Homeschooling Research… Aarrgghh!!!!

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Homeschooling Research... Aarrgghh!!!!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…

— Jim


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…


Homeschooling styles

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:

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.


Homeschooling types

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

Homeschooling Research… Aarrgghh!!!! - The curriculum - the meat and potatoes
I know, I know – it’s not literally about meat and potatoes, but all this talk from Mrs. R2R is getting me hungry!

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?

You know you wanna share this!!

22 thoughts on “Homeschooling Research… Aarrgghh!!!!”

  1. I think it’s great that you’ll home school for a year. We might do that at some point too so thanks for paving the way. I’m looking forward to reading more about your experience.

    1. Thanks Joe, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this next school year goes well and we are excited to spend this extra time together as a family! I am sure I will write more about the experience, the good the bad and the ugly as I am sure there will be some struggles along the way.


  2. Dear Mrs. R2R,

    As someone who studied childhood education in grad school, has been a tutor for 20 years, and has worked with dozens of home-schooled kids, I’d like to reassure you that you guys are WAY ahead of the curve in educating your daughter. Your awareness that there are different learning styles, and that all kids learns uniquely based on their own combinations of those styles, shows that you’ve already learned by far the most important thing a teacher/parent needs to know. Any time I run across someone who says, “This style is the best” or “I use this style with all my students,” I get worried. Good teaching is just about getting kids interested and invested in learning – making it enjoyable for them — and working with their unique styles is the key to this.
    It’s fine to do some grammar exercises with her, but honestly at her age by FAR the most important thing is just getting her books she enjoys. If you have her reading things, lots of things, that she’s interested in, she will retain a lot more and end up way ahead.
    With math, you can make up word problems on subjects she finds interesting (soccer, space travel, stuffed animals, whatever) and you’ll be amazed how much faster she grasps concepts.
    And don’t forget to play lots of word and math games with her as a family – I’ll be happy to recommend my favorites if you’re interested.
    So don’t stress – you’ve got this. It’s supposed to be fun, and it will be, and I guarantee she’ll remember more from this year than from any of her “normal school” years!



    1. Hi Adam, Thanks for the encouraging words. I am definitely going to concentrate on topics and books that she is interested in. She already likes to read so that will help.
      And yes I would love to here any suggestions on games you have!

      Thanks again.

      -Mrs. R2R

      1. Ok, here are my two favorites. The first is a simple word game. All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil. One person writes a short three-letter word, say, “lip.” The next person has to write a four-letter word starting with the last letter of the previous word. So, they might write, “plow.” Then the next person has to do a five-letter word starting with the last letter of plow — like “water” or “waist.” It continues, each player taking their turn as the words get bigger and bigger, until someone gets stuck and can’t think of a 14-letter word starting with s, or whatever. It’s a great vocabulary building game, especially since kids are allowed to use a dictionary once the letter count gets above 10. Kids get really excited as the words get longer and longer, and it’s excellent exercise for adult brains, too.
        For math, the game “24” is really fun for kids. All you need for this one is your smartphone, and any one of a dozen sites that give free 24 clues. The clue is always four numbers: say, 10, 9, 5, and 10. The job of the players is to figure out how to make those numbers get to 24 by adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. But each number can only be used once. In the version above, for example, you could go 10+10+9-5=24. That’s a fairly easy one, but they get harder when you have to multiply and divide. It’s a great game for brain exercise, and enjoyable for both kids and adults. You can play competitively, racing to see who solves each puzzle first, or just for fun.
        I’ve had many hours of fun playing these games with kids — hope you enjoy!

        1. These are great! And we will be able to do these while traveling!
          I am pretty sure our daughter will beat me every time :).

          Thanks so much!

  3. Hi Mrs. R2R,

    I’ve been an avid reader of this blog for awhile, as I am “living vicariously” through you guys until we can become expats in a few years. Looking forward to hearing more as you embark on your new adventure!

    My wife is a public schoolteacher, and before we had our kids (currently in late middle school and high school) she used to really look down at the idea of home schooling. She would always talk about how those kids always came out maladjusted, or performing poorly relative to their publicly-schooled peers.

    However, after spending many years as a public school teacher, and especially after getting some first-hand experience with public school, she has completely changed her tune. While we are in what is considered to be a “good” public school system, our kids have always been very bored with the pace at which their curriculum progresses. Remember, when in a classroom with other kids, the poorest-performing kids will set the pace of the whole class. (Like your daughter, both of ours are on the higher-end academically.) We’ve also learned that, as our kids have gotten older, the pace at which the kids learn new things goes down quite a bit, relative to their time in elementary school. Those are both issues that you can very easily correct if you home-school, since you and your daughter can set a faster pace and better focus her learning.

    We also know several people in our neighborhood that have home-schooled, and those kids have turned out fine – they supplement their schooling with local rec-league sports and clubs, so they still get plenty of time to socialize. And, of course, those kids have no problems at all maintaining the pace – nobody is worried about “falling behind” the plodding, slow pace of a public middle school curriculum.

    Overall, my wife and I are of the opinion that, once the kids learn to read and write at a basic elementary grade level, homeschooling can actually be a better option than public school. Our youngest daughter will likely be a high school freshman when we make our move to Mexico (or maybe Panama :-)) , and she is actually looking forward to being home schooled! We are likely to enroll her in online college courses, which better fits her learning style and will help accelerate the pace of her learning.

    Best of luck with the move!

    1. Hi Jim,
      It’s nice to hear that some teachers do support homeschooling as well! In my experience not many do.
      I feel we have been lucky in in our daughters school in that the teachers do their best to give her opportunities to move ahead in subjects where she excels but you’re right the slower children do set the pace.
      Good luck on your move to Mexico!


  4. I think you guys are going to great, you’ve got nothing to worry about it.

    If anything, experience has taught me that home-schooled kids are often smarter than their traditionally schooled peers because they don’t have to deal with all the “garbage” that comes along with regular school.

    They can focus on studying instead of goofing off with their friends. 😉

    1. Thanks, Mr. Tako. I am hoping you’re right about being smarter or I should say, better educated than those in a traditional school setting. The kids to have a lot of time wasting “garbage” in a school setting


  5. It’s a substantial project to take on homeschool curriculum planning. We are doing it this summer with our entering first grader on an RV trip. I found a great resource at the library, a book called Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners. It’s basically a book full of lists of programs and curriculum for different subjects and different styles of learners (random things like writing contests for third graders for example). We use a lot of pre-made stuff like Kumon, Brain Quest and Khan Academy, plus library reading lists for that grade level and field trips to national parks, museums & historic sites. We add in movies too for themes (she went through a natural disaster phase last summer so we watched Twister, Dante’s Peak, Deep Impact, tornado chasing videos, and she did her first science fair project on tornados). I start out with the school’s curriculum standards for that grade (1-2 page syllabus) and make sure we hit all those marks. Then I add in life skills (from How to Raise an Adult), i.e. first grader is learning how to tie her own shoes and make her own sandwiches for lunch. It’s work to put it all together but it’s also a lot of fun.

    1. Yes, it is a lot of work but we are looking forward to the challenge.
      Thanks for the book and other curriculum recommendations.

      Have fun on your RV trip!


  6. Hi Mrs. R2R! I homeschooled our youngest for a year and really enjoyed it (other than trying to work part-time as well). Check these resources out: Wordly Wise books for vocab (with tests); fivejs (.com) for free printables and downloads; and deepspacesparkle (.com) for art curriculum. We then went on to use Calvert Academy (free at the time through our school district) and their complete curriculum was awesome. I hope you enjoy your homeschooling time. I’m betting you will!

    Jim, I stayed with Vicki and Amy at FinCon18 and met you through them. I’ve been enjoying your posts about your pre-Panama preparations. Not planning to move outside of the U.S. so I will see what it’s like via your family’s stories instead. 🙂 Take care!

  7. Hi Jim,

    I’m a new reader and just found your blog through Mr Tako Escapes recent plug! I love your posts, very timely as we are on a similar journey and are researching a lot of the same things. I wanted to recommend the Worldschoolers group on Facebook, they have over 45k members and would be a great way to connect with other traveling homeschoolers passing through Panama as well as offering a plethora of resources. I’ll be keenly following your journey from here, good luck with your move to Panama!!!

    1. Hi Rachel – so glad to have you joining our adventure here! Thanks for the tip on the Worldschoolers group – I just requested access to join and I’ll let my wife, Lisa, know as well. That sounds like a great resource!

      Are you planning to move to another country and if so, which one(s) are you considering?

      1. We are planning on world traveling for 1-2 years to find our next home, France & Spain are high on the list at the moment as I’d like to be close to my family in the UK after living in the US for 12 years. We’re pretty open to anywhere though and we’re racking up the credit card points to help us on our journey!

        I’m also part of Jen Sutherland’s online community at, she has really great info on homeschooling especially for new petrified parents!

  8. We began homeschooling with the idea of just Kindergarten. That moved into a second year, then a third … Our oldest just graduated in May from law school (full scholarship). I could brag about all my kids, but I want to encourage you to take it year by year and know that you will figure it out each year. The results are worth the investment.

    1. I love to hear that kind of stuff, Cheri – very encouraging! We just started doing the homeschooling on 9/1 and it’s been going pretty well. Slight learning curve for all of us, but we’re starting to get the hang of it.

      Congrats on your child graduating from law school – that’s awesome and a huge feat!!

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