An interview with homeschooler and TPTer Dinah Ely

Dinah ElySince joining Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) as a seller, I’ve met so many great people in the forums.  Teachers from every state and grade level and homeschoolers from all over. I wanted to introduce my readers to some of the interesting people I’ve met and posted a invitation in the forums.  Dinah Ely was the first to respond and so she’s the first to get an interview!

Welcome, Dinah!  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I have been homeschooling our children as long as I can remember:)  I actually found out that there was such a thing as “homeschooling” when my oldest (now 14) was one years old.  I had never heard of such a thing before that!

I started learning how to teach him about shapes, numbers, and letters.  I then started making him quiet books and taking him on “mushroom hunts” soon after.   I had a few friends that home-schooled their children and shared with me what they did in their home-school.  That is where the journey began and we have been homeschooling ever since!

We now have six children ages 4 – 14 (all about 2 years apart) that have been home-schooled from the beginning and are now  all home-schooled here in Panama.

How did you end up in Central America?

We came to Costa Rica because we wanted to explore the world a little bit!  We had a strong urgency to leave so we sold everything and packed our bags and headed to Costa Rica! We sold most of what we had in the U.S. to get us here and came with our 12 suitcases in 2010:)  My husband had visited Costa Rica ten years prior on a surfing trip.  He always had a dream to return.  When I agreed he couldn’t have been happier:)

Did you choose Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama for specific reasons?

When we came to Costa Rica, we had tourist visas.  What that meant is that we had to leave Costa Rica every 3 months to renew our visa.  When we left we would explore the two neighboring countries; Panama or Nicaragua.  We haven’t decided on full time residency for various reasons, but we have now found ourselves in Panama.  We really like it here and looks like were going to stay for a while:)

What is your favorite part of living away from the United States? What is the most difficult?
My favorite part of living away from the United States is definitely the excitement of exploring and seeing new places!  I love new cultures and people.  Learning a new language has also been a fun experience!

The most difficult part of living outside of the United States or being an “expat,”  is being a foreigner in a foreign land.  We have experienced a lot of prejudice because we are from America.  Sometimes there are language and cultural barriers that we need to overcome.  For example if you need your car worked on you cannot just take it to the mechanic and wait for a call to come back and pick it up.  That may take six months!  If you want it done in a decent amount of time you have to; wait around, talk to the mechanic every day, preferably face to face, and make sure the job is being done right.  This culture is a face to face kind of culture:)

You are homeschooling your children.  What is that like living in another country?

We have homeschooled for over 14 years now, so we are all accustomed to it.  I think it would have  been much more difficult to start homeschooling in a  foreign country. The added stress may have been too much.  I am glad we home-school because the education system is very poor here compared to what we are used to in the United States.  Sometimes finding school materials is difficult and ordering things and having them shipped costs twice as much…so we just do the best we can:)

How did you become a seller on TPT? What has your experience been so far?
I started selling on TPT because of the Yahoo! news articles about TPT!  I thought, “Hey, I’m a teacher and I can do that!” and jumped right in!  I’m so thankful I did because now I’ve found down-loadable and printable resources that I don’t have to have shipped!  This is the way to go in another country!  I have also met many wonderful teachers and have found support and encouragement in our homeschooling.

I have had an overall positive experience at TPT.  Almost everyone is very professional and friendly.  I have found a lot of support and inspiration to keep things fun in our school:)  I love how all teachers can interact and share their resources!  I’ve learned a lot from these teachers and I hope more homeschooling teachers can explore what TPT has to offer.  It really is a lot different then what I have been exposed to through homeschooling circles and conventions. There are a lot of wonderful ideas out there!

What is your favorite product you’ve created?

That’s a hard question.  It’s always the one I just created…I can’t wait to use it:)  If I had to pick just one I would say my The Ultimate Party Organizer & Planner it was really fun to make and I enjoy the design:)

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you Sallie for allowing me to share with you and your friends on your blog!!!

Thanks, Dinah, for giving us a peek into your homeschool adventures abroad!

Feel free to check out Dinah’s blog, The Traveling Classroom, and her TPT store!

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