On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

Just what do you do with your day?

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I get this question a lot. It’s sometimes phrased differently, and it often leads to additional questions: How long does your school day last? Do you give homework? Where do you do your work? Do you pick your own curriculum? How long are you going to home school? What about middle school? What about high school?!

I thought I’d share some pictures, minus the students themselves. Here is where we spend a good chunk of our day. This is supposed to be a formal living room,but we’ve re-purposed it to suit our needs.

A very clean--and rarely seen--table top and freshly vacuumed floor.

A very clean–and rarely seen–table top and freshly vacuumed floor.

It took us exactly one week to realize that we were not going to accomplish great things sitting at the kitchen counter. We bought this table from an unfinished furniture store when we were living in Corpus Christi. The benches are a recent addition, and their color still irks me. They are supposed to be a brick red, not a reddish brown.

If you’re wondering, it takes less than an hour to finish kindergarten each day. With each grade, the time increases. G, our 6th grader, usually spends 3-4 hours completing her daily work. H is halfway through 1st grade and finishes the core of her work in about an hour; however, she joins G and S for science and history in the afternoons.

I choose all of our curriculum instead of following a boxed program. (See this post on what we’re doing this year.) When we decided to teach G at home for kindergarten, I found Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum and studied it religiously. She has an updated version (101 Top Picks) and a fantastic web site, too. We store our workbooks and teacher guides in this little bookcase:

DSCN0295Our reading library, a selection of artwork and interesting finds, math supplies, and more are in this bookcase.

DSCN0285I’m not going to show you the section of my pantry where I keep the books and curricula that we are not currently using. If your children have ever been to our house, they know that this is also the place where I keep drawing paper and paints!

As for homework, the answer is nope. We do all of our school at home, so homework is what happens only if somebody refuses to complete an assignment.


H colored these flags to represent the countries we’ve studied so far this year. The skeleton puzzle was a gift from the grandparents and fits in with our study of anatomy; and that’s Pepper, hiding in the far right corner of her cage.

I’ve made a conscious effort not to put too many things on the walls. After painting the common areas of our house this summer, I took down quite a bit from the schoolroom. (It’s distracting for G to have so many things on the wall, and there are already 2 windows to capture her attention.)

Our laminated wall map of the world. We learn geography with story disks and dry-erase markers!

Our laminated wall map of the world. We learn geography with story disks and dry-erase markers!

The girls are all artists with their own unique talents. G and S take weekly art lessons and are learning techniques that I cannot teach. H loves to color and draw and has not yet surpassed my ability. I recently changed out the wall display area.



Last month G finished an oil pastel of Paris and did a brilliant job of using color. If I remember correctly, this is a view of the Eiffel Tower from the Tuileries.

DSCN0275S completed her first oil pastel on Friday. It’s a scene that she copied from an ad for British Columbia, I think.

DSCN0277H drew this scene of an Italian countryside when we were reading The Clown of God. Her assignment was to draw in the style of children’s illustrator Tomie dePaola.

DSCN0269Just how long will we continue to home school our girls? The answer is, “I don’t know.” Our original plan was just for two years. Then we added a second student…and a third. Now we’ve had a middle schooler. At this point, high school no longer seems daunting, especially since I used to teach high school English. (Now ask me how much I remember from calculus….)


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