We appear to be finally hitting our stride on schoolwork. It took a while, not least because we had to figure out how to adjust to the Spanish way of life. Our initial attempt upon arriving in Fuengirola was to get up at 8am for exercise and schoolwork, lunch and beach from 12-6pm, dinner around 6pm, free time from 7-9pm, and in bed by 10pm — just as we might in the United States.

Spain would have none of it.

Many places don’t open until 10am. They then close from 2-5pm, during the heat of the day, so it’s not easy to combine an afternoon at the beach with errands. And the streets are lively, not to mention loud, well until 11pm. Children run around along the boardwalk while the adults smoke and talk life. It’s a different pace, and we’re not only having to adapt — we want to adapt. After all, blending into the local culture is part of why we’re here.

The last three days, we’ve gotten up around 10am, done schoolwork from 10-2pm, lunch at 2pm, free time between 2-5pm, beach and dinner from 5-10pm, and in bed by 11pm. Or even midnight, such as when there’s a boardgame evening for families that didn’t begin until 9pm at the local castle (Castillo Sohail).

The mainstays of our schoolwork thus far are:

  • Math: we’re using the Khan Academy app to progress through 4th and 6th grade math. The app includes instructional videos, followed by practice problems. Janet and I fill in with additional explanations and exercises when needed.
  • History: we’ve printed photos we’ve taken of historical things they’ve seen and we’ve talked about, such as artifacts at the British Museum and the Moorish La Giralda in Sevilla. They write a brief caption for each of these photos and place them chronologically on the appropriate page of a journal that runs from 3000 BCE to 2000 CE. Little by little, they are seeing how disparate events combined to form the tapestry of civilization. Our experience thus far has been focused on Western History, but I am excited to move East and include that in the journal as well.
  • Spanish: thirty minutes a day on the Duolingo app is helping them learn some Spanish every day, in addition to the immersion they do from being here in Spain.
  • Writing: the kids are taking turns writing in the blog. I hope you’re enjoying it!

The kids have a remarkable curiosity and work ethic, for which we are extremely blessed. Still, it’s all rather exhausting at times, as each child and subject has its own needs, and getting into a rhythm is taking all of our attention and effort such that we haven’t had much time to attend to our own goals and pursuits. But there is no more important focus for us than the kids right now, and I’m confident that in time we’ll find a balance that lifts all boats.

Below: Studying at the local library where there is abundant WiFi and air conditioning; however, most days we do schoolwork at our apartment because the library is very, very quiet and not conducive to dialogue.

Below: Our portable printer at work printing the latest series of history journal photos. It might look regular size, but those are A5 papers (half the size of a regular sheet) it’s printing on.

Below: Janet and I evaluating a math app called Pythagorea for the kids. Beautiful concept, but this one particular problem was a little frustrating!