Victoria of Ontario, Canada
Hi, we're a laid back family of four, including Mama, Dad, JJ, and Sammy. Life in our house is always interesting as we navigate life, learning, and having fun while living with disabilities (Autism, anxiety, and Ehlers-Danlos are all represented here).No pets except our faithful robo dog Jester but she still works great for cuddling up with during art or digging through our favourite library books.
Amanda B. of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Our family consists of myself (mom/Amanda), my husband (dad/Darryl), and our two daughters, Autumn and Ava, and my mother (Grandma/Jean). We also have 3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 birds, a bunny, and a goldfish. I'm a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a store manager.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Victoria: Timberdoodle has saved our homeschool. As Canadians we haven't found many others locally yet who use Timberdoodle but trusted Google helped make that first connection. :) As a special needs household having everything together has saved us the energy to actually have fun and learn too. Timberdoodle pops up throughout our day. Both JJ and Sammy adore all the fascinating games (Smart Cookies is always in rotation this year). Mama loves how simple All About Reading and All About Spelling are, fostering a love and mastery of English from the start. That said, it's becoming the norm to see both kids dragging their books over to the pillows and doing independent learning. Timberdoodle products are just that fun!
Amanda: We haven't had the opportunity to try Timberdoodle yet but the curriculum looks awesome and so much fun and we'd love to try it!
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Victoria: As a special needs household, homeschooling helps our life through it's flexibility and Timberdoodle's planners help us see where we stand in our progress. While English gets completed everyday (in various spots around the house because, let's face it, reading's more fun when you're comfy), our kids get to choose which electives are tackled in the afternoon. This helps me make sure any science experiment or art project can be prepped in time. It's been great for introducing time management. Chores, food, and fun just naturally fall into place through our day.
Amanda: Our typical homeschool day starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. We cover language arts, science, reading, math, foreign language (Chinese), logic, music theory, piano, guitar, typing, and art daily.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Victoria: Hey today's Wednesday, come on in. We just finished our math lesson. We were learning about tally marks. That sort of spiraled into a talk on checklists, which led to cleaning up the playroom. Afterwards, we dug into history. Nomads are pretty cool. Google showed us some examples of cave paintings that were mentioned in our history book and then we painted our own on paper bags. JJ's reading went long in the morning so Sammy got a chance to dig into his All About Reading reader while we read about a girl who had the best dream about hats. After all of that we curled up with some TV, because sensory breaks are so important and Alphablocks actually is pretty fun to dance around with while reinforcing our letter sounds from All About Spelling.
Amanda: Wednesday afternoons are our city day. We go into the city for Chinese lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, and swimming.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Victoria: We would drive the trans-Canada Highway and visit family while exploring some of the natural landmarks along the way.
What books have you read over and over?
Victoria: As the mom, I love Lord of the Rings. As a parent, we've been reading a lot of The Wonkey Donkey.
Amanda: Cat books! My daughter loves cats so we read books about cats over and over again.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Victoria: So, we can't do gluten, dairy, or refined sugar (yep, we're fun). Thankfully, a little research and some good recipe sites online have made finding options much easier
Amanda: We are vegans. We home cook almost all of our meals and rarely eat out.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Victoria: Flexibility, taking a 5 minutes reset break (sometimes with coffee or tea). My kiddos need to move and receive the sensory input their bodies crave so sometimes a dance party reset can make a huge difference
Amanda: Have a warm bath. Kids cranky? Put them in a warm bath. Overwhelmed as a mom? Have a warm bath...having a bath fixes everything.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Victoria: My one child was upset and their sibling came over hugged them and whispered "I love you to the moon and back." To see the relationship and empathy they're are building is wonderful (especially as a balance when a wrestling match breaks out 10 minutes later.)
Amanda: My daughter plays the piano and its so amazing to see her put so much heart into it.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Victoria: Cupcakes have become a tradition for birthdays. Otherwise, we just have grandparents over, as parties are still a little beyond our scope with sensory issues.
Amanda: We have a little party at home.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Victoria: Peanut butter sandwiches with applesauce and cashew milk, can't beat the classics (with an allergy friendly twist).
Amanda: Chickpea salad sandwiches.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Victoria: I wouldn't, honestly. As a disabled mama with two special needs kids the internet opens up our community and accessibility.
Amanda: Wow! That would be tough, but we have had power outages for days and we generally take out old workbooks, coloring books, and have fun.
What tips do you have for other families?
Victoria: Have grace with yourself, your day will almost never go to plan and that's okay. Some of the best learning comes in the rabbit trails and there may be a reason you've been led there.
Amanda: Stay calm. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't stress the small stuff. You do you.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Victoria: So, one player favourite is hands-down Smart Cookies. Our kids can't get enough. When all of us sit down MarioKart has taken a firm lead after it arrived this Christmas
Amanda: Poop Games - Don't Step In It, Flushin' Frenzy.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Victoria: My exercise involves physio and elliptical. My frequency depends on my health but I aim for 6 days a week (doing either physio or time on elliptical).
Amanda: We try to do cosmic kids yoga every day.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Amanda: We ordered 100 live ladybugs to release in our garden. My 3-year-old opened the package in the kitchen before we got outside. We learned all about ladybugs and how to catch them. 🤣
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Victoria: Our kiddos always ask to go to the library or the farmer's market. We have some amazing family memories at both spots.
Amanda: Went sledding.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Victoria: I've already been teaching myself cross stitch (thank you, YouTube). I would love to learn something more practical like knitting/sewing or take up piano again.
Amanda: Balloon Animal twisting...we added it to our homeschool this year for fun and to learn to follow directions.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Victoria: Our youngest wants to do something where they get a toolbox. This is somewhat more achievable than their original goal of becoming a dinosaur.