Ashanti of Los Angeles, California
It's just the three of us!
- There's the little king, Versailles --- an almost 9-year-old boy (with autism) who is precocious and light-hearted.
- Then Grammy, who is retired as of last year and enjoys working her green thumb out in the backyard.
- And, myself! I am an artistic soul who freelances for a bit of extra cash (never hurts, right?).
Anna V. of San Diego, California
We are a family of makers.
- Charlotte is an artistic and adventure loving 6 year old. She is a math whiz and her favorite subject is spelling.
- Penny is 3 and loves princesses, pretend play and anything artistic and glittery. She’s great with numbers and gets so excited when she figures out a new letter sound.
- Mom, Anna, loves to bake and sew clothes for the whole family.
- And Dad, Brett, is a Nuclear Electrician for the US Navy. He loves to fix cars and take on new projects around the house.
- Our border collie, Gaz, doesn’t let being 12 stop her from her favorite hobby: chasing after balls.
June from San Diego
We are a family of 1 mom, 2 daughters, a cat and a rabbit.....all girls.
Aky of San Jose, California
- Dad is a computer engineer.
- Mom is a free spirit who now takes care of the home.
- Achi means eldest sister; she is funny and adventurous. She loves nature: from the twigs to the flowers, the sand, any pet and even find iguanas loveable.
- Sioti, the younger brother, is sweet and friendly. He would always think of his mom at all times, but is at the same time independent.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Ashanti: I found 'The Doodle' years ago (2016) when looking into homeschooling. I ended up buying the Pre-K kit right off the bat! I have also purchased the kindergarten kit. Sometimes, I feel as if the kits are more for me and I often look over their contents online with excitement. We definitely incorporate the All About Reading lessons and love playing the puzzle games, such as the Three Little Piggies.
Anna: We first heard about Timberdoodle through our teaching advisor at our homeschool charter, and I knew it would be a great fit the moment I saw looked into them. We love that they have the main subjects covered, but they also give so many options for learning though play built right into the kits. The logic games are definitely favorites in our house!
June: I first heard of Timberdoodle in a Facebook group. We especially love to sing the alphabet song with our puzzle in the morning.
Aky: We love Timberdoodle and used it from the start. It gave us confidence to home educate our children. We plan to use Timberdoodle until their senior year. Dad loves the STEM, the kids look forward to learning, and mom's over the sky (homeschooling goal)! Achi makes her own interpretations of the activities, and Sioti loves his puzzles (right now, he's working on the map of the world).
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Ashanti: We tend to follow V's lead but the time immediately following sensory and heavy play is the best each day. Grammy usually takes him out in our wonderful backyard to play and explore and I'm allowed to take care of household chores (including some much needed self-care!).
Anna: We typically start our day around 8:00 a.m. We start with morning basket where we read stories from our collection and borrowed from the library while the girls build with blocks, Plus Plus, or play with our meadow playmat and Toob animals. Most days we touch on writing, reading, spelling, and math, all interspersed with playtime. Some days Charlotte wants to do a whole math unit in a day, others she wants spend the whole morning doing science experiments, so we just follow where the day takes us. Penny is usually there right by her sister, using math manipulatives to count, or practice letters while sister does her spelling. Our pretty casual ‘formal school’ is usually done by lunch time. Wednesdays are for nature group and we spend most of the day outside. And there’s almost always some sort of art going on, whether it’s a planned project, or something they decide to make the moment inspiration hits, and that’s why we LOVE having giving them free access to their own maker space.
June: We start after breakfast at 8:00. We have a circle time with the calendar and discussing weather, then work on math through daily baking in the kitchen, reading stories, then science and art finishes it up with journaling our day.
Aky: We start the day with breakfast then lessons. We school year round and it ends up with a lesson a day, around one subject a week. Load is light, and easy enough to catch up if we have other activities for that day. Afternoons usually go well with naps, then some exercise, music, arts, projects whatever we can accomplish before dinner. Foreign language and read-alouds before bedtime.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Ashanti: Maybe a little chaos mixed with a little creativity met with a little song singing or silliness!
Anna: On a Wednesday afternoon we’d typically be in the middle of some sort of art creation, usually involving paint and/or glitter glue. Usually with the back door open and the girls running in and out of the kitchen/backyard as they please. Sometimes we’re decorating rocks we found that morning at nature group, and others were just doing process art.
June: Organized chaos.
Aky: The kids would be napping! Hopefully. Sioti's cello lessons is on Wednesday afternoon as well.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Ashanti: I would LOVE to see Petra, but anywhere really! Iceland, Australia, Asia, Africa, EVERYWHERE! :)
Anna: If I could take my family to any theme park, it would be Tokyo Disney. Disney and adventure in Japan... sign me up.
June: We are planning a trip to Italy to work on a farm.
Aky: Japan. We hope to worldschool eventually.
What books have you read over and over?
Ashanti: Jane Eyre. Love. That. Classic.
Anna: The Harry Potter series, and The Brave Learner
June: Harry Potter, The Cuckoo Clock, The Little Princess
Aky: With our kids, we've learned to choose good books for our children. We have also added more non-fiction books. For now, we're reading Chinese leveled readers to improve character recognition.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Ashanti: Oh, jeez... I tend to fail when it comes to turning down anything pizza-related. V is on a GFCF diet but also happens to self-limit. More veggies/green stuff would do wonders! At this point, I have to hide things he normally wouldn't eat inside things he will (without him being able to tell, of course...). He does naturally tend to healthier whole-foods, which helps!
Anna: We are fortunate to not have any dietary challenges other than moments of picky toddler eating.
June: Gluten free casein free...we look up recipes.
Aky: Dad loves sweets and mom loves salty food. We hope to lessen the family's sugar and salt intake but it could be challenging outside the home.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Ashanti: When V looks at me directly and smiles. This type of human connection many take for granted, but it means so much to me as it does not happen as often as it does with kids who aren't on the spectrum.
Anna: Charlotte played hide and seek with a little boy at nature group who hid by standing in the middle of the clearing and covering his face. She opened her eyes, giggled a bit, and then proceeded to pretend she was looking for him all over the area before ‘finding’ him. Penny has recently found her toddler independence and can frequently be found carrying her Bilibo all over the house to use as a step stool to get what she wants without asking for assistance. Her latest thing has been grabbing popsicle sticks and glitter glue to make cards to send to every member of the family.
June: Wrote a sweet message on the bathroom wall.
Aky: Oh. Our daughter loves to make I-love-you letters all the time. Our son cuts up pieces of paper and pretends they're love letters for us as well.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Ashanti: V doesn't handle too much stimulation well, so we keep his birthdays intimate! I decorate the whole house and fill up his room with balloons while he sleeps so that when he wakes up he is met with wonder and excitement. He knows that his birthdays are special and that he is so very special.
Anna: We have 5 birthdays in 9 days at our house. Penny is June 1st, Dad is the 3rd, our youngest daughter Effie - who we lost at 30 weeks to triploidy, but celebrate her birthday each year - is the 4th, Poppi (their grandfather who visits often) is the 8th, and Charlotte is the 9th. So we usually celebrate by each person picking their dessert of choice - thankfully not usually all cake- and then having one big BBQ in the backyard to celebrate with family and friends.
June: With cake and gifts.
Aky: Every birthday, we'd bring them to somewhere new. We'd like for them to be willing to try new things and appreciate the world better. It could be a farm, a museum visit or snack at a unique place.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Ashanti: Completed a screenplay and working on the next!
Anna: Charlotte got roller skates for Christmas and tried roller skating for the first time.
June: Parallel parked on the drivers side. 😂
Aky: It was Sioti's first plane ride just this weekend for his A-ku's (Uncle) beach wedding. It was the kids' first time to snorkel. Mom apparently has allergies from rust on the boat.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Ashanti: Chipotle! Always a nice treat.
Anna: Homemade Bibimbop.
June: Pickle sandwich sushi rolls with mustard dipping sauce and arugula avocado salad.
Aky: The kids love yogurt and fruits. Achi loves bread, Sioti likes bread because he gets to put cheese on it.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Ashanti: I would utilize the resources at our library and local community/social centers.
Anna: We would do great. We use internet to add to our homeschool, but don’t rely on it to do our studies.
June: That would be ok. We would take breaks with board games.
Aky: Mom rarely used the computer and depends on the Timberdoodle curriculum a lot. We've taught the kids to look up words in the dictionary. We use encyclopedia for research. We go to our garden for botany and museums for other topics. Libraries in our area are not well maintained.
What tips do you have for other families?
Ashanti: Support is key! The support of your family and those around you is imperative to long-term success.
Anna: Don’t set up your homeschool to be like ‘school’. Take the time to add surprises into the day, let them use maker instead of pencil, when in doubt add art. Part of the fun of homeschool is making it as unique as your family.
June: Keep it light hearted, follow the kids' interests, be flexible.
Aky: Setting a schedule helps lessen our worry if we're still on track. Keeping it light maintains our sanity. Allowing for cushion/adjustment makes everything fun!
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Ashanti: I appreciate his good-naturedness! He is a wonderfully joyful child, despite what he has experienced (i.e. his inability to communicate his needs, etc.).
Anna: I appreciate how thoughtful Charlotte is, she will often go out of her way to make something or help, just because she thinks someone will appreciate it.
I appreciate how Penny dances to the beat of her own drum, she does things her own way, and doesn’t have a care in the world what others think and I hope that never changes.
June: My older daughter is very opinionated, and my younger is always thankful.
Aky: Achi somehow managed to find something funny in each situation, making her parents less serious and strict. Sioti is sweet, showing love at all times and cleaning up after himself. These makes our home calmer and happier.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Anna: We’ve recently been adding more games and gameschooling to our homeschool. Recent favorites have been Blokus, Carcasonne, Eye Found It (both Busy Town and Disney editions), Candy Land, Sneaky Snack Squirrel, and Pengaloo.
June: We love the Game of Life the most, followed by Hi Ho Cherry-O.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Ashanti: Um... We like to play outside. V loves to climb and jump and run. I try to keep up! We also love to dance. :)
Anna: I do Yoga though AloMoves. I try to get to it every day if I can, but at least 3 times a week. The girls do yoga with Cosmic Kids on YouTube
June: Taking a walk morning and evening.
Aky: That one we need to work on. We hope to exercise more often, daily, if possible. Mom used to backpack and dreams of hiking with the kids. For now, we ride the bike around the neighborhood, run in the park, or jump on the bed. Dad and the kids swim, Mom still has learn how.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Ashanti: Created a new dish! It tasted okay... I'd definitely call it an experiment...
Anna: Burying a dead mouse we found in the back yard because they want to see what it’s bones look like in a few months - nature study!
June: Put my older kid into a full tub of lime Jello.
Aky: A-ku (Uncle) gave Achi a bunch of sunflowers and we tried to plant them in a pot, hoping they'd live. We ended up buying new sunflower seeds. Another strange one we did was mummify chicken bones using Guama's (grandmother) socks as we couldn't find a bandage.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Ashanti: Move... again. We're always trying to find the best services for V. This has required that we move all over California. We are planning on doing so in the next month or two.
Anna: Renovate a 5th wheel in preparation for a year of tracking around the US after Dad gets out of the Navy.
June: Learning Italian for our trip.
Aky: Make a curriculum for Chinese and set a schedule. Timberdoodle has helped a lot with all the other subjects and if only we could apply those to their foreign language.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Ashanti: Moon cruise! We search for the moon when it's at its fullest. The later at night the better! If I can stay up past bedtime, that is....
Anna: Go to the zoo for an hour just to walk around. We’re lucky enough to call the San Diego Zoo our zoo.
June: Visited the air and space museum at Balboa Park.
Aky: The kids love the slide the most and their favorite is the tall one inside the mall. They're asking to go back.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Ashanti: Learn foreign languages! All of them.
Anna: Woodworking, more specifically CNC, which we are planning to get this summer.
Aky: Mom didn't like home economics much in school but hopes the kids would be different. We'll learn sewing and woodworking together, as well as make different kinds of food.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
June: Hakuna matata.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Ashanti: I'm not sure, but he loves music. Perhaps, a musician!
Anna: Charlotte wants to be a paleontologist and mom. Penny wants to be 'a grown up.'
June: My older wants to be a movie director, my younger an astronaut.
Aky: People who can contribute to others while doing what they love. We grew up being told to choose a math related field. We'd love the kids to choose their own track but still be able to be a person for others.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Ashanti: Pancakes and bacon!!
June: Banana pancakes.
Aky: The kids like cereal and pancakes. Dad is happy with his bread. Mom is used to having a full meal in the morning (her dad used to be a chef).
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Ashanti: We take these nature hikes and connect with the land. They're always the most relaxing trips.
Anna: The new children’s museum.
June: We visited the state capital to sit in a session and protest.
Aky: I think that would either be in Kidzania where kids pretend to have grown-up jobs or Lakbay Museo where they danced with the locals. They'd enjoy as long as they're with family.
What do you do for fun as a family?
Ashanti: Play + chase + dance!
Anna: Go to the zoo, go to the beach, go thrift shopping, play games, and just play in the backyard.
June: Play Barbie, camp, go to the beach
Aky: The kids love it when dad and mom also do the activities like playing, experiment, or even walk. The endearing thing with the kids is that they find joy in simple things.
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Ashanti: Research, research, research. It's a full-time job in and of itself!
Anna: Read books, and watch YouTube videos on whatever subject we want to learn.
June: Look up anything we are curious about
Aky: We learn along with the kids. Dad self educates during his free time through apps or online. Mom will take lessons when she manages to squeeze some time for herself one day.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
Ashanti: Cucumbers and apple slices/chunks. Still trying to get V to try carrots! I know he'd love them. He's still wary, though...
Anna: Egg salad with cucumber ‘chips’. And fresh fruit.
June: Apples, carrots and peanut butter
Aky: Fruits, especially if mom prepares different kinds.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Ashanti: I'm not sure that I've "overcome" it, but time-management. It's still a struggle!
Anna: Starting to homeschool after pulling her from public school after 3 months. Just starting was the hardest. But now we’ll never go back.
June: The initial jump.
Aky: Schedule! Which subjects for which day, how many lessons to cover. Timberdoodle has helped a lot. We needed pacing and Timberdoodle guided us.
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
Ashanti: Oooo! We went to see the total eclipse in Oregon. It was a beautiful journey and an exciting few (like 5...) minutes!
Anna: A week in London.
June: Seattle to Orcas Island to watch killer whales.
Aky: The beach resort we recently went. From the cockpit in the airplane to the calmness of the ocean, the serenity of nature, the variety of food, being surrounded by family and friends.
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Ashanti: Chipotle. All the way. Would do it every day, if I had the funds...
Anna: Bibimbop. We have it down to a science and can make it in 30 min, and almost always have most the ingredients on hand.
Aky: Buy some fillets and stir fry. Another would be hotpot (mix some meatballs or seafood balls in water).
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Ashanti: OMG. Just do it. Organize it. If you don't, it won't. Not very enlightened, but it is something I struggle with. If I just do something (a.k.a. neaten/tidy/plan) right when I think of it, it gets done. If I don't? Well...that's another question entirely.
Anna: Check thrift stores for used office furniture!
Aky: Bins are labeled to categorize their toys. They return whatever they use. Books are also sorted by topic but still need improvement. Lessons are sorted by grade level then subjects. Pens, scissors, papers are all sorted per type.
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
Ashanti: Play outside and inside. Run, climb, jump (trampoline), and dance.
Aky: Achi used to go to ballet. She paused for the year. We hope to send them for more P.E. lessons in the future such as gymnastics/sports and self-defense. For now, they swim, ride the bike, and play.