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Old 26-06-2009, 11:53   #1
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Homeschooling Advice Needed!

Hello everyone!!

Brand new to the forum, and I am hoping to get some good info from 'those who have gone before'....we just bought a Gulfstar Sailmaster 47 and are basing out of San Diego for the summer while we refit and prepare for cruising this fall. Cruising has always been the goal, we were just waiting for our two children to get to an age that felt right--in a perfect world we probably would have waited another year, however, the boat market called to us and alas here we are--living aboard our GS in sunny San Diego. My children are 6 and 4 and I am trying to research homeschooling curriculum. Now that homeschooling has become more mainstream there are soooo many options. I am hoping to get some specific curriculum advice from those who are experiencing homeschooling while cruising or have experienced it before. We're only talking pre-K and 1st grade, but I need to get rolling on this so I'm not doing it too last minute.

We plan on going to Mexico--Sea of Cortez--whatever this fall for the cruising season and I imagine that internet will be hit or miss. I don't want to rely on an internet based curriculum just to find out that we have no access--like some other families I have read about on the forum.

Any help would be welcomed. Thanks.
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Old 26-06-2009, 12:18   #2
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Greetings, and welcome aboard.
Congratulations on the new boat!

Some previous discussions that may be of interest (homeschooling, etc):

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...chool-871.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ling-1560.html

Cruising with Kids: Home School Ideas ?

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...oats-4237.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...tion-7176.html
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:35   #3
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You are right -- there IS so much out there to choose from. But I don't think a person who doesn't know your kids can give you advice on the right program any more than we could on the right way to discipline your kids
As a boat mom, you are likely very close to your kids and know their individual learning styles. The key is to see what makes them tick and go with that. My advice (since you DID ask) would be to forget a package program at that age and just grab the rich learning opportunities as they come -- which they do so much more aboard and traveling than they would land bound. It's amazing how much they can figure out and learn and explore just by having the time and attention from loving, smart, attentive parents.

Here is a quick run down of some of the programs I have investigated to give you an idea (my son is 5)

Calvert - just like traditional school brought home. Daily lessons plans based on traditional school year. Lots of seat work, workbook work, etc. Not much room for creativity or outside ideas. Very easy to follow and very complete. In my opinion, not good for the kinetic or creative child. We bought this and promptly re-sold it on Ebay.

Oak Meadow - Waldorf inspired package with a weekly lesson plan. Nature and arts based with lots of imaginative touches. De-emphasizes academics for little ones in favor of learning to love learning. But if you want an early reader or academic super star, this is not for you.
We bought this one used (for kindy) and do not plan to follow it week by week, but found LOTS of fabulous ideas and projects we plan to (and have already) use here and there.

K12 - this is an online program that is also very mainstream in its approach, sort of an online 2009 version of Calvert.

And then there are a million books and programs and activities you can do on your own as you follow your child's lead.

If I had to put a label on what we do I would call it "Waldorf inspired unschoolers". We don't follow any curriculum, we follow our son's natural curiosity and put as many enriching opportunities in front of him as we can. But we also de-emphasize media (we're tv-free) and emphasize nature and art and imagination.

Here's an exercise that some tried and true old time homeschooler told me to do that helped A LOT! Get a notebook and for a day or a week or so carry it around with you and write down EVERYTHING you do with you kids. Every conversation, every outing, craft, every question. You will see when you go back and read that you probably, without even ever trying, provide an incredibly enriching and even "academic" environment just by being with your kids - probably more so than a pre-K or Kindergarten would. Helping to cook, answering questions about everything, playing outside and collecting bugs, noticing nature, going to the myseum or library, making grocery listsm counting change at the store, there are "lessons" in all of them --- excpoet these lessons are done the way they are meant to be done -- naturally, in the world, without forcing it. This keeps their love of learning and natural curiosity in tact.

Hope that helps!

ENJOY!
Cindy (schoonerdog's wife)

p.s. if you click on our blog you can see some of the homschool/ boatschool stuff we do. There is a categories list on the left and you will see labels to click there.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:24   #4
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Any will work. The best thing is to get your kids to love to read. I love watching my 6 yo granddaughter with a book with a finger curling her hair just like her mother did. I liked home schooling but it is easy to be too relaxed with it. I found that with dealing with other peoples questions about your kids education is to just make up a school name, Most people will never understand your reasons and will argue that your kids will some how be stunted socially and academically. Which is total BS. As you are heading south start now with Spanish. They will pick it up so easly and will enjoy it for a lifetime. Best wishes to you. Your kids will love you for this.
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Old 06-07-2009, 14:04   #5
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Somewhat different, we did practically nothing. Just let them enjoy the cruising and read to them a lot. Have a fish/bird/shell book on board. If you stay in one place for 6 months put them in the local school.
Both ours grew up like that. Older one is graduating university this year straight A's with honours. Younger one is top academic student at high school, has been since we got back.
But more important is the maturity and social skills they gained.
As nike says - just do it.
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Old 07-07-2009, 21:04   #6
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Don't worry and stress yourself out over a a pre-k or elementary school program. Save the money and stress over a program. I would read with them, and apply math in daily life, this is all they need besides the cruising experience. Further on Calvert and Oak Meadow ( we are doing Oak Meadow ourselves now at high school level) is my recommendation.
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:24   #7
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Thanks for the heads up about Oak Meadow. We had looked into Calvert but were reluctant due to different spiritual beliefs, the rigid structure and the cost. Oak Meadow looks as if it will be a better fit for us and I never would have found them without the rec!

Oak Meadow is less expensive for the basics which works as we plan on augmenting with additional books, etc in areas of study that work well with cruising- astronomy, marine biology, geography and history.

Having been a preschool teacher, I'd like to agree that a structured program for kids under the age of 5 or 6 really isn't necessary. What is needed is an exposure to new experiences and ideas, having books read to them, encouragement to explore, an opportunity to socialize with peers (preschool is more about learning to get along with others more than anything else) and encouragement to try new things, fail miserably and get up and try again. All of these can be accomplished without a formal curriculum.
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Old 10-07-2009, 18:42   #8
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We recently sold the house and car and moved aboard our 38 down easter full time. We have a 17,11, and 9 year old. Home schooling was not an issue because I have been doing it for 12 years now (oldest in 2 year of college). My best advice is find out what your state requires of you first. I would definitely go pretty basic with that age group. I enjoyed doing themes with my kids at the age. It all really depends on what you want for them. There is nothing wrong with the workbooks they sell at Walmart, especially for younger children. Also, the internet has a huge supply of curriculum for free for K-6 grade. If you have questions about indiviual curriculms you can email me at reba3119@gmail.com . I have used a lot of different ones and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

God Bless - Becky
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Old 10-07-2009, 20:48   #9
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I've worked in education for quite a while and seen both the planning side of homeschooling curricula and the effective end (of dealing with homeschooled kids).

My main recommendations are:

1. Makes sure you filter out any evangelical christian crap from whatever system you choose. Despite claims to the contrary, most homeschooling organizations and curricula are geared toward infusing a given religious dogma into their design. They leave certain things conveniently out, and add other things in. Leave school for school and church for church. Not saying religion isn't good, just that it's not education and so many programs rob the students of real teaching by trying to make it all about "teaching".

2. Get them started from the beginning with a second language. Since you're cruising where you are, Spanish would be ideal. Plus it will greatly accentuate their experiences in port and should the children somehow get separated from you it becomes a safety asset as they can at least communicate the basics to whomever finds them.

3. Concentrate less on books and more on making the world around them their classroom. They will be bored sometimes between ports, so you will need some reading and playing materials. But sailing is one big ginormous physics laboratory -- use it. And of course just from what they see around them you have geography, biology, botany, history, cultures, you name it. Cruising they'll have access to things other kids will be dreaming about into their 40's. Take advantage of all of it.

Whereas most homeschoolers are trying to keep their kids out of the real world, you have the opportunity to immerse them in that real world like no one else and to use the whole thing as their classroom.
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:17   #10
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Originally Posted by drew.ward View Post
3. Concentrate less on books and more on making the world around them their classroom. They will be bored sometimes between ports, so you will need some reading and playing materials. But sailing is one big ginormous physics laboratory -- use it...

Whereas most homeschoolers are trying to keep their kids out of the real world, you have the opportunity to immerse them in that real world like no one else and to use the whole thing as their classroom.
I agree with everything you say.

Using your daily cruising & sailing activities as the basis for science lessons will encourage you (the teacher) to think about the principles that apply to many things you may do intuitively.
You’ll gain a deeper understanding of why you do what you do, and how to extrapolate that new knowledge to other unfamiliar situations.
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:56   #11
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Other than the shot at Christians, which I thought we didn't do that type of thing here, I agree with the rest of the posters. Sailing afar or not, home schooling is becoming more accepted and mainstream everyday and the results are impressive. While there are still many misconceptions about home schooling from children either being socially challenged or Spelling Bee champs. The reality is that their chances at a normal and healthy upbringing and education tuned to your values are far greater than what they'll get from a curriculum aimed at the masses. Reminds me of a poster I once saw. Two mothers are at Mount Rushmore and one says to the other " I wonder how many of those men were home schooled?' the other says "All of them"
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:18   #12
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Hi Tellie,

That wasn't meant as a shot at christians...I'm one of them too. But as an educator I have seen the negative effects of sacrificing academic integrity in favor of a certain set of values. I'm not saying don't give your children an upbringing in the religious tradition you subscribe to. I am saying that you have to be careful when homeschooling and selecting a program that those religious ideals don't dilute and obscure their education for fear they might actually question the bible.
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:47   #13
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No sweat Drew. As an educator you're well aware of the impact of just a few words. I agreed with everything you said. But the phrase "evangelical Christian crap" perhaps encompassed more than you intended and it deserved a reply. As you're probably aware many, if not most, evangelicals have done a fantastic job home schooling. But I'd be lying if I didn't agree that there are those few. I come from a long line of educators, myself being the Black sheep in that line, and they all hit the roof when we announced our intentions to home school eleven years ago. But, they are all converts now.
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Old 11-07-2009, 13:10   #14
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My husband and I homeschool our children and started when they were in the 4th and 5th grades. However, before they even entered kindergarten, I taught them to read using Hooked on Phonics, which was great! In my opinion, reading effectively is the most important tool that anyone can have. With that, you can learn about anything. Depending on your children, they are probably ready to learn to read now. We started ours at 3 and 4.

Now, we use AOP Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum, which is a well-rounded program. The subjects that we teach now are Science, Mathematics, Language Arts, History and Geography, Bible, and Spanish. It is a computer-based system and is pretty inexpensive. One of the great things about it is that there are no books! All of the reading, lessons, projects, quizzes, and tests are all done on your computer. That means no added weight or clutter on your boat! Also, the program does not mess around when it comes to teaching, that's for sure. The subjects are taught seriously and have helpful tutoring videos in the curriculum. You also have access to tutoring sessions if there is something that you cannot teach your children, like calculus!

I hope this will help.
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:28   #15
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My Brother & Sister and I were home schooled, aboard our sail boat, we were much older than your children at the time. There is much that you can use in your world around you to educate your children. Instilling the love of reading cannot be over emphasized. You have a front porch marine biology lab every where you go, and the exposure to the different cultures and peoples of the world will give them a perspective that the children in the states could never attain. Even if you don't have a structured curriculum, maybe because you don't have a rigid structure, they will assimilate a lot of different information that is unavailable to the average public school child. All the best.
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