A Homeschooling month in Spain – Part 2

A homeschooling month in Spain

I sit on the floor, surrounded by half-packed suitcases. It’s 4pm on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and outside the sky is darkening as the sun sets. In three days I will be climbing into our Ford Galaxy with my 11-year-old and my 10-year-old, and driving to the other side of Europe.

The next five weeks stretch ahead of me like a blank diary waiting to be written in. I feel giddy with a mixture of excitement and vertigo. By the time I’m back here in early March, unpacking these same suitcases, my head will be full of new memories.

What adventures do the next five weeks have in store for us?

Language school and knobbly cucumbers

Eight days and a road trip through Spain later, we sit in the bright, airy atrium of Spark Spanish, a family-run language school in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Andalucía.

A handsome young chico smiles and tells us he will be teaching Spanish to C(11) and J(10) every day for the next four weeks.  He introduces himself as Mario, which immediately endears him to my video-game-loving son.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
At the language school

Meanwhile I join four young women, all in their 20’s, in another room. One introduces herself as Marta, our Spanish teacher. An online test has placed me in Marta’s upper-intermediate class. She asks me – in Spanish – where I learned Spanish, and I tell her about my year living in Granada. I spoke the language fluently, but that was 22 years – half my lifetime – ago!

For the next two hours my brain whirs  and hums as long-neglected pathways start to wake up. My head aches a little by the time I peek, nervously, into the children’s classroom. Have they enjoyed their class? Has J(10), who hasn’t been in a formal classroom since he left school five years ago, managed to last the morning? Will C(11), who is eager to speak Spanish, be able to learn at the pace she wants, alongside her less enthusiastic brother?

Hurray – they’re both smiling! C(11) proudly recites a list of Spanish numbers. J(10) excitedly tells me how they taught Mario to play Sudoku and  created a huge puzzle together. I don’t think he even noticed the numbers were in Spanish.

Opposite Spark we see a tiny shop. We buy fragrant olives scooped from an enormous glass jar, a short, knobbly cucumber, and a golden brown barra still warm to the touch. Our tummies rumble as the scent of bread and garlic fills the car as we drive home.

After lunch we stroll for five minutes through the terracotta and sunshine yellow houses of our new neighbourhood to the beach.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
Off to the beach…
A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
‘Our’ beach

And so our days begin to acquire a new rhythm, and our us-schooling month in Spain unfolds …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
J(10) enjoying the space

Us-schooling in Spain

In the absence of her usual busy schedule of extra-curricular activities, C(11) finds time to paint …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy

… take photos …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy

… and record a song, for which she films a video with her brother. The canine members of our family happily join in {video below} …


C(11) makes new friends by helping out with the English classes Spark run after school, and she and J(10) make a film at the language school {video below}.  Look out for J(10)’s creepy carnival mask, and for my cameo at around 3 minutes 50 seconds …

J(10), meanwhile, is more of a homebody than his wanderlust mother and sister. So I’m very appreciative of the way he makes the best of our month away.

He attends four weeks of Spanish classes without complaint. When he’s not in class or playing on the beach, he’s happily absorbed at his computer, ascending the levels of World of Warcraft.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain 6  Navigating By Joy

He listens to so many audiobooks that I almost forget what he looks like without headphones …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain  audiobooks  Navigating By Joy
Audiobook heaven

A taste of Spanish culture

My mum joins us for a week and we visit Cádiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in Western Europe …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy.jpg
Visiting Cádiz with my mum

… and we drive through red mountains to the delightful resort of Estepona, where we bask in the mild Mediterranean air …

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
C(11) and her Grandma in Estepona

… and C(11) and J(10) choreograph some play fighting on the beach {10 second video below} …


Ten-year-old bullfighters

C(11) and I go on a guided tour of El Puerto’s bullring – the third largest in Spain.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain 3  Navigating By Joy
The bullring at El Puerto de Santa María

We realise how deeply embedded bullfighting is in Spanish culture when we see children brandishing capes in the ring – learning to be a torero is apparently an after-school activity in Spain!


My husband James joins us for our final weekend in Spain, and we join the locals celebrating spring Carnivale.

Carnival time
Carnival time

Adios, España

On 28 February the sun blazes down on our Spanish friends flocking to the beach to celebrate Andalucía Day, but it’s time for us to  pack up cram into the car and say goodbye – for now – to El Puerto de Santa María.

A homeschooling month in Spain - Navigating By Joy
¡Hasta Luego, España!

There are still a few more treats to come, though. I knew nothing about the city of Mérida – I chose it because was convenient for our route. So I am thrilled when we turn a corner to see this enormous Roman aqueduct, through whose arches we watch the sun set on our penultimate day in Spain.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain 5  Navigating By Joy
Roman aquaduct at Mérida, Extremadura at sunset (top) and the next morning

Looking back

I sit on the floor, surrounded by half-unpacked suitcases. I think back to that January afternoon when I wondered, tingling with excitement and adrenaline, what the next five weeks held in store.

I look at the sun-kissed faces of my children and the hundreds of photos I’ve taken, and think of my journal, whose pages record the many tiny joys that together made up our Spanish life. I hear J(10) absent-mindedly say gracias to his sister, and I smile.

A Homeschooling Month in Spain - Navigating By Joy

See also A Homeschooling Month in Spain – part 1.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

History & Geography Meme 162 at All Things Beautiful

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #27

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

40 thoughts on “A Homeschooling month in Spain – Part 2

  1. Fantastic, Lucinda! I really enjoy watching the videos. Your children are delightful and hilarious! 🙂 What a treat to be able to spend 5 weeks out in Spain while taking in so much learning at the same time! I think it’s such an awesome experience!

    1. Ahh thank you, Hwee, you are so sweet! It’s funny, sometimes it’s only when you look back that you realise how much learning has been happening.

  2. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing the details and the funny videos. You are such an inspiration! I love to see your kids’ smiling faces, and their desire to share their learning experiences. Please let them know that my kids and I truly enjoyed their beach videos…specially the fighting one!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Silvana, and for your encouragement to get me to finish this. I’m so glad I did – it’s lovely for me to look back on. 🙂 And thank you for watching the videos – I wasn’t sure about including the beach one but every time I watch it I giggle so I couldn’t resist!

      I am looking forward to reading about your next adventure, too.

      1. ¡Hola Lucinda!
        We just got back from Costa Rica. I will be adding posts, hopefully, everyday this week. I took the slow WiFi from the Caribbean as an excuse to relax take it easy and roll like the locals.

    1. Hi Angie! Oh I am so ready for a country life experience over there! Wouldn’t it be so much fun to visit all our blogging friends around the world? One day… 🙂

      1. It is a glorious time in our little piece of country! Spring brings such hope and refreshment after long winters! The fruit trees are in full blossom. The sun warms us. Windows are open. Admiring spring birds … Indigo Bunting is my favorite next to the hummingbirds! Spring flowers! Thinking garden! N and G have big plans for their part of the garden! Deep cleaning the house. And nearing the end of our “school year”. We plan to do botany (wildflowers and tree id) this summer but love all the unplanned learning summer offers! Come on over and we’ll get our hands dirty.

        1. You paint a beautiful picture with your words, Angie. I can almost imagine I’m there with you, smelling the blossom, basking in the sunshine!

  3. What an absolutely wonderful chronicle of your trip! I’ve had your post sitting open in a window on my comp for quite some time, bc it took me so long to get though it…reread, enjoy the pics and so forth!

    Fantastic pics and videos….I’m just loving how you are all learning together – Us~ schooling is such a great concept!~!

    Can’t wait for the next installment of your trip…or any of your learning adventures~!!

    Safe travels!!

    1. Chris, Thank you so much for taking the time to get through my post. It was rather a long one, but I know if I try to break it into parts I tend not to get round to finishing!

      We’re busy planning our next trip, actually. We’re off to Gerald Durrell’s Corfu (we’re big fans of My Family & Other Animals) and Kefalonia (in preparation for which I’m reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I somehow missed first time around).

      I expect you’re busy planning a few summer travels at the moment, too? Enjoy, and safe travels to you, too! xxx

  4. Fabulous Lucinda. Spotted this linked into our web (Spark Spanish) and was interested to see what it was and was delighted to see it was blog post from you. I had no idea you had written up your experiences, nor that you had this blog. I loved Codie’s inside walk around video of Spark. Your family, including the two lovely dogs, were definitely students that made us “feel good” about what we do and it is lovely to feel we played a small part in your children’s homeschooling. Saludos from all of us at Spark, Douglas.

    1. Douglas, Thank you for your kind words. We had an absolutely wonderful time at Spark thanks to you and your team. I hope other homeschoolers see my post and think about learning Spanish with you too – I would certainly recommend the experience! We hope to see you again before too long.

  5. Lucinda,

    What a treat to be able to share your Spanish adventure! This post is packed with so many happy moments. I bet you have many, many other memories you didn’t write about, enough to fill a book, maybe! Your children are so delightful. I did enjoy watching and listening to them on the videos. Are you all keeping up your Spanish language studies now you are home? I wonder where you’ll be heading for your next adventure!

    1. Sue, Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. It was a long one, I know – as you say, there were so many happy experiences I wanted to record!

      I’ve been keeping up my Spanish a little by reading Isabelle Allende in Spanish. I love the dictionary feature on the Kindle app, which allows me to look up words I don’t understand just by highlighting them. There’s a Spanish dictionary which I try to use first, and – if I’m still puzzled – an English translation.

      Meanwhile, ironically, a lovely new friend of C’s has invited her to join an excellent French class, so C’s focus will be on that for a while. But hey ho, all languages are fun!

  6. I loved reading every second of your time in Spain. Those memories will be with your children forever! What a blessing to be able to travel with your homeschooled children 🙂


    1. Sherry, Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to stop by and leave your lovely comment – I appreciate it very much! We are indeed very blessed. 🙂

  7. What a wonderful trip & incredible learning & life experience! Such a treat to be able to really immerse yourself in a place rather than trying to run from one thing to another in the space of a few days – and to leave with new language acquisition. Your kids crack me up, thanks for sharing their videos!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and watch, Marie, and for your kind words. They are completely bonkers, aren’t they? (I don’t know where they get it from! 😉 )

  8. What a wonderful learning experience! Your daughter’s voice is gorgeous in the happy song and I loved the collaboration between brother and sister to create such a cool video!

    1. Ah thanks, Claire. I’ve passed on your kind compliment to C. I loved reading about your passion for Glee – I can imagine you singing your heart out around the house!

  9. I enjoy watching your daughter’s videos and reading about your time in Spain. So fun! What an amazing experience! Years ago I spent almost 8 months in Holland, but I also had the opportunity to travel to Belgium, France, Spain, and Morocco.

    I discovered that I love Spain and the culture. One of my favorite cities is Seville. Being able to see the Moorish architecture juxtaposed against the centuries old cathedral was amazing.

    On a different note, I need to show daughter #3 (she’s 11) your daughter’s videos. She’ll love them. 🙂 Maybe she’ll be inspired to make her own.

    1. Hi Marla, It’s lovely to hear from you, as always! Sorry for taking so long to reply to your nice comment.
      Holland must have been a great experience, especially as it’s so well connected to the rest of Europe. It sounds like you made the most of that proximity!
      Seville is absolutely beautiful, isn’t it? That part of Spain is full of visual history at almost every turn.
      Do let me know if your daughter makes videos – C would love to follow her if she decides to share them. 🙂

      1. My daughter, ah, that girl! I love having a large family, but at times it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks and we haven’t explored her interests (and the interests of my other kiddos) nearly as much as I should. I’ll encourage her to make videos, but so far the moving-make bug hasn’t struck.

        Typically we don’t do a lot of school during the summer, but you inspired me (again). Your method of school wouldn’t seem like school to my children. So many subjects are hands-on and the creative part of me loves it. (The survival part of me–six children–shuts down.) Anyway, I want to start doing school differently–especially for my three younger, science and nature loving children. Summer should be a good time to ease into this, right? 🙂

        On a different note, my oldest is in Austria for three months this summer. I lived there for two years as a child (in addition to my other European adventures) and I’m so excited that she has this opportunity. She won’t be doing a ton of traveling, but she will have the opportunity to go to Italy a couple of times at least and around Austria as well. It’s her first time out of the United States and she’s loving it.

        1. Marla, I empathise with your survival part, and I only have 2 children! The creative activities I share here are very much the ‘highlights reel’ of our home school, I must admit. At the moment the rest of it looks like me driving C(11) around to all the other things she wants to do, and trying to squeeze in a bit of maths and copywork with J(10). But wise friends reassure me that there’s a season for everything, and so for now I’m trusting the process. Summer is a good time for trying new things, isn’t it? 🙂

          What a brilliant opportunity for your oldest. Do you have family in Austria? I bet this summer will be life-changing for her, and she will come back brimming with confidence and a new way of looking at life!

          1. Lucinda,

            Actually she is working at a missionary conference center–housekeeping, painting, working in the cafe’, etc. There are several people from our church who are there as well, so she has the benefit of new experience surrounded by friends and acquaintances. She’s loving it and I’m sure she’ll want to do it again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *