We are a ministry family. Dad is pastor, and Mom and two boys help with all things related to our church. Our boys love Lego, robotics, coding, physics, and riding their bikes. We travel a lot and love to see and learn new things!
I have some precious photos I wanted you to see:
One of my favorites from our early days of homeschooling.
My boys are pictured here with their core curriculum sets from Timberdoodle on the first day of school in September, 2012.
Also, this picture was taken this month on a day when Dad had to step in to help with math because I (Mom) was stumped!
How do you Timberdoodle?
I first learned about Timberdoodle from a friend of a friend. We were at the birthday party for a child of a mutual friend when I mentioned I was thinking about homeschooling. Truth be told, God told me to homeschool, and I was struggling with the idea. She had experience with homeschooling so I bombarded her with a host of questions. "How do you know how to homeschool? What does our state require? How do you even find curriculum? How does this work???"
She told me about Timberdoodle.
"'Timberdoodle?' That doesn't sound very serious."
"Oh, but it is!" she defended.
She then went on to explain one of her favorite features of Timberdoodle: they are not a publisher. She showed me how much freedom Timberdoodle has not being a publisher -- that they are not obligated to sell all of their own materials. Rather, they spend their resources searching the globe for the best, most innovative products then find ways to make them available to their customers.
By contrast, publishers are obligated to market whole curriculum packages regardless of their efficacy. Some publishers, she reasoned, are excellent at particular subjects -- say, handwriting -- but not so strong at others -- say, math. However, they have to sell it all. For this reason, she believed consumers could better trust the product reviews from Timberdoodle. Plus, she said she had had a great experience with Timberdoodle with her own kids when they homeschooled.
As soon as I returned home from the party I ordered a free catalogue as she directed. When it arrived, I pored over every page with growing wonder and enthusiasm.
Having believed many silly stereotypes about homeschooling, I had been concerned that homeschooling would only provide a sub-par education with limited opportunity to experience subjects like science in a hands-on kind of way. How could a child get a decent education without access to laboratories and without teachers with "professional training?" And how could I provide a well-rounded education when I had not personally enjoyed (or remembered) much of particular subjects like science and math. I had so much to learn about the way education really works!
Well, that Timberdoodle catalogue provided my first exposure to what is actually available to homeschooling students in this twenty-first century. I was astonished!
I sat down with my husband and showed him all the exciting products available from Timberdoodle. There were workbooks that looked easy enough to use, but also courses like Introduction to Engineering and Introduction to Physics, resources related to coding and robotics, and a plethora of toys and tools designed to develop critical thinking skills -- many of which were intended for very young children like my own!
"I think this could be really exciting!" I concluded.
"Well, what do you want to do?" he asked.
"I'd like to order the kindergarten curriculum. It will cost us some hundreds of dollars, but this is a huge decision. Don't you think it makes sense to test it?"
Here's what we reasoned:
1. If we crash and burn in our little homeschooling experiment, we'll continue to seek God for His direction but conclude that His plan involved something different. Since our oldest was only four years old at the time, we thought that would give us a year to "hear correctly" from God if we were off. (This, by the way, is not best practice for hearing God's voice and following His will, but we weren't sure what else to do at the time. Mostly, we were scared.)
2. Perhaps we would really enjoy the curriculum and homeschooling in general, but it would be challenging because our son was still only four (as if five is a magical number indicating school readiness. Word of the wise: it isn't!) If so, we would have plenty of time to get through it since we were starting a year "early."
3. Perhaps we had heard God correctly, would enjoy the curriculum, our son would be ready for it, and it would be everything we could ever hope it to be. In this case, we would just keep trucking ahead!
We ordered the curriculum right away, set up a little school room in a spare bedroom, and gave it a go. What did we find? Not only did the third and most favorable possibility pan out, but the joy of homeschooling far exceeded anything we could have imagined!
Timberdoodle's core curriculum gave us a fantastic start to homeschooling. Two weeks in, we realized this would be a go. Four weeks in, we couldn't imagine sending him to any other kind of school!
As always, God knew what He was doing when He told us to homeschool. Oh, we of little faith!
We're now 10 years down the road in our homeschooling journey and couldn't be more pleased with how things have turned out! Yes, there have been plenty of bumps in the road, but homeschooling has provided the means, resources, flexibility, and individualized approach needed to get over and past each one.
I always think of Timberdoodle with a sense of sweet tenderness in my heart. That lady whose name I don't even recall pointed me in the right direction -- the very direction God had for us -- when she pointed us to Timberdoodle. I'm sure Timberdoodle has never known the impact they've made on our lives, but I will always be grateful!
I have had many favorite Timberdoodle products over the years, some of which are no longer even available from Timberdoodle. The Language Lessons series by Sandi Queen stands out in my mind as one of my absolute favorites. Also, everything from The Critical Thinking Co. makes my list of favorites, especially Word Roots. What a wonderfully foundational approach to language!
Singapore Math and Teaching Textbooks were both introduced to us through Timberdoodle, and they remain our favorites for math.
The Introduction to Engineering course when we first began homeschooling set my boys on a path to obsession with all things tech. They have since won awards for their Lego machines and are very obviously on a path toward a bright future in engineering or a related field.
TTRS (Touch-Type-Read-Spell) has been a fantastic tool which we have used everyday for several years now. It has helped us properly address some learning challenges in language-related areas for which I am grateful.
Proverbs 21:5 says, "Steady plodding brings prosperity." We use all of these resources (and so much more) every day as a part of our morning routine. The stack of books always seems daunting at the beginning of the year, but breaking it down to daily increments and continuing to plod along day-by-day works! It's always so fun to admire finished work daily and yearly, and there's nothing like a stack of completed curriculum in the spring!
Mostly, though, our proudest accomplishments come from the progress we see in educational achievements as the years go by. Language concepts, math concepts, steady exposure to science, history, culture, and everything else really does build over time, and mastery really can be achieved. What fun it has been to get to be involved as my kids learn and grow to become the men of God they are made to be!
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
We start our school day by 9:00 a.m., but often one of our sons starts his work well before then. He likes to have his work waiting on the kitchen table for me to check before I come down for the day. (He's an early riser!) We are usually done by noon.
Every day we cover the following subjects:
- grammar exercises
- word roots
- handwriting practice
- writing (composition)
- foreign language
- critical thinking
We touch on science, history, logic, and the arts throughout the week.
Chores happen throughout the day depending on what they are.
We eat three square meals a day as part of our regular routine, and all three are usually shared as a family each time.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
It would be pretty quiet! Our kids help at a local after school Bible club on Wednesday afternoons. When they come back, it's usually with friends. One kid will generally disappear to a room to work on engineering projects (Lego, robots, etc.) while another would probably head out on a bike ride with a friend or grab a quick snack before heading to another friend's house to work on a project. There are always kids coming and going around here!
You'd see Mom getting tasks done around the house or working on preparing a Bible Study lesson for her class. She very well might be writing a new blog post, or be sitting on the all-season porch out front counseling a member of her church regarding spiritual matters. She's probably simultaneously planning dinner! Haha!
What books have you read over and over?
Chronicles of Narnia
What dietary challenges does your family face?
Gluten intolerance for our kids, a sensory processing disorder which has led to a feeding disorder, and tons of food allergies. It's not easy, but we make do. We cook most everything from scratch and have found certain restaurants that work for us when we travel.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
Pray. Read the Bible. Spend time focusing on who God is through worship and scripture. Our perspective of who God is matters more than anything...When we have a big perspective of who God is, everything else takes its proper place. We realize our troubles aren't really such a big deal, and everything is going to be okay!
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
One of my kids has faced a number of challenges growing up. Recently, however, he plopped down on a big chair in our living room and said this:
"You know, I don't have anything to worry about. God is good, and I have it good too. I wake up first thing in the morning, make my bed and get my room all clean, exercise, eat breakfast, do my school right off, help around the house, help at church, get to go to youth group, have lots of friends, and really enjoy my life. I'm on my second time reading the Bible since school started this year. I love God. I don't know why I would ever be depressed."
My husband and I were stunned, and we can't stop thinking about it. What a wonderful perspective our son has for a thirteen-year-old kid! We're so proud of him!
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
Special birthday breakfast, usually trips to the Oregon Coast (or sometimes other places), and presents.
What have you done recently for the first time?
Visited the Boeing Factory.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
Everybody on their own! (Less for Mom to worry about!)
How would you manage if you had to homeschool without the internet?
Just fine. Most of our school work is through books and hands-on activities. However, it would be more challenging to choose curriculum without the internet...It would be back to the catalogues, which Timberdoodle does a great job with!
What tips do you have for other families?
Don't compare yourselves to others. Just do what God tells you to do, and you'll be fine.
What is something you appreciate about each of your kids?
Each of my kids find ways to bless others. They look out for kids at church that don't have adults with them and make sure people feel welcome wherever they are.
What song is currently in your head?
"Take Me Back," by Cochren & Co.
Tell us abut your family’s favorite games.
All things Catan and Ticket to Ride.
What is your exercise routine and how often do you do it?
We walk a lot. Thank you, Apple Watch, for keeping us on track every day!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in your homeschool that you called a “science experiment”?
We started to do the Chicken Mummy from Story of the World, but that got way too expensive, complicated, and...way too long to have a dead chicken sitting on my kitchen counter! Haha!
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
We're taking the kids to Italy! (Should be fun, but there are a lot of details that will have to work out just right.)
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
Play a game.
What would you name your boat if you had one?
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
To get way better at canning.