Shenny of South Florida
Pedazo, Bruja, and Mr. Max are my children. P would love to be a vet someday. Her love of reading is preparing her for that. B loves to dance and being able to keep up with P. Mr. M loves to dig so he will do a trade someday. All 3 love to collect rocks and camp. Chanel is our diva dog and Goliath is our sweet dog that will forever protect the kids.
Autumn of Florida
There’s my husband who loves to build things; my daughter who loves to read, bake, and write her own stories; and my son who only wears the color blue, loves to build things, and is super creative.
Mercedes K of Minneola, Florida
We are mom, dad, two homeschool kiddos and one fur baby. Mom is a vision therapist, Dad is a retail manager. Kid #1 is a competitive soccer goalie. Kid #2 is a competitive tower and amateur weightlifter. Fur baby keeps us in cuddles.
Tiffany M of Florida
Our household has Logan (13), Jay (17), Tiffany, Grandma and Grandpa. We have a variety of things we enjoy but soccer is a big one. It is even a desired career for our oldest, who has been coaching since he was 14. He thinks he would like to be a teacher someday, too. Jay also enjoys history. Logan enjoys space and aviation, and most science topics. I enjoy art and writing. Grandpa is a hands-on person and works on cars and woodworking with the boys. While Grandma teaches them tech stuff. We all like animals and have numerous pets including a turtle (Foodie) who lives in his pond with lots of goldfish, a tortoise (Atticus), 2 guinea pigs (Cinnamon and Pepper), a dog (Shayla), and 3 betta fish.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Shenny: We heard of Timberdoodle 3.5 years ago. We were exploring fun options to educate our firstborn while raising a mom's toddler. We loved that Timberdoodle included many hands-on options to make learning fun. We still use some items from the kit.
Autumn: This is our fourth year using Timberdoodle. We use the elite curriculum for both the kids. They are always super excited to unpack the box every year!
Mercedes: First found Timberdoodle at the FHSA Convention and have used everything from grade curriculum kit, to games, to individual resources. We love how approachable and fun Timberdoodle makes learning for our two kiddos.
Tiffany: When I decided to homeschool Logan completely 2 years ago, Timberdoodle was a site that popped up every where in the search. I looked at the options available on the site and decided that it was worth a try. I love the Curriculum Kits because they give you everything you need if you are not certain where to start and even some extras like dot-to-dots and STEM and building kits. I also liked that once I figured out what worked for us, I could make a custom kit. The Custom Kits work best for us because my son is on like 3 different grade levels of work. I can give him a lower grade level on English while teaching him a higher grade level math or science or I can choose to take a course out of the kit if I won't be teaching it. I also really like the Notgrass history programs and so do my kids. This year I have decided to try using PAC curriculum as well and it has worked out nicely for us. There are so many choices with Timberdoodle, be it secular teaching, like we usually choose, or religious based, or even a combination. The curriculum is fun and structured differently then a brick-and-mortar curriculum. We all learn new things from it and that makes it really something.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Shenny: Our typical day starts exploring . See what sparks our interest with some math and science mixed in. We do lots of reading and playing educational games . Breakfast is the most organized meal with lunch being an item that is made in the least amount of time.
Autumn: We always start after breakfast and are usually done at lunchtime for my son. He is in first grade. My daughter is in fourth grade and usually has two subjects left after lunch.
Mercedes: We begin as early as we can bounce out of bed and work until it’s complete. We take many food breaks, fitness breaks, fun breaks, and even flash cleaning breaks. That’s when we crank up a song or two and see how many chores we can get done before the song(s) ends. We cover everything from grammar to Latin. Our kiddos both love science and the kits we have purchased through Timberdoodle have always been amazing.
Tiffany: A typical school day at our house is kind of laid-back but structured. I usually start around 7:30 with my youngest, who right now only has 3 courses. He just finished the histography course and 8th grade astronomy course offered through Timberdoodle and geometry so, we only have English, science and American history. We doubled up on history and science this year. He enjoys astronomy so we chose to do a Focus On course, as well as, a basic science foundation course. He will be starting an aviation course soon. He usually completes his day around noon, in time for lunch. We take lots of breaks to keep him from getting frustrated and I let him choose how he wants to order his subjects each day.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Shenny: Dinner would be brewing and a child reading on the island while the others are creating in some form or another.
Autumn: Science projects typically get done on Wednesday afternoons.
Mercedes: Wednesday is Dad’s day off. So we usually hit the core subjects early and anything that is pressing and then we enjoy some fun with dad. Hikes, trips to the indoor trampoline park, and sports drills are some of our favorite things to enjoy together.
Tiffany: I depends on the time but if you came by in the morning, you'd see two teenagers and their mom at the dining room table. Two computers open, papers spread out and binders open. Textbooks, workbooks, pencils and pens in front. Most of the time there is some kind of discussion happening and the dog sitting either in her bed or some place else close by to watch. Grandpa might come in or out depending on his projects for the day and the boys might go join him if it sounds interesting to them or they have completed the necessary days work.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Shenny: Patagonia , New Zealand, Iceland, Scotland , Ireland, France.
Autumn: Greece, to visit my husband's family.
Tiffany: Almost anywhere in Europe, especially Italy, Greece and Austria. I think I'd also like to visit India and maybe Egypt.
What books have you read over and over?
- The Giving Tree
- The Night Dragon
- Ferninand the Bull
Autumn: Outlander series
- Narnia series
- The Hobbit
- Hunger Game series
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Wuthering Heights
- Romeo and Juliet
- The Great Gatsby
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Autumn: High cholesterol and allergies. We eat at home most of the time.
Mercedes: We have dairy and gluten sensitivities. We meal plan and prep on Sundays to ensure we have healthy, sensitivity conscious options.
Tiffany: Allergies to shellfish, eggs, and gluten. I usually try to make sure that there is always an option without these items or just change an ingredient to make it work for us. Sour cream for eggs, almond or gluten-free flour in place of regular flour.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Shenny: Take a breather. You step outside the environment to gather yourself and join when ready.
Autumn: Take it one task at a time.
Mercedes: Exercise or Disney+ binge session, depending on the kind of hard. Sometimes both.
Tiffany: Tea... I like to drink a cup of tea to start my day. It seems to help start my day. I also had to find an outlet to get my stress and worries to ease. I use writing and art, specifically painting, and music sometimes too. My kids both turn to music listening or playing but it helps them release whatever is there. And finding someone to talk to.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Shenny: Being the sweet souls that they are. Always being inclusive.
Autumn: They are both very giving and thoughtful towards everyone.
Mercedes: My birthday was a few days ago and my son spent his birthday money to buy me my favorite board game, while my daughter made me a cake and scripture bookmark. They know me and gift according to my likes and not their own.
Tiffany: My youngest is autistic so most things he does thrills my soul. His progress in school is one of my biggest joys. He was struggling so hard in regular school but as a homeschool student he is just reaching success after success and amazing all of us. My oldest coaches soccer and this year he coached his little brother. It was amazing to watch him teach these 11 - 13-year-olds about the game and encourage them.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Autumn: Balloons, presents and cake!
Mercedes: We start the day with a homemade Belgium waffle topped with a scoop of the birthday person’s favorite ice cream. From there it varies.
Tiffany: Birthdays are big for us. One year I put pictures of my oldest on his door from birth to that year. We always have cake and family over. I like to let them decided how they want their birthday celebrated but we try to make sure they know they are loved.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Shenny: Hiked up a mountain.
Mercedes: My daughter and I attended Rock the Universe for the first time and my son and I attended our first professional indoor soccer match.
Tiffany: I drove by myself to another state. I like to travel but I always had another adult with me to help with kids or whatever. This year my oldest and I drove to North Carolina by ourselves.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Shenny: A sandwich and broccoli salad.
Mercedes: Usually a mason jar salad and some grilled chicken or mini sliders. But every once in a while we head to Chick fil A.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Shenny: The library!
Mercedes: About the same. We would just need to find our own books at the library.
Tiffany: I actually do not like using internet-based curriculum so homeschooling would be pretty similar to how we do it now. Text book and workbooks, handwritten papers, using an book or encyclopedia to get information.
What tips do you have for other families?
Shenny: Remember each child is different.
Mercedes: Don’t overthink this homeschooling thing. You do not have to do EVERYTHING every single day.
Tiffany: Try everything, you never know what will work for you and the least likely thing usually turns out to be best. Never give up. There are so many other options or ways to teach or really to do anything, and it might seem crazy or difficult but it is not impossible and the success you give you student will outweigh all the struggle. It is definitely worth it.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Shenny: Monopoly, Twister, Trouble.
Mercedes: Currently it is Scattergories, but always a family favorite is Clue.
Tiffany: We all like Monopoly and we have I think 12 different Monopoly games. It is fun to see the new boards and what they decided to use as each street or utility for each new design they come up with. We also like Clue. My oldest likes Chess and plays FIFA constantly. My youngest enjoys Sorry and Checkers.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Tiffany: I wouldn't say weird but we built a pond for our turtle. We dug the hole, found a liner, filled it with water and planted plants then added fish and the turtle. It is a full ecosystem. It gave our turtle the space he needed to continue to grow while showing how everything has a purpose in the world even if it leads to outside factors we did not foresee before the project began.
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Tiffany: Socialization is relative. I would rather my kid get an education that does not cause him stress and anxiety because he feels different and wrong all the time than to make sure he hangs out with some kids in school. Socialization is about who you get to communicate with and how that communication makes you feel not the fact that you are trapped in a 12 X 12 classroom with 32 or more other students your age. Most of those students don't even like you or think you are weird and are just plain mean. My kids get socialization from people they enjoy talking to and learn from. Socialization is supposed to make people understand each other and be able to communicate but what my child got inside a school was not understanding and limited his ability to communicate so I have chosen to give him the freedom to learn those things out side of a school like on a soccer field or in our home or at a friend's house instead.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Tiffany: The biggest challenge I had to overcome was allowing my kids to work at their own pace. I had to stop expecting to have certain things finished by a certain time and let them kind of do it. I like to micromanage and make lesson plans so, it took a lot to just let go and say sometimes things take a little longer.
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Tiffany: I have a curriculum binder that has lesson plans and grades, attendance, and any login information I might need. It keeps my on track and each week I can see what we have to work on and what we are excelling at.