On a Learning Curve

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


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Just what do you do with your day?

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.

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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.

Landscapes!

Landscapes!

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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An Afternoon at the County Fair

We live in a county that is mostly rural, somewhat suburban, and definitely not urban at all. The annual county fair is a big deal. So much so that there is no school on Friday and students are sent home early on Thursday. On Friday, students get in to the fair for free and all rides cost $1 until 5 P.M.

Though we homeschool, I’ve quickly learned that it’s pointless to schedule a full school day on this particular Friday. After a quick morning of math and language arts (the 3 Rs), we headed to the fair, too.

Everyone goes to the fair. We saw neighbors, soccer teammates, friends from church, friends from co-op, and our pastor and his wife. Yes, life is good in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

Our first stop? The Art building.

H's Honorable Mentions in Primary (1st-2nd) Art. The piece framed in orange is titled "Ping on the Yangtze River."

H’s Honorable Mentions in Primary (1st-2nd) Art. The piece framed in orange is titled “Ping on the Yangtze River.”

S won Junior Grand Champion in for Intermediate (3rd-5th) Art. This is her "Hamster in Ink."

S won Junior Grand Champion for Intermediate (3rd-5th) Art. This is her “Hamster in Ink.”

G's pencil sketch of an Appaloosa took a 3rd prize in Middle School Art.

G’s pencil sketch of an Appaloosa took a 3rd prize in Middle School Art.

G's pen and ink of a Siberian tiger and cub also won a Junior Grand Champion prize for Middle School Art.

G’s pen and ink of a Siberian tiger and cub also won a Junior Grand Champion prize for Middle School Art.

After reveling in their art wins, the girls wanted to visit the livestock. Here’s some of what we saw (and petted).

How can you just walk by and NOT pet the goats?!

How can you just walk by and NOT pet the goats?!

We watched these lambs get baths (power washing and Ivory soap) before they were tied up to dry in the sun.

We watched these lambs get baths (with a power washer and Ivory soap) before they were tied up to dry in the sun.

Piglets, anyone?

Piglets, anyone?

A quiet calf rests in a clean bed of hay.

A quiet calf rests in a clean bed of hay.

Posing with a friendly calf for cow-loving Compassion child Joselynne

Posing with a friendly calf for cow-loving Compassion child Joselynne

Underneath all that fur, there's a rabbit in there.

Underneath all that fur, there’s a rabbit in there.

Poultry amuses me. With these skinny legs, no one is eating this bird.

Poultry amuses me. With these skinny legs, no one is eating this bird.

Finally, we headed to the rides. While I tried to push away concerns about germs and safety, the girls squabbled over whether to ride the Ferris wheel or carousel first.

G and S on their first-ever Ferris wheel ride.

G and S on their first-ever Ferris wheel ride.

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Waiting for their turn on the carousel.

H's face as she rides a flying elephant: pure happiness.

H’s face as she rides a flying elephant: pure happiness.

All in all, we had a great afternoon. And thank goodness we have another year before we have to go again.