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Container Gardening for Homeschool Science?

Container Gardening for Homeschool Science?

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.

Galations 6:7-8

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.   

3 Secrets to Raise Motivated Leaders in Your Homeschool

3 Secrets to Raise Motivated Leaders in Your Homeschool

Did you ever think that you are the answer to the world’s leadership crisis? Yes, you! You can change the world by raising motivated leaders in your home school.

At every age, these secrets work to build leaders.

Secret #1: Integrity Matters

Beyond punishment for dishonesty, reward your children when they are honest, singing their praises. When they do the right thing, shout it from the housetops so they know you are proud of them. Make it more important in your eyes than a home run or a great test score. Value integrity and model for your kids that it is a value worth living!

Secret #2: Leaders are Motivated Learners

Provide opportunities for your sons and daughters to pursue learning about things that delight their hearts. If your son loves archery, do a unit study on the Middle Ages. If your daughter loves horses, let her science class be an independent study on horses and how to care for them.

Model enthusiasm for learning by reading and researching. Let your kids know you love to learn.

Secret #3: Leaders Lead

Give your children and teens opportunities to lead. They don’t have to plan the family vacation on their own, but they could plan family night once a month or choose what color to paint the bathroom.

Give them access to the decision-making protocol in your house. Let them have a voice and participate in the final direction your family takes—at least once in a while.

Cultivate a heart for others, especially younger children, the elderly, and those less fortunate. When your family is observant—seeing needs and taking positive steps to meet them, you are also cultivating that heart in your children year after year.

Leaders lead because they care about others. When my daughter realized a homeschool dad who was going back for his degree needed help with College Algebra, she offered to tutor him. She saw a need and met the need.

Logical thinking is a great tool for your future leaders. True North offers Formal Logic focused on the structural validity of arguments and Informal Logic where students study and master 29 logical fallacies. These high school courses are great options for your future leader.

Is God Calling Your Kids?

Is God Calling Your Kids?


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. 

The 3 R’s are important. And I deeply care about grades, transcripts, and college preparation

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

As always, leave me a comment to ask me anything. 

DIY Homeschooling

DIY Homeschooling

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?

The Bible is True

Homeschooling is the responsibility of the parents.

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.

While not all homeschoolers are Christians, the principles of Christianity bless all of homeschooling and homeschoolers.

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.

Getting Started with a Homeschool Partner

Things to consider:

However you decide to pursue homeschooling, your children will thank you. Leave me a comment if you have questions.

Visit the new catalog here.

College, Homeschool Mom Anxiety & post-2020 Future

College, Homeschool Mom Anxiety & post-2020 Future

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

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. 

Entrepreneurship Tools

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!