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Old 19-09-2011, 10:55   #1
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Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds While Cruising the World

In June, we are quitting our work, selling our home and all of our STUFF and cruising the world aboard our 51' ketch Northern Passage. We have a 9 and 11 year old. I have begun the daunting task of researching different homeschool options. Does anyone have advice in this area? I am thinking we will be something of the "unschooling" philosophy, but woukd love to chat more with people who are actually out there doing this.
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Old 19-09-2011, 11:17   #2
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Re: Homeschooling 9 and 11 year olds while cruising the world

In that the Montesorri method is somewhat less structured than traditional teaching methods, you may want to look into it. I have no experiance with home schooling but both my kids are in a Montesorri elementary school. I like what I've seen so far.
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Old 19-09-2011, 11:27   #3
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Re: Homeschooling 9 and 11 year olds while cruising the world

We aern't doing this for another year but since we were supposed to leave this year, we've done our research. All kids are different and one size does not fit all when it comes to curriculum. Since our 11 year old needs structure, we are going a little more traditional.

Some people love the Calvert program. You can choose to have as much or as little ouside support as you would like.

My sister- a University English prof, successfully home schooled her 2 girls (who are now in University- one with a 3.0 GPA and a senior about to graduate with a 4.0 overall. She recommended https://www.shurley.com/ for English. She also suggested Saxon Homeschool Curriculum Products | NestLearning.com for mathematics. Our girl is an advanced reader so we are filling in literature w/ history lessons. She is into mythology so we are starting with the Odyssey and Plato doing some studies on Greek history. We will move on to Roman myth and history when she is ready to move on. Rinse, repeat.

Because we are secular in our educational preferences, we are opting to create our own hands on/reading science program tailored to her interests. Most homeschool science curriculums are geared towards the Evangelical view point. Which is either your thing or not. It helps that one of us is a mathematics/science specialist and the other a humanities specialist.

Itis much more cost effective to design your own curriculum, though if you are unsure of your capabilites then a "canned" curriculum might be of use.

If you really want to go "unschool", head over to excellent adventure or to www.zachaboard.blogspot.com . They are both unschoolers.

I hope this helps!
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Old 19-09-2011, 12:01   #4
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Re: Homeschooling 9 and 11 year olds while cruising the world

My brother and I are both products of the unschooler process. We started on the boat when we were 11 and 13, so just a little older than yours. He is now a high school principal, and I an engineer. We both did quite well at university.

When we returned to "civilization" (I straight to university, my brother to the last two years of high school) we found ourselves far ahead of our peers in almost all liberal educational areas, and somewhat behind in most of the sciences (it is hard, for instance, to do much of the advanced high school chemistry lab experiments on the boat). One area that was interesting was mathematics. I had an advanced understanding of geometry/trigonometry as compared to my peers, which I attribute to celestial navigation. Even in this day and age I think that is a wonderful learning and teaching tool. Algebra and calculus, however, not so much.

My parents evaluated the various schooling options available (including Calvert) at the time and decided they could do better themselves. Caveat - my mother was a high school English teacher before our departure. Initially we had formal lesson plans and schooling time. From about 8 a.m. to about 2 p.m. by parents took turns on watch and teaching. That lasted all of about 6 months (if that long). The nature of the cruising life does not succumb easily to rigid schedules. Over that first six months things devolved to unschooling, with no formal program of any kind.

We did a lot of things that I think benefited us. We read aloud as a family. This not only allowed us to interact, but also allowed discussion of the books. At some points even drama I learned navigation from my father. We all cooked together, which brings some learning of its own. Standing watch is a great tool for teaching responsibility. We ran around in foreign countries and picked up a smattering of several languages and cultures. Just being in those places brought some interest in their history. We spent several weeks in the Galapagos and I can't count the number of natural history texts I read in that period simply out of interest. We paid a lot of attention to weather, and its causes and effects. Geography - should be a given. Astronomy - came out of the navigation.

Then there are all of the seamanship skills that one learns. Some may translate to shoreside life, and some don't. But knowing how to put an eye splice in several kinds of line never hurts, nor knowing knots, nor how to properly set an anchor. Diesel mechanics and electrical know-how come of necessity. I also spent a lot of time on the ham radio, learned a lot about antenna design, solar flares, propagation, etc.

So, I guess bottom line, just wanted to jump in and say that unschooling can be a valid option, with some thought and planning, and some understanding that it will result in a final product that is a little different than the standard model.
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Old 19-09-2011, 12:40   #5
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Re: Homeschooling 9 and 11 year olds while cruising the world

Hoem schooling is the most fun you'll have with your clothes on. We used Calvert for our 12 year old and she's always done well ever since.
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Old 19-09-2011, 20:12   #6
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

DH is heading off to buy our boat this winter, we're putting it on the hard until fall of 2012 and then cruising the Caribbean, East Coast USA, and then down through the canal and home to Southern California. We cruised Mexico in the late 90s before kids and have been planning this trip since then. One of the things we've done since the beginning is homeschooling. My kids are 6, 8, and 10 right now.

Over the last 5 years we've settled into a routine of 'lightly schooling'. I consider, Social Studies and Science a collection of knowledge that I don't have to plan for, but Math, Reading, and Writing are important skills to develop. While here on land the kids have taken all kinds of classes from archery, taekwondo and sports to music, piano, bible study and writing.

Just from my homeschooling experience and the experiences of friends I have that just finished cruising. Too much school (like Calvert) is overwhelming for the parents and children. It really seems irrelevant to study the American Pioneers for someone anchored off of Greece or Ancient China to someone anchored in the Caribbean. How about memorizing plant anatomy inside the cabin when you can be reading star charts on the bow.

While we cruise for 3 years I plan to use Teaching Textbooks for my math curriculum, reading all kinds of books and magazines, spelling (because we need it), blogging and typing, and that's about it.

I have plenty of unschooling friends, but I don't really believe in the philosophy for all kids, I've seen enough negative results. The ones who pursue a passion and are engaged in great mind massaging activities do great, but I'm still wondering if the others will be a school principal or engineer like the ones in the reply above.

I hope to see you all out there.
Jackie
sailmakai.org departing from Granada Dec 2012
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Old 19-09-2011, 21:13   #7
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

My wife is getting her teacher's qualifications this year not only so we can make a few bucks offshore with her as a substitute or as a qualified tutor of other cruisers' kids, but also so she can teach our son (10) who will be 12 when we leave in two years.

If we go for five years as planned, he will "miss" Grades 7-12 inclusive. That's the totality of high school.

It's a big decision made more problematic by the fact that he's streamed into the gifted program and, while advanced in reading well beyond his years, isn't very capable at writing due to a lack of fine motor skills. He's crap at penmanship. I'm going to buy him a netbook, because he can't take notes remotely as fast as he can think, but we feel he can learn to type. As I'm largely the same way, and have made enough as a writer to contemplate five years at sea, I have to be willing to give it a shot. In my day, I took typing lessons in Grade 8, got to 75 wpm, and have rarely picked up a pen for more than cheque signing since.

We've discussed the ramifications of offshore education with his school, and have opted for "bringing the curriculum" of our province's system with us. In practical terms, he will spend about two hours a day learning what takes six hours sitting in classes. He will advance (assuming we are doing it right) through the normal grades in his gifted stream (assuming he stays in it) and will, thanks to an investment in SSBs/SailMail/occasional Skype and/or satphone, be able to participate remotely in giving presentations, projects or just talking to his peers from a distance.

Given that my wife and I are very science-oriented, and I'm a writer, I would expect he'll do a lot of well-composed marine biology projects, but it's a bit early to tell.

Alaska, being all frontiery and whatnot, might be different. You might not have the option of teaching your kids the same subjects as they would get in "land school". More to the point, you may not be, as parents, good teachers of the sort who convey standard education to kids. Not everyone can teach; it's why they call it a profession.

Nonetheless, and if this is the case, I've heard good things about the Calvert courses, but whether they "count" toward higher education is not known to me. I would concentrate, however, not on what they are to learn, but how you and your mate propose to teach them. That seems key, as does the discipline of daily "study time" (unless it's squally!).

"Boat schooled kids" seem, in my limited acquaintance, to either turn out as illiterate, itinerant mechanics or fiberglassers (thanks to life aboard), or ridiculously well-rounded, classically educated, self-confident, worldly types who have an astounding level of self-assurance and skills.

Which is what one would hope for, I would think. I would guess I've met either as older kids or young adults about six or seven examples, and I would say five were of the "scarily self-possessed, unusually mature" type. Which does give one hope that one is on the right track when proposing to take a pre-teen out of school and offshore for most of his adolescence.
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Old 20-09-2011, 01:21   #8
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Thank you for so much interesting information. It was especially great to hear from the two who were products of homeschooling while cruising. If my children come out of it with the same perspective you two did, I will be very happy.

Just a little info about Anchorage - although much of Alaska is indeed wilderness, we are a city of about 300,000 with a very progressive school district. Also, since there are so many remote villages and people living off the grid in the rest of the state, correspondence schools and alternative, flexible approaches to education have been available for many years.

My children already use saxon math at their public school, so we are planning to continue with that. I like the idea of studying the classics, Greek mythology etc. Reading aloud, journaling, researching the natural world around us is what I think we will strive for. Luckily, I am married to a merchant marine graduate, engineer, builder while I was an English major and teacher, writer, facilitator, graphic designer. Between the two of us and the rich world around us, I think we will do okay.

Again, thank you so much for your ideas, and keep them coming!
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Old 20-09-2011, 05:19   #9
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

Sounds as if between the two of you every subject will be well covered!
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Old 20-09-2011, 06:50   #10
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

Everyone in my family from parents to siblings are public school teachers. I am not. All but one have their masters in education. My sisters are all National board certified. When my wife and I first told them we would be home schooling our then eight year old daughter all kinds of stinky stuff hit the fan. But it was one of the best decisions we ever made. There were many bumps in the road. There were many times when we were afraid she might not be getting all the "Right" classes and wondered if we were doing more harm than good. But we realized we were not attempting to produce yet another gifted, honor rolled, cloned and droned, APed child that would give us fifty "My Child IS" bumper stickers to make us look good. College admission boards are flooded with enough of those kids every year. Rather we decided early on that we would attempt to raise a good citizen of the world. After trying several of the canned curriculums like Calvert we found that adjusting to her learning style gained far better results. Education is a great thing but it is no promise of a happy and successful life. The goal should be to give them a well rounded education. Kids come in all sizes, shapes and abilities. Not all of them will be brain surgeons, Harvard professors or CEOs of Microsoft no matter how big their parents helicopters are. The greatest gift to give to a child is the love of learning for a lifetime and let them run with it in the direction of their choice. I speak one language as does everyone in my family of teachers. My daughter speaks three. My oldest sister is a mathematical genius. My daughter always struggled with it like most kids do. But my daughter is attending the University of Vienna majoring in business. Oh, and if the socialization issue comes up with your friends and family, by the second year of home schooling that will provide you with the biggest laughs of all.
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Old 20-09-2011, 07:27   #11
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Re: Homeschooling 9 and 11 year olds while cruising the world

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Originally Posted by Abaco View Post
In that the Montesorri method is somewhat less structured than traditional teaching methods, you may want to look into it. I have no experiance with home schooling but both my kids are in a Montesorri elementary school. I like what I've seen so far.

The Montessori approach requires years of training and bulky, specialized materials. But one of the things they do, a "Great Study" each year, would be ideal for home-schooling. At the end of each year my daughter, who was in a Montessori elementary school, studied some great culture. The first year it was Egypt. The next year it was India, because one of the students and one of the assistant teachers were from India.

It was fascinating to her, and she continued doing it on her own after she left Montessori. In fifth grade she just decided to learn all she could about the Mayans and gathered the information on her own just because she wanted to.

Now she has a master's in museum management and is rising up through the hierarchy at a museum respected throughout the world.

The internet could be a great help to you. Start networking with homeschooling parents NOW.

I'm a retired teacher who is a huge fan of homeschooling. Because of my daughter's extra-curricular activities we knew a lot of home-schooled children and they really were remarkable kids.

The biggest challenge I see for you is that most homeschooling parents network with other homeschooling parents so they can draw on each other's strengths. If we had done it, I would have taught music to a group of children, not just my own. My husband would have taught physical sciences to a bunch of children, not just his own.

Start researching now how you will handle the things neither of you are competent to teach. Might be a foreign language, or physics -- you will know where you fall just a little short.
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Old 20-09-2011, 07:33   #12
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
My wife is getting her teacher's qualifications this year not only so we can make a few bucks offshore with her as a substitute or as a qualified tutor of other cruisers' kids, but also so she can teach our son (10) who will be 12 when we leave in two years.

If we go for five years as planned, he will "miss" Grades 7-12 inclusive. That's the totality of high school.

It's a big decision made more problematic by the fact that he's streamed into the gifted program and, while advanced in reading well beyond his years, isn't very capable at writing due to a lack of fine motor skills. He's crap at penmanship. I'm going to buy him a netbook, because he can't take notes remotely as fast as he can think, but we feel he can learn to type. As I'm largely the same way, and have made enough as a writer to contemplate five years at sea, I have to be willing to give it a shot. In my day, I took typing lessons in Grade 8, got to 75 wpm, and have rarely picked up a pen for more than cheque signing since.

We've discussed the ramifications of offshore education with his school, and have opted for "bringing the curriculum" of our province's system with us. In practical terms, he will spend about two hours a day learning what takes six hours sitting in classes. He will advance (assuming we are doing it right) through the normal grades in his gifted stream (assuming he stays in it) and will, thanks to an investment in SSBs/SailMail/occasional Skype and/or satphone, be able to participate remotely in giving presentations, projects or just talking to his peers from a distance.

Given that my wife and I are very science-oriented, and I'm a writer, I would expect he'll do a lot of well-composed marine biology projects, but it's a bit early to tell.

Alaska, being all frontiery and whatnot, might be different. You might not have the option of teaching your kids the same subjects as they would get in "land school". More to the point, you may not be, as parents, good teachers of the sort who convey standard education to kids. Not everyone can teach; it's why they call it a profession.

Nonetheless, and if this is the case, I've heard good things about the Calvert courses, but whether they "count" toward higher education is not known to me. I would concentrate, however, not on what they are to learn, but how you and your mate propose to teach them. That seems key, as does the discipline of daily "study time" (unless it's squally!).

"Boat schooled kids" seem, in my limited acquaintance, to either turn out as illiterate, itinerant mechanics or fiberglassers (thanks to life aboard), or ridiculously well-rounded, classically educated, self-confident, worldly types who have an astounding level of self-assurance and skills.

Which is what one would hope for, I would think. I would guess I've met either as older kids or young adults about six or seven examples, and I would say five were of the "scarily self-possessed, unusually mature" type. Which does give one hope that one is on the right track when proposing to take a pre-teen out of school and offshore for most of his adolescence.
There are many good computer-based instructional typing programs. Once he's learned the basics, he'll want to keep in touch with friends and family. both my daughters were whizzes at the keyboard (including one who had *terrible* fine motor skills) -- because they used IM's and emails so much. Just make sure they use a keyboard and not a phone, because on the phone they won't use all ten fingers, and won't be able to build the kind of skills they'd build at a keyboard.

What will you do for socialization opportunities? People think of home-schooled children as isolated, but they're not -- that's why we met so many of them. But that is an important part of growing up.
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Old 20-09-2011, 07:37   #13
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
My wife is getting her teacher's qualifications this year not only so we can make a few bucks offshore with her as a substitute or as a qualified tutor of other cruisers' kids, but also so she can teach our son (10) who will be 12 when we leave in two years.

If we go for five years as planned, he will "miss" Grades 7-12 inclusive. That's the totality of high school.

It's a big decision made more problematic by the fact that he's streamed into the gifted program and, while advanced in reading well beyond his years, isn't very capable at writing due to a lack of fine motor skills. He's crap at penmanship. I'm going to buy him a netbook, because he can't take notes remotely as fast as he can think, but we feel he can learn to type. As I'm largely the same way, and have made enough as a writer to contemplate five years at sea, I have to be willing to give it a shot. In my day, I took typing lessons in Grade 8, got to 75 wpm, and have rarely picked up a pen for more than cheque signing since.

We've discussed the ramifications of offshore education with his school, and have opted for "bringing the curriculum" of our province's system with us. In practical terms, he will spend about two hours a day learning what takes six hours sitting in classes. He will advance (assuming we are doing it right) through the normal grades in his gifted stream (assuming he stays in it) and will, thanks to an investment in SSBs/SailMail/occasional Skype and/or satphone, be able to participate remotely in giving presentations, projects or just talking to his peers from a distance.

Given that my wife and I are very science-oriented, and I'm a writer, I would expect he'll do a lot of well-composed marine biology projects, but it's a bit early to tell.

Alaska, being all frontiery and whatnot, might be different. You might not have the option of teaching your kids the same subjects as they would get in "land school". More to the point, you may not be, as parents, good teachers of the sort who convey standard education to kids. Not everyone can teach; it's why they call it a profession.

Nonetheless, and if this is the case, I've heard good things about the Calvert courses, but whether they "count" toward higher education is not known to me. I would concentrate, however, not on what they are to learn, but how you and your mate propose to teach them. That seems key, as does the discipline of daily "study time" (unless it's squally!).

"Boat schooled kids" seem, in my limited acquaintance, to either turn out as illiterate, itinerant mechanics or fiberglassers (thanks to life aboard), or ridiculously well-rounded, classically educated, self-confident, worldly types who have an astounding level of self-assurance and skills.

Which is what one would hope for, I would think. I would guess I've met either as older kids or young adults about six or seven examples, and I would say five were of the "scarily self-possessed, unusually mature" type. Which does give one hope that one is on the right track when proposing to take a pre-teen out of school and offshore for most of his adolescence.
Home schooling is going to turn out the same number of brilliant kids, average kids and slackers as any other approach. The bottom line is that each child is an individual. I only saw one family I thought shouldn't be doing it. The dad was a carpenter who helped remodel our kitchen. He clearly was a bully at home who used home schooling as one more way to isolate his family from the rest of the world. It was very creepy.
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Old 20-09-2011, 07:44   #14
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

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Everyone in my family from parents to siblings are public school teachers. I am not. All but one have their masters in education. My sisters are all National board certified. When my wife and I first told them we would be home schooling our then eight year old daughter all kinds of stinky stuff hit the fan..... Oh, and if the socialization issue comes up with your friends and family, by the second year of home schooling that will provide you with the biggest laughs of all.
Edited for brevity ...

I think in 2011 homeschooling makes more sense than ever, because education is getting so regimented. When I started, everyone talked about "teachable moments" -- a child would bring a caterpillar in from the playground, and the teacher would stop what she had intended to teach and talk about the life cycles of butterflies and moths. With the internet now, if we could still that, there would be no problem identifying what the caterpillar would develop into. She might pull out "The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar" book and read it to them if they were of that age.

But now the teacher has to say "That's nice, Johnny, now take it back outside," because what she HAS to teach ... is on the achievement test. If her kids don't do well on the test, she could lose her job. Those tests rule everything that happens in the classroom.

Sunday at the beach with friends we found a shell, put it in a bag. The bag just happened to have sea water in it from other shells when out swam -- a little octopus that had been hiding in one of the shells! We had great fun looking at the little guy. Then we let him pick the shell of his choice and put him back in the water about where the shell had been found. Think of what a lesson a home schooling family could have made out of that.
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Old 20-09-2011, 08:17   #15
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Re: Homeschooling Nine and Eleven Year-Olds while Cruising the World

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What will you do for socialization opportunities? People think of home-schooled children as isolated, but they're not -- that's why we met so many of them. But that is an important part of growing up.
Our plans include the use of our SSB to contact other cruising families and to alter plans for meet-ups in interesting places. As said, my wife will be a freshly minted teacher from a reputable place, and will likely be a "draw" for that reason.

We will also have at least one long-term stop for rest, repair and relaxation, probably in New Zealand, and we might put him in school for a few months to knock the edges off his Crusoe persona.
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