We’ve been preparing for our move to Panama for over a year now. When we decided to move, we knew we were going to be homeschooling for at least the first year we’re here.
Immediately, I started researching homeschooling and have been trying to figure out this new world. There are so many different philosophies and strategies on how to homeschool that I wrote about previously in my post, Homeschooling Research… Aarrgghh!!!!.
I quickly realized this was going to be an ongoing learning process for all of us and a big adjustment!
For this first week, I didn’t plan too much as far as lessons go. Jim and I came up with a daily schedule for each day of the week that shows what times we were going to do each lesson and what subjects we were teaching.
Here’s a look at the schedule we created. It’s kind of a living document so it may even have changed by the time you read this post!
We were able to share this schedule with Faith using Google Docs. This was good because it kept her informed of what was going to happen throughout the day.
But for this first week, I knew that it was just going to be a guide. We didn’t follow it to a T and I doubt we’ll follow it exactly for the rest of the year. You see, that’s the fun part of homeschooling. You and your child get to decide together what the school day will bring.
Not only that, but you also get to decide what topic for each subject you want to learn that day. For example, Faith and I found a weather science kit so we decided to study clouds and weather this week for science.
In math, we just did some review work so she got to work in her Spectrum Math workbook. I also found out that she loves to do work on Sumdog.com where she was playing a lot of educational games. Sumdog is an online game-based educational learning program that helps students practice math, reading, and writing.
They offer both a free subscription and a paid subscription that costs $6 per month. The free subscription gives you limited math games. Faith likes this program so much that we decided to go with the monthly option. This gives her more practice games in Math and provides her access to Reading, Writing and Spelling games as well. There is a parent login so you can track your child’s progress and even set math tests.
Here’s a look at how the first week of homeschooling went for us…
Monday morning was the first day of school and we woke up and followed the schedule. Math was first, then Reading, Spanish and so on. We ended our day with a few minutes of reading and were done at 1:30 PM!
On Tuesday, we had already changed things up a bit. Faith woke up, did some math and reading, and then we went to the local market to do some shopping and out to lunch (I mean, you can’t miss out on Taco Tuesday!).
We practiced spelling as we walked to the market. Faith also practiced her money skills at the market by figuring out have much some things cost and what her change should be after the purchase. I love real-life lessons!
She got to experience a new culture, practice Spanish, socialize with people at the market, and practice money skills. I never thought an outing could be so educational.
UGH… not all is going so well! Faith already woke up saying she didn’t want to do school work. And this is only the third day… this is going to be a looonnng year!
But she got up and got to work. She decided instead of doing Math first, she wanted to get Reading, Grammar and Spanish done first, so that’s what she did. Easy as that. If changing up the schedule a little is going to make her day (and mine) better, then what the heck – why not change it up a bit?!
It was still a little bit of a struggle (and some arguments) getting her to focus on work but we all got through the day.
Thursday was a little easier to get Faith motivated and she stuck to her work. However, the time spent on some of the subjects changed.
For Math, the time we slotted is forty-five minutes a day. Today was only about thirty minutes and instead of reading from her book, she spent more time on Writing and Reading on Sumdog and worked on her “back to school poster.”
We decided to make Friday a shorter day and another outing or “field trip”!
So she did her Spanish and about 15 minutes of Math, which was a video on YouTube on some of the math topics she covered throughout the past week. I just thought a little reminder would be good and since it’s Friday of the first week, why not take it a little easy today?!
She also did her Spanish and a lesson in Personal Finance with her Dad. They talked about interest, both with banks giving it for savings accounts and how they charge it to loan out money.
Then it was off to the bus stop to go to the bigger city that’s near us, David. We decided to take this trip to do a little exploring and shopping. We hadn’t taken the bus yet in Panama so that was a learning experience for us all. That’s educational, right?
Overall, I think this first week went pretty well. It’s a learning process for us all and some adjustment.
Faith did complain about doing her lessons but I have a feeling that’s going to be an ongoing bit throughout the school year. She did the same thing last year when she went to public school. What kid doesn’t?
She’d rather play and watch YouTube videos than do math and grammar. Don’t tell her I said this, but I would too!
There are no two ways about it, homeschooling is going to be a challenge. We’re all going to have times when we hate it and wonder why in the #$&^ did we ever think this was a good idea.
I’m sure we’re all going to bump heads more times than we can count, especially Faith and I. She’s going to fight and complain about doing her lessons and I’m going to complain about her complaining and fighting.
Jim and I are going to miss the days when we had some time to ourselves during the day. We’re spending more time together now than ever, so I’m sure we’re all going to crave some alone time.
On the other hand, homeschooling is going to be such an amazing adventure for us all and I think the good will outweigh the bad. As much as we’re going to miss some alone time, look at all the time we get to spend together getting to know each other better.
I know I’m going to cherish this time together because one day we’re not going to have this time with Faith. She’ll be off doing her own thing soon enough and won’t want to spend all of this time with us.
For most families, time together is such a rarity, yet family time is one of the most important parts of childhood. I could go on and on about why family time is so important, but that would be a whole post in itself and I’m sure you already get it.
We’re so so lucky to have this time to spend together. Years from now, we’re not going to look back on this time and think about the bad times. Well, we might look back and laugh at some of the goofs we made, but instead, we’ll reminisce and relish in the memories we have made together.
Homeschooling may be hard for us all and will make us want to pull our hair out at times but for Jim, Faith, and I, this adventure that we’re on is priceless.
19 thoughts on “Our First Week of Homeschooling in Panama”
Hang in there
Hi, I have been looking and see that homeschooling is illegal in Panama so do you just say you are a teacher and they let you get past tat law or what do you do?
Hi Alan – the rules on homeschooling in Panama are a sort of gray area. I’m not a law expert by any means but from everything I understand, it’s neither legal nor illegal here. Here’s a perfect example of what I’m referring to from centralamerica.com:
We don’t currently do anything special. In Panama, we’re still tourists so any law on this wouldn’t be applicable to us anyway. If we apply for residency, maybe that would change. The biggest obligation to fulfill for us would be US requirements, which are handled by each state. As residents of Texas, there aren’t many requirements as to what we must show for homeschooling our child. So we just have our set curriculum and do our thing. Even though we’re not required, we keep track of everything we do so we would have documentation if ever needed.
Sounds like fun … international schools here cost around 30 to 40 thousand USD a year (but are free if you work at them …….maybe a future option.) … we chose local schools … but a friend has home schooled her 5 kids …. and they are all in Uni now etc … lot of folks overseas home school … so it can be done … thanks for the updates … family life revolves around school for the kids when they are school age … 🙂
Hoofa – that’s one heck of a chunk of change for international schools! Love to hear the success stories of homeschooling. We’re enjoying it, but like Lisa said, it’s an adjustment for all of us.
I am SO glad you’ve included a lesson in Personal Finance. These days, more than ever, it’s so important for children to start learning about it at a young age. Bravo for diving into this adventure with Faith. Give it time. There will be bumps in the road but it will get easier. An old neighbor of ours homeschooled their daughter & she’s doing great in college now. How do you teach her Spanish? I assume all 3 of you are taking that lesson together! Good family activity! Keep up the good work. Love reading about all of your experiences. Thanx for sharing!
Right now, Faith’s using Duolingo and Drops as part of her Spanish lessons. Duolingo provides the ability to assign lessons as well which makes it a little easier. She’s also getting a good opportunity to talk to other folks here in Spanish, which will be the real teaching experience. Lisa and I are also using those apps for studying (and I’m also using Memrise). I have a head start though because of the Spanish classes I took in high school.
That is what I thought too! Perhaps add a lesson on entrepreneurship and other essential life skills. On the Spanish, you can focus on grammar and life in Panama will teach her the vocabulary.
Hey I love your honesty and recognition that while it’s going to be a challenge this time together is short. It’s great to read your updates!!
Thanks Deanna! Challenge is an understatement 😉 but the time together is precious.
Congrats on a successful first week of home-schooling! I’m really looking forward to hearing how it goes over the course of the year.
Great that you’re already playing math games and making it fun — fun is the key.
Not sure if you’re already planning to use this, but I highly recommend noredink.com for English and grammar if she likes doing things online. It’s a great resource that’s relatively fun and easy for kids to use, and a huge number of schools are already using it as a supplement to their writing and grammar instruction. Honestly, it does a much better job of teaching grammar than most of the teachers I’ve encountered in LA!
Thanks for the resource info! I will be sure to check it out.
Seems like you guys are off to a good start! Keep up the hard work Faith!
She’s a worker when she wants to be. I’ll pass on the message to her. 🙂
I love it. You guys are doing well so far. Faith is such a nice girl to follow your direction. The field trips sound great. They are real-life learning experiences. You can’t get that from a Spanish class.
Keep us updated. I kind of want to try this at some point, but I’m really scared. Our son is very rebellious with us. I guess we’re too close. He is a good student at school.
Oh, where is PE? Get a soccer ball and join a local team. 🙂
Thanks for sharing. This is really great.
Thanks for the encouraging comment! Faith does push back with us, well with me a little more. And she has told me I am not qualified to teach because I didn’t go to school to be a teacher 🙂 but we just keep reminding her that we have the materials we need and yes I we do know a little something about what she is learning. 😉
No soccer for PE here but we have been learning racquetball and swimming!
Well done on the homeschooling!
My wife and I are international school teachers so we know the costs involved! Where are you at in Panama? I have friends that just moved to teach at the International School of Panama in Panama City and may be able to connect you with people/resources.
We are in Boquete, about 6 hours from Panama City. Right now we’re sticking with the home school thing because of traveling. But, next year we will definitely be looking at different options so any info that can be passed along would be great.
Thanks so much!