unwanted items—it’s like a big flea market. As the music plays, people not express love and appreciation to their king, they delight in being Dutch. 

Queen’s Birthday in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s Official Birthday is celebrated the second Saturday in June. Until 1936, it was celebrated on the reigning king or queen’s official birthday, but when George V died, it was decided to make the official celebration the second Saturday in June.

That’s good news for the UK because Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is April 21, but the weather is not-so-nice that time of year in England.

Her majesty’s birthday is celebrated with a parade, gun salutes, and a host of festivities. Queen Elizabeth walks around outside of the palace greeting well-wishes. She and her entire family also appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Air Force flies overhead for the annual airshow. 

Royal Birthday Celebrations

In the Netherlands and England, the people want their monarch to know they are loved, admired, appreciated, and celebrated. It’s a lovely time to be had by all. 

It is also a time to celebrate their heritage, the delight of being Dutch or English.

The birthday celebration is not a private affair, but a time that all come together to honor the head of their nation. Everyone joins in!

Even more special is that the sovereign and royal family mingle with the people in the streets. They are right in the middle of the celebration—they are not far off, but with their people.

With that in mind, let’s celebrate Christmas as a birthday! Here are some ways to keep the birthday person JESUS in mind as we plan celebrations that He enjoys and show him adoration and honor. 

Plan the Celebration

God the Father carefully planned the birth of His Son. He lined up empires and languages. He chose the perfect time for His Son to be born and left little clues (prophecies) about His birth for 4,000 years. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals Jesus as the coming Savior and King.

Our Heavenly Father planned the birth party, including who would sing and who would be guests.

He had the angel choirs sing and had both domestic and foreign visitors. The shepherds were local, but the wise men traveled a long distance to see the baby. 

If God went to so much trouble preparing for His initial birth, then shouldn’t we do the same in preparing for His annual birthday celebration?

After all, this annual celebration is more about Him, than even our precious children and spouse. Christmas is His birthday celebration.

When we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, do we remember the Passover meal or the memorial stones near the Jordan River? The Lords often uses symbolism and memorials to help us remember special events. We can plan traditions that remind us of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. Family and church traditions that represent or teach Jesus and His Salvation are a great way to give the Birthday King what He wants. After all, He was born to save us all.

What will draw our hearts and our family’s hearts closer to Jesus this holiday season? Choose the best over the good and mediocre. Schedule in time for rest and reflection. 

Just as the king in the Netherlands, or queen in the UK, mingles with the people during the birthday celebration, Jesus wants us to draw close to Him.

He calls us to abide in Him, to seek Him, to draw close to Him. Make time to meditate on Scripture passages, to pray, to worship alone and with others. Let Jesus not only be the focal point, but present with you.

So, how do we plan a birthday celebration fit for our King?

Transferring Our Birthday Celebrations to HIS

After looking at birthday celebrations for royalty, I decided to look at our own birthday celebrations and see if anything could transfer.

One thing we love to do on birthdays is play the Encouragement Game.

Everyone goes around and shares things they appreciate about the birthday person. It is often a tearful time as the birthday person is blessed and others realize how much he or she means to them. 

We can do that with Jesus at Christmas. Think of all the things we appreciate about Jesus, starting with His help at Creation and ending with His Glorious Return. 

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).

For Jesus, it is deeper. Instead of the encouragement game, we add worship to our Christmas birthday celebration. Singing Christmas carols together is so precious to us, and we never stop at the first verse. The rest of the songs are so packed with awesome truths about our God!

Our birthday celebrations consist of giving gifts.

We think of things that we know Jesus wants from us, things that will express our adoration and devotion to Him. Here are some things on our list of gifts to the Lord:

  • Worship from grateful sincere hearts
  • Marriages that are faithful and committed
  • Families that love one another
  • Serving the poor, needy, those in jail as if we were serving Him
  • Celebrations (in Nehemiah, He commands the Israelites to celebrate with feasting and sweet drinks)
  • Prayer
  • Studying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on His Word
  • Enjoyment for all He has given us
  • Generosity with a cheerful heart​

To give gifts to Jesus at Christmas, we include Christmas devotions (Bible study, prayer, worship), acts of service (Shoebox, baby items to Crisis Pregnancy Center, special gift to our Compassion girl), and times of family togetherness.

Our birthday celebrations include parties.

When the kids were younger, we had a birthday party for Jesus with a birthday cake, games, and a pinata. On Christmas morning, we always put candles in our homemade cinnamon rolls and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

We turn decorating the tree into a family party. We go caroling together, drive around to see lights, and participate in many special church events with other believers. All of these things are mini-birthday parties.

Seek and Save the Lost

One of the best ways we can show love to our Birthday King is to participate in the things on His heart. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, giving His life as a ransom for many. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by participating in His mission!

Christ is concerned about the lost and broken. At Christmas, we have the real message of hope. It’s not what Santa can bring you, but what Jesus has accomplished for you through His cross and resurrection!

We can think of creative ways to tell people about Jesus. We can go Christmas caroling and invite neighbors to church. Why not create little tracts that share the Gospel message?

Sharing the Gospel of Hope can happen on Facebook, in person, or through emails. However, you do it, share the Gospel with those who need to hear it. 

​If you can grasp these principles and ideas as a family, it will change your Christmas celebrations forever to be more festive and joyous than you could ever imagine. After all, Christmas is not just a birthday, it is the birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Love, love, love to each of you and Merry Christmas. 
​Meredith Curtis


Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.

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!

A Teen’s Guide to Hosting a Christmas Party

A Teen’s Guide to Hosting a Christmas Party

Hosting a Christmas Party doesn’t have to be complicated. I mean it really does boil down to an organized time hanging out with your favorite peeps, right?! Throwing the word “party” into the mix can make the gathering a little more stressful for the host. However, there are some simple ways to take the pressure off.


Knowing how to host a successful party is a great life skill! With that in mind, let’s walk through some simple questions to answer that will help get your party organized and hopeful take some of the stress out of planning a Christmas Party. You’ve got this!


What day and time do you want the party to take place?

  • Friday or Saturday night are good choices because your guests can sleep in the next day.
  • A Thursday night or Saturday morning might be a good choice too, as calendars can get pretty full with events in December.


How long do you want the event to last?

  • Most parties last 2-3 hours
  • Leaving only a start time on your invitation lets your guests know they can leave whenever.
  • No matter how long you want your party to last, confirm with mom and dad that they are good with the times you choose.

Who do you want to invite?

  • A small gathering is 5-10 people – with a small group it is easy to just text the few people and see who is up for coming.
  • A larger gathering is more than 10 – these are fun gatherings but take a bit more planning.
  • Get an RSVP from all you invite, so keep track of that by either writing the names of those you give invitations to and checking in with them the week of the party if you haven’t heard from them or use Sign Up Genius (it’s FREE) for a central online RSVP spot.

What will be the theme of the party?

Some Christmas Parties are just “A Christmas Party” but there are a lot of themes to choose from. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ugly Christmas Sweater
  • Cookie Exchange
  • Christmas Pajama Party
  • Grinch Who Stole Christmas Party

A theme can help set the mood for your party, give inspiration to the gift exchange and make it easier to pick times and foods for the event!

What will your guests be doing at the party?


Christmas parties often include a gift exchange…. what kind of gift exchange do you want to have? Your imagination is your only limitation on this.

The big thing to remember is to set a price limit on the gift (usually $5-$10). You could do an:

  • Ornaments exchange
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Gift card exchange
  • Christmas sock exchange

Other activities ideas include a game night of Charades, or Pictionary. Go Christmas Caroling. Walk (or drive) around your town or neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights while sipping on hot cocoa. You could snuggle up on the couch and watch your favorite Christmas movies – even decorate cookies together. Whatever your party activities, remember a good host makes sure no one looks lonely or left out!

What will your guests eat and drink at the party?

  • Knowing how many people will be coming to your party will help you know much food and drinks to get.
  • Let me just throw out there… now is NOT the time to try a BRIGHT RED, HIGHLY STAINABLE drink for the party.
  • Some easy options are popcorn and hot cocoa.
  • Hot Cocoa Bar: with marshmallows and candy canes and whip cream and sprinkles
  • A variety of popcorn options, maybe even a popcorn that goes with your theme’s color scheme.
  • You could fancy it up and do a cookie decorating station.

Where will the party be taking place?

  • If you are doing a smaller gathering, your living room is a good location for the party.
  • If you are going to have a larger group of people, you might need a few rooms at the house – like kitchen, living AND dining rooms.

Before you invite anyone – TALK TO YOUR PARENTS!

Once you have all the details nailed down (and BEFORE you invite your friends) talk to mom and dad for a few minutes and see what they think about the idea. I am sure they will love it and they may even have a few ideas to help make it even better!

A Few Other Things to Keep In Mind

Before the party:

  • CLEAN THAT HOUSE
  • Be super nice to your mom and dad as they work with you to set up your party.

During the party:

  • Have FUN!
  • Respect your parent’s wishes. If they everyone needs to be gone by a certain time, make sure your guests and their parents are aware of the ending time.


After the Party:


It’s tempting to plop on the couch and chill for a bit, but let’s face, my friend. You have a MESS to clean up. Clean it up quick and show your parents how responsible you are. BONUS if all goes well and the house is clean when the party is over there is a SUPER GOOD chance your amazing parents will let you do this again!

Wishing you a super fun Christmas season and a successful Christmas party!

Free Enterprise in the New World

Free Enterprise in the New World

Free enterprise has been a channel for God’s blessing in the early days of our nation while still a British colony into the first centuries of nationhood. Let’s see how free market economics helped to make America great. 

The British, French, and Dutch governments did not pay for settlements in the New World. Companies paid the expense. Financiers made deals with folks who wanted to start a new life in the colonies. Settlers founded family farms and businesses that thrived and prospered. 

Some people, desperate for new opportunities, indentured themselves as servants for a few years to cover the cost of the trip. After their time of service was over, the were free to work and prosper.  

Pilgrims

The pilgrims not only inspire our modern Thanksgiving Feast, but the lessons they learned about free enterprise still have wisdom for us in the 21st century. 

The pilgrims made their way to the New World so they could enjoy religious freedom. Getting to North America cost money. They sold their homes to raise money, but still came up short. Financier provided money for the voyage as an investment. The pilgrims would work for seven years. At that point, everything would be liquidated and divided between the financiers and the pilgrims. 

Since they were working to pay off their debt, they decided to all work together on common land. This was a disaster! Soon, industrious workers realized they were doing more work than the lazier brethren. There was little motivation to work! Instead, the leaders assigned each man a parcel of land. The output tripled! 

When the contract ended in 1627, the Pilgrims could begin building their farms and businesses for their families and they prospered even more. 

A Church, A Mill, A Blacksmith

It is said that early towns in the New World needed a church, a mill, and a blacksmith. 

The Pilgrims set to work right away to build a meeting house (church) and homes. A year later they had a blacksmith. William Bassett, who was left behind the year before, arrived in 1621. He was the first blacksmith in the colony of Plymouth and much needed! 

After grinding corn by hand for more than a decade, John Jenney built a water-powered mill on Town Brook. Two giant stone wheels ground the corn into cornmeal. The millstones were powered by water via a 14-foot waterwheel. Now they had everything they needed. The little colony grew and prospered. 

Further up the coast the first sawmill opened in present-day Maine on the Piscataqua River. The colonists started a logging industry, shipping lumber back to England. A year later, the first water-powered sawmill opened. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony

The folks heading to present-day Boston were shrewd. In an attempt to not answer to a company back in England, the settlers bought up the stock in the company paying for the settlers. Since colonists were accountable to the stockholders of a company, now the Massachusetts Bay Colony folks were accountable to one another. 

In Massachusetts Bay Colony, the settlers did not find the fertile land that existed in the middle and southern colonies. The rocky soil made farming difficult. Instead of crops, many farmers raised livestock. Some farms bred horses. 

Other men made a living in the fishing, timber, or shipping industries. 

The Atlantic Ocean, filled with an abundance of cod, mackerel, herring, halibut, and bass, was the perfect location for fishing. Fishermen sold their fish to merchants who exported the fish. Whaling was another huge industry. Folks used whale oil for lamps and soaps. Though dangerous, whaling was a very profitable industry for brave hearty souls. 

The lush New England forests were soon the location of a growing timber industry. Lumberjacks chopped down oak, maple, beech, birch, hickory, and ash trees for their beautiful wood. Most wood was exported to Europe while some was sold to ship builders and furniture makers. Soon there were thousands of sawmills in New England.

Ship building was big business in Massachusetts Bay Colony and later throughout New England. Fishermen and whalers need boats. Merchants needed ships to transport goods from ports in the New World to European and Caribbean ports. International trade required ships! Ship building required carpenters, joiners, sail makers, barrel makers, painters, and blacksmiths so it employed many men. 

The residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony were not just surviving financially, they were thriving and sending the fruits of their labor across the world! The colonists of New England were prospering!

Free Enterprise

Hard work and a free enterprise system caused colonists to thrive and prosper in the New World. Free enterprise, a system where businesses and farms are owned by individuals, not the government, and where the economy operates with little government regulation, was the perfect environment for success. 

The settlers in the New World enjoyed the freedom to buy, the freedom to sell, the freedom to try, the freedom to fail. The took risks and experienced failure. They took personal responsibility for their failures, as well as their successes. Free enterprise helped to cultivate a love of freedom which meshed well with the Puritan work ethic. 

Along with the Puritan ethic of industriousness, the free enterprise system can be credited with America’s prosperity. People are willing to take a risk to be financially independent by starting their own businesses or farming. 

In a free market, consumers “vote” for the products of their choice by purchasing those products. This causes quality items to sell at higher rates than poor quality ones. Early America was known for quality workmanship and goods. 

Wealth of the Nations

Ironically, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, Adam Smith’s Wealth of the Nations, the premier book on free-market capitalism, was published. Our Founding Fathers read and agreed with Smith’s philosophy of economics. 

The king of England believed in mercantilism where the government dictates how citizens can spend their money using tariffs and taxes. When colonists were forced to purchase certain items only from England, they were outraged! Being so far away, they had not only enjoyed religious freedom, but economic freedom as well. 

Free enterprise opens the door for new ideas. Creative individuals invent and try out new ideas because they have the freedom to do so. Maybe that’s why the USA is the most innovative nation on earth! 

If your teen needs a high school economic credit, I want to recommend True North Homeschool Academy’s Economics course, a spring semester course. This course teaches Free Enterprise-style economics in a practical, hands-on way. Check it out HERE

And this Thanksgiving, as you are thanking the Lord for all your blessings, remember the early settlers of our great nation, and thank God for the economic freedom they enjoyed and built into the fabric of our great nation. 


Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.