Hands on Homeschooling

About the author
and her family

Play with a Purpose

I grew up in southern California. While still in high school I began teaching in the same Christian preschool where I had gone as a child. At this preschool I taught four-year-olds (pre-k) for four years and was an assistant teacher in the kindergarten class for a year. While co-teaching kindergarten I got engaged. Realizing that my preschool teacher salary would not be enough to be out in the “real world” (I had been living at home), I took an office job. This doubled my paycheck but I really missed the kids. I continued to teach Sunday school for the next several years off and on as my husband and I moved from California to Colorado to Texas. 

While in Colorado, after nine years of marriage, God blessed us with a daughter. From the time I knew I was pregnant my husband and I discussed my going back to work – we both agreed that I would be at home with our daughter. This is not something that every mother may be led to do. I was. Knowing I had a closet full of teaching books and supplies I looked in to offering home day care. I didn’t want to be a babysitter, and being a first time mother I really wanted to specialize in what I knew best – preschoolers. So I planned to run a day care center from my home that offered a casual program, yet prepared kids for the “real” school experience. While in the licensing process several people assured me that offering an educational program instead of just babysitting services was going to be a big hit. After getting my license I discovered there were 47 other providers in my zip code alone (not in my city – just in my zip code). I have never seen as many stay at home moms as I encountered in Colorado Springs. Everyone who saw my program said it was great and that I should have no problem filling up even with so many other providers in my area. But God had different plans as I did not get one full time student. Within a month or so we realized that my husband could not make alone what we had made in combined income, so he started checking out of state for jobs. We figured that elsewhere he alone could make what we needed. God provided a job in Texas and we moved there in the summer of 1998. 

Our daughter had her first birthday just before we moved to Texas. As she approached the two-year mark we moved from a big city to a much smaller town. This was wonderful in most respects, but my daughter lost her regular playmates. I had always intended to homeschool my children during the elementary years. But I started to realize she needed more than “free play” in her life now and I needed something productive to occupy my “spare” time. I thought I’d start her on a homeschool program as a toddler then when we reached “real school” age it wouldn’t be a big deal. Using my closet full of teacher reference books I started to create a homeschool curriculum for a two-year-old. As a starting point, I found the Two-Year-Old Skills List on a website called Homeschooling Preschoolers (shut down as of December 1999). Not wanting “desk work” for preschoolers, I set out to create a lesson plan that allowed for play with a purpose. Something we could do together and my daughter could learn in the process. Several friends saw the curriculum and suggested I put it up for sale. Hmmmm, this hadn’t even occurred to me. I contacted Michele Lewis, the lady who ran the Homeschooling Preschooler website, and explained that I had created a curriculum using her Skills List. I asked if she’d be interested in putting it up for sale from her site. She checked it over and put it up. 

After a few months of selling the two-year-old version I had an overwhelming amount of requests for older versions (ages three and four). So I created the four-year-old (pre-k) version and it went up for sale in the fall of 1999. A three-year-old version followed for the Fall 2000 school year.  In the midst of the double curriculum creation I also delivered our second daughter in February 2000.

Our second child was diagnosed with some heart deformities within 24 hours. This was devastating news, but again the Lord was looking out for us. The pediatrician in the hospital heard a murmur and asked to run more tests. The pediatric cardiologist, I believe sent to us by God, discovered some small holes between the lower chambers of her heart were causing the murmur. He assured us that this was not uncommon and usually did not present a danger to her health. However, they also discovered a larger hole in the top of her heart, a leaky valve allowing blood to go the wrong way, and an artery on the wrong side of the heart which was sending oxygenated blood back in to the heart. He said this last condition was much more rare but that it was usually not detected until the child was several months old and came in to the hospital with congestive heart failure. Our infant was set for open-heart surgery in March 2000. The doctors moved the artery and closed up the large hole at the top. Our little angel came through the surgery and spent a little over a week in PICU, 2 days in a regular room and then home. Within a few months the leaky valve had healed to almost perfect and the smaller holes between the lower chambers were apparently also smaller. She was soon off all medication. Her cardiologist told us that a lot of kids outgrow the smaller holes and some don’t. But they are no longer a risk to her health. We have been truly blessed and are thrilled to have both of our girls with us. A year after her surgery they told me that the VSD’s (holes in the lower chamber) had gone from too many to count to three. As of January 2007 she still had a murmur, but we kept praying and were thankful for what we had.

March 2002 brought a new surprise – baby #3 was on the way. Fall 2002 we started kindergarten with a five-year-old, a two-year-old and in November added a newborn.  Knowing we would need some time off for the baby we started school a month early and took an extended winter break from mid November through New Year 2003. The flexibility of homeschooling is wonderful.

At her 18-month check up the pediatrician heard a murmur in our youngest’s heart. Because of what we had already been through with the middle daughter, she sent us to the cardiologist to have it checked out. It was then we were told that all babies have a hole between the upper chambers of their heart which normally closes at birth. This one didn’t. They wanted to wait until she was at least 3 to do the closing procedure so we waited. January 2006 our youngest went in for a catheter procedure. Using the artery that passes the hip and goes up to the heart as a tube, they inserted 2 little disks that looked like mesh Frisbees. The disks were inserted into the heart and through the hole, the first disk expanded to cover the hole and then the second disk expanded to seal the hole pressed between the disks.  The procedure was done on a Thursday afternoon in the cath lab in about 2 hours (much different than spending 6 hours in a waiting room for open-heart surgery).  Friday by noon we were on our way home with a 3-year-old asking to stop and eat and play at McDonald’s. We did just that. At her 6-month follow up appointment everything was fine.

As of Fall 2007 Hands on Homeschooling is being used in 16 different countries with more than 2,000 copies sold.

In a sort of large nutshell, that is a little about me and how Hands on Homeschooling began. It has been a great blessing to me and I hope that you will take the time to send me an email if you have any questions or comments on any of the curriculums. 

Thank you,

Terri Wilson






















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2 Year Old

3 Year Old

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5 Year Old

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