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With the Panama adventure around the corner, one of the big tasks on the list has been homeschooling research. Until we decide we want to pursue residency in Panama, we’ll need to leave the country periodically to comply with tourism laws.
Because of that, it makes more sense for us to homeschool our daughter for at least that first year. The good news for me is that Mrs. R2R has taken on the challenge over the past several months of doing the homeschooling research.
I’m happy she took the time to put together a post on how things are going. We’re complete newbies to this area so I think that can be helpful for others interested in this topic. It’s still not a mainstream thing to do and it’s nice to know others are in the same boat when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
With that, take it away, Mrs. R2R…
Homeschooling research makes me want to pull my hair out!
When we made the decision to move to Panama, we knew we were going to have to homeschool our daughter for at least the first year. When we first move, we won’t have permanent residency and we’ll have to leave the country for long periods of time.
That’s hard to do when you have a child in school unless you have the freedom of homeschooling. Plus, once we get settled, we want to travel and explore the country and its culture so it’ll be nice not to be stuck with a rigid school schedule at first.
Once the decision to move was made, I had to start my homeschooling research. I knew nothing about homeschooling or even where to start.
With just a short Google search, I found an overwhelming amount of homeschooling information. I read article after article and even read a couple of books on the subject and I’m still not 100% sure of how to teach my daughter. But here’s what I’ve learned so far…
There are several different homeschooling “styles” that you can follow. For example, there’s the Charlotte Mason style, the School-at-Home style, Classical, Waldorf, and many others.
Homeschooling styles are different methods and approaches to teaching your child. I won’t go into the definition of each style because there are many, many websites that you can go to that will better explain the styles than I can. Here’s one that I found helpful in explaining the different styles: https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-styles.
In fact, I found a lot of useful information from The Homeschool Mom site.
You don’t need to know all details about every style but there are terms that will come up often when you’re doing research and looking for the curriculum you’ll use if you’re going to homeschool.
Just when you think you’re close to choosing the right style of schooling for your child, you’ll learn that the “type” of learner your child is will also influence the way you teach them.
While you’re researching, you’ll find that there are seven main types of learning. According to Learning-Styles-Online, these are:
- Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
You can find more information on these all over the web. But, I will tell what I’ve gotten out of the homeschooling research I’ve done is that a child is not necessarily just one type of learner. Not only that, but the type of learner may change over time.
You might find out that your child’s learning style is a combination of two, three or more of those. The more you know your child’s learning style, the more successful you’ll likely be in homeschooling.
It may take a while to figure out what type or types of learner your child is. However, the fun part of this is that you get to spend time with him/her getting to know them a little better.
♪ Breaking the law, breaking the law… ♫
While you’re your homeschooling research, you’ll also want to make sure you’re up-to-date on your state’s regulations. Homeschooling is legal in every state, but each state has its own laws and regulations that you must follow.
Every state has its own requirements for which subjects your child will need to study. You can find your state’s laws and regulations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. Additionally, the site has a lot of other information about homeschooling in general. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact your school district and let them know your plans to homeschool and ask what the regulations are.
The curriculum – the meat and potatoes
This is just a tad bit of the homeschooling research I’ve done. What I really wanted to find out though was what the best curriculum is to use while homeschooling.
I was very concerned about our daughter falling behind. What if we don’t teach her the correct information or not enough of one subject?
After this homeschooling year, it’s likely that she’ll go back to school and I don’t want her to be behind her classmates. Being introduced to a new school in a new country will be hard enough.
So, the right curriculum is very important and we have to get it right the first time, correct?
Well, that’s what I thought and I quickly learned that not many first-time homeschooling parents get the right curriculum the first go-around. You may have to try different materials and websites before you find the perfect fit.
Or you might find that piecing your curriculum together is going to work best for you and your child. Or maybe you learn that an online math curriculum is best to teach your child math and a hands-on workbook is better for language arts and so on.
You can spend hundreds of dollars or more on a curriculum and you figure that cost is priceless when it comes to the education of your child. That’s exactly what I was going to do. I had found an online school that I thought was a perfect fit.
It was actually going to cost us a few thousand dollars for the year and that was fine if it really was going to be the perfect fit. It had classes in all the subjects that we wanted and more. This online school has step-by-step lesson plans, assessments and progress tracking tools, and reports that were sent to the parent via email or parental account.
In other words, it had everything I thought I was looking for. I thought it would take the stress out of having to find the right curriculum.
But as I was reading more, I started learning that before we committed to one particular online school or curriculum we should take the time to know our daughter’s learning style and her learning preferences. This online school seemed a lot like her school is now except it’s online and not at a building away from home.
This adventure that we’re about to embark on gives us an opportunity to look at new teaching styles and new ways to learn. Why not take advantage of this time and do something different? That’s one of the benefits of homeschooling, right?
Obviously, each homeschooling family is different, but one reason for homeschooling is that the traditional style of schooling isn’t working for them.
Our homeschooling curriculum and plan
After all was said and done, this is what we’ve decided to start off with…
I ordered these paperback math, reading, and writing books from Spectrum to use:
And this Scholastic grammar book:
These will also come in handy when we’re traveling. Our daughter will be able to get some work done while we’re driving or flying to different destinations. We’ll also use free websites for math such as Khan Academy and Easy Peasy as part of our homeschooling curriculum.
For science, history, art, music and other subjects, I’m going to let our daughter help us pick the topics she’s most interested in. Then we’ll do research together to find the right fit.
She’ll have the opportunity to give her input in what she actually wants to learn. How cool is that? She already likes learning new things but now she’ll be really excited about each topic and will probably retain what she learns even more.
Along with the curriculum, I’ll also have a daily schedule that has what subject we’re doing at what time and on what days. Of course, I’ll also make sure we’re keeping track of her progress. And she’ll be given quizzes and tests along the way.
We’ll keep all this information so, if and when she does go back to a bricks-and-mortar school, we’ll be able to show the work she’s been doing and she should be able to fall right back into place.
I never thought we would be homeschooling our daughter and, honestly, I’m still a little scared of letting her fall behind. But I keep telling myself she’ll only be nine years old and she’s very smart (yes, I’m a little biased, but she really is). And worst case scenario, she’ll have time to catch up to her peers if that does happen.
We’re all looking forward to this adventure and the next step in our lives. Whatever happens, we’ll do it together. No matter what, this is a time we’ll be able to look back on and cherish forever!
Does homeschooling research make you want to pull your hair out as well?