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Latin, Math, Music: Universal Languages

Latin, Math, Music: Universal Languages

Latin, Math & Music: Universal Languages

Latin, Math, and Music are the three universal languages. In other words, they transcend the cultural barrier and speak to people regardless of what language they were raised with. It’s a great time to be learning all three and if your homeschool doesn’t integrate them into your program already, now it is the time! Students who understand the three universal languages have more tools in their toolbox as they interact and communicate with the world!

Universal Language: Math

Math is symbolic and defines shapes, space, time, volume, and concepts. As you can see math concepts go way beyond a simple math text. You don’t need to share a language to share the beauty and simplicity of math. Students do need math to cook, build, create, shop, and so much more.

Universal Language: Music

Music is evocative but also keeps time, allowing us to understand something basic or complex with emotion, cadence, and rhythm. The beauty of music allows us to respond to each other and the universe despite ability, age, reason, or language. We all know that music can reduce anxiety and stress, refocus our energy, and helps us memorize and hold on to memories.

Universal Lanuage: Latin

Latin because it is the basis of western culture and the root of so many romance languages. The Ancient world was governed by this fascinating language it and it was integral to the formation of western culture. This fascinating language teaches your kids critical thinking skills, vocabulary and so much more!

Latin, Math & Music: Simplify Your Homeschool Journey!

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available. Homeschooling offers an abundance of riches that can offer us so many possibilities, but also decision fatigue! You do not need to feel lost and burdened by how much you could do; take heart and simplify! Focusing on Math, Music, and Latin would allow you to provide a superior education to your kids!  Personally, I would add in some fantastic Bible studies, and you would be golden!

Create a Plan, Get a Homeschool Partner

Like me, you might not have considered these three subjects as actual languages and it is a bit of a paradigm shift to think of them as such. Doing so allows us to see the importance and beauty of each, and gives us a great apologetic for spending the time, money, and resources needed to really dive in with all three of them.

Online opportunities abound to learn these three amazing languages; including both free and paid options. Our Academic Advising team is ready to walk you through a typical course of study, based on your student’s needs and goals and help you create a Personalized Learning Plan that is affordable and doable.




5 Great Reasons to Homeschool this Summer

5 Great Reasons to Homeschool this Summer

5 Great Reasons to Homeschool Over Summer

(Home) School is in for Summer

 I know, you are so ready for a summer break. Sleeping in, swimming, camping, and vacation. I hear you. I’m just as ready as you are. But, I also remember just how hard it was to get back into the swing of things with homeschooling come Back-to-School time. So, this year (Home) School is in for summer! 

There are tons of really good reasons to homeschool year-round, but today I’m going to share what I think are 5 great reasons to homeschool over the summer. Let’s dive in! 😉 


1. Choosing to homeschool this summer gives you the freedom to break at other times. 


Embracing the summer as a time of learning can let you flex when things come up during the year. And they do come up, don’t they? Someone gets sick, family visits, you travel during the holidays. Summer learning affords you the freedom to break when you need to without feeling behind or guilty. You set the pace.

2. Summer homeschool can help prevent that “summer slide” we hear about.

 Studies show that 20% of school year reading gains and up to 27% of school year math gains are lost in the traditional summer break. For the homeschooling parent, summer homeschool isn’t just about something to do over the summer, it’s part of the big picture of learning. We don’t want to have to start the year on the struggle bus, playing catch-up. 

3. Baby, it’s hot outside.

I know, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if your kids were anything like mine, that heat can be just as disrputive as a snow day. The heat makes kids lithargic. They tend to gravitate towards the air conditioning and often times a screen. Why not capture the screen time for learning?

4. Master a new skill.

Often times our school year is packed. We’re focused on the essentials and it’s hard to fit in a purely interest-based class. It might be time to learn a new language, master the math we’ll need for Chemistry next year, or hone our essay writing techniques. Even preparing for next year with a class on Study Skills can give a real advantage.

5. Getting a preview of coming attractions. 

Summer classes at True North Homeschool Academy are a great way to preview how the classes work in the fall. Our classes are particularly designed to support our full year classes. Students will meet fellow True North Homeschool Academy students, learn from one of our world class teachers and learn to navigate our online campus!

We’re here to support your homeschooling choices, happy to answer your questions, and provide you with an educational option that helps lead your kids True North. We’d love to see you this summer!



Bundle Your Summer Classes & Save!

Summer Bootcamp Bundle allows you to choose 3 Summer Classes for 20% off over ala carte classes!

Choose from fourteen Summer Classes that will build students academic skills, setting them up for future academic success! Our classes are particularly designed to support our full year classes. Students will meet fellow True North Homeschool Academy students, learn from one of our world class teachers and learn to navigate our online campus! Choose from the following:

Each class leads into a full year class in the fall, for students that want to continue their educational journey with True North Homeschool Academy!

Meet Charles Dickens – the Man who Invented Christmas

Meet Charles Dickens – the Man who Invented Christmas

Charles Dickens’ Past: Humble

Charles Dickens had an incredibly humble upbringing. That’s probably why we love him so much. We can identify with him or we have a sense of empathy for him. However, if we can’t identify with true poverty he gives us, through his writing, the opportunity to see all facets of society. Dickens helps us explore how Victorian Society was so challenged during the Industrial Revolution with the affluence of the few in contrast with the poverty of the masses.

As a child, he worked in a blacking factory under horrendous conditions before the laws of child labor were enacted in England in 1833. His father, mother, and younger siblings were sent to debtor’s prison. He was too old to go with them, however, and was healthy enough to work so he was sent to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory making shoe polish.

Charles Dickens’ childhood had such an impact on him it became a regular theme throughout many of his books and short stories. His captivating stories allow readers from all classes to see what Victorian life was like for others.

Charles Dickens’ Present: Family, Privilege, and Power

Like every adult with a young family, Charles Dickens was in need of an income to support his growing household. He was becoming an accomplished writer. He had a dedicated following for his weekly short stories (later chapters of some of his most famous works). This was his opportunity to use his creativity to explore the current issues of the day in Victorian England.

The Industrial Revolution was at the height of progress. Industrial magnates were inventing all kinds of things from steam engines, to cotton gins. Every effort was being made to make England a powerhouse of commerce.  In the midst of it all, there was an expanding gap between the classes in Victorian Society. There was a growing population that had the luxury to spend money on books and magazines and ‘the finer things of life’. However, these were the people that were out of touch with the life of the common citizen of Britain – the factory worker, the shipyard laborer, or the country farm tenant.

As Dickens grew in popularity so did his connections in high Victorian society. He had many friends with noble upbringings, yet he never forgot his humble beginnings. He was the perfect person to help bridge the class gap and create awareness of the reality of every-day, common life in Victorian England.

Dickens’ Future: Hope

It’s easy to see how Dickens was becoming a person to help create change in society. With his stories in written form, they were accessible to many. However, by going on the road and performing excerpts of his most loved works he was able to reach people in other countries and increase awareness through the stories of his quirky, oddly, but always perfectly named, characters.

His travels allowed for even more creative genius as he traveled.  Exploring abroad was a perfect way to become familiar with the culture and customs of other regions of the world. His popularity grew as he toured the USA and Europe. His tours allowed him to see how others were handling the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution. Creating a path of hope was his greatest and most powerful writing endeavor.

History in Context

When you recognize the individuals that were the contemporaries of Charles Dickens, it’s astounding. As he grew in fame, he likely had multiple opportunities to mingle with many well-known people. His opportunity to influence them and be impacted by their life stories no doubt became his inspiration for so many of his literary works. Look at this shortlist of other famous people that were living at the same time as Charles Dickens.

Scientists – Inventors – Businessmen

  • Charles Darwin
  • Louis Pasteur
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Thomas Edison

We could stop there but let’s continue with recognizing other famous authors of the Victorian era. Imagine Dickens, among these famous writers, sharing their thoughts and ideas over a game of charades or chess at a dinner party.


  • Karl Marx
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Henry David Thoreau

As a world traveler, Dickens had the opportunity to ‘rub shoulders’ with so many famous people in both Europe & the United States of America.  His circle of influence was ever-expanding; creating opportunities to invent the timeless masterpieces for which he is known. Imagine being at a gala event with even just a handful of these world leaders!


  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Queen Victoria
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Theodore Roosevelt

While he may have not met all of these people personally, he had more than ample access to the news of the day. His journals show that he was greatly impacted by his trips to the United States.

Of course, art and music was an important part of ‘high society’ life as well.  But these artists also had a way of creating greatness out of the simple aspects of life using a variety of different creative mediums.  Can you imagine the inspirational conversation that would come over an evening together with these world-renowned artists & musicians?


  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Like most in the Victorian era, Dickens was considered a very religious person. He was benevolent and had a familiar sense of the impact generosity – or the lack of it – can have on a person. Imagine him sitting at a table discussing the human condition with any of these famous humanitarians, theologians, missionaries, and activists.


  • George Mueller
  • Florence Nightingale
  • George Spurgeon
  • Susan B Anthony
  • Harriet Tubman
  • David Livingstone

Surely, each of us lives ‘for such a time as this’!

Dickens lived during an era of massive change in every aspect of life in the modern world. Did his past haunt him? Definitely.

Were his present circumstances challenging? Indeed.

Did he have hope for the future? Absolutely!

And, he was committed to using his talent of masterful writing and character creation to help change thoughts and ideas about the challenges of life in the Victorian era.

His timeless classics offer an opportunity for us to examine our own era and decide how we can be people of strong moral character with our own God-given skills and creativity.


Find Out More

Want to know more about the man who invented Christmas and the Victorian world in which he lived? Check out our spring class, Dinner with Dickens, taught by Shannan Swindler, this spring for students in grades 8-12.

Right Start Math Games – Review

Right Start Math Games – Review

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Right Start Math Games – Review

Right Start Math Games are so fantastic; I cannot recommend the Right Start Math Games highly enough! This is an easy to read guide of games that use cards. While some of the directions were hard for me to follow at first, once we got into gameplay it was very simple, probably because I am a visual and kinesthetic learner.

My daughters, who I have been homeschooling for four years do not like math.  They absolutely, totally, thoroughly, and completely detest math.  That is my fault.  My homeschooling aspirations and goals were ridiculously high in our first few years.  I could say that between my youngest two children, math has been what may have broken me on any bad day we have had.

Here is what we reviewed:

I recommend this for starting if you have none of the materials.  It is a great deal and includes all of the pieces you need to get playing right away.  BONUS: Pre-recorded webinars and Math Card games videos on the website!

Time, Money & Math

When I talked to a Right Start representative at a conference, I felt encouraged that I could do this, and then I realized the investment.  Not just financial, but time.  This is what I had none of.  But our family was in desperate need of some math healing so that my kids could navigate and master the math that is all around them! Also,  my sweet 10 year old, the one diagnosed with some learning challenges needed some math success!  My 12-year-old is pretty much on track academically but was often frustrated by her own ability (or lack thereof).

I received the Right Start box full of manipulatives, and let my kids dive in!  They immediately pulled out the different pieces and parts.  They found some more interesting than others. One child pulls out a bag of brightly colored squares, “What do we use this for mom?” Another child picks up the abacus “What is this thing. An instrument?  How does this work?” Then they pull out a back full of stacks of cards, “Is this a game?  Mom, will you play a game with me?”

Math Games

The Right Start Math Game Book is a great start for any family.  In fact, even if you don’t use the full curriculum, you should get this book! The games are fun!  We recently packed a few games to take camping and I told my daughter to grab the cards.  She packed all of the Right Start cards we had; she thinks they are fun enough to take on vacation!  I read in the introduction that 10-15 minutes of a game is the same as a worksheet!  My daughters love these card games, especially the games with the corner cards. Image 1

Level D Starter Kit

Level D Book Bundle

If you are not a current user of Right Start you will need to add the math set which is a complete set of manipulatives and a one-time purchase. Enter Level D.  I love that the levels are given letters, not numbers. Right there, we have confidence.  Her book doesn’t say third grade it says level D.  It may seem like a small thing, but as any mom knows, those little things can really mean A LOT!

Also, it is not an overwhelming page of math problems.  There are activities for teaching and an explanation of why you are doing that activity.  It doesn’t matter if your child is new to the curriculum.  It goes through a review in the first 11 lessons.  These may take a long time and you may need to step back a level, at least to really hit the concepts your child is struggling with. Conversely, your student may fly right through the lessons! No matter the outcome you are being set up to move your child forward successfully.

You want the lessons to be challenging, but not hard.  Both you and your child should walk away with an understanding of the lesson.  If not, play more games before you move on.  The joy of homeschooling your child is meeting them where they are at.  If you are completely new to Right Start Math,  the reviews are as much for you as for your child.  You will learn a little about how to use the manipulatives, some tricky vocabulary, and you may realize you are more than a little rusty on your mental math. This program sets you up for successful teaching.

There are activities online that you can view to help you get a grasp of this as well.  With any new curriculum, you will need to invest a little of your time in getting comfortable with it.  I can certainly say that I felt this one was worth the time especially with the growth and confidence I saw in my daughter.

We are still working on this level, but the foundation is definitely being built.  Her number sense has improved beyond what I ever expected.  My daughter loves challenging me on the games, and when I mess up and she corrects me!  It is empowering.  I am not messing up intentionally at all, she is becoming a much quicker thinker than I am.

Level E

I went into this level with my 6th grader. If you aren’t sure which level to start with, have your student take the free placement test available with Right Start. I was initially thinking it would really just be a stress-free time together and her chance to show me what she knew and understood.  I found that while she knows formulas very well, she doesn’t understand “the why” to many formulas.

We started with the review, and that went pretty well, but then we got really excited by the other lessons looking ahead.  We are still working through it, but I anticipate continuing into level F when we are finished.  We haven’t done all of the worksheets, because once she has mastery of a concept, we just move on.

This level while “easy” for my daughter, is so much more concrete.  There was a lot of guessing going on before she was able to see how the pieces fit.  The manipulatives lead to a deeper, bigger understanding.  A fun lesson -14: One to the millions.  Even my 14-year-old had never really visualized what that would look like in the context of cubes…who am I kidding?  I hadn’t truly visualized it!

This program sets your child up very well with a great foundation.  It leads to fewer mistakes and much more enjoyment and success; it is truly a fun program.  So many things are even clicking better for me than they ever did.  While there are worksheets for many of the lessons, I love the math journal that is included.  This helps your child own the material better than they could with textbook.  It also prompts you to ask a question at the end to see what the child has learned.  In my home, we have begun asking, “when,” and,  “how will you use this?”  It is actually amazing what the kids will come up with.


  1. Online Support: No matter what kind of learner you are, you can learn how to teach this program to your child.  You can use the guide they give you or you can go online to watch the webinars available.  In fact, the webinars are available for anyone to watch.  Take a peek!
  2. Teacher Intensive: I was worried about the amount of time I had available to do this with my children. Then I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the time not to take the time.  With any task, skill, or new information you are going to teach your children, it is so important to teach it well.  If you don’t what happens?  You get frustrated.  They get frustrated.  You halfway re-teach…because you already did it once.  You send them off, they get frustrated, you get frustrated.  The cycle begins.  Instead, teach your child well, which means having the right tools yourself.  I decided I didn’t have the time not to give this the time.
  3. FUN: Right Start Math made math fun!


  1. Preparation Time: can be tricky and time-consuming. I felt like I didn’t know how to teach my child math at all. Some of these exercises and activities seemed pointless, and then some seemed so hard. Guess what, struggling a bit through it with my child was humbling.  I didn’t like that little bit of frustration, however, the reward when we got it was so empowering!
  2. Teacher Intensive: I can understand how this could be a tricky curriculum for a family with lots of children on different levels.  There are definitely ways to work around but it will take some thought.
  3. Cost: It felt pricey to me. The manipulatives did anyway.  After I really evaluated though, I decided it is very cost-effective.  It almost seemed overly simple to me.
  4. Not enough Work: This program felt like play and not work so I was planning on “filling in” with worksheets. NO NEED! What I needed was a shift in thinking!

And if you are looking for guidance for your student from a teacher who is not you, take a look at the True North Homeschool Academy Math Games I, Math Games II, and Math Games III. These programs utilize the Right Start Math Curriculum and the games that are mentioned here to build a strong foundation for those who are struggling or who just need more practice. For a limited time, take 10% off all math classes (K-12) on our website – use code TNMA10 at checkout until August 3, 2020.

Right Start Math gave me the paradigm shift I needed for my child’s Math Success!


Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals.  While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.

Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University.  Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program.  Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online.  She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.

Rebecca will be teaching Jr High Science, World Geography, and Logic with True North Homeschool Academy.


Do you need poetry in your homeschool?

Do you need poetry in your homeschool?

It’s National Poetry Month! I just happen to love poetry and have been writing it and reading it for a long time. I’ve also taught it over the years to students in my Creative Writing, Lit & Comp and Poetry classes. Poetry is word art and if you are going to study writing, you must, in my opinion, study poetry!

Why Poetry?

  • Firstly, it’s a great way for even very young children to learn the rhythm and cadence of good writing.
  • Secondly, if you have your kids memorize poetry, they commit beautiful words and word pictures to memory to draw on later as they learn to write. You are giving your kids a jump start on great writing styles.
  • Thirdly, as every professional artist knows, real talent at art takes dedication and commitment to learning the forms; in other words, discipline and adherence to traditional structures and styles of each type of creative expression. For a dancer, these would be the 7 movements, for musicians, the scales, for writers, excellent sentence structure and the ability to turn a phrase. Learning the basics well, memorizing them so that they are second nature allows one to play and create in new and expressive ways. The true artist takes what has been and turns it on its head. For the musician that means practicing scales. And for the writer, learning traditional poetry is like practicing scales.

What is Poetry?

Simply put, poetry is a combination of rhythm and imagery. It is the use of forms, meter and rhyme to create memorable word pictures. Don’t all of us have a fanciful picture in our heads of Jack Sprat who ate no fat and his wife who ate no lean? Or a regal thought about the official-looking King’s men whose best efforts did not put Humpty Dumpty together again?

Poetry, by its very nature, makes an excellent mnemonic, as evidenced by our ability to recall rhymes and simple poems we learned early in life and haven’t heard for decades. This would explain why Shakespeare is so quotable, as he wrote primarily in Iambic Pentameter (a poetic form that uses 5 meters of |da-DUM| – interestingly enough, the same pattern in which our heart beats- |da-DUM| |da-DUM| |da-DUM|, etc.


Will my kids take poetry studies seriously? I would say a resounding, “Tomorrow and Today!” Young kids love the fun wordplay of simple rhymes and poems and take great joy in tropes such as awesome alluring alliterations and phosphorical rhetorical questions.

Once you empower them with forms and tropes they often reveal at the challenge of it, laugh uproariously at the ability to be ridiculous and shock even themselves at the profound appreciation they feel for simple things. Things that they can now fully express without embarrassment because the form demanded their full attention and in giving it they discovered they felt and thought deeply about important things.

Yes, I believe your students will take poetry seriously.

How to get started

  • Memorize nursery rhymes and simple poems
  • Memorize Shakespeare or Horatius at the Bridge
  • Gather fellow homeschoolers for a recitation night
  • Participate in Poetry Outloud
  • Take True North Homeschool Academy’s Poetry Class and have an absolute blast learning and growing alongside fellow budding troubadour’s.

Do you struggle with poetry in your homeschool?  You might even wonder if it's necessary.  Check out why we think you need poetry in your homeschool, along with some tips on how to conquer this sometimes scary subject. #poetry #onlinelearning #TNHA #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #homeschool

Meditations on Middle School: One Teacher’s Tale

Meditations on Middle School: One Teacher’s Tale

Meditations on Middle School – One Teacher’s Tale

Meditations on Middle School – One Teacher’s Tale. I  cut my teaching teeth at a private, Christian school in inner-city Chicago.I found the job posting on a lunch-hour visit to my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute, which happened to be just down the street from the receptionist job I was working at an architectural firm to put my husband through his last semester of undergrad. I hated that job, which was why I found myself staring at the “Teachers Wanted” flyer stabbed haphazardly into the tack-chewed bulletin board.

“Huh,” I thought to myself, “I could do that! I mean, how hard could it be?

Anything is better than being chained to a desk answering phones all day.” I had a theology degree. I had taken the one required class on Philosophy of Christian Education to graduate. True, I had slept through most of it, tucked comfortably away in the back corner of the lecture hall, but I’d passed, so that’s all that mattered, right?

My husband and I were very newly married and living in a cute little apartment in Wrigleyville at the time. He would happily bike to class and I would despairingly trudge to the “El” and sleep-sway with the rest of the commuters to our various low-end jobs. After getting to work the day after seeing the job posting, I took a minute and found the school’s location on the giant map of Chicago that had pins on it wherever the firm’s projects were located. There were no pins even close to it.

“Hey,” I asked the nearest architect squinting into his computer screen, “What’s this area like?” He got up and squinted at the map. “That’s the ghetto. Don’t go there.” While I studied the area, he sat back down without another word. I called the school that afternoon.

“Do you have a teaching degree and any teaching experience?” was, of course, the first question the principal asked.

“Uh, well, no. I mean, I’ve taught some Sunday school classes, but not much else.”

“How do you get along with Jr. High kids? We need an 8th-grade homeroom teacher, who can also teach 6th and 7th grade literature, and maybe some history.”

I couldn’t remember the last time I had even been in the same room with a Jr. High kid.

I had no idea how I “got along with them” and I was a theology geek, not a literature and history geek, though I did love to read science fiction and fantasy.

“Oh, yes! I’m sure I could do that!” I said.

“Great! When can you come in for an interview?”

I met the principal the next day after work. I took the “El” to the ghetto and prayed for protection. I didn’t die, which is always a good thing.

She hired me after 30 minutes.

“Ok, so you’ll be teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade literature, 8th-grade American History, and 7th and 8th grade Bible. Ok?”

“American History?” I questioned.

“Yes, are you ok with that?” she asked.

“Well, I should remind you that I’m Canadian,” I said.

“Yes, but you said you had a work permit, correct?”

“Yes, I have a work permit, but I don’t know anything about American History,” I said.

“You will by the end of the year! Here’s the textbook!” she said cheerily as she handed it to me. “Oh, so just so you know, the salary is $14,000 per year and, unfortunately, we don’t offer any benefits. Is that ok with you?”

Apparently, it was, because before I knew it, I had given notice at the architectural firm, it was Back to School night, and I was throwing up in the bathroom because I was going to be meeting parents whose kids were only six years younger than I was. Parents who were expecting the 8th-grade teacher to prepare their kids for high school. Parents who were trusting me.

Only by God’s extraordinary grace (and, I’m convinced, His sense of humor), I pulled it off.

The night ended, and they were all still going to send their kids to school the next day. I think about it now, 25 years later, and it still amazes me. I didn’t know then that those parents were desperate. That some of those homes were so ravaged by drugs and gangs and death that the school stood like a beacon of hope and light in the chaos, and the teachers there, who were willing to work for a pittance with no benefits, were like saviors come to give life to their children. They would have taken anyone with a pulse.

From Day 1, it was crazy.

The kids were slouchy, grumpy, jaded, and hurting. I was a know-nothing white girl, just another teacher using the school as a stepping stone to better things – I’d be gone before they could blink.

“Miss Henry, you can’t wear those colors to school! You’re gonna get shot!” We had moved to the ghetto to be closer to the school. We were in the “neutral” territory between two gangs. I’ve never worn black with green again.

“Miss Henry, I didn’t get my homework done because the cops showed up at my house last night.”

“Miss Henry, I don’t know where that porn magazine come from, I swear!”

“Miss Henry, why we gotta learn Shakespeare? He’s dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead!”

“Miss Henry, how come we don’t read nothin’ about Puerto Rico in this book? We’s a territory, right?”

“Miss Henry, try this chicken adobo. My abuela made it. It’s amazing!”

“Miss Henry, does God harden my heart like he hardened Pharaoh’s?”

“Miss Henry, what does it mean to ‘die to self’? That just sounds weird.”

“Miss Henry, you really gonna take us to DC? I ain’t even been to downtown Chicago!”

“Miss Henry, my brother got shot last night.”

“Miss Henry, my brother died.”

“Miss Henry, will you come to my brother’s funeral?”

I can’t count the number of times my heart broke for, and with those kids. But on the flip side, I can’t count the number of times I laughed with them, questioned with them (remember, I was only six years older than they were), and, surprisingly, ate with them – Puerto Ricans make delicious food!

It was never about what I was teaching them, although of course, that was important, it was about what God was teaching me, through them. That to teach most effectively, one must love the students and be invested in their souls.

Yes, I learned how to make lesson plans, and scope and sequences, and subject goals. I even found that I have a talent for writing curriculum that I still use today. I also learned to love American History – all history in fact – and classic literature. But when I left Chicago to teach 4th and 5th grade at an affluent classical school outside the Beltway in Washington, DC, I left part of me behind. Those Jr. High kids, with their ubiquitous snark and silliness, and unending questions, as well as their increasing cynicism and sadness, quickly found a tender spot in my heart that I didn’t even know was there.

Meditations on Middle School: It’s been many years since I first walked into that 8th-grade classroom, and many, many students have sat with me and learned, but those kids have never left my mind.

Some of them have been lost to me, swallowed up by the ravenous pit that is inner-city life, but some have sought me out on social media and we have connected again in a new way, though they insist they must still call me “Miss Henry”. Now their children are in school. Now they are meeting the terrified teacher on Back to School Night. Some of them even chose to be teachers. I’d like to hope that I had a small role to play in that decision.

Want to know more about Nicole Henry or maybe even sign-up for some of the courses that she pours her heart and soul into?  Visit the True North Homeschool Academy blog today for more information!

Nicole Henry

Nicole Henry is the Executive Director of Invictus Classical Press, a start-up company whose mission is to create unique classical curriculum for use by private schools and homeschools. Nicole’s first passion is teaching the Bible, which dovetails nicely with her love of history, geography, art, and literature – she’s a humanities girl through and through!

When she’s not writing curriculum, homeschooling, running (or attempting to), and trying to keep her four kids fed, she can be found merrily reading through various books, listening to podcasts about all kinds of things, and teaching herself to draw. Nicole will be teaching 7th and 8th-grade History and 7th and 8th grade Bible this year at True North Homeschool Academy.

Curious about the True North Academy teachers? Check out this guest post from Nicole Henry, one of our new junior high teachers! #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #JrHigh #onlinehomeschool #MiddleSchool