Tuesday, September 3

Boat School: Fact or Fiction

I was not afraid to set sail into the big blue ocean or leave my house, family or friends behind.  I was not afraid of cooking on the boat nor was I afraid of storms or pirates (well maybe just a little).  What I was most afraid of, was home schooling my children.  Six years ago, in our backyard, we listened to countless stories of adventure that our friends had just experienced on their 2 year cruise with their 3 children.  As I listened on the edge of my seat for hours, there was a nagging thought I couldn't shake.  There was no way I could get over the intimidation of home schooling.  Of course, Rennie could do it, I thought to myself, she had been homeschooling her kids living as a landlubber in Seattle.  She had a teaching certificate.  It was an easy, natural transition, it made sense for her.  She tried to reassure me that it was easy, 'no sweat' she said.  I knew it wouldn't be that easy for me.

The thoughts of cruising for a year was always a nice dream and all, but then reality would set in and the dreaded homeschool subject reared its ugly head.  Every. Single. Time.  Frankly, it was getting on my nerves.  How would I know what to do?  Where do I get the subject matter and materials?  Would my kids listen to me as a teacher?  How would I cover all the subjects with three kids?  How would I stay organized and would it be fun for the girls??  Would they have to repeat once we returned home (gasp!)?  However, there was a silver lining folks and believe me, it was the only thing that kept me going.  Craig, my hero, would be available to teach as well because he wouldn't have a full time job!  Well, you know what I mean, an outside the home/boat job.  Keeping up the boat was a full-time job!

Little by little, I gained confidence in my boat schooling abilities.  Rennie gave me the name of a great book, The Well Trained Mind, to start with.  I bought it, read it (most of it anyway) and was all of a sudden excited about homeschooling.  I liked the philosophy and the many teaching tools that were available using the same mindset written by the same authors.  I also sought out other families cruising with their children and read everything I could find on the subject.  I wanted to know what other women were going through and how they felt about it.  What were the struggles and successes they experienced.  I remember stumbling upon an article that interviewed 12 cruising families.  They asked the same 12 questions to each family, answered from the mother's point of view.  I remember abandoning all responsibilities of my own family as I read that article word for word and then once more!  I loved it and loved everything they had to say about cruising in general but especially about boat school.  That was the turning point for me.  I suddenly felt like "I can do this".

As we got closer to our departure, I approached the kids teachers, counselors and principles for more information and guidance.  They were instrumental at further putting my mind at ease.  We followed our districts curriculum and started gathering the materials.  For a list of textbooks and workbooks used, click here.  I found many of the books used through Amazon (used and new) and Ebay.

Keeping to a schedule was a key ingredient to a successful classroom aboard Anything Goes.  The girls  kept track of their time and moved on to the next subject (mostly) by themselves.  Maggie (8th grade) did most of her work independently.  Kate (5th grade) followed suit with a little extra instruction and Olivia (1st grade) needed the most hands on guidance.  If you are interested in what our daily school schedule looked like, click here.  We never did school work when we were underway or if we had a big shore excursion.   As a result, we did school work any day of the week were weren't moving or trekking.  No one was keeping track of what day it was anyway, so it didn't matter if we were having school on a Sunday!

Olivia does her school work outside in the cockpit

Sometimes we had guest teachers, like John, in Hampton VA

The kids had fun learning with other boat kids.  Kate and Roan (s/v Por Dos) have science fun making slime.

Music lessons on the Ukulele

Cooking class

Science:  how to fillet a fish



Serious concentration

Kate and Maggie hard at work

We definitely had our share of "I don't want to do school today".  It happened more than once and sometimes multiple children at once.  

Doing school work together was always more fun!

Visiting other schools was a learning experience too.  3rd grade students at St. John's Elementary School

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