Homeschooling Abroad {Curriculum}

Some days I feel like the blind leading the blind. Especially when it comes to teaching Logan the Japanese language and culture or really any subject for that matter. At least once a week I’m questioning my sanity. But then we have some amazing days like today where we snuggled on the couch and he soaked up the entire first book of My Father’s Dragon. Or days where we spend the day together on special field trips learning how the Japanese make washi paper and sake — and there’s no whining involved. I know I made the right choice to homeschool. We’re still working out the kinks and slowly adding subjects. At some point I need to add a little brother into the mix, but I feel like I need to get a good handle on teaching one child first. I’m so amazed at the homeschool mom’s who teach more than one in the home. One day I will get there. :) So this is just an intro to what we are doing on a weekly basis. I’m still looking at connecting with other homeschool moms abroad to see what others are doing and how they involve their host country into the process. Are you out there? :)

What we’re learning:
Grade Level: Technically Kindergarten, but he graduated Kindergarten here in Japan and would be in 1st grade if he were in their school system. The Japanese school year has three terms and goes April to March with breaks in between instead of September to June.

Math: Logan is finishing up the 2nd half of Saxon 2 math. We started with Math U See and switched over. I could instantly tell how bored he was getting with Math U See. His entire year would have been spent focused on addition and subtraction worksheets. With Saxon math, so far he is learning 2 digit math and subtraction, time down to the minutes, measuring with a ruler and thermometer, paying with correct change, reading simple graphs and charts and is being introduced to simple fractions. We also talk about differences in metric vs standard measurements since we live on metric here in Japan, so I try to incorporate both in our lessons. (By the way, I’m still googling the metric conversion every time I set my thermostat at home.) I still may switch back to Math U See later on in levels. I like the visual way they teach and having actual teaching lessons on DVD where he can watch someone else teach a lesson appeals to me.

Reading: I wouldn’t say he loves to read yet on his own, but he’s very good at it. We usually sit down with chapter books and switch off. He’ll read the left side and I’ll read the right. We are slowly working on comprehension. His reading level is way ahead of his comprehension and focus level so I think when we are ready to add more to our plate comprehension will be our focus. But for now we enjoy our snuggle time. :)

Spelling: I just started him on All About Spelling and so far I love it. It teaches spelling through phonograms instead of memorization, which for a kid who is easily bored with mundane tasks, this works much better for him instead of drilling weekly lists into his head.

Handwriting: We are working our way through a Zaner-Bloser Handwriting workbook that was given to me. Handwriting is something that holds his thoughts back and was the one suggestion from his Kindergarten teachers to work more on. We also do journal writing a few times a week with a writing prompt and he writes in his science journal.

Science: Speaking of science, we are more of science by chance learners. I would love to find a more formal program for him but for now he learns a lot as we are out and about, in no special order. He can tell you all about elephants and the purpose of feathers. He can tell you how to make paper out of wet pulp and how a fish can breathe under water. He knows dinosaur bones are excavated and put together like a jigsaw puzzle and wasabi is grown in shaded river beds. He comes up with the most random questions…like how are legos made and we search for the answers together. I’ve also just started doing a science swap with another mom so we switch off doing a more formal lesson once a week with her son. I would love any recommendations on teaching science for early elementary kids though! Any good curriculum out there or kits worth investing in?

Music: We are working our way through Alfred’s Basic Piano Prep Course on our own. I do have some limited music background, although its been many many years and I find I’m reteaching myself before I teach him. When I feel like he’s beyond the scope of what I can teach him I’ll look to find him a piano teacher.

Japanese: We live in Japan so I want him to experience this culture as much as he can while we are here. Living on an American base has its limitations though. We only visit our host country, even though it’s a 5 minute walk to get there. We don’t have that same immersion, which is a benefit and a disadvantage for us. We are both doing the Rosetta Stone Homeschool program. I do the lessons myself and then I sit down with him to do them as well. So far I feel like they are a little above his age level and require a lot of listening skills, which he doesn’t have the best track record for. I’m also trying to substitute vocabulary lessons that are beneficial to us surviving out in town, being polite visitors, and respectful of their culture. I would love to share what we are learning in the Japanese language and culture on future blog posts. :)

Character Development: This has been a huge area we have been focused on lately. We are just starting to make our way through the Character Concepts Curriculum and it’s been slow going. We take a character trait over a few weeks and work on developing that trait through lessons in the Bible, in life, and in history, through activities, stories and training sessions.

P.E.: Bike riding is P.E., right? Because I have a hard time getting him off of it to come in and study. :) He is also on a t-ball team so he practices twice/week and has a game once a week. After t-ball I’m looking at enrolling him in an on-going once a week soccer clinic.

Field Trips: My favorite time. :) There’s so many life experiences just from getting outside and interacting with the world. It’s like a grab bag of learning. I never know what will peak their interest or how an excursion will lead to a lesson, but it always does.

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This has very much been me learning right along side of him. I’m amazed at how much basic schoolwork I have to remind myself before I can teach him. I’m back to knowing addition and subtraction without a calculator though, so we’re making progress on myself. :) And I have to decide which school year to follow. We’re already off-kilter after road-schooling for half a year and then finishing up at the Japanese Kindergarten. I also have to look at curriculum for the coming year soon. Any suggestions for moving further in handwriting or incorporating history into our day? When do they even start studying history? Any advice for adding a little booger brother into the mix? :)

Thanks for stopping by and reading! I’ll be adding some Japanese lessons soon. :)

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7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Making Math Fun |

  2. We are also homeschooling here in Japan. It has been a great experience for us. We are a christian family and I wanted my girls (7&4) to have not only a knowledge of history but the whole story of history. Like why did Pilate a roman emperor have the power to have Jesus hung on a cross. Jesus was a Jew not a roman. Anyway it was things like this that have motivated me to teach them history and the bible together, that way the pieces click together now not years later during a bible study.
    I started very young with both on the basic bible stories, which in itself is history. Last year we participated in a program called Classical Conversations, part of the program is history facts and also a timeline songs. The song takes you with dates from creation to 9/11. My then 3 years old memorized the song and even now when ever we read a history story of event she reminds me that its part of the time line and what happened before and after. Talk about blown away. Anyway we use Sonlight curriculum, for the most part anyway. They do a great job of presenting history so that when I read our “history” both my girls are engaged. Which I love, and just like you I am reteaching myself as well.
    Check out my blog and you can see some of the stuff we use. Good luck.
    http://afloat-in-the-deepblue.blogspot.com

    • Thank you so much Katrina. Love the idea of incorporating the Bible with history. Will definitely look into Sonlight. I need a curriculum that I can mix and match and it looks like Sonlight will let me just pick out one subject. Love your blog too!

  3. Hi! We are a homeschooling family in Yokosuka. I have two daughters, ages 6 and 4.5, and I love your blog! Especially the post about what you’ll take away from Japan… I couldn’t agree more! I would love to talk homeschooling with you sometime. Or, even do some field trips together in Tokyo. :)

  4. Pingback: Making Math Fun | C.S. Photography, Inc. | Photographer | Coronado | San Diego | California | Family | Children | Outdoor | Adventure

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