Brian H. and Entourage of Kansas City, Missouri
Brian (Realtor) and Rebekah (Homemaker) love the outdoors and met volunteering at rural camp for urban children. Their 4 children (2 boys - 7 & 4, 2 girls - 2 & 1) also love being outdoors and exploring the world around them.
Beth B. of Missouri
We are a family of teachers! My husband teaches math at a gifted middle school and really encourages me to own my role as teacher in our family’s homeschool classroom! I love that he’s so supportive. I get the privilege to be mom to two girls and two boys. I homeschool three of our kiddos in grades 5, 3, and 1. There’s also a toddler running around, causing general mayhem, to keep us on our toes. We don’t have any traditional pets but we do have a pond filled with a resident turtle named Callie, two frogs, a snake, and lots of goldfish. It’s also the watering hole for the neighborhood birds so we’ve no shortage of nature watching, right in the suburbs!
Amber K. from Missouri
Our family includes Mom, Dad, Ella (1), Chloe (3), and Charlotte (6). Katie (20) & Olie (18), Dad's kids from a previous marriage, live with us about half the time.
- Mom stays at home but also is a photographer and crafter.
- Dad works as a data analyst.
- Katie works as a barista and is famous on TikTok.
- Olie works in a pizzeria but wants to be an engineer.
- Chloe is autistic. She is very smart and loves dogs, Play-Doh, dinosaurs, and dancing.
- Charlotte loves singing, dancing, art, cooking and making up stories. She wants to be an actress, chef or doctor someday.
- Ella is a wild child who rarely is still. She is a menace and keeps all of us on our toes.
Angie C. of Missouri
Mommy, Daddy, Kindergarten boy, Pre-School Boy
How do you Timberdoodle?
Brian: Our second year of homeschooling we decided to switch to Timberdoodle! Our oldest son has become very successful with Math-U-See and actually looks forward to math lessons! The older girl thinks the blocks are toys, and enjoys building with them. The Geopuzzles have also been a blast for our son, and he doesn't even realize he is learning. Overall, Timberdoodle makes learning fun and interactive for the whole family!
Beth: I first heard about Timberdoodle when I was searching for something to make school a little more fun for my reluctant learners. I call us eclectic classical learners because I feel we sit at two opposite ends of the learning spectrum. As a public school educator, my husband wants to make sure there aren’t any gaps in our kids' education (and so comes the classical bits of our day). But we both recognize that homeschooling gives you opportunities that would be impossible in a traditional classroom setting. My daughter really enjoyed First Language Lessons because we did so much of it verbally (which is great for someone who gets frustrated with a lot of written work). All of the Evan-Moor workbooks we’ve tried have been short and interesting enough to hold their attention. One of my favorite things has been catching the annual damaged sales. I’ve really been able to boost our curriculum library that way and it’s been so nice to have extra things on hand. I’ve picked up quite a few puzzles that way. I love having educational resources available to them as toys!
Amber: We are a new homeschooling family and so far have only used a few items to supplement our learning. We plan to buy a full kit next year because we have LOVED each item that we have used.
Angie: We have been very happy with Timberdoodle. I found Timberdoodle by searching curriculum on Google and through Facebook homeschool groups. My Kindergarten boy loves the interactive learning tools like Buggzle and Little Red Riding Hood. They are fun to use for both learning and play!
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Brian: Every morning, chores are done as part of the morning routine with breakfast being incorporated as well. Mom and Dad split curriculum pieces, and with a very unique family setup, school can last as long as needed any day.
Our second child has developmental set-backs, so adding him into our home school routine will be a challenge, but we are looking forward to the opportunity to have all 4 kids learning from home!
Beth: My daughter (5th grade) starts promptly at 8:00. She works diligently until she’s finished with her core subjects— usually around 11:00. She will do math, language, spelling, writing, and grammar. We add in some independent reading, geometry, and foreign language after she’s finished with that. Then she will eat lunch and have free time until 2:00 p.m. when we all come back together for “Table Time”. The boys (1st and 3rd grade) are a little harder to wrangle for school time. Thank goodness for curriculums like All About Reading that offer a multi-sensory approach. So many reading programs will teach your child a sound and then ask them to read a story that includes sounds they haven’t learned yet— how frustrating! The readers included in All About Reading are the best I’ve seen. The boys take LEGO building breaks between math and language arts. We try to give them some autonomy over completing their work. The only rule is that it has to be done before we start table time. When we all come back together at 2:00 p.m., we share a warm beverage (hot chocolate is a the current drink of choice). We listen to history audiobooks and read from our history texts— Story of the World has been a family favorite. On alternating days we do science. We are currently using Berean Science and my kids begged to do it today! We will listen to classical music or look up some birds we see outside. It’s such a nice time to come together again after being relatively independent for our other school subjects. After table time is over the kids are responsible for putting away all the school books and cleaning off the dining table where we’ve worked all day. They also have to complete one “helper chore” each day that’s extra from keeping their rooms clean. This has been such a huge help to me as a mom because I was getting really burnt out trying to do all of the home maintenance by myself!
Amber: Our day starts with breakfast and moves into free play. While the baby naps, we work on reading, writing, and math. My kids are young so structured learning time is limited. We spend the majority of the day playing, working on chores, cooking, singing, reading books, etc.
Angie: We usually start at 10:00 a.m. We make sure to cover math, reading and writing each day and alternate the other subjects throughout the week.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Brian: If you walked into our home on a random Wednesday, you'd probably see the girls playing on the floor in the living room or napping in their room. Our oldest boy would either be listening to an audio book, or working on one of the many manipulative while mom is working one-on-one with our other boy. Wednesday is often grocery day too!
Beth: You would see us all gathered around our dining room table and it would be covered with books (and more books), crayons, markers, pencils, water bottles, snack plates... everything! You’d see us happily together listening to something- pausing it for someone to share an interesting fact about what we’re learning. And, probably, you’d also see someone complain that someone else got more hot chocolate than they did. Or maybe have to assure someone their brother didn’t mean to look at them funny. It’s sometimes crazy. Sometimes sanity-stealing. But it’s always a privilege to get to be here. Be home! Be with them and seeing all their light bulb moments when they can connect or recall things they’ve learned. Teaching them new things. Hard things! Things they’re going to carry with them always. So sometimes (weekly) I’ll question if I’m doing everything I should be for them. If their reading is on the right level or their handwriting too sloppy. If I’m equipped to teach them everything I need. But then my daughter will hug me and thank me for reassuring her during that morning’s math lesson and I just feel overwhelming gratitude that she was learning something hard but instead of working alone in a classroom she got one-on-one attention and felt victorious when her work was complete and she could say, “That was harder than I expected, but I did it!”
Amber: Almost every evening, we have activities that some or all of the kids are involved in. On Wednesday afternoons we are getting ready for Awana.
Angie: Mommy and Kindergarten boy finishing up school for the day, Pre-School boy napping and Daddy working in his home office.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Brian: We have yet to take the entire crew on a camping trip, but we love anywhere with beautiful greenery and water! Dad and Mom went to the Apostle Islands on their honeymoon!
Beth: We are actually taking our dream road trip this summer! We are going to 15 state and national parks in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. We are camping so it’s definitely going to be an adventure! We’ve already started checking out geology books and videos from the library to get us ready!
Amber: We have not been to a beach as a family but my daughters love the water.
Angie: On a camping trip. We would love to go to Colorado or Wyoming next!
What books have you read over and over?
Brian: We love the Magic Tree House series, and the Knookerdoodle series by Laura Henderson.
Beth: We’ve read through Story of the World a couple times- mostly because it’s so easy to listen to the audiobooks in the car.
- That's Not My Bear
- Pout Pout fish
- The Belly Button Book
- The Going to Bed Book
- Little Blue Truck
- The Polar Express
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Brian: We have one kid with dietary restrictions and allergies, so many of our meals are planned around him. For the most part, we have a basic meal plan for meals we rotate daily. This makes it easy to prepare and shop.
Beth: Three of our four kiddos have severe food allergies. It’s actually one of the reasons we homeschool! Everybody feels a little safer that way. We’ve changed our eating habits to accommodate the allergies because it’s really not fun to feel left out.
Amber: My middle daughter has aversions and sensory issues with lots of foods. I make sure to include things I know everyone will like with each meal in addition to new or not so liked foods. I set the what, when, and where of meal time and my kids have no pressure to eat anything but they know that what is served is what is for the meal.
Angie: Picky eaters. Try to accommodate everyone.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Brian: Hard days are a daily thing. Caffeine, spending time in the Word, and trying to rest are the only way to try to survive.
Beth: Oh boy! Text or call a friend. Look at pictures from days that weren’t so challenging. Have a “family meeting” and talk through your feelings (much better than letting them build up!). Bake something together. Get out of the house! Do something active together. Set a timer for how much time you want to devote to something everyone is less enthusiastic about and decide what your reward will be for completing it. Put on a movie (no shame!)
Amber: Just breathe. Get out of the house for a bit if you need space. It will pass
Angie: If things aren't going as planned, just stop where you are and pick back up tomorrow with a fresh new start. That's one of the great things about homeschooling!
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Brian: All of our children already know how to get to Mom and Dad's hearts! Our oldest truly cares about people around him, and goes out of his way to help anyone he can, even his own siblings!
Beth: When they hug you and tell you thank you for helping them learn. Or when my husband comes home and they’re bursting with pride to tell him what new thing they did or learned that day.
Amber: My youngest just started talking and it is the sweetest.
Angie: Just getting to look into his bright eyes as he's learning. I am so thankful to get to experience that everyday!
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Brian: Birthdays are a big deal at our house, but we try to keep it low key. (No big parties). We focus our whole day around that individual and what they are passionate about.
Beth: Birthdays around here are tricky because they’re all really close together. We have three birthdays to celebrate in the summer and three in the fall. On your birthday you get to pick breakfast, lunch, and dinner, dessert. And you get to pick a museum to go to. We are incredibly blessed to have so many free museums around us!
Amber: The birthday kid gets to pick an activity for the whole family to do. They also get to pick all the meals for the day. We usually go to Build-a-Bear.
Angie: We have a party, of course! Cake, ice cream, family and friends....and presents!
What have you done recently for the first time?
Beth: Let my kids skip things they already know how to do. It was hard for me to not have them do every single lesson but they don’t enjoy coming back to something over and over if they feel they’ve “got” it.
Amber: I've made some new crafts
Angie: Acupuncture, for myself.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Beth: My kids love it when we do “warm lunch” usually it’s kielbasa and veggies or some kind of skillet meal.
Amber: Cheese quesadilla.
Angie: Mac & cheese is always a favorite.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Beth: That would probably be tricky! We actually do try to make sure we are doing work the “old fashioned way” with pencil and paper. But it would be really hard not having the internet as a reference when a curious question pops up. And my kiddos love to ask Alexa to help them spell!
Amber: I am sure that it would be possible; we would likely be at the library a lot. But I would rather not.
Angie: We would probably spend a lot of time at the library.
What tips do you have for other families?
Beth: Be patient. Don’t compare your struggles with someone else’s successes. Don’t assume or worry if what works well for another family doesn’t work for yours. Find your people! Go to the library. Don’t try to make your home into a classroom. Embrace the fact that you can fall down a wormhole of learning!
Amber: Don't compare
Angie: It is so worth it! Even when you have doubt, just remember the amazing opportunity you are giving your children by homeschooling and never forget that you are the best teacher they could ever have.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
- any card game
Amber: My kids current favorite is Yeti in My Spaghetti.
- Yeti in my Spaghetti
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
Beth: Eclectic Classical.
What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Beth: All three of my big kids want to go into business together renovating and building houses.
Amber: They want to be everything. It is something new every day.
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
- homeschool co-op
- sports throughout the year
- a gifted enrichment program through our school district
- a gifted enrichment weekend/summer “learning lab” style program
- Sunday school