Editors note: Over the years, we’ve covered schooling for expat kids, including homeschooling. In this post by Social Studies teacher Jason Agins (full bio at end of post) you’ll learn about how to blend Ecuador experiences with online learning.
Blending K-12 Online Learning with Hands-On Experiences in Ecuador
US families living abroad in Ecuador have a unique opportunity to provide enriched education experiences for their kids. In a country known for culture and history, parents can provide instruction beyond the walls of the classroom.
Families living abroad may not always have the luxury of world-class English schools in their community, causing many to choose virtual schools. With virtual school, parents have total flexibility in when and where lessons are completed. Schools like International Connections Academy, one example of a virtual school for grades K-12, provide students with US-based teachers and a rigorous curriculum that prepares them for colleges or universities back in the US or abroad.
With the flexibility of not having to attend a brick and mortar school, families are also freed up to pursue their education in more meaningful ways by exploring the world around them while living abroad.
Here are five hands-on learning opportunities for families living in Ecuador:
1) Supercharge your Spanish Class
When I was in school, Spanish class was one hour with about 40 kids crammed into a classroom.
My language instruction ended when the bell rang and I closed my book. In Ecuador, you are completely immersed in the language. Your child may need to take a language course to get into college, and you can use this opportunity to your advantage. A flexible class schedule allows students to get out and about in the community and speak with locals—typically the best way to learn a new language.
2) Experience Biology Firsthand
Ecuador has some of the most amazing and varied biodiversity on the planet. With places such as the Galapagos Islands, Cotopaxi National Park and the El Oriente Rainforest a short trip from anywhere in Ecuador, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take those science lessons to the next level. Rather than just learning about Charles Darwin in a textbook, students can witness what he saw on his visits.
3) Learn History Beyond the US
Ecuador has interesting history that mixes Spanish colonization and Indigenous cultures. Since 2000, Ecuador has also been using the US Dollar. These factors alone make Ecuador an interesting chapter in world history and work great to supplement your child’s history lessons.
4) Master Mathematics Abroad
We know Ecuador has a seemingly endless array of opportunities to explore for some of the more visual subjects, but what about mathematics? One word, geocaching! Geocaching is a type of scavenger hunt that requires participants to apply concepts of latitude and longitude along with other geospatial concepts. They use these skills to explore areas they are in and discover new things along the way. It’s fun, addictive, and really gets the brain and body moving! What better place is there to go geocaching than a place as diverse as Ecuador!?
5) Sketch Your Own Art Class
Quito has a vibrant and growing art scene with a variety of art museums displaying all different styles of art. Whether your child appreciates modern art or the abstract, there are plenty of opportunities to find examples of artistic expression. One of my favorite activities is to bring a sketchpad to an art museum, find a seat, and try to sketch out a piece of art that I am observing.
If you are an expat in Ecuador, or anywhere in the world for that matter, you have a unique opportunity for your children to get out into the community to learn beyond the classroom. By combining the flexibility of virtual school with the diversity of experiences in Ecuador, you have a recipe for an immersive, personalized and high-quality education that you child will appreciate for a lifetime!
Author Bio: Jason Agins is a Social Studies teacher at International Connections Academy, a fully accredited, affordable, K-12 online private school. He enjoys teaching history, watching movies, and backpacker travel with his wife. He has traveled to 50+ countries in the past 5 years.