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Music is a Life Skill

Music is a Life Skill

Many of us consider music an elective and one of those homeschool subjects that we may “get to.” But I contend that music is a life skill which informs us in many areas of our lives. Chiefly, It allows our kids to develop executive functioning as well as transferable skills.

I encourage you to carve out time for music. Just consider that you probably already do. What’s on your playlist? How many hours a week do you listen to music while you workout, or are in the car? Music is an integral part of our lives. Accordingly, the songs we listen to, the movies we watch, as well as the worship we offer can change our mood and – above all – lead to redemption. 

Close-up of female hands correcting music score

A Universal Language

Music is a Universal Languages, along with Math and Latin. As has been noted, we can communicate to others with music, even if we lack a common language!

I’ve teamed up with Melissa Grande, a professional Musician and one of our amazing True North Homeschool Academy teachers to talk about some of the obvious benefits of studying music!

10 Benefits of Studying Music  

  1.  Stress Management & Therapeutic Benefits – Music calms the soul, gives kids the ability to express emotions and work off the wiggles! It utilizes many neural pathways to learning. Music education is kinesthetic, and auditory, but also visual as they develop eye-hand coordination and the ability to read music.
  2. Quick Thinking Skills – playing an instrument requires the student to think quickly. That requirement increases exponentially if they are playing with a band of any kind. Kids become quick thinkers as they have to check what’s going on with other musicians.
  3. Social Skills – these become well developed through music as students learn collaboration & communication skills. Skills are required for coordinating with others in the home about best practice times. Social skills are used when working with other musicians, coordinating with teacher and developing as a performer. 
  4. Responsibility and Discipline – are a natural outcome of music studies as students learn to take care of their instruments. It also requires that they focus on practicing and tough out the physical hardship of developing their craft.
  5. Problem Solving – is one of the many gifts of studying any art. Students must simply work to understand the music. The sounds of their instrument and how to create music with others involve problem solving skills.
  6.  Time Management and Deadlines – are integral to developing as a musician. You must show up to lessons on time, show up to practice and performances while juggling other responsibilities and demands. 
  7. Pride in Accomplishments (and learning that you have the ability to Do Hard Things). We want good things for our kids, and might even have to guard against serving up fun too often. Instead, teach them to hold out for deep joy and fulfillment when they have overcome and can enjoy their accomplishment.
  8. Perseverance and Patience – we know that good things come from years of practice and investment. Excellence comes with practice. Our kids learn this as they wrestle with loving their instrument and playing music over the long term.
  9. Creative Expression – this might seem obvious but is not to be overlooked. Music allows our kids – and us- creative expression. Who hasn’t lip-synced at the top of their lungs in the car alone? Who hasn’t cried, hearing a touching song, or choked up singing Handel’s Messiah? Music moves our spirit and soul and unlocks hidden emotions and allows us to become more fully human.
  10.  Self Expression – along with creative expression, music allows us to express ourselves as individuals. We all have a song to sing and a beautiful story to tell. Music allows us another avenue to share that with others! 
Pretty young musician playing classic digital piano at home during online class at home, social distance during quarantine, self-isolation, online education concept

A Lot of Bang for Your Homeschool Buck!

Music is one of those courses of study that give you so much bang for your buck. Your kids learn a fantastic academic skill, that can garner them scholarship dollars and amazing opportunities. As they develop their skills, music will help them maintain their positive mental health. They will develop transferable skills that will hold fast throughout their lives. 

Not sure where to start with Music Education in your homeschool? Check out True North Homeschool Academy Music classes. We believe in and value music education so much that we offer k-12th grade opportunities that will inspire and delight! 

Boy with a clarinet plays music. Online music lesson concept

Check Out K-12 Classes to Get Their Creative Energies Flowing

  • Music at the Movies– a life changing Music and Apologetics course! Pair this with Strategy: War and Peace for an integrated approach to world view and history !
  • Introduction to Music Theory -learn the Basics of Reading Music
  • The Art of Songwriting – perfect for budding musicians and writers! 
  • Introduction to Voice – learn how to sing- this course can also count towards science credits.
  • Art & Music I – one of our most popular Elementary classes last year! This is a Charlotte Mason inspired course that teaches Art through the Seasons. Children learn to play the tin whistle along with learning about music.
  • Art & Music II – for those who couldn’t get enough of Art and Music I. (or for older kids) Students will again have inspiring Art through the Seasons lessons and learn rhythm through bucket drumming! 

From Handicrafts to Technology

Take a look at more than 30 electives available on our website. True North Homeschool Academy offers elective courses that are creative and practical.

  • Adapted Life Skills
  • Watercolor, Winnie the Pooh & You!
  • TNHA ONLINE CLASS IN VIDEO EDITING
    Video Editing Basics
  • TNHA Full Year BIble Class - Story of Christianity for High School
    The Story of Christianity
  • TNHA Apologetics online class
    Introduction to Apologetics
  • TNHA Personal Finance Course for High School Homeschoolers
    Personal Finance
  • YES
    Photoshop
  • TNHA Product Image Art Class Form & Color High School online class
    Form and Color
  • TNHA Online needle arts class in knitting and crochet
    Knitting & Crocheting
  • TNHA Product Image New TESTAMENT Single Semester Class
    New Testament Survey
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Middle school or Junior High Students who want to be challenged may also join this high school level class.
    Photography & Digital Technology
  • TNHA Product Image Art & Music updated 2021-2022 school year Level two
    Art and Music Level 2
  • True North Homeschool Academy High School Economics Online Class
    Economics
  • Old Testament History
    Old Testament History: From Adam to Nehemiah
  • Leadership for the digital age online class for high school homeschoolers
    Leadership for the Digital Age
  • Introduction to Voice
    Introduction to Voice
  • The Art of Songwriting
What are Soft Skills?

What are Soft Skills?

What are Soft Skills?

What are Soft Skills? Soft Skills are those personal attributes that allow us to interact well with others, allowing us to have peaceful and healthy relationships. They are also known as power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are those skills that everyone seems to understand implicitly. They are related to manners and social mores. For kids with learning disabilities, however, soft skills can be elusive and confusing.

Hard skills are easily definable skills that are often job-specific, such as knowing how to speak German, code a computer, or write in cursive; those skills that get us the job.  Soft skills are more difficult to define and are those skills that allow us to keep the job. You know the adage,

“You are hired for your hard skills, you’re fired for your soft skills.”

What are Soft Skills?

3-t have recently heard about the “4 C’s of Education.” These would include

  1. Communication
  2. Collaboration (Teamwork)
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Creativity

Public Schools are beginning to work specifically to train kids in these basic soft skills, as they are so necessary for success in academics, job ability, and stability, and managing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Communication

Communication, in particular, is easily identified as the queen of soft skills, as without it, we can hardly function.

Communication Skills Consist of 4 areas:

  1. Verbal
  2. Written
  3. non-verbal
  4. spoken

Employers are currently stressing the need for students to have excellent communication skills, including the ability to persuade by written and spoken communication. In particular, they want to hire those who can “sell” (i.e., persuade) both orally and using the written word.

Collaboration

Collaboration is better known as teamwork. Can you lead, follow, and interact maturely with other team members? Do you problem solve and handle your own emotions well, or are you causing problems for others on your team? Do you understand the team hierarchy well? Are you willing to lead, follow, and get out of the way?

All of these skills go into being a good team player, at different times and various seasons.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is the ability to analyze facts and form a conclusion, using deductive and inductive reasoning, formal and informal logic, and the scientific method. Critical thinking allows us to be proactive, instead of constantly reactive, strategize, and take the long view, deferring our own short term gratification for long term pay-offs.

 Creativity

Creativity is all about thinking outside the box, generating new ideas or tweaking old ones to fit new situations, and interacting with materials, people, and resources in unique ways.

Time and Distraction Management

Time and Distraction Management is the ability to manage one’s time effectively to accomplish small and large tasks, repetitive as well as on-going tasks. This also has to do with the ability to manage distractions, be that a little sibling, social media notifications, or our self needs or interest. Developing good time management habits is critical to being able to interact with the world maturely.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Flexibility and Adaptability require having the ability to change and flex as needed. Our world is growing increasingly complex with radical and sudden shifts occurring on both a micro and macro scale. We must teach our kids to flex and adapt as needed as well as to know how to set appropriate boundaries and to stand firm when time and circumstances demand it.

Work Ethic

Work Ethic is the value that hard work is intrinsically valuable and worth doing for its own sake. Having kids who are diligent and detailed oriented in their work can mean the difference between success and failure in so many areas of life.

Leadership

Leadership is both the ability to research and prepare for what’s ahead as well-being to lead, guide, or instruct a group or individuals, teams, or organizations.

 Loyalty

In a world that makes it increasingly easy to “block” or “ghost” someone, loyalty is a soft skill worth developing. Standing by one’s faith, family and friends is the mark of someone with integrity and other well-formed, soft skills. Everyone is irritating, demanding, and in need of salvation and standing by and next to each other while recognizing our own and each other’s humanity is what being loyal is all about. The soft skill includes patience, kindness, self-control, and the willingness to overlook the other’s failings.

Integrity

Integrity is the foundation of all soft skills. It is the quality of basing our behaviors on principles instead of situations, being honest and morally upright—integrity based on the Gospel of Truth, instead of our own or others’ desires.

What are Soft Skills? Soft skills are those skills that take a lifetime to master and can always be improved upon.

All of us have soft skills that come naturally to us, and those that are a struggle. Regardless, we can all develop a lifestyle of learning so that we continue to grow and develop to glorify God-given who He has made us to be, and in doing so, shine His light in a world that is growing increasingly dark.

What are Soft Skills and Where do I Find Out More About Teaching Soft Skills?

Click on the links in this post to view courses offered by True North Homeschool Academy teachers who have goals that are aligned with yours as a homeschool parent.

We believe in the importance of Soft Skills so much that we host a weekly podcast on Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age!

Please join us over at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network for more great discussion and information on Soft Skills!

6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

6 Quick Fixes for Common Communication Killers

Communication skills are such a big deal. Without honing these skills, we may convey things we never intended to – or leave out important pieces of information that can change everything! Poor conversational skills can potentially offend or hurt, or don’t make the sale. Excellent communication skills are one of the top job skills potential employees are looking for in new hires. Expertise in this area will contribute to your kids’ success, vocationally, and relationally. So, let’s take a minute and talk about common communication killers and how to fix them.Three young women learning about communication together in a filed of bright tulips

Communication Killers

Avoiding Eye-contact

Not meeting someone’s gaze can communicate that you are trying to hide something, such as an agenda or information. It can also convey social awkwardness. In our culture, eye contact speaks loudly.

Recently, my husband was in a situation in a store where one of the people in line was getting loud and quarrelsome. My husband was speaking to the clerk when this person started directing belligerent comments to him. My husband stopped, turned around, and just looked at the man; did not engage verbally, just looked at him.

Now, my husband is a trained psychologist and martial artist and thus, not easily intimidated, so I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, however, this man who had been causing extreme discomfort in this public space stopped ranting. All because of someone with a calm, non-anxious presence who was willing to make eye contact.

Fix-It: Practice making eye contact with the people in your home when you are talking to them. “Look at my eyes” is a significant first step with littles. Put the phone or other tech devices aside as you converse with others. Eat meals together with no tech present and make a point of seeing and speaking with each other. The family table is a great place to gather and practice all sorts of communication skills

Win-Lose Relationships

Often, we approach situations with the attitude that there is one right or wrong way of dealing with an issue. Instead of this type of “black and white” thinking, consider the possibilities. This is much like creating a pro-pro list instead of a pro-con list. When conflict arises, how can a win-win outcome be achieved? What would be a positive solution for everyone? Of course, sometimes people opt-out and you can’t win with them. It will take even more creative brainstorming on your part to come up with a winning scenario for both of you when the other person lacks the maturity or concern to help make it happen with you.

Fix-It: When conflict arises, pause and reflect on how you can contribute to positive outcomes for everyone. Brainstorm those “win-win” possibilities. Create a  “pro-pro” chart in a problematic situation and determine how to bring about a good result.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.

Attacking Character

Attacking someone’s character instead of commenting on what they say or do. Be clear about what a person is doing versus who they are. Attacking someone often can mean that we don’t have empathy or compassion for them.

Fix-It: Teach your kids the difference between actions or behavior and the value of the person. Discuss the difference between what your kids “do” and their value as a person. Talk in terms of behavior. For example, you might say “You broke the dish.” or “You did not do your chores.” instead of phrases such as “You are careless.” or “You are lazy.” Help your kids name emotions and teach them to identify the feelings of others. Use phrases like “Mommy is sad that the dish was broken”, “Suzy is disappointed that the toy is lost” and ask “Are you happy that snow is falling?” Knowing how to name specific feelings is a great first step in understanding people. Understanding can lead to empathy and compassion, which leads to clear communication!

Not Listening

It’s easy to assume we know what someone is trying to say and interrupt or jump to conclusions. Listen to understand. Do you listen to hear someone’s heart? This goes beyond just listening to the words, but taking the time to listen to the other person’s heart.

Fix-It: Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Hear them through to the end of what they have to say. Respond, “So what I hear you saying is this.” Develop excellent listening skills. Maintain objectivity in the conversation. Push the pause button and take breaks as needed. Remind yourself and the other person that you are on the same team with the same objectives.

Adulsts ignore one another while on social media their phones

Showing Disinterest

We should all display a healthy curiosity about people and what is going on in their lives. Social media teaches and enforces self-absorption. People are hungry to be known, to share what’s important to them, to have someone hear their deepest hopes, dreams, and longings- to have a friend.

Fix-It: Develop the art of questioning with curiosity. Be a student of the world and people. Learn to find out about people; discover their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.

Being Indirect/Avoiding Difficult Conversations

No one likes to have awkward or difficult conversations. But sometimes they are inevitable. Whether it is sharing about a difficult diagnosis, confronting someone you love about unhealthy behavior or problems at work, we all tend to avoid talking about it.  Avoidance can bring its own set of challenges, especially in regards to issues that have a time factor attached.

Fix-It: Practice what you want to say- write it out to get clear on what the real issue is and how you might go about solving it. Do a test run with someone who is objective. In other words, act out the potential conversation. Bring your notes with you if they bring you confidence and pause. Take breaks as needed to get perspective, calm down, and reiterate the belief that you are all on the same team, working towards the same goals.

Practice and Intention

Like all abilities, communication will improve with practice and intention. Teaching our kids how to communicate well is one of the most vital skills we can give them. That is true regardless of what job or industry they go into or whether they have a large family or stay single.

I’d love to hear how you are intentionally teaching communication skills in your family, so drop me a line here or on Instagram and Facebook.

If you want resources for teaching these types of Soft Skills in your homeschool, take a look around our website and blog. Or listen to our podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network where we focus on tips and resources for teaching soft skills and life skills for all age groups. Our podcasts, blog, e-books, and online classes can help with teaching your homeschoolers about Stewardship, Teamwork, Career Choices, and Public Speaking.

Proverbs 25:11 A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

6 Quick Fixes for Common Teamwork Mistakes

6 Quick Fixes for Common Teamwork Mistakes

6 Quick Fixes for Common Teamwork Mistakes

6 Quick Fixes for  Common Teamwork Mistakes: Teamwork can take you farther faster than working alone or independently. Families are teams, as is your local homeschool group, athletic club, and your church. Teaching your kids how to work together as a team, how to both lead and follow, will allow them to enjoy the beauty of synergy- where working together can produce far more than working independently.

Families working together as a team shown by kids hugging each other in a group or team.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  ~Helen Keller

The value of working as a team is obvious, so let’s talk about some common teamwork “killers”  and how to fix them!

Teamwork Killers

  • Lack of self-awareness & lack of empathy
  • Settling on the First or Obvious Solution
  • Taking Turns
  • Role Confusion
  • Not Taking Time for Reflection
  • Doing it All Yourself

Lack of Self Awareness & Lack of Empathy

Not being aware of yourself and others, not taking the time or energy to try to understand another’s perspective, makes teamwork difficult as the group can easily organize around one person’s perspective.

Fix-It: learn to listen well. Seek to understand as much as you seek to be understood. Learn to be curious about others. Teach your kids to be interested as well.

Settling on the First or Obvious Solution

When teams (or families) get comfortable with each other, it is easy to assume we all know what we’re talking about. This can lead to confusion on many levels; good ideas may be overlooked.

Fix-It: learn how to appreciate, develop, and utilize the art of brainstorming. Encourage your team to do the same. Invite all ideas, without editing, including the absurd and politically incorrect. Set all judgment aside and generate as many ideas as possible. For even greater fun, set a timer and see who can produce the most ideas in the shortest amount of time!

Taking Turns

In every group, there are extroverts and introverts. The extroverts will be happy to do all the talking – happy to be front and center of every decision. The introverts will be glad to sit back, stay quiet, and fade into the background. The problem with not giving equal time to both types is that everyone loses out, and synergy doesn’t end up happening.

Fix-It: give everyone equal time and take turns talking about ideas and working them out. Work on developing excellent communication skills by waiting for quieter members to speak up and teach the more exuberant talkers in your midst to spend time listening and hearing others on the team. Practice the art of not interrupting. Value the input of all team members

The Romans battle as a team showing the productivity of working together and the resulting victory.

Role Confusion

Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, it gets easy to duplicate effort or overlook things. Roles and responsibilities allow people to take ownership, make mistakes, and problem solve.

Fix-It: be clear about significant roles and responsibilities: who does what, under what circumstances? Positions may change according to age, gender, skill, and project. For example, the roles for making Thanksgiving dinner will be different than for finishing the basement, going on a vacation, or caring for someone who is disabled.

No Time for Reflection

Without clearly assessing how your team is working together (or not), it will be impossible to know if you are working as a team.

Fix-It: make time for regular assessment. Check to see how everybody is doing, what everyone needs, and how well you are meeting your objectives. Again, objectives will vary, depending on the vision, mission, and goals, ages, stages, resources, and skills. Regular assessments allow the team to adjust as necessary to gird up weak links, take full advantage of skills and abilities, and shift team members around for training as needed.

Doing Everything Yourself

Great teams have to work together- that means everyone is working. If your group consists of one person doing all the work, it’s time to train and expect others to do pitch in. As moms, it often feels easier to do it all yourself, but that’s a short-sighted view that won’t equip your kids or allow your team to work as effectively as it potentially could.

Fix-It:  train your team to work together. Allow people to rotate from leadership roles.  Let your team learn from mistakes and celebrate success. Look at the big picture and invest time in training – you won’t regret it.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

6 Quick Fixes for Teamwork Mistakes. They are worth fixing as you are homeschooling, living and working together! As a homeschool family, your team may have additional challenges to overcome. Get more tips specifically for Using Teamwork in Your Homeschool. Working effectively in a group is a soft skill that is sure to catch the eye of modern employers. Learn more about tools and resources that position your homeschool student for career success at our Soft SKills 101 Podcast and become versed in how to teach the essential life-skills for our digital age!

A group of young people at a job working together as a team.

Teaching Stewardship

Teaching Stewardship

Teaching Stewardship

Teaching Stewardship is a gift we can give our children, that will keep on giving the rest of their lives. Giving to others allows us to think beyond ourselves and take the long view.

“The generous will prosper, those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

A Heart of Service

I love the holidays because I love giving. I love considering what will bless people, and I love being able to give good things. Our family culture has always been one that recognizes that we have a responsibility to steward our time, treasures and talents. How do we encourage a heart of service in the lives of our kids?

Share Your Core Values

What drives your financial giving and volunteer hours? Talk to your kids about why you do what you. Have conversations about the values and passions in your life so that they connect your behavior with beliefs. They might not know that you tithe regularly to church. They might not know that you support a child in Africa financially. Include them in your giving.

Expose Your Kids to a Wider World

If you live in America, you are part of the blessed 5% in the world that has freedom, choice, and prosperity at your fingertips. The American Dream is just that; a dream, for a large percentage of the world’s population. Make sure that your kids don’t live in a bubble. Travel around the country and out of it- if you can. Talk to people wherever you go. Read extensively and study history. Donate to the food bank and serve at the shelter. The world is an amazing and beautiful place and while we should protect young minds and hearts from darkness, there is much good in going outside of our own neighborhood.

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” Kathy Calvin

Practicing Good Stewardship

Give your kids three jars to manage their money with: spend, save, and give. We have known millionaires who have lost everything overnight and seen the impoverished go on to make fortunes. Teach your kids that money may come and go but the values of stewardship can become part of their heart- regardless of circumstances.

Volunteer as a Family

Service organizations in your very city are seeking generous souls to serve, donate, gather, and teach. Our local hospital is always looking for kind souls to rock babies. In the far north, coat drives are an important way to ensure health. There are many places, from half-way houses to literacy programs, looking for teachers to teach basic life skills, phonics, and English as a second language.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank

Create Family Rituals of Giving

What can your family realistically manage year after year? Is it putting together a few shoeboxes or hygiene packs for the homeless each Thanksgiving, or serving at a food giveaway every quarter? Find something that you can all do together and then put it on the calendar. Plan on it. Teach your kids that serving others with your time, talents and treasure is an important part of life.

Serve as a Family

There are many service organizations around the world. Find one that speaks to your heart and serve as a family. We have friends who go to South America yearly for medical missions. Our family serves with an organization that raises support for the Persecuted Church; we’ve written letters, hosted speakers, raised money and gotten the word out about this important ministry. Find an organization that you believe in and invest as a family. Your kids will see you in a new context and realize that you are living what you value. This creates opportunities to talk about what’s important and what has spoken to your heart. This also gives them a new context in which to shine, allowing them to grow.

Join an Organization With a Strong Service Component

My daughter recently joined American Heritage Girls and she has already had several opportunities to serve others in her troop and beyond. Last month her unit served dinner at a half-way house for recovering addicts. While they served, they were blessed; by the many personal thanks they received, the laughter they shared and a wonderful conversation with the staff and residents about God and the importance of faith.

”We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Donate Money to a Cause Where You Can Donate Your Time and Talents

Adam Pruzan, who teaches for our True North Homeschool Academy, recently spoke to our Orienteering course about money and investing. He strongly encouraged the kids to give generously of their money, but at the same time, to donate to a cause that would appreciate their time and talents. Investing oneself in an organization or project can often be just as important as giving money.

Encourage Empathy

Generosity starts with thinking about how others feel.  As our talented Spanish teacher, who is momma, to a beautiful, disabled daughter, told her class before Thanksgiving: “swallowing, eating on your own and the simplest movements are not a given for some people”. We should all be grateful for the freedom we have through health. This gave all the kids something to think about.

Praise Generous Deeds

Children naturally do kind and generous things for others. Praise and encourage this when you see it, promoting your values of living a life of generosity and service.

“Selfless giving is the art of living.” Frederick Lenz

How do you promote a generous heart in your kids? Is serving others part of your life curriculum? We would love to hear about it!

Join our True North Homeschool Tribe on FB and take part in the conversation! As I mentioned, we love to give- so go to the link here to download our FREE Winter Bucket List and while you are there, opt-in to get our weekly e-news. The Compass is full of homeschool inspiration and free resources that help your education go in the right direction!

Young woman's hands holding money and a quote that says make a change- Pinterest version with Bible Verse Proverbs 11 25