Total Language Plus is a result of our family answering the Lord’s call. We still wonder why He chose us, but our hearts are filled with gratitude that He did.
Coming Home for School
After two years of struggling with the idea of homeschooling, we finally decided it was the Lord’s will for us, so in the fall of 1991, Jessica (7th grade) and Rebecca (5th grade) came home to learn. Later that winter, Christina (11th grade) also joined us. Our son, Terry Jr., had completed his schooling by the time we began the adventure.
Text Book Fever
Although the decision to home school was difficult, it paled in comparison to choosing curriculum. I read books, listened to veteran homeschoolers, attended workshops and seminars and made purchases. Because of my insecurities, I used textbooks exclusively that first quarter, but quickly realized something wasn’t working for us. I’d chosen an award-winning vocabulary program, an in-depth writing/grammar curriculum, a thorough spelling program and an interesting reading/comprehension curriculum. But we were spending all morning on language arts and still had science, math, history, and Bible to study with no time for electives such as art, music, and foreign languages.
During the Christmas season, we chucked all the language arts lessons, and I devised our own. We read Christmas stories, pulling all of our language arts lessons from those stories: The Gift of the Magi, The Little Fir Tree, A Christmas Carol. The girls didn’t question why they were learning a particular vocabulary word because it was part of the story. Learning to spell their vocabulary words was a logical, natural step and basing the writing assignments on the events and characters in the story inspired their writing. In fact, our enjoyment and success were so substantial, we never looked back; an integrated approach was the answer for us.
The Vision Grows
Even so, we never dreamed what the Lord had in store for us. When friends saw what we were doing, they asked for copies of our lessons. Terez Matkins was the first to encourage us to make it available to homeschoolers everywhere, but we doubted her enthusiasm. Why would anyone be interested in something we were doing? It wasn’t until Rachel Sorenson, the principal of our cover school, pronounced it worthy of publishing that we began to see that the Lord was doing a marvelous thing in our lives.
He opened every door as we trusted Him through the journey: In our initial stages, Cathy Duffy graciously gave of her time and talents to review one of our titles, making comments on nearly every page; Chris Lee was just a teenager when we worshipped with his family in North Bend, Oregon, but when I needed an artist’s input for page-layout and design, he was living near by and in his final years of art school; when we didn’t know how or where to market our fledgling product, Wade Hulcy freely gave invaluable words of wisdom and provided a list of conventions and contacts. Whatever the need, our Lord went before us opening doors, and finally, in April, 1993, we attended our very first convention in the basement of a church in Danville, California.
Our business expanded to include private schools, not only here in the US, but in foreign countries as well. We’ve placed Christian materials in schools in countries such as Iraq and Korea. Military families posted throughout the world use TLP in their homeschools and we are excited to be available to them.
In the beginning, TLP was a family-run business in every sense of the word. My husband, Terry helped where ever he was needed. Our three daughters did their share of attending conventions, answering phones and doing data entry. My parents, Tom and Frances Tifft, took charge of the warehouse, keeping track of inventory, stocking shelves and shipping products. My sister, Debi Van Buren, did bookkeeping and financial advising. My brother and his wife, Allan and Lynne Tifft, were representatives for Washington and Oregon. We are all dedicated Christians with a heart for service, a love for children, and a passion for the Lord.
In 1999, we moved from Livermore, California to Olympia, Washington near where I was born. We now live on five acres that we share with Christy, her husband, two grandsons, and a menagerie of farm animals. Jessica graduated from Pepperdine University, married Aaron and together they have a son and daughter. Jessie serves as TLP’s Creative Director from her home in Seattle. She has written a couple of focus guides and worked on numerous study guides, besides developing our instructional videos and illustrating our first and second grade readers. Becky graduated from Pepperdine, then went on to get her graduate degree from Columbia University. She is a nurse practitioner at Harbor View in Seattle. In 2016 she married Ali and they are expecting a baby girl in June.
Mom is no longer with us. Employees handle the shipping. A trusted CPA now oversees the bookkeeping.
Terry and I continue to manage the business of TLP. Jessie and I are working hard on expanding our product to include first and second grade materials. I’ve also been blessed to write historical fiction, the most recent published by Barbour and released April 2017. We praise God daily for the gift he has given us-to be able to serve homeschoolers and private schools through TLP.
How did we do it? We didn’t. He did.
It is our prayer that Total Language Plus will be a valuable teaching tool, encouraging children to:
- appreciate reading (so the Bible and other Christian books will be eagerly read);
- be comfortable with grammar and spelling (so nothing will hinder their ability to communicate with all people);
- share ideas and feelings effectively (so they can communicate to others the good news of the Gospel);
- enjoy learning (so hearts will remain open to God’s will in their lives).
May God bless you and your endeavors to teach His children.