Time began in a garden, which makes it the perfect homeschool science. It’s a ready-made object lesson! God created plants of all different species and kinds. He replenishes us like a garden sprouting from the desert.
When our mustard seed-sized faith grows, it’s a tree so large the birds nest in it.
The Bible even tells us to plant a garden.
And then, there’s the biggest lesson — sowing and reaping. Every homeschool mom must know that one by heart.
“… A man reaps what he sows.”
With all of that in mind, why not try your hand at gardening?
Not Enough Space? Try Container Gardening!
It’s spring and everyone in the homeschool world is planting a garden because gardening is such a great way to learn about plants.
If you don’t have a plot of earth accessible for a garden, try container gardening. It’s easy. You only need some little pots, buckets, or containers,
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Grow Tomatoes in a 5-Gallon Bucket
Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, before you fill the bucket with soil. Plant one tomato plant per bucket. Use a stake in the middle to support the plant.
You can also grow cucumbers, melons, squash, beans, onions, lettuce, and carrots in buckets.
Grow Herbs in Your Kitchen Windowsill
Use tiny little pots or containers to grow herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, chives, and mint. Your kitchen will smell heavenly! The key is plenty of sunlight.
To start your herbs, fill pots with moist seed-starting mix ¾ full. Sprinkle 4-5 seeds on top, cover and pat gently. Cover with a plastic bag to keep moisture inside until seedlings poke through. Remove plastic and continue watering the little plants on your sunny windowsill.
Grow Flowers in Hanging Baskets
Flowers are lovely in hanging baskets on a porch, patio, or balcony. They brighten up the day for anyone walking by who can see them.
You can also grow tomatoes and strawberries in a hanging basket. Or try herbs like parsley, thyme, and mint.
Little children love learning about plants. In fact, science is fascinating, especially if they have a fun class like Science Exploration A (K-3) and Science Exploration B (4-6) where children learn about plants from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the seas.
When it comes to educating our own kids, many of us, especially those who never imagined we’d be homeschooling, recognize that it’s a task that God has called us to. And He’s been faithful to equip us along the way. Amen?
We’ve understood our own role in being faithful to that calling. But have we ever stopped to consider that God has a calling for each and every one of us? Not just preachers, teachers, or pastors.
God is calling our kids.
For Such a Time As This
The story of Queen Esther in the Bible shows us just how God is working providentially through men and women who are called and prepared to stand in hard times.
Do you think Esther mulled over her calling? Did she study the nature of a calling on her life? I don’t know that we can know that, but we can know is that she was prepared.
Preparing Our Kids for God’s Calling
From the time Esther was little, she likely heard the stories of her people. She had seen God’s faithfulness demonstrated. Beyond her basic education, she’d obviously been educated in the art of persuasion!
Trusting in God’s Ability
Leaning on TRUTH, she used her best soft skills and life skills to make a stand and save her people.
Did all of the preparation that brought her to that place cause her to rest on her own ability? No, but she did have God Confidence.
And that’s exactly what we want for our own kids, isn’t it?
Independently Dependent On God
Back to homeschooling, I see so many parents diligently preparing their children for a future of independence. This independence comes with great responsibility, and we ultimately want to see them independently dependent on the Lord, right?
This is the only thing that will cause them to stand against a world in chaos.
Why the 3 R’s Aren’t Enough
We believe that Education is the Transmission of Culture. Every child can learn the basics of a good education. Many will excel at the difficult subjects. But that’s not a complete education. They need a foundation of a strong culture to find their true north.
But, what I care about most deeply, is using those fundamentals in a way that serves a bigger purpose — the transmission of culture.
A Bold Statement & A Challenge to You
I want our kids to excel at academics. I want them to be prepared for the Future of Work, be equipped with soft skills, and win in the gig economy.
But, what I ultimately want (and I have a feeling this is important to you, too) is to develop our kids to find their true north (the TRUE NORTH – Jesus Christ) and bring others with them.
All the teaching and learning we do is to that end. That we would know Christ and make Him known.
Is God calling your kids? I challenge you to ponder that question.
Then ask yourself if you’re moving in the direction you want to with their education.
Two Have a Greater Return for Their Labor
True North Homeschool Academy teachers are a group of passionate, qualified, creative educators providing carefully curated Core Courses and Clubs delivered by utilizing cutting-edge technology, gamification, and solid academic pedagogy.
We understand the unique challenges and opportunities of homeschooling.
If we share the same goals, and I think we just might, won’t you take a moment and check out our catalog?
Let’s face it, we homeschoolers love figuring things out. As a group, we DIY homeschooling. It’s in our DNA. While everything is “figuroutable” — it’s not always the easiest path to follow, is it?
A History of Homeschooling
When homeschooling got its start, materials were limited, groups were non-existent, and laws were strict. In fact, it was illegal in many states. The first homeschoolers were true pioneers. They invented DIY homeschooling because they had to! We truly stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before us.
Homeschooling Has Changed
Homeschooling has seen a lot of changes, and friends, that’s a good thing. The craziness of 2020 has accelerated some of the changes, and we now have more homeschooling families than ever before. So, why are we still DIY homeschooling? What can we do differently and why should we?
Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach [the words of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
The Bible also tells us we don’t have to do it alone. Two are better than one, because they have good return for their labor. Iron sharpens iron. We’re to use our gifts to minister to others. When we know the truth, we’re to be helpers to the truth. We’re to provoke one another to good works. We’re one body, with members.
This sums up my point — we need one another. We can DIY homeschooling, but we don’t have to.
The World Has Changed (Sort Of)
The world has changed. We’re more connected than at any time in history. What hasn’t really changed is human nature. Let’s be honest, it’s the realization of the continuity of human nature that’s part of why we homeschool in the first place. As Christians, we feel a responsibility to our children to provide for them and protect them from the worst in human nature.
We also want them to see the best in people and be prepared to live and work in the world God has given us. It is our Father’s world, after all. He wants us to tend to it and the people he puts us in touch with.
Homeschooling prepares our kids for that.
With all of this connectedness, we need to be diligent to our responsibility to our children. And again, we don’t have to do that alone. We don’t need to DIY homeschooling.
Moving Beyond DIY Homeschooling
True North Homeschool Academy was born out of a passion to equip and nurture parents as they intentionally educate their children.
We’ve been offering live online classes for over a decade, and have collectively been involved in alternative education in the form of private schools, classical academies, yeshivas, co-ops, class days, classical charters, online academies, and more.
We believe that Education is the Transmission of Culture. We are coming from a decidedly Judeo-Christian point of view. We are people of the Book.
True North Homeschool Academy teachers are a group of passionate, qualified, creative educators providing carefully curated Core Courses and Clubs, delivered by utilizing cutting-edge technology, gamification, and solid academic pedagogy. We understand the unique challenges and opportunities of homeschooling.
Making Your Homeschool Your Own
I know many will choose the DIY homeschooling route. And I’m here to support all homeschoolers. But, if you’re looking for support, accountability, and connection, I encourage you to consider our live, online, interactive classes.
A partner in homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to have a cookie-cutter homeschooling experience. And you don’t have to DIY homeschooling. Pick and choose what works best for YOUR family. Make your homeschool your own.
I understand homeschool mom anxiety. I am a teacher and a homeschool mom who has struggled with the college question. And, I get this question ALL the time; “Can my homeschooled kid get into college?”
It is usually accompanied by explaining how the homeschool parent has made unconventional decisions about their kids’ education (check, you homeschool). What I hear through all of the details is Homeschool Mom Anxiety:
Did I do enough?
Did I focus on suitable material, subject or lesson?
Can my kid compete?
Can my kids hold their own once they start interacting with a group of peers?
Let me assure you, your kid CAN get into college.
While Homeschool Mom Anxiety can be Intense, Let’s Look at the Facts.
Homeschool standardized test scores are generally higher than public school test scores overall.
Homeschooled students score about 72 points higher than the National Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) average.
The average American College Test (ACT) score is 21. The average score for homeschoolers is 22.8 out of a possible 36 points.
Homeschoolers are at the 77th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
Homeschoolers have also consistently won.
Scripps Spelling Bee
Apangea Math Contest
3M Young Scientist Challenge
National Geographic Bee
USA Mathematical Olympiad
So, yes, homeschooled students can get into college, compete well and succeed in traditional performance-based environments and competitions.
Homeschooled students go to college, university, Ivy League schools, Conservatories, Military Academies, and everywhere else public school kids go.
Speaking of colleges and homeschool mom anxiety, what are the expectations of college admissions boards?
Test Scores, Transcripts, Community Service, Extracurriculars, the Students Stand-Out Factor, essays, and references. They’ll look at the package they ask the student to submit, and then they’ll accept or deny your student entrance to their school.
Post-Covid, the path to college acceptance is shorter than ever before. My youngest daughter got accepted into a private college with a hefty discount based on the application and a homeschool transcript. That’s it. No test scores, references, or other supporting documentation is necessary.
In my experience, parents have been asking the wrong questions, particularly since 2020.
The more relevant TWO QUESTIONS homeschooling families need to be asking are
How will my kid pay for college?
Is college essential?
The Rising Costs of College
If you’ve been following college costs for the past couple of years, you realize that they have skyrocketed. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the average price of tuition and fees came to:
$38,070 at private colleges
$10,740 at public colleges (in-state residents), not including room, board, and expenses
$27,560 at public colleges (out-of-state residents)
With additional fees for room and board, which average to:
$13,620 at private colleges
$11,950 at public colleges
You read that right.
It costs between $22,000 to $51,000 PER YEAR to attend college.
Since most kids don’t generally have $100- $200,000 laying around, and the expected rate of parent contribution is often ridiculous, student loans are often the go-to.
You’ve heard me say it before, the average college student graduates in six years, not four, with an average of $37,000 in debt.
But approximately 40% of students who start college drop out, and many have already incurred debt. Debt cannot be bankrupted; it increases exponentially if the payer takes a forbearance or deferment. Debt can financially cripple a young adult for life.
Holy Buckets, Batman! That’s a lot of responsibility for most young adults, many of whom have never made a significant purchase before college.
Is College the Next Best Step?
For those who believe college is the best next step, I would encourage parents to help their young adults run a cost/ benefit analysis. Talk to someone in the working world who is in their potential career field and consider pay/ benefits and vocational costs in terms of time and money. What will be the actual ROI (Return on Investment) of their college degree?
Dave Ramsy says it so much better than I do in Borrowed Future, an excellent documentary on the crazy debt that begins incurred the lack of intense scrutiny that parents and young adults should be bringing to bear on college costs and degree ROI.
And it’s not that there are no scholarships and opportunities that will bring college costs down. Still, since 2020, even scholarships have gotten thin, as people’s regular giving and contribution habits have changed.
College costs are not limited to financial debt but can have long-lasting effects on a student’s worldview, politics, faith, and so much more. While college classes might not instigate change for students, extracurricular activities are. And with college students spending less than 3 hours a day on academics and more than ever before on “Student Life” that guides students towards socialism and secularism, it’s time to rethink college in the traditional sense.
Anti-Education I am Not
Look, besides having five kids, my husband and I have five graduate degrees between us; we are hardly education averse. We both love to learn and have raised five inquisitive auto-didacts. But times, they are a-changing, and it’s time to get innovative and creative about education, degrees, and vocational training.
And who better to do that than homeschooling families? We’re so used to thinking outside the box that this should be second nature for us.
Is College Necessary?
In the past, having a degree paid dividends for the student. You can bank on the financial benefits of having a degree, and the more advanced a degree one holds; generally, the higher salary one makes. But most of the articles and charts that this information is based on don’t consider the financial debt and burden of student loans.
In the past, getting a degree was about so much more than just earning a piece of paper. It was the traditional pathway to adulthood for many of us, and we launched our career success as adults. Many of us met lifelong friends, not to mention our spouses in college, discovered artistic and intellectual areas of interest and passion, and, just as importantly, we learned how to learn.
Without college, how will our young adults find friends suitable mates and hone their intellectual pursuits and abilities? I talk to Moms from all over the country every week, and I can assure you I’m not alone in my query.
It’s Time to Develop the Art of Non-conformity
As if we haven’t done so already, being homeschoolers and all. Look, the world has changed and continues to change. You’ve heard me talk about this 4th Industrial Revolution that we’re in, right? And with every revolution, careers and industries die, and extraordinary opportunities and fortunes are to be made. But, it’s also a time of upheaval, so old ways and paths just might not work or be worth the price to be paid.
Ease Your Homeschool Mom Anxiety and Re-negotiate What College Looks Like
College is a worthy pursuit, but there is no reason to do it all on campus. Dual Enrollment, CLEP, and Community College classes can get your kids ahead for pennies on the dollar. And while DE is limited to pre-high school graduation, CLEP exams can be done even while students attend college classes. Also, parents, it’s never too late to talk to your kids about finishing college in 4 years or less. The longer they are in college, the higher the cost or debt. So, finishing sooner than later saves them time and money.
Everybody needs Entrepreneurship
In my reading and studying on the future of work and education, one topic that comes up repeatedly is Entrepreneurship. It’s so crucial that some colleges require students to take Entrepreneurship as part of their required program credits. And Peter Thiel, former PayPal CEO who created the Thiel Fellowship, is so committed to Entrepreneurship that he offers 24 students two years and $100,000 to get things done.
Former Homeschooler and pageant winner Samantha Shank created materials for educators, has a successful TpT store, and is currently graduating with an M.S. in Education debt-free. She wants to purchase her first home, financed by her TpT store and website.
With online tools, entrepreneurship is easier than ever to jump into. Of course, time-honored ways of making money still exist, like clearing houses (my sister and I cleaned houses all through high school, making $30-$50 way back in the day), lawn service, and babysitting. But, there are so many new ways to earn a buck now, too- like selling on Teacher’s Pay Teachers.
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And while certain degrees and fields might require higher education, like the medical and legal profession, even those fields are changing with innovative AI and robotic development. What’s needed for licensure or certification now, but be different in the field in 5-10 years.
Develop Marketable Skills
While not everyone’s cut out to be an entrepreneur, making room in your junior and senior high school schedule to develop marketable skills just makes good sense. At the very least, your kids are creating a robust transcript, and they might even be discovering a lifelong passion, vocational path, or lucrative side- hustle that pays their way through college, as Samantha Shank discovered.
Homeschool Mom Anxiety
While we live through a time of shifting and upheaval, we don’t need to worry about our kids getting into college. The relevant questions, particularly post 2020, are:
How will they pay for it
Is it worth it given what they will pursue vocationally
Entrepreneurship and Marketable Skills Training are two sure-fire ways to set your kids on the path to Future Success!
If you are looking for skills training for your tween or teen, particularly in marketable skills that are applicable now, check out our wide variety of classes that allow kids to make money now: Entrepreneurship, Video Editing, Photoshop, Computer Science, Computer Illustrator, Graphic Design and more!
Homeschool parents find themselves making hard decisions that have far-reaching consequences. Then there are all the “tiny decisions”: should I let him borrow the car to drive his friends? Should I have him take life skills or a foreign language? Is my child ready for (fill in the blank)?
God has positioned us to need His help in our childrearing and homeschooling desperately. As parents, we raise our children to be independent, but our Heavenly Father raises us in the faith to be more and more dependent on Him as we grow in the Lord.
So, next time you feel helpless when confronted with a decision or challenge, realize that God is growing you in your faith to trust Him more and rely on Him more. His Word is such a precious part of this process. His Word is our daily source of wisdom and our faith-builder.
When you feel alone, and you wonder why on earth you ever had children, remember that God has given you His very great and precious promises for two reasons:
Live a godly life/Participate in His divine nature (goodness, joy, peace, love, etc.)
Escape the corruption of the world
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (I Peter 1:3-5 NASB).
We need to remind ourselves of the promises of God. When I feel like a failure, I remind myself that God has begun a good work in me and is carrying that work on until it’s complete (Philippians 1:6) and that if I abide in Him, He will produce good fruit in me (John 15).
I write the promises of God down and cards and post them on the bathroom mirror, inside kitchen cupboards, and tucked inside my purse. God’s promises aren’t just true for me—they are true for you, too.
When we feel scared, He will take care of us. (Psalm 91)
When we feel alone, He is with us. (Isaiah 43:2)
When we worry about our children, He promises to teach our children (Isaiah 54:13)
When we feel like we are not good enough, He reminds us that He lives in us and through us (Galatians 2:20)
When we blow it, He promises to forgive us and sanctify us (I John 1:9-10)
And when we lack wisdom.
When you can’t figure out whether you should let your daughter stay out past midnight, remember this promise:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5 NASB).
God provides wisdom when we ask. Often, we will find as we are reading the Scriptures, truth jumps out at us—the exact answer to the questions we are asking!
You see, we face challenging choices every day. So next time you need wisdom—STOP! And ask for it.
The Word of God also shows us what to do and say in the middle of challenging times.
Pretend you are in a conversation with your son who is talking crazy, and you have a 4-minute lecture ready.
Suddenly this verse comes to mind: Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:19 NASB). You just read it this morning.
Instead of lecturing, you take a deep breath and ask a question to draw out your son’s thoughts and feelings. While you know, he is still talking a lot of foolishness, and you begin to listen to his heart and uncover what is going on behind his wild ideas. What you learn surprises you as compassion replaces anger in your heart. Your son is struggling.
It is not easy to parent, and we need constant counsel from God’s Truth. That is one reason that reading God’s Word every day is a priority in my life!
Pretend you feel inadequate and alone as a parent when you find yourself reading in Luke several days. You enjoy reading about Jesus, his teachings, his miracles, and his relationship with his disciples.
Suddenly, you realize that Jesus understands you. He traveled with a group of people who argued, complained, and just didn’t get it sometimes, even after Jesus explained things over and over again.
Reading the Bible reveals who Jesus is and how great His love for us is.
Often when I am reading the Bible, I find myself saying, “Wow! I never saw that before!” That amazes me because I have read the Bible almost daily since 1979. Yet, it is always fresh and new. That is because the Bible is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword—it cuts through the muck to the deep places in my heart.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NASB).
The Bible just doesn’t inform me, so I grow in knowledge; it also transforms me to become more like Jesus.
One day, I tried to fix a shirt, and I couldn’t get it to fall right. A quick look in the mirror revealed that I had buttoned my shirt incorrectly, completely missing one button that was hard to see. A bit of time in God’s Word can be like a mirror. It reveals where and what you need to adjust in your heart, life, schedule, and relationships.
I can’t just read Scripture and not do anything about it. I have to respond. I have to put feet to my faith. If it’s a promise, I have to believe it. If it’s a command, I have to obey it.
The Bible reminds us of who God is and who we are in Christ. I love looking into the law of liberty to learn that I am free from the power of sin, filled with His Spirit, and He is producing fruit in me (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control).
But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25 NASB).
When Things Are Hard
What if you are so tired of doing everything right and having everything go wrong? What if those who ignore God seem to prosper, and you seem to suffer and struggle?
Let me address this.
First of all, walking with God is a marathon, not a sprint. Maintain a bird’s-eye perspective of your life on earth and as it stretches out into eternity. Every light and momentary trial we go through achieves an eternal purpose that far outweighs every hardship we suffer.
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB).
Second, we live in a fallen world. Jesus promised that we would have trials in this life but reminded us that He has overcome the world. Cling to Him through trials.
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).
Lastly, I would encourage you to read Psalm 37—the entire psalm—David addresses this very thing.
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious of wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:1-7 NASB).
As we begin a new year, let’s cling to the promise of God, receive His counsel, learn more about who He is, and see who we are—by getting into His Word every day for His daily dose of wisdom.
Spending time in God’s Word each day—even just five minutes—will change you and keep changing you!