Curriculum and Beyond

Homeschooling advice from Deb Deffinbaugh, founder of Timberdoodle
September 14, 2020 Updated: September 14, 2020

If you’re a homeschooler who has spent any time online looking for curriculum resources and tools, you’ve likely come across the company Timberdoodle. This family-owned and -operated purveyor of resources offers pre-assembled curriculum kits along with a la carte offerings for homeschooling families.

I asked founder Deb Deffinbaugh for her insights on choosing curriculum and homeschooling in general. Here’s what she said.

deb Deffinbaugh
Timberdoodle founder Deb Deffinbaugh. (Courtesy of Timberdoodle)

The Epoch Times: What led to the creation of your homeschool curriculum business, Timberdoodle?

Deb Deffinbaugh: In 1985, homeschooling was still relatively new, even illegal in other states. Finding materials that could be purchased for home use was a real achievement. I realized that the homeschool supplies I used with our three oldest daughters (aged 1, 2, and 3) might be useful to other families. That began our Timberdoodle tradition of searching out the best homeschool supplies and selling them at budget-friendly prices.

The Epoch Times: There are countless families finding themselves unexpectedly homeschooling their children this year. What are some things you wish you had known as a new homeschooler?

Ms. Deffinbaugh: It would have been helpful to know that I could relax. Life learning and flexibility are often more useful and formative than any rote curriculum can be. Real-life skills and character are equally important as the “3 R’s” of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Epoch Times: When it comes to choosing curriculum and resources, what key considerations should new homeschoolers take into account?

Ms. Deffinbaugh: I always recommend that parents determine their child’s learning style—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or a combination. If you don’t choose or adapt your curriculum to fit your child’s learning style, learning will be much harder for them than it needs to be. As a side note, I’ve always found that how a baby soothes can indicate their learning style. So visual babies want to look around, auditory babies settle when you hum or sing, and kinesthetic babies are those that need you to bounce, move, or sway. 

And stepping back to the bigger picture, I would suggest studying your child. If you purchase a curriculum and it doesn’t “work,” find out why. Some common reasons are: it’s too easy (boredom), too hard (frustration), it doesn’t fit your child’s learning style, you took on too much, or your child needs to shore up underlying skills (this is common in math or reading). And quite often, a child has an undetected learning challenge. But if those aren’t the issue, perhaps your child needs to learn how to push through when they don’t want to do schoolwork. A system of rewards can help—after all, even adults expect hard work to be followed by a paycheck!

The Epoch Times: What have you found to be the best aspects of homeschooling?

Ms. Deffinbaugh: The relationships. Homeschooling allows families to spend time together and build deep relationships. Flexibility is a close second, both in what curriculum you use and how you implement it on a day-to-day basis.

The Epoch Times: Do you have any final advice to the parents starting out along the homeschooling journey this year?

Ms. Deffinbaugh: I would suggest that you look at where you hope to be at the end of the year. Consider academics, life skills, and even family projects. Make reasonable goals, and choose and schedule your curriculum to meet those goals. 

Finally, a child’s character is so much more important than their curriculum. When your child is grown, if they struggle with math, spelling, or historical facts, they can use calculators, spellcheck, and even Google. But character is irreplaceable regardless of what career your child pursues, from playwright to president. Focus on teaching your child what is truly important, whether that means setting aside academics for a time, or pushing through when your child wants to quit.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza