These 5 Changes Saved My Homeschool

Updated on June 15, 2018
expathomeschool profile image

Tammy is a fourteen-year expat veteran who calls Panama home. She homeschools her bilingual, third-culture kids in the jungles of Panama.

Changes are easy to make and streamlining your day means peace in your homeschool.
Changes are easy to make and streamlining your day means peace in your homeschool.

I have a confession. My expat homeschool was a mess not so long ago. I had a plan in place when I first started my expat homeschool. I envisioned laughter, classical music playing in the background, and Latin flowing from their mouths. But that never happened.

What did happen is we looked blankly at each other across the kitchen table for hours. My homeschool plan was falling apart before it even started! I needed to make changes, fast!

I spend hours searching the internet, texting friends back home, and crying to my mother-in-law, the one person I knew who could fix my problem. She is a retired teacher, I thought, so she has to have a solution! Her advice was to play. Then she told me to find a teacher's manual.


1. A Book Saved Us

I spent the next weeks—okay months—scouring the internet looking for that guide. I never found a magic web page with all the answers. What I did find was this book: The Well Trained Mind A Guide for Classical Education at Home.

I read it from cover to cover. It had the answers I was seeking. I knew that with this book in hand I could provide my children with an academically challenging homeschool program. I asked my dear mother-in-law to ship it down to Panama

Thank goodness she did, because it is my go-to guidebook to this day. I use it for yearly planning and educational advice based on children's ages. I love it so much, in fact, that I buy new schooling moms a copy as a gift.

2. Start the Day With a Read Aloud

I am fortunate that my children are readers. That is why we read together every morning. We choose books from our real aloud list and take turns reading. Everyone reads aloud, including mom. I find most of my lists on Pinterest (thanks homeschooling moms for pinning!) Sometimes I let the kids pick, but most of the time I do the choosing.

Reading aloud in the mornings provides a calming start to the day. Children increase their reading fluency as well when reading out loud. Check out Newberry Award-winning books if you are not certain where to start. Johnny Tremain, Call of the Wild, and Gary Paulsen's the Hatchet were among our firsts to read aloud.

3. Use Spiral Notebooks as Portfolios

I am a bit of a neat freak. During those hours of internet searching, I came across moms who use notebooks to organize their days. The idea is simple. Buy notebooks for each subject. Write your student’s assignments at the top of a page and hand to your student for completion. All your student’s work is kept in one place, instantly creating the homeschool portfolio many are required to complete.

We use these notebooks for our interactive journals, virtual field trips, writing journals, science lab reports, and history timelines. I let the kids decorate the cover and call it art class. But for me, it means no more loose papers and easy record keeping.

4. Listen to Podcasts

I stumbled across homeschool podcasts by accident. I wish I had found them earlier. I use them to supplement our history studies, science, and composition programs. We load up our little mp3 players and listen while driving, relaxing, and during free time.

These little education gems are liberating! I often find my son curled up in his bed listening to a science podcast while doodling. He enjoys those by NPR the best. Most podcasts are less than 20 minutes long and are great when used as supplements to topics you are teaching.

Remember, homeschooled kids need exercise too!
Remember, homeschooled kids need exercise too!

5. We Do Physical Education Daily

Yes, we do phys. ed. daily. My kids are competitive swimmers. They train at least two hours a day. They are getting rid of all that extra energy early and our school days are better. The swim team is also their social outlet and time away from mom.

Look into joining a competitive or noncompetitive sports team in your area. Investigate your local Y as well for kids-only gym classes. Don’t forget your local park where many homeschooling meetups take place.

Never be married to your home school plan. Adjustments, refinements, and changes mean you are molding them to your children's needs. They will benefit the most from your flexibility.

— an expat mom

For my family, a successful year isn’t about meeting curriculum standards. It is about bonding and growing together through our educational journey. These five changes we made to our school simplified our day and produced more joy than tears. What changes have you made to your schooling plan?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Homeschool Veteran 

      22 months ago

      One program I highly recommend that can work particularly well for expats is Sonlight. It is a literature-based program filled with great books: living history, inspirational biographies, and classic poetry. Though it was originally geared toward missionary families living abroad, it works just as well for non-missionaries. And since you can order math, history, language arts, science, and optional enrichment programs like art and music from a single source, it arrives with everything you need in one big box. No, I don’t know the people who own the company, and I don’t profit from sales. I’m just a mom who has used for most of my homeschool needs from K-12. (I pursued different resources for high school science and math, but continue using their core history package and language arts programs.)

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Spiral notebooks are a great idea for keeping paper organized. Might give those a try.

    • expathomeschool profile imageAUTHOR

      TJ Rogers 

      2 years ago from David, Panama/Knoxville Tennessee

      Thanks! Glad to help.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks for listing these. I especially like the podcast idea.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)