Janelle B of Oregon
I'm a former missionary kid and homeschooler married to a homeschooler. Both of us are engineers. We have a 3-year-old boy, an 18-month-old girl, and a minus-2-week-old girl (I'm 38 weeks pregnant). We also have a parakeet and house bunny. We love hiking and bouldering although the second hasn't happened in a while. I'm a self-taught baby-wearing enthusiast (woven wraps mostly) and I love cross stitching. I'm working on one for the new baby and I have a landscape that's always in the background.
Shellie of Oregon
We live in a multigenerational home. There are 7 of us with 1 on the way. We are 4 adults and 3 kids with 2 of those being homeschooled and 1 disturbing the peace (3-year-old). Grandma's retired, 2 work full-time, and 1 is a stay-at-home mom. As a family we love everything outdoors.
Tara R. of Bend, Oregon
My husband C and I have 7 kiddos: S, Q, I, P, H, W & R. We’ve also got a couple of crazy standard poodles.
Christina B of Gold Beach, Oregon
Chris & Ryan with girls 6 & 9. We have a kunekune pig farm.
How do you Timberdoodle?
Janelle: I found Timberdoodle when I was researching homeschooling curriculum. My 2-year-old was expressing interest in learning more and I wanted help figuring out things to teach him. I tried some of Timberdoodle's baby stuff earlier and was pleased, so we decided to try the Preschool kit. I ended up getting All about Reading Pre-reading also because he was trying to learn letters so why not encourage that! That's currently his favorite part of school. I'm enjoying the math parts because I'm a math nerd and I suspect he is too. The 18-month-old also loves the curriculum. From unboxing day, she's called the Farmland Math animals "babas" and loves pretending to count them. She's also trying very hard to learn colors. I'm excited that we have school for post-partum recovery. We have enough table, floor and couch activities that I'll be able to sit most of the day if we want to!
Shellie: We heard about Timberdoodle through a homeschooling friend and then again through Baker Web Academy. We love the variety that Timberdoodle offers and the incredible hands on educational activities. Some of our favorites have been Colorku, Gravitrax, and puzzles such as Squirrels Go Nuts. We use Timberdoodle for almost all of our curriculum needs, from reading, math, history and science to STEAM activities, puzzles and color/activity books.
Tara: We use Timberdoodle as our curriculum through the Charter School 3 of the kids are enrolled in. The older 3 kids schooled are home, too, and I only wish I had known about Timberdoodle then so they could’ve used it as well. We love the games, arts and crafts, interesting books and all of the subjects. Timberdoodle is the best!
Christina: We are currently using Timberdoodle for first grade. Love it all.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
Janelle: We usually start school during breakfast. I read The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible and library books while they eat. When the 3-year-old is done, we move on to the hardest part of school for the day (usually All About Reading or workbooks). After that, I either free them to play and I do chores or we play some of the games. If we can't get to school first thing in the morning, I'll often try again after lunch or else just let it go. Some days, we get 3 days' worth of school done and other days they aren't feeling it or we're busy so we don't do school. They're little, so I figure I'll let them be little.
Shellie: We always start with our planner - everything is scheduled out perfectly. We start around 9:00 a.m. and finish up around 3:00 p.m. with some good size chunks in the middle for breaks. We always do the basics - reading (All About Reading), writing (Evan-Moore), math (Math-U-See), spelling (All About Spelling), and language arts (First Language Lessons). History (Story of the World), science (Exploring the Building Blocks of Science), and art each have one afternoon a week for a 2 hour block. The rest fits in here and there. We also have one day a week we leave for field trips, PE or volunteering. We schedule regular chores for the same days every week to get into a routine. Those are included on the planner so they don't get missed.
Tara: We usually get started later morning after everyone has eaten and played for awhile. We try to hit most subjects on most days.
Christina: School is in the morning after farm chores and food is normally breakfast, lunch and snacks. We usually do a minimum of 2 subjects a day.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
Janelle: We rarely do school in the afternoon. In the early afternoon, I either work on cleaning or meal prep, we go on a walk, or we play. My kids are still napping (whoopee!) between 1:30 until 3:45ish. That's my cross stitch time.
Shellie: Probably a little chaos, or maybe a lot depending on the week. If it's winter and sunny - we may be outside getting some fresh air. In the afternoon we focus mainly on history, science and art so you would likely find us in the main school room reading together or doing a project.
Tara: We’d either be schooling or we’d be at the library meeting our facilitator from BWA, the charter school we use.
Christina: We would be heading to Girl Scouts
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
Janelle: On a camping trip. Well, since the kids are little, it's more of an Airbnb in the woods. But we try to make sure there is lots of hiking nearby.
Shellie: Right now we have a 4th grader and went on a National Park RV road trip to Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce. It was super educational and we had tons of fun and want to do something like that again. Maybe to the National Parks in Oregon and Washington or California.
What books have you read over and over?
Janelle: Me personally:
- Pride and Prejudice
- whatever the kids are into
- The Christmas Little Blue Truck book
- Adam Racoon books
- When Stars Come Out by L.J. Sattgast
Shellie: My kids -
- Little House series
- Caddie Woodlawn
- Dork Diaries
- National Geographic series.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Janelle: I am sensitive to low blood sugar and low blood pressure. Before I had kids, I was on a very strict snack and meal schedule with lots of salt. If I didn't stick to it, I was guaranteed a migraine. It has gotten better, but it's hard to tell if my pregnancies changed things or if it's because I'm free to snack whenever I want now that I'm not working. Even so, we have a weird food schedule. We eat at breakfast at 8:30 (I eat as soon as I wake up), lunch at 10:30, I snack heavily while they nap and dinner is at 4:30. It works for us but can get crazy if we're visiting.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Janelle: Try not to take your emotions out on anyone, it feels good for a second but in the end it makes everything worse. Drink lots of water. Do something to reset. In our house, that's usually a walk.
Shellie: Essential oils and definitely tea (good picture reminder).
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Janelle: Recently my 3-year-old has figured out he's capable of cheering up his 18-month-old sister. He's started going out of his way to give her a hug or find her comfort animals or finding something they can play with together. I melt every time.
Shellie: My 3rd grader recently gave a public demonstration in front of 100+ people. That was pretty thrilling.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Janelle: We either eat leftovers or I'll make breakfast burritos with eggs and frozen sausage.
Shellie: My kids typically like to make a sandwich for lunch. They are each responsible for their own lunches.
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Janelle: Since we use Timberdoodle, I don't have to research too much! I'd mostly struggle to buy curriculum (I'd have to get good at catalogs) and find library books. I like to order library books online at home so that when we go I can just pick up 20 at a time.
Shellie: It would be more difficult, but I THINK it might be possible. I don't want to find out!
What tips do you have for other families?
Janelle: Do what works for you and don't compare to others. My homeschooling friends and family do things very differently from me, but we're all happy and our kids are learning.
Shellie: Perseverance is key. Also rough days will come ... and pass.