First Day with Calvert
15 November 2009 | Topsail Beach, NC
September 2, 2009: A "first day of school" picture we'll never forget! No backpacks, half dressed, and bare feet!
When to start homeschooling was a difficult decision to make. The original plan was to begin homeschooling at the same time as our planned departure. However, as we move closer to the final stages of our cruising goal, there are little details that have had to be adjusted.
The biggest influence that tipped the scale towards homeschooling was the fact that Wil lives in Durham, the kids and I live at the beach, and the boat is in Beaufort. We also need to sell the beach house, and don't know when we'll start living on the boat. In order to get boat work done & be able to spend family time together, we meet at Wil's mom's house in Beaufort.
We are extremely fortunate that Wil's mom lives just down the road from Jarrett Bay. What are the chances that the only travel lift in NC big enough for our boat is just minutes from Grandma & Uncle Pete? Again . . . it seems like something that was meant to be! We don't have to stay on the boat while it's on the hard, we get to visit with family, and the kids get lots of "grandma time". We owe them a huge amount of gratitude, and appreciate every extra moment that we've gotten to spend with them.
Therefore, homeschooling was the right choice. Due to our current way of life, the kids would have to miss too much school in order for them to see their dad, and we wouldn't have as much time to get the boat ready for cruising. Schooling can be as flexible as we need to be.
Well . . . all easier said than done!! No one ever mentioned just how exhausting homeschooling can be. And I know a lot of families who homeschool! For at least the first 2 weeks of school, I didn't think I would be able to keep up with it. During the school week, I am by myself with the kids 24 hours a day / 4-5 days a week. I am their mom & teacher all on my own. I have 2 kids, at 2 different grade levels, and with 2 very different learning styles. In the beginning, I had this image of keeping one room in the house as the "school" room. We would have our school schedule, and when school was in session we would be in that room. The rest of the house would be for normal living. Everything that I thought would be went out the door by the end of day 1.
The kids distract each other, so I have to have them in different rooms. I never realized how mentally exhausted I would be at the end of a school day. I feel like I've gone back to school for myself! We've tried a rigid schedule & we've tried an extremely flexible schedule . . . finally having to settle on something in between. Traveling with all the books & lesson manuals between our house, Wil's place, and Beaufort is far from an easy task. Books are heavy & take up space. What about days when there are supposed to be science experiments? I have to plan ahead when I know we're going to be on the road. When we're away from home, how do I set up school so focus on school work can be achieved?
We're still figuring things out, but I have to say it has become a lot easier over time. I'm getting the hang of lesson planning. I'm learning how to encourage learning with the different learning styles. I've learned to have a lot of patience . . . on most days. The kids still say they prefer homeschool to regular school. I can finally say that I'm glad we're doing this, and I'm glad we're doing this now. I can't image how much more difficult life would be if we were trying to start homeschooling at the same time as moving onto the boat. Adjusting to the cruising life can be difficult within itself! (Despite what most might believe, it's not all tropical sunsets, swimming in warm waters, & having drink in the cockpit!) We recently met a cruising family with 6 kids aboard a Venezia 42 who have only ever home schooled for the their entire school career. They also highly recommend homeschooling before moving aboard and said it was good that we were doing it this way. It's definitely an advantage to find your groove with homeschooling first . . . and then begin the cruising lifestyle.
So we're finding our groove!