Homeschool Programs Year 1 vs Year 2

We are a few months into our second year of homeschool. And to be honest we are still finding our groove and there has certainly been a lot of bumps along the way. 

Albeit I think we had a few more bumps than the average first year homeschooler. 

We started off knowing we would be moving in the middle of the school year – to another country. My oldest who is very responsible, sweet and artistic was super excited to homeschool. My second daughter who is a social butterfly wanted every last minute with her friends before she had to leave. Especially considering we had just come off the whole covid school closure thing the year before. So she stayed enrolled for first grade at her school up until the Christmas break, which the schools closed anyways after that so we are glad she got that time with her friends and we were full time homeschoolers before the dreaded virtual learning was put back into play. 

Our third daughter was in preschool two mornings a week which gave us a great little block of concentrated time. Looking back those first few weeks one on one homeschooling while Rosie was at preschool were some of my favorite times. I was very thankful to only have one kiddo to start with. 

I never saw myself as a homeschool mom. And some days I still struggle with it because I have so many dreams and aspirations that seem like they will never be able to fit in around our homeschool schedule. But I know this is where God wants me for now. 

Halfway through our second month homeschooling I started feeling very sick. Soon to find out on my 34th birthday, that we were expecting our unexpected blessing. I was pretty much out of commission for the first trimester. Pregnancy in your 20’s vs your 30’s is a whole different ball game I tell ya!  I was super thankful to have my husband home (due to covid job loss) and he took over a lot of the actual teaching, while I did lesson organizing and read alouds from my bed. 

We also had to pack up our entire lives and prepare to move from Canada to Nicaragua in this time. With a stop to moving to my in-laws for a few week period as well as the house we were living in was needed back from the friends we were renting from. 

January I was feeling better thank you second trimester,  but we moved to Nicaragua in one of the most difficult travel times possible with the covid regulations. 

With our move that mean my husband and. I had to take Spanish lessons so we could function in our new country and homeschool very quickly changed from one kid, to three, to it needed to be done more independently as I was tied up with my own school for the first 4 hours of the day. 

The girls were so great about this even though I know they didn’t enjoy the independent part so much and wanted me as their teacher. We survived that season, only to move to yet another new home, while my husband returned to Canada for his father’s funeral, and the girls and I stayed in Nicaragua.  

Needless to say between the grief and the stress of buying a home in a new country in a language I don’t fully understand, 8 months pregnant with my husband in a different country, not a whole lot of schooling happened the month of April. 

After the move we regrouped and got a few more good weeks of school in and then the birth of our precious baby boy gave us another little homeschool hiccup. The girls powered through often doing multiple lessons in a day as we dropped all the extra and just focused on the core subjects with a lot of reading and math prodigy mixed in. 

I had tossed the idea around of full time schooling with more breaks throughout the year but after the year we had we all really needed a good summer break. We took 8 weeks off to just have fun and not worry about any curriculum. I had a lot of house projects to work on to make our house a a home. We still studied Spanish but mostly snuggled the baby and watched a lot of heartland together. I must say I am enjoying that my oldest girls are old enough to watch shows that aren’t just for kids!  It made the many hours in bed healing and breastfeeding much more enjoyable to have my family around. 

So to sum it up we moved 4 times. (2 houses in Canada, 2. in Nicaragua) lost 2 family members, and had to learn an entire new language while we tried to tackle our first year of homeschooling. It was a lot. But God gives us the strength we need for each and every day. 

Year 2

Going into year 2,  I was very excited for a plan and more of a structure and an actual homeschool room.

Our space is not perfect as it is a converted garage. and the floor slopes so we can really only use the one side of the room. I dream of the day. we can level out the floor and put in a big table, that we can learn around and just have more room to spread out. 

Right now we have two desk set up against the wall and a I sit in a rolling chair between the two. It’s. not the most functional but we make it work.

What does work is converting from a written planner to a digital planner. I have a whole post on the digital homeschool planner I designed, so I won’t talk about it too much here. 

We are really starting to find a rhythm. When you live in Nicaragua. and don’t have access to Amazon we have to be really creative, so we are reusing some things things year and putting a new spin on them. We start the day with a lesson out of our scripture workbook from daily grace co. My girls used these last year as copy work and we are re using them, writing out the verses again in a plain notebook with a vocab lesson about all the Godly character traits that go along with the verse. It’s been fun for teacher mom to get a little creative and not just open a book and go, which is what most of the rest. of schooling is like. 

We use the good and the beautiful for Language Arts, Math, Science, Handwriting, Typing, and Creative writing and we really enjoy their curriculum overall. 

Their new math is so much better than the old math program. Both my daughter and I got frustrated with the extra fluff and time in their original math curriculum. It teaches using a spiral method and we found we really needed a mastery curriculum to get some of our basic math concepts down pat so after about 20 lessons of the original Math 3 we switched over to kumon workbooks and using a variety of free videos on youtube. This was such a good idea and even though I am a new homeschooler mom it is my biggest advice – if something doesn’t work then find what does.

Having ease in our homeschool day is so much better than having tears. It is one of the most beautiful parts about homeschool. Teaching at your child’s pace, and with their learning style. 

A lesson I learn over and over is homeschool is not school at home it is home with school. There are so many additional life skills lessons that my kids get. I am not so worried about sticking to the curriculum this year. Don’t get me wrong we still intend to complete our entire curriculum before the school year ends, but if the lesson is going sideways and we are dealing with frustrations, then we simply switch subjects and regroup the next day and complete the rest of the lesson then. 

Tears and frustration are not worth it to me as their mom/ teacher.

I find when we work on character building and with their best learning styles, our days are much more at ease and enjoyable. A lesson my natural controlling nature needs to be reminded of over and over. 

I don’t know if we will homeschool forever. Our youngest daughter has a lot of additional needs that I feel ill equipped to meet on my own. Right now she goes to a speech therapy program and has a teacher come spend the mornings with her to play typical preschool games and to teach her Spanish. There is a really great international school that I think she will do really well at. I just don’t think I can be both her mom and teacher with her additional needs without feeling burnout by the end of the day. I want to just love and enjoy being her mom and I know that takes help with 3 other kids and her additional learning requirements. Right now we make it fun with flash cards and a dry erase book to learn her shapes, letters and numbers, and she loves it! 

I will take it year. by year and kid by kid to assess what I think is going to be best or them to grow and thrive in their education. 

Overall we are loving homeschooling. I am loving how close our bond is growing with all the intentional time. I am feeling less like a newbie as we get into our routines. We all thrive on our routines and I love getting a front row seat to my daughter’s learning! 

Outside Tools

Something that has been really helpful has been using outside tools. For us right now that means the kids do a 45 minute Spanish lesson 3 times a week. The class is one on one with a Spanish teacher, so I can work with the other, spend some time working with our  preschooler or simply use the time to get caught up with lesson planning or tracking in my homeschool digital planner. 

Another resource we use is Outschool. We’ve been using Outschool classes for the last 2 months and my girls love it. Lilia is enrolled in a ballet class and Marissa is doing a horse club. These are some extracurricular activities that they love, and we will probably switch it up and try different classes soon. There are thousands of options! It is great for anyone but particularly for us living in rural Nicaragua where we do not have access to these sorts of things.  

One huge blessing is the international private school here allows our kids to be a part of their after school sports camps and even their sports teams. We also have access to their library where in a Spanish speaking country is a massive blessing to have access to books! 

I know many have things like homeschool co-ops and I wish that was a possibility for us, as I can see them as a huge blessing and just a beautiful time to get together with like minded homeschooling families! We have found a couple homeschool families that we hopefully can get together with.