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.
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.
Although the decision to home school was difficult, it paled in comparison to choosing curriculum. We read books, listened to veteran homeschoolers, attended workshops and seminars and made purchases. Because of our insecurities, we used textbooks almost exclusively that first quarter, but quickly realized something wasn’t working for us. By the time December arrived, we were looking for something different, especially for our language arts.
We had been using an effective vocabulary program, an in-depth writing/grammar curriculum, a thorough spelling program and an interesting reading/comprehension curriculum. The difficulty was 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 set aside all those programs and read Christmas stories, pulling all of our language arts lessons from the stories. 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.
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 has 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, were in 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. It was a move to be closer to family and thus has been a blessing for us. We now live on five acres that we share with my parents. My sister is ten minutes away, my brother about an hour.
Times change and while TLP is still family-run, we employ others outside the family as well. Terry is now in charge of our private school division. Christina, our oldest daughter, gave birth in November to our first grandson, Connor. She lives nearby and her organizational skills are a blessing to TLP. Jessica, our middle daughter, graduated from Pepperdine University and now lives in New York, however in this technological age, she continues to be involved with TLP. She has written and co-written several study guides, illustrated our American Literature series, and proof-reads for us on a regular basis. Rebecca, our youngest, also graduated from Pepperdine and has joined her sister in New York where she works as an RN as she participates in Columbia University’s Nurse Practioner program. Her homework leaves her little time for involvement with TLP, but we are thrilled she is able to follow the Lord’s leading in her life. Mom and Dad have gotten older. Mom has Alzheimers, and Dad devotes much of his time to her care. They live on our five acres next door to us, so we have daily contact, but they are no longer able to work in the warehouse. Allan and Lynne are no longer representatives (their children are now in college). Debi still does my books and gives expert financial advice.
I am now able to devote myself full time to TLP-except when I am visiting my son and granddaughter, Rachel, in California or Rebecca and Jessica in New York, or playing with baby Connor. We praise God daily for the gift he has given us-to be able to serve homeschoolers and private schools through TLP.
How did a homeschooling family develop and market a successful language arts curriculum? The answer is in our name. Shorten Total Language Plus to TLP and what do you get? The Lord Provides. You see, we know this project is bigger than ourselves and except for the Lord’s guidance and blessings, there would be no Total Language Plus.
How did we do it? We didn’t. He did.