Adam (dad) is an engineer, which is great because Terri (mom) is an editor and avoids advanced math as much as possible - hooray for different skill sets! CJ is 7, and shares gaming as a hobby with Adam, as well as soccer. He wants to build robots when he grows up. Lauren is 5 and she is the outgoing one. She loves to dance, swim, play soccer with her brother. Her career aspiration is to be a ballerina-swimmer princess.
How do you Timberdoodle?
We first heard about Timberdoodle from a fellow homeschooling friend when we were just starting out looking for some pre-K work. I knew it was a great fit because it gave me the structure I needed from the subjects in order to build up my experience and comfort level. I also liked that it picked materials from lots of different publishers and offered so many customization options. Now, I'm a dedicated fan of the custom homeschool kits and my favorite part has to be All About Reading. It was the best thing to happen to my son, who'd experienced a lot of frustration with other curricula. I fit it all into our day with the help of the scheduler that comes with the kit.
Tell us about a typical school day at your house.
We generally do math, language arts, and critical thinking daily, and science, history, art, and any other topics once or twice a week, and do some form of school every day (yes, even Christmas, but I promise I make it fun!). CJ does best with the consistency of an every day schedule, and managing our materials to make that work is great. We can get up, have breakfast, do our school and field trips, then have the rest of the day to accomplish chores or errands.
Our typical day is up at 6:00 a.m., breakfast, and start school at 8. The kids can decide what they want to do first out of their available work for the day, and when one is doing more independent work, such as art or critical thinking, I work with the other one on language arts or math. They do history and science together. Generally we spend about 3 hours a day doing some form of active schooling, whether it's hands-on learning or book work.
We have lunch at noon, and after lunch, we have our read-aloud time. That can be an adventure, because the kids don't always agree on what to read with each other, or me! We read together for at least half an hour, and after that it's time for chores or errands.
As much as I can, I try to make appointments around our school schedule, though it doesn't always work out. Like I said, CJ really thrives on consistency, so protecting our school time is important to us.
If we peeked inside your home on a random Wednesday afternoon, what would we see?
You'd see my kids begging for snacks (we don't need a snack every hour, guys!) and me trying to prep for dinner while cleaning up lunch. Wednesday is a dusting day, so you'd find one dusting upstairs and one dusting downstairs and then playing outside if it's nice and games inside if it's not (allergy season counts as bad weather to us, haha). Usually around 2:30 I get hit with the request for more art projects so I let them go to town while I get a cup of coffee or tea.
If you could take your family anywhere you wanted for vacation where would you go?
On a cruise to Alaska! I think the Carolina kids I've got would love seeing all the northern stuff.
What books have you read over and over?
Honestly, I don't read a lot of books over and over oh, and if I do it's mostly pieces not the whole book. But I do read, in general, at least six books a week.
What dietary challenges does your family face?
It's not really a challenge, but we do have a child with tree nut allergies oh, and another one who is not a huge fan of meat. I ended up adding an extra veggie dish to dinner in order to accommodate one, and we just don't get anything with tree nuts anymore. That's a shame, because I love hazelnuts.
What tips do you have for surviving a hard day?
When you are drowning, or the day is really hard, you absolutely must minimize the decisions you need to make. They only add stress when your focus is split, and for me, a hard day tends to give me an inaccurate perspective on a lot so holding out for better weather results in better decisions.
What’s something your child has done that thrilled your soul?
Seeing how generously they both give of themselves. As adults, it is easy to keep oneself back, whether it's in or dedication or effort. My kids don't do that. They do everything with their whole hearts, and people respond to that. It is a great lesson for me.
How does your family celebrate birthdays?
We do boss for the day, meaning whomever has the birthday is the one to decide how our day goes. If it's within reason, I make the activities requested happen. Then at the end of the day, they get to pick dinner. Absolutely anything they want, whether or not it's healthy, I make it happen.
What’s your favorite school day lunch?
I actually hate lunches. I love eating them, but it is my biggest meal struggle. So much so, that I finally put together a menu and framed it with options that we pretty much always have in the house so I didn't have to think about lunch anymore.
What tips do you have for other families?
I first got the tip regarding breastfeeding, but I have found that it applies really really well to homeschooling. Never make a decision about continuing, stopping, or changing on a bad day. Wait until it's at least an okay day before you take the time to evaluate what's working and what's not. When you're frustrated, it's easy to forget why you are doing something, and what you are doing well and that works. For so many people, homeschooling has an emotional component to the decision, so making choices about it when you are upset isn't wise.
What song is currently in your head?
My day is so full of noise, that I don't generally get songs stuck in my head because I am desperate for silence. However, I do think the old Clorox bleach jingle is very catchy.
Tell us about your family’s favorite games.
We love Labyrinth, and Blokus!
What hard thing are you planning to do this year?
We're taking care of some medical issues this year that will necessitate some time off. I'm concerned. There's a lot of upheaval planned for the first half of the year.
What did you do just for fun with your kids recently?
We went to an indoor jump place and just had fun. I went into it with zero expectations or requirements for them so we could all just have fun.
What would you name your boat if you had one?
I have honestly never thought about it... I'm way more likely to rent a boat than own one.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
What’s the last recipe you looked up?
A pepper sauce for pork.
What apps do you use the most?
AndroMoney, and Calendar.
If you could sum up your homeschool style or philosophy in one phrase what would it be?
It's always changing, let's roll with it!
What extracurricular activities is your family involved in?
Swimming, soccer, dance.
If you have a moment to yourself what do you like to do?
Read quietly. In silence.
What’s your favorite school day breakfast?
Generally the kids like cereal. Or toast and eggs. We're not huge breakfast people.
What’s the best homeschool field trip you’ve ever been on?
The grocery store cashier asks, “But what about socialization?” What do you say?
I've been told by the school system that school isn't the place for socializing.
What do you do for fun as a family?
How do you continue to educate yourself?
I read craft books (books about writing) to continue my professional development.
What are favorite healthy snacks at your house?
Cheese and grapes.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in homeschooling?
Letting go of my expectations and allow my kids to dictate what style I need to teach them in.
What is your favorite thing about having kids?
How much they make me become a better person.
What’s the best vacation you have ever taken as a family?
Coffee, flannel plaid pants, and spring throw pillows.
What’s your favorite in-a-pinch dinner option?
Spaghetti and meatballs.
What’s the strangest place you’ve done school?
My mother-in-law's kitchen table.
Share a favorite organizational tip.
Live in the space you want to use before you buy organizing supplies. Get a feel for your flow.
What’s making you laugh these days?
My kids giving each other a hard time (kindly). I love seeing their sibling relationship.
What do you do for P.E. in your homeschool?
My kids need no P.E. They are crazy active by their choice. We have a trampoline, they run instead of walk, and they swim and play soccer.
What’s your best time of day to homeschool?
Morning, before we get bogged down in the day.
What dream for your family has come true?
Our house. It provides space for everything each member needs.
What’s the most useless talent you have?
How fast I can read.