The Essential High School Course

Foundations in Personal Finance

Every high school student should take Foundations in Personal Finance because the skills taught are vital to life. For once, you will actually have a myriad of answers when your student asks, “When will I ever use any of this stuff? Why do I even need to take this course?”

Below, I have broken down different aspects of the course to give you an idea of how it would fit into your homeschool.

Scope of the course: This course covers everything from the nitty gritty of budgeting and investing, to more general topics such as career planning and goal setting. The variety made the course quite enjoyable. For example, while chapter 9 covered the basics of insurance, chapter 11 went into job interviews, resumes, personality assessment, goal setting, and career plans. One of the assignments for lesson 11 was to create your own resume. Chapter 3 coached the student through the process of creating a budget. The workbook provided links (mostly to their own website) along the way to assist with activities like creating your own budget and resume.

Level of teacher involvement: If your student is motivated, then they can complete this course entirely without help. While there were activity pages and practical application at the end of each lesson, there were no graded assignments. This course is self-explanatory, fast paced, entertaining, and highly interactive. As you are watching the DVD lessons, you have blanks to fill out in your workbook. This makes staying engaged and paying attention to every word a necessity.

Time needed to complete course: This course only has twelve chapters, thus it does not comprise a full school year. I believe this course took me less than a semester to complete. I would often finish a chapter in a day with plenty of time left for other school activities. For example, I completed one of the easier chapters (Money and Relationships) in one hour. While this course should definitely be included on a high school transcript, it will not fulfill a main math credit.

Intensity level: I took this course while I was a junior in high school. I was glad that I waited until my junior year because by that point I was seriously considering large financial decisions such as purchasing a car and paying for college. While they may not be as interested, I think a junior or sophomore in high school could complete this course with relative ease. This course requires attention and dedication, but is not strenuous.

Authors of the course:  Four experts contribute to the course: Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze (Mr. Ramsey’s daughter), Chris Hogan, and Jonathan Acuff. Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze taught in a majority of the videos, but Hogan and Acuff’s contributions were also engaging and insightful. Many of the videos that address subjects like insurance and investing were taken from one of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University seminars.

Other benefits of the course:

  • Motivation to stay out of debt: In a culture where debt is normal, even expected, this course does a fantastic job of showing how debt is destructive and should be avoided at all costs. After covering debt’s destructive nature, this course gives practical advice specifically geared towards high school students on how to stay out of debt. Much detail is given on how to buy a car and go to college without accruing debt. This course made me feel empowered to use my money wisely. While living below your means requires sacrifice and humility, the sacrifice is well worth it in the end.


  • Biblical world view: This course is clearly built on a solid Biblical foundation. One of the introductory pages is titled, “Managing Money God’s Way” and lists a number of Bible verses about money. Every chapter includes at least one Bible verse, usually more. This course shows that our faith is not something that is contained by a church building. Rather, our faith should be the foundation of every major decision we make, including money management. Not only does every chapter have a Biblical slant, the last chapter, 12, titled “Giving” teaches on Biblical generosity. According to all of Dave Ramsey’s materials, giving should be automatically included in your budget. Since most high schoolers have a rather limited income, the chapter focuses on how they can serve with their talent and time.


In conclusion: Even though this course does not count for a general education credit, it teaches priceless skills that every teenager should have in their tool box for the future. Invest in your teenager’s financial future by having them take Foundations in Personal Finance. This course will solidify their determination to carefully avoid debt and train them to be godly stewards of their money, talent, and resources.



Five Animals That Teach Us to Trust God 5) Oxen


“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Ever woke up with a spring in your step? Maybe you just received some good news or were looking forward to an event in the near future. Either way, you probably felt as light as a feather. Well, God wants to carry our burdens for us – leaving us light and free. This Bible verse describes a place of rest as being yoked right next to Jesus. Ever seen two oxen in a yoke? They are side by side, connected by the same harness. When we walk in step with Jesus – when we become His disciple- He carries the weight of our burden for us. We will still have problems and challenges in our lives, but we can be free of the stress and hassle knowing that we are never alone. That way, we can have a spring in our step.

The place of peace, the place of safety, and the place of purpose are all found close to God’s heart. When we draw close to God, we will receive whatever we need. True strength often means acknowledging when we need help. We cannot live peaceful, secure lives on our own –no matter how much time and energy we pour into our efforts. Just as sheep, birds, chicks, and oxen show us, only when we surrender and allow God’s love to carry us will we find rest.

The French and Indian War and the Ownership of America-Lesson 5 IEW Advanced U.S. History


This was a fact heavy essay project since it was recounting a war. Summarizing references, topic sentences, clinchers, and the three-paragraph model were all covered. The source text was provided in the text book. It was very challenging to choose which facts to write down with the limited spaces on the outline. IEW does an excellent job training you to search for the most important facts.

Audrey French

IEW Advanced US History

24 April 2017

The French and Indian War and the Ownership of America

Although the French and Indian war is often glossed over, it is a monumental event because it transformed the map of North America. Before the war, the English owned most of the East Coast of America, and the French owned Canada, land surrounding the Mississippi River, and domain farther west. In the year 1700, the English only had 250,000 settlers, but by 1750 that number had leaped to 1.25 million people. Due to this increase of population, the English began to move farther west in order to find unclaimed land. The French, of course, detested this intrusion into their land. They furiously began to build forts and increase their number of soldiers in order to keep the English from encroaching on their territory. During this time, the English and the French both increased the number of their troops which were in America. The French had an astronomical advantage because nearly all of the Native Americans sided with them. Only the Iroquois joined the English. The key motive for all three parties in this conflict was land. The French and English desired more land and the Indians wanted to keep the land they originally inhabited. The English expansion had triggered a war that would not only involve the French and Indians, but would also rezone America.

Initially, victory looked extremely unlikely for the English since they were horribly unskilled fighters in the American forests. They were accustomed to fighting in open fields with strict battle rules in Europe. Normally, they would march as though they were in a parade and wear brilliant red uniforms. Unfortunately, they continued this strategy in America. In contrast, the French quickly learned guerilla warfare from the Indians and would hide behind trees while fighting. This strategy proved to be deadly to the English forces. In the first battle, the French and the Indians killed two thirds of the English soldiers present. This calamitous defeat for the British was only the beginning of the depredation that would reign for the coming years. For the first two years of the war, the French nailed victory after victory. The Native Americans, both brutal and savvy warriors, also wreaked havoc on the American frontier during this time. However, in 1757, England made some desperately needed changes. They replaced the current leaders with more innovative, skilled generals and increased their number of soldiers. After many key English victories, the war ended in 1760. Although unlikely in the beginning, the English had managed a smashing victory because they changed their leadership and increased their fighting men.

In 1763, after being defeated by the English in several other worldwide battles, the French were finally forced to forgo their rights and sign a peace treaty with England. According to the terms of this agreement, the French lost Canada and most of their land east of the Mississippi to the English. Spain also suffered under this agreement because they had helped France in the French and Indian war. Spain lost Florida to the English. France gave Spain their territory between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains as compensation for the aide received during the war. Despite Spain’s new land ownership, England owned half of North America. England, now an overbearing overlord, increased its role in controlling its colonies which were rapidly assuming more power and independence from their mother country. This irritated many of the freedom-loving colonists, which would spark the flames for an even more famous war in the coming years. The French suffered permanent damage in the aftermath of their defeats to the British as evidenced by their losses of territory, but the impact was even far more reaching. While the French and Indian War activated immediate consequences, it also sparked the Revolutionary War which would entirely change the ownership of America for centuries.

Five Animals That Teach Us to Trust God 4) Sparrows


“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

Birds are powerful teachers because God certainly uses them in analogies often. One point that can be taken from the verse above is that God sees worth in things that humans devalue. I’ve never put any thought into the lives of the sparrows around me. They live – they die. As heartless as this might sound, I am honestly unconcerned about the birds chilling in my backyard. But God is attentive to their needs. He keeps track of birds that most people consider cute, but utterly useless. The other thing that can be deduced from these verses is that God never ever forgets – very much unlike us humans. If someone tried to number the hairs on a head, they would not succeed in the first place, but even if they did I highly doubt that they would remember the number! God remembers and cares about things that seemingly do not have value – nothing is too insignificant to bring to His attention.

Public Speaking – What Do You Do When Your Mind Goes Blank?


(Quick note: I will continue my series about five animals that teach us to trust God next week.)

In public speaking classes, you are normally required to memorize your speech. While memorizing is fairly simple, the hardest part is staying memorized. Nerves often cause our minds to become muddled. What if you are standing on stage, and your mind goes completely blank? What do you do then?

My piano recital experiences have thoroughly acquainted me with the blank mind phenomenon. My mind went completely blank during all three of my high school piano recitals.  Here are five lessons I learned about what to do when you suddenly forget your speech.


  • A pause that feels huge to you is barely noticed by the audience.

When you are struggling to regain your momentum, seconds feel like glaciers. However, seconds feel like seconds to the audience. The audience members are not anxiously stamping their feet, demanding that you get back on track instantaneously. They are cheering you on. Everyone has experienced their mind going completely blank during inconvenient times, thus your audience can sympathize with you.


  • Humor can quickly lighten up an intense situation.

At one piano recital, I sat down on the piano bench, stared at the keys, and completely forgot how to start my song. I had been playing the song for months and had been memorized for weeks. I could even play it with my eyes closed. However, in the heat of the moment, my mind went blank. Rather than panic, I deflated the situation. As I walked back to my seat to retrieve my music, I said to the audience, “I promise you I had my piece memorized this morning!” Polite, quiet laughter followed my comment. Because I defused both my own tension and the tension in the room, the rest of my performance continued with no further mishaps. Rather than panic, choose to see the humor in your mistakes. Seeing the humor will allow you to move forward with fewer mishaps.


  • Stop speeding!

People tend to speak as fast as possible when nervous. However, you are not trying to get your speech over with. Remember to enjoy the experience! Speeding will cause you to lose your place and forget what you were planning to say next. Talking slower will give your brain time to keep up with your mouth. The audience would much rather listen to a slow, calm presenter than an anxious, fast talker.


  • You are not in a race to finish the speech.

I recently watched a TEDMED speech where the woman presenting paused after every single sentence. Not only did she pause after every sentence, she also spoke extremely slowly! While I thought her speech dragged a little, I did have time to catch and consider every single word she said. There is no need for a frantic pace. Silence is not evil. In fact, silence gives both speaker and audience members a second to reflect, which is priceless. One word of caution: if you pause, remember to stay engaged. Do not look down at the ground, stare into space, or bore a hole in the ceiling from the intensity of your gaze. If you pause, you need to show the audience that you are still present and thinking of what you are going to say next.


  • Your written speech is a guide, not a rigid dictator.

If you are simply unable to remember the next sentence, go off script. Many speakers struggle through their presentations because they are trying to recall the exact wording on their written speech. You know the message you are trying to convey. You know your facts. Just relax and tell us about your topic! Even if you have to end a point short, just move on to the next point that you can recall. There is no rule that you must say every word that is on your written speech. Since no one in the audience has a copy of your speech, they will never know that you forgot something if you just keep moving.

In conclusion, your momentary forgetfulness is not the end of the world, even though it may feel like a complete disaster to you. Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and continue on. The audience is eager to hear what you have you to share!

Brighter Days Ahead-Lesson 4 IEW Advanced U.S. History


This was one of my favorite lessons. I was asked to write a historical fiction story based on the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony. The lesson provided a comprehensive outline and ideas for the main plot conflict, but for the most part I was left to my own research and imagination. I have read many historical fiction stories set in this time period, so this lesson was a real treat. The technique of personification and adverbial clauses were addressed and reviewed.

Audrey French

IEW Advanced US History

17 April 2017

Brighter Days Ahead

Seventeen year old Esther Allerton leaned over the pale body of her mother, scanning anxiously for any sign of improvement. The constantly rocking ship and the congested quarters had managed to make the conditions aboard the Mayflower nearly intolerable. People lay sick and dying all around the hold of the ship. Almost every family had a member who was ill. Esther glanced at her fourteen year old brother, Joseph, and her nine year old sister, Hannah.

“The sooner we are rid of this foul ship, the better.” Esther declared.

Joseph gazed at their sleeping mother, Ruth, “Is she doing any better?”

Esther shook her head despondently, “I fear not. Her fever has been raging for three days now. Nothing I do seems to help her.”

Joseph stood and strode to her side, “I wish I could join father on land to assist with the building of the first houses.”

Esther shook her head, “You heard father. It is far too dangerous. Besides, it wouldn’t do for you to catch your first glimpse of our new home before I do.”

Hannah crept up to her siblings and whispered hopefully, “Maybe moving mother to land will help her?”

“Perhaps,” Esther muttered, “Nothing could possibly be worse than this ship.”

The siblings were interrupted by a loud clomping on the steps descending into the ships hold. A group of ten weary men plodded down. One of them, Isaac Allerton, headed straight for Esther.

“Father!” Esther exclaimed, jumping up to embrace him.

Father wrapped Esther in warm hug. He peered down at his wife. “Any better today?”

Esther shook her head sadly, “I can’t bring her fever down.”

Father sighed, “I fear that she cannot bear this illness and the conditions on this boat any longer. The men and I finished the first home on land today. I will be moving all of you and mother into it tomorrow.”

“Hurray!” Esther, Joseph, and Hannah chorused.

Father gave a tired smile, “I’m sure you all will be overjoyed to be rid of this stuffy ship.” He glance down again at his wife, “And maybe the fresh air will help your mother.”

The next day dawned, dusky and dim. Fog rolled over the bay like a blanket. Esther hurried around gathering her family’s few belongings while ensuring her siblings were prepared for the short trip ahead. Isaac Allerton tenderly gathered his wife in his arms and quickly instructed his children to follow him down to the landing boat which they would take to shore.

As soon as they were settled, Esther peered out to land. She smiled slightly and fingered the delicate necklace her grandmother had given her right before she boarded the Mayflower. Finally, they were taking a step towards their original goal, building their lives in a new land!

Soon the boat bumped into the shore and the weary travelers disembarked. Isaac rushed his wife to one of the crudely constructed lodges, leaving Esther, Joseph, and Hannah to deal with the meager luggage the family brought. Along with ten other people from the landing boat, they stumbled into the hastily built log cabin. Isaac tenderly laid his wife on a blanket on the ground.

Isaac cast a weary smile at Esther, Joseph, and Hannah. “Why don’t you all walk around a bit? I can take care of mother for a little while. Do not wander out of sight of the guards. There are Indians in these parts, and we are quite concerned about them attacking us.”

Esther, Joseph, and Hannah ran outside. They soon found themselves standing in a broad meadow. However, the dead grass lay on the ground and the tall trees stood bare and ominous, reaching their scraggly arms high to the sky. The wind created an ominous rustling as it whipped through the barren trees.

“I’m sure this place is quite beautiful in the spring.” Esther mused.

“I’m sure it is,” Joseph responded, kicking a rock, “I wonder if mother will live till then.”

Esther bit her lip, “We must be strong and not give up hope, Joseph.”

Esther was interrupted when Jonathan Mullins trotted up to the group, “Esther! I haven’t seen you in weeks!”

Esther smiled up at Jonathan. As usual, his curly brown hair ran every which way, but his blue eyes still held their steady, organized charm. Jonathan had asked Isaac permission to wed Esther at the nearest opportunity, and Isaac had given his whole hearted approval. Now, they only had to wait for an appropriate time.

Esther laughed, “I spoke briefly with you a few days ago! You have been so busy on the building projects that we have not had much time to talk.”

Jonathan smiled and brushed a strand of hair out of Esther’s face, “Soon we will have much more time to talk.”

“Once we make it through this winter.” Esther added.

Jonathan sighed, “Yes”.

The next few days passed by slowly. Due to the extreme shortage of able bodied men, Joseph was finally permitted to join Jonathan and Isaac to assist with building more homes. Esther spent her days tending her mother and attempting to keep the energetic Hannah out of trouble. Mother gradually grew sicker and sicker. The large cabin was full of ailing people. Every day at least one person passed away, often times many more. One day, Esther reached up to finger her precious necklace. She reached to the place where it would normally lay, but found nothing. She quickly scanned the ground around her.

“I must have lost it on one of my walks around the clearing.” Esther groaned, “But I can’t leave mother to go search for it now.”

Just then, Esther heard a shrill, mighty scream from outside. She commanded Hannah to stay with mother and quickly ran outside. She found Jonathan and Joseph and a few other men standing by one of the new homes that was being constructed. They were desperately lifting a log, and as Esther neared them, she realized that they were lifting a log off the body of her father!

“What happened?” Esther gasped.

Joseph whispered shakily, “Father was on top of the wall pulling one of the logs up. Suddenly, he simply passed out and as he fell the log fell on top of him.”

As soon as the log was lifted off, Jonathan knelt by the body.

“Is he alive?” Esther half wailed.

Jonathan and a few of the men knelt down and felt Isaac’s body. Slowly they all stood up.

“Esther, Joseph,” Jonathan slowly began, “Your father is no longer alive.”

Esther suppressed a scream. Joseph gave a wide eyed look of horror.

“I’m so sorry,” Jonathan whispered.

Esther did not have time to put any further thought into the matter. Suddenly Hannah raced up to her and tugged on her skirt, “Esther! Esther! Mother is not breathing!”

Esther picked up her skirt and rushed into the long house. Kneeling beside her mother, she could immediately see that life had departed. The pain gone, her mother appeared more peaceful and serene than she had in weeks.

Esther began to sob inexorably. Joseph slipped in and knelt down beside her.

“No! Not mother too!”

Esther nodded shakily.

Jonathan strode in and quickly surveyed the situation. He slowly put an arm around Esther.

“Your father was already sickened with the fever; he just didn’t want to admit it since your mother was so ill.”

With that, Jonathan wrapped Ruth’s body in a blanket and carried it out of the house.  Esther, Jonathan, and Hannah numbly followed behind him.

“We must bury your mother and father now while we still have a break in the snowfall.”

Numbly, the three siblings followed Jonathan and several other men carrying Isaac’s body to the field that Esther had first walked in when they arrived. The men dug two graves right next to each other. They slowly laid the two bodies in the ground, and Elder Brewster led a short funeral service. With that, the two bodies were quickly covered.

Jonathan and the siblings stood by the graves for a few, still minutes. Finally Jonathan found the courage to speak.

“I, too, am an orphan. My parents died when I was thirteen years old. The grief is horrible, but eventually you learn to continue on with your life.”

Esther choked out through her sobs, “How can we learn to live again after the death of our dear parents! We are orphans in a strange, despicable land.”

Jonathan wrapped her in a warm hug. “Everything will work out, I promise. Those who persevere through life’s storms eventually find calmer seas.”

A little over three months later, the days began to grow longer and warmer. The harsh snow subsided, and Jonathan and Esther had a short ceremony to be married. The grief from the deaths of father and mother still weighed heavily on the siblings’ hearts, but with the changing of season dawned fresh glimmers of hope. Jonathan and Joseph worked ambitiously to build a new little home where they could all live together as one happy family.  Esther and Hannah, both toughening to the rough work of the new world, labored daily tending the gardens and crops. Finally,  they reaped the benefits of their labor when the little home was ready to move into and green shoots began to appear in the fields.

“Mother and Father would have been very proud of this home.” Esther sighed with a tinge of sadness in her voice.

Jonathan wrapped his wife in a hug, “They certainly would have. They also would have been proud of how well you, Joseph, and Hannah have coped over the last few months. You all have truly grown years older since we first arrived.”

Jonathan reached down deep into his pocket and pulled a sparkling object out. He handed it to Esther.

“Would you happen to recognize this? I found it the other day when I was preparing the nearby meadow to grow corn.”

Esther gasped in amazement, “It’s the necklace my grandmother gave to me! I thought it was gone forever!”

Jonathan smiled, “I’m glad that I recover it for you.”

Esther slipped the treasure into her pocket, later to be placed in a safe spot in their new home.

Esther gathered Joseph and Hannah into a hug, “We have learned to be persistent and weather the storms.”

Joseph smiled, “Mother and Father would be overjoyed to know that we are all still together as a family.”

Hannah grabbed Jonathan’s leg, “I miss Mother and Father so very much, but you and Esther take excellent care of us.”

Jonathan laughed and pulled Hannah into his arms, “I will never take the place of your father, but I do love you and your family dearly.”

Esther smiled, “This adventure in this new world has by no means been easy, but I firmly believe that brighter days are ahead.”




Five Animals That Teach Us to Trust God 3) Birds


“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

God cares deeply about you, from the major decisions to the little details of your life.  Whether it’s your food for today or who you are going to marry in the future, God has already gone ahead and lighted your path. Like any loving parent, God takes pleasure in caring for His children! God is not lacking in attention to detail or provision for all our needs. His abundance of supply and time even allows Him to provide bountifully for all the birds! Have you ever taken notice of just how many birds there are? If God can care for all of them, surely He has even the little details of our lives under control.