Marissa of Des Moines, Iowa
Patrick, my husband, is a research scientist and former science teacher. I am a freelance legal Spanish translator. Our kids, E and M, are 7 and 4 years old respectively.
Lindsey of Iowa
We are a family of 7, with a dog, and many farm cats and chickens. My husband and I both run our own businesses, while homeschooling our boys. Our boys are all 2 years apart with the oldest being 8 and the youngest is almost 3 months old. We love playing board games and going on hikes.
Samantha of Iowa
Stay at home mom of 4. A, age 7. I, age 5. D, age 2.5 and L, age 7 months. Dad is a general contractor and regular entrepreneur.
Megan of Bettendorf, Iowa
We have four kids. B is 14 years old and attends public school. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are 4 years old and currently homeschooled. We also have G who is 3 months old and enjoys “helping” the twins with school. I am a teacher during the day and hubby is a director of programming for adults with disabilities. Our family loves music and dance!
How do you Timberdoodle?
Marissa: Timberdoodle was recommended to us by a friend when we first decided to homeschool our oldest when he was 3. We either use a grade level complete curriculum set or piece together a set based on our needs that year. At this stage of teaching preschool to one child and second grade to another, we spend an average of two hours per day doing schoolwork.
Lindsey: I first heard about Timberdoole 4 years ago, and ordered our first curriculums a few months later. We love all Timberdoodle products! My boys especially like the games, Morphun blocks, and Gravitax. We try to use one of these items at least once a week, usually on Fridays.
Samantha: Already shopping for a secnd year with Timberdoodle. The kids ate loving the science and, surprisingly, the handwriting. Timberdoodle is our main curriculum source and the custom kits are PERFECT!
Megan: We first found Timberdoodle when we began researching curriculum to use with our twins. We were looking for a non-religious curriculum that incorporated lots of hands-on activities. Timberdoodle exceeded that for us in so many ways! We are in our second year homeschooling the twins and love so many products. Our favorites include bambinoLUK, Three Little Pigs, and Math-U-See. BambinoLUK gives my toddlers an independent learning task that they love to complete and check themselves. They think Three Little Pigs is simply a game they can play, so it lives on our board game cart.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Marissa: We start school at 10:00 a.m. and do desk work until noon. With my second grader, we cover reading, writing, spelling, math, geography, history, Spanish, and art. My husband does science once a week after work in the evening since he is a scientist. We do chores in the afternoon usually.
Lindsey: Our school day normally starts off with breakfast, exercises and then we start school. For my older two boys (3rd grade) we do science, cursive, reading, math, history, geography, spelling, language lesson, and then a logic book/game. For my preschooler we practice our letters, work on math, science, and a logic book/game. We try to have our school done by lunch, but sometimes we break for lunch and finish in the afternoon.
Samantha: Our school days are really fluid. With Dad's schedule being extremely sporadic, the kids are really used to doing things on the fly. Book work picnics while taking him lunch on the road. Some independent projects done while at the office away from home. The bulk of our book work happens at "the bench" (aka: our built-in dining table).
Megan: We are a non-traditional homeschool family. Both hubby and I work full time during the day while the twins are home with a caregiver. They do art, P.E., and some of the STEM games as play throughout the day. We start our actual school day at 3:30 p.m. when I get home from work. During that time, we focus on math, reading, and writing daily. We rotate science, social studies, STEM, and emotional skills throughout the week.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Marissa: The afternoons are for chores and for free imaginative play.
Lindsey: You would see us just starting school after lunch, as we go to the library Wednesday mornings.
Samantha: Wednesdays are our built-in mid-week reset day. We'll catch up on anything we missed early in the week. Maybe work ahead if we're going to need Thursday or Friday off. Or maybe if it's a slow week, the kids will be making messes... I mean memories.... with their science experiment kit.
Megan: We do school wherever the mood strikes us. On any random day, you are likely to find us sprawled on the living room floor playing with Ziggy the zebra or building math problems with our math manipulatives.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Marissa: The Gulf Coast, always!
Samantha: Warm ocean beach, not picky.
Megan: Disney cruise to someplace warm!
What books have you read over and over?
Marissa: We have read many children’s books celebrating diversity, teaching social justice, and encouraging acceptance over and over. We would love to see more of these themes in Timberdoodle.
Lindsey: We have been listening to the book Zero G and have listened to it many times.
Samantha: If it has a train, construction equipment, or dinosaur pictures, I've read it.
Megan: Dilys Duck and Brown Bear.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Marissa: Our son has several anaphylactic food allergies, including cow’s milk, egg, and peanut among others. His severe contact reactive allergy to cow’s milk is the reason we started to homeschool in the first place. We started a homeschool play group in our area which has food rules to keep him and other food allergic kids safe while they learn and play together.
Lindsey: Veggies, we keep introducing them over and over again. They will eventually like them, right?!?
Megan: I am currently dairy free while nursing our new little one. We focus on incorporating more vegetables and fruits and whole foods to avoid dairy.
Samantha: We like too much food, does that count?
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Marissa: Take breaks to do what you enjoy. If the child is having a hard time with their work, get them some high protein food, a drink, and some time to get their wiggles out on a toy trampoline or similar before trying again.
Megan: Take a deep breath and get a workout in! The endorphins are an amazing way to bust up a bad day!
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Marissa: Spent his tooth fairy money on canned food to donate to others in need.
Samantha: Watching therm be selfless. They're much kinder people than I've ever thought about being.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Marissa: For the kids, we do something different every time, whether it be a family party, a friend party, a party with just the grandparents, a museum visit, or a special zoo or amusement park trip.
Lindsey: We always have a party at our home with family and friends. I always make homemade cakes for my boy's birthdays as well.
Samantha: 3 have late spring birthdays that we celebrate with one big party. The oldest is right around Christmas. She gets her own big party because I refuse to let her get lost/forgotten in the holiday shuffle.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Marissa: We took the kids to the state capitol building on a tour with our homeschool group.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Marissa: Wowbutter and jelly sandwich, a vegetable, veggie straws, a fruit, and almond milk.
Lindsey: My favorite is tacos or sloppy joes. My boys' favorite are peanut butter jellies.
Megan: The twins love lunchables because they are a fun treat!
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Marissa: We have a few internet-based programs that help teach the children computer skills, but at their age, we would still be able to complete the majority of their work without it.
Lindsey: We would spend even more time at the library!
Megan: Our homeschooling is hands-on so we would have no issues if we lost internet.
What tips do you have for other families?
Marissa: Enjoy the positives of homeschool! Take mental health days, snow play days, good weather days, field trips, and vacations when you feel like it! Encourage imaginative play, free time, and make sure they get plenty of social time too! Guide your child in pursuing what they love and teach them using methods that work for their personalities and special needs. There’s no one right way.
Megan: Do what fits your family even if it’s not what other people recommend.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Marissa: My oldest is very gentle, sensitive, and has a great sense of humor. My youngest is very unapologetically unique, strong, hilarious, and loving.
What song is currently in your head?
Marissa: Lizzo all the time!
Lindsey: Memories by Maroon 5.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
Marissa: My oldest LOVES games. We get new ones every Christmas, so the family favorite is constantly changing. Right now, he loves Clue Jr and my youngest loves Break the Ice.
Lindsey: We are board game nerds. We absolutely love Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Catan, Tsuro, and my 4 year old loves Sum Swamp.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
Marissa: I walk on my treadmill nightly for 30 to 45 minutes.
Lindsey: I enjoy Buti Yoga, but my boys work out every morning with stretches, jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, and pull ups.
Megan: I work out at home each weekday morning before work. Hubby goes to the gym three days a week after work.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
Marissa: We took a food sample from our hermit crab tank and observed the little insects under a microscope. We frequently add rolly polly bugs to the tank to help keep it clean, and they’re always reproducing.
Megan: Nothing weird. Our coolest project was starting plants from seeds inside our house. The twins got to watch them progress and then transplant them outside once the weather was warm enough.
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
Marissa: We are working on teaching our second grader to write stories on his own, which is his biggest challenge right now.
Lindsey: Teach my 4 year old to read!
Megan: We decided to push the twins with math this year by trying kindergarten level math.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Marissa: We played in the snow!
Lindsey: We went to a museum near us, it has an AR Dino exhibit that my boys love!
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
Marissa: I would love to learn to play the guitar or weave on a loom. I would also love to learn a third language.
Lindsey: Sewing and how to use a circuit to make lots of crafts!
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
Marissa: Roasted chicken legs with soy sauce and honey
Lindsey: Apple crisp
Megan: Strawberry banana bread
What apps do you use the most?
Marissa: Probably Facebook and Gmail.
Lindsey: Facebook, Email, and Chrome.
Megan: Osmo - Little genius kit.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Marissa: Freedom to be me.
Megan: Structured chaos.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Marissa: My son wants to be a chef or an archeologist/paleontologist. My daughter wants to be a scuba diver.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Marissa: We do swimming lessons yearly. We have also done soccer and ballet. We are thinking about cheerleading and basketball soon.
Lindsey: My boys play baseball.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Marissa: Read a book or watch a show I enjoy.
Lindsey: Read or catch up on a TV show.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Marissa: Yogurt or cashews and raisins for my son because he learns better with high protein food.
Lindsey: Peanut butter toast.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
Marissa: Our favorite was probably the Botanical Gardens.
Lindsey: We went to a dairy farm that had kangaroos you could feed and pet.
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
Marissa: Our kids are socialized with a lot of people daily, not just people their own age. They play with a wide range of children in their homeschool groups and extra activities.
What do you do for fun as a family?
- go on walks
- bike rides
- play board games
- play board games
- go hiking
- go to museums
- watch a movie together
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Marissa: I do a lot of reading of fiction as well as news and social justice pieces. I also feel like I learn along with my kids and get a refresher on things I already knew. I teach my kids that we never ever stop learning in life.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
- granola bars
- fruit and vegetable pouches
- protein balls
- fruit in general
What’s the best museum you’ve ever gone to?
Marissa: We loved going to the science center when they had their dinosaur exhibit open.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Marissa: I am not sure I have overcome it, but it is a constant challenge being both a parent and a teacher.
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
Marissa: They make us laugh every day, are full of cuddles, and bring us lots of joy. They also make us proud when they’re good to each other and others.
Lindsey: The cuddles, silly things they say, and watching them grow and learn new things every day.
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
Marissa: Our vacations with the grandparents to Florida.
Lindsey: We haven't traveled much since having more kids, but a couple kids ago we took a trip to the Dells to water park. My kids absolutely loved it and still ask to go back!
List 3 frivolous things you are enjoying right now.
- a new book
- a bag of chocolate
- a Hulu documentary
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
Marissa: At a rock quarry.
Lindsey: Wouldn't say it's that strange, but the trampoline.
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Marissa: I love my little book case in my closet that holds all my homeschool materials and is organized by age and subject.
What special gifts or talents to your kids have?
Marissa: My son knows more about dinosaurs than anyone else I know. My daughter is very musical.
Lindsey: My oldest can play piano by ear.
Tell us something unique or unusual about your family.
Marissa: We have pet hermit crabs.
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
Marissa: We don’t have P.E. because my kids never stop moving no matter what. When it’s too cold to be outside, they have an indoor mini trampoline and basketball hoop.
Lindsey: We do exercises every morning, and then send the boys outside to play after school.
What’s your best time of day to homeschool?
Marissa: In the morning when they’re well rested.
Tell us something interesting about your local area.
Marissa: We have a lot of corn. Like so, so much corn. And pigs.
What dream for your family has come true?
Marissa: Getting to spend as much time together as possible.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
Marissa: I have a lot of cheerleading skills, but I’m 32 so they do me no good.
Lindsey: I can curl my tongue in the clover shape.