A Day in the Life of Iowa Timberdoodlers

My name is Jim and I am a homeschooling dad. My wife, Amber, works full time for a computer software company, and we have chosen to keep me at home with the kids. We have many homeschooling friends, but don’t personally know any other families where the dad is the teacher. Amber works in a largely male-dominated industry, so she is often one of the few women in the room when she represents her company at trade shows and such, and I am almost always the only dad in the room at homeschool gatherings.

We have three kids, all of whom have been homeschooled since the very beginning.

Our oldest daughter, Sienna, started dual-enrolling at a local high school last year (her freshman year), and has now mostly completed her sophomore year. Due to lots of extra time spent with a Driver’s Ed course and try-outs for cheerleading, she got behind on her at-home work. As such, she is essentially doing summer school at home until the work is all done!

Next oldest is our son, Connor, who finished 7th grade this year. He is a huge fan of the show American Ninja Warrior. When he gets old enough, he is determined to be a competitor on the show, so he spends lots of time exercising and learning appropriate skills (e.g. rope climbing, rock climbing, gymnastics, etc.).

Our youngest, Penny, just completed 3rd grade. She wants to be a chef when she grows up, so she likes watching cooking shows and helping out in the kitchen.

Rounding out the family is our dog, Lundy, and two cockatiels. Since both of our daughters have June birthdays (as do several nieces and nephews in the family), the beginning of summer is always hectic!

Our Morning:

A typical school day at our house begins with getting the oldest out of the house for her morning classes at public high school. She only takes one or two classes there and then finishes the day at home with her brother and sister. Our exact routine has varied each semester since she started dual enrolling for high school, but the younger two pretty much follow the same routine.

We start school at around 8:00. Our first activity is usually something we can all do together, which I try to tailor to a level that will engage both of them at their individual levels.

After that, I assign one of them to independently practice their piano lessons so I can help the other with book work. We try to rotate back and forth, so that one is working independently while I help the other. That usually works smoothly for maybe half an hour or so, before it inevitably degenerates into chaos and multiple people needing me at once!

Somewhere in there, the oldest daughter either arrives back home on her own (now that she can drive) or we have to break away to go get her. One way or another, we struggle through and keep everyone working until lunch break, when my wife is able to leave the office and come home to join us.

Our Afternoon:

Lunch is always a free-for-all. If we’re lucky and it’s towards the beginning of the week, there are usually sufficient leftovers from the weekend that something can be easily heated up. Otherwise, it becomes an issue of what can be put together quickly. We often keep working until my wife calls to say that she’s headed home for her lunch break. That signals the rest of us that it’s time for our lunch break as well. It’s a mixed blessing for us to always do our school work at the kitchen table. It’s the biggest (and generally the best) spot for us to work, but the table is always strewn with books while we try to eat lunch. On a good day, we pull all the books off onto a counter on the side before eating. Most days, we just stack them up and hope that nothing gets spilled on them!

When lunch ends, we do a quick clean-up and get back to it. We usually don’t get everyone finished until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.

Our Evening:

My wife usually gets home from work around 6:00 or 6:30 in the afternoon. Depending on the day, we may have been done with school for a couple hours, or still be struggling to get the last few things finished up.

Dinner is a day-to-day challenge, depending on what part of the week we are in. Early in the week, we may have leftovers from the weekend, but it’s also a fact that Wednesdays are grocery days. We may be running low on many things by Tuesday evening. After grocery night, the rest of the week is usually easier to find something! Quality food is very important to us, so we do our best to keep something homemade and nutritious on hand.

After everyone is fed, we all try to relax in our own ways. During warmer weather, we might go for a family walk or to a park. When the weather isn’t so nice, we might watch some TV or play a family game. My son and I love to read for enjoyment, but the girls don’t share that feeling. There are also some things which factor in based on the day of the week. Tuesday evenings the kids have to deliver papers for a paper route. Wednesday evenings during the school year are religious education class nights. One way or another, we are seldom bored!

Just for Fun:

While my role has lately been almost entirely as the at-home parent, I am also a Yoga teacher. Additionally, I am a chapter leader for our local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit group which deals with nutrition. I take an active role in my local communities holistic wellness scene, doing everything I can to support and promote it. My wife has a very strong commitment to family and tries to keep our extended family connected in any way she can.

Penny’s Day

Hi. My name is Penny and I am 9. This year I finished the 3rd grade. I like to swing on ropes, walk on barrels, play in my backyard and train my dog and pet birds. Well, my birds don’t really learn many tricks. Someone else had the birds before we did and they taught them how to make a sneezing sound, but I don’t know how they did it. I would love to teach them to fly on command or give me a high-five, or maybe it would be called a high-wing. I like to give the birds treats and let them out of their cage to sit on the windowsill.


My Morning:

When I wake up in the morning, I do my streaks on Snapchat, check if there is anything fun on the computer and then go eat my breakfast.

If it is nice outside and there is time before school, I play outside a little.

Then we start school.

After my sister gets back from her morning classes at the high school, we take a break for a quick snack.

Then we do more school until lunch.

After my dad says it’s time for lunch break, I run outside to play for a few minutes.

My Afternoon:

My favorite lunch is macaroni and cheese, but I will eat other things too. I try to eat fast so I can get more play time outside.

When it is time to get back to work, I do school. In the afternoon, I usually have to do science or reading.

After that is done, I go back outside to do swinging or practice hanging upside down by my legs on a bar.

My Evening:

At night I like to watch TV and sometimes cook things. Desserts are my favorite things to cook.

If it is too cold to go outside at night, I just play with my pets. We have to separate our pets to play with them, because they don’t get along. Lundy, our dog, tries to eat the birds, so we have to keep her away when the birds are out of their cage.

Just for Fun:

I deliver newspapers on Tuesdays and I go to CCD (religious ed classes) on Wednesday nights. It can get extra busy on those days, so I have to make sure I’m ready. Other than that, I mostly like to be at home and play with friends.

Connor’s Day

Hi. My name is Connor and I like American Ninja Warrior training. I am 13. I like to go for runs, eat Paleo foods and play video games.

My Morning:

On a school morning, I get up at 5:30. I read, do my chores, do yoga and exercises. Then I eat breakfast, which is probably pancakes.

We start school around 8:00. I usually start the day with piano, reading and English.

My Afternoon:

For lunch, I pick foods out of my Paleo cookbook. If there is extra time, I might play outside before school starts again.

When my school work is done, I do more exercises. Sometimes I might play ping pong or solitaire for fun.

My Evening:

For dinner, I might have an almond butter and jelly sandwich on homemade bread.

In the evening, I like to train with my medicine ball or play games. I like Twister, Scrabble Slam and another game called Set.

I get up early in the morning, so I am usually the first one to bed at night.

Just for Fun:

I deliver newspapers and take piano lessons. If my city had a parkour club, I would definitely join it, but we don’t have one. Whenever I have a chance, I love to do indoor climbing walls.

Sienna’s Day

Hello! My name is Sienna and I’m a dual-enrolled student, but for the most part I’m homeschooled. I am 16 years old. I enjoy being outside, drawing, playing with my dog, hanging with friends and playing on my phone.

My Morning:

Usually I’m the first one to get up because in the mornings I go to a public school. Once I finish with my classes I go home.

When I get home I have a quick breakfast then I sometimes exercise for a while then I start my homeschool work.

My Afternoon:

Usually in the afternoon I spend a few hours doing my math, history and Spanish.

When I finish my school work for the day I like to practice piano.

My Evening:

Normally I spend the evening hanging with my family, watching TV, Snapchatting my friends and taking selfies with my sister.

Just for Fun:

I like to practice cheer and gymnastic stuff, even though I don’t take lessons or anything.



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