Friday, 14 March 2014

Where do the children learn?

'The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.'

When people meet us and hear that we are travelling the most common response is – what about school? Schooling or education is one of the common concerns for families setting off cruising and their wider families. If I can offer any reassurance it is that looking at the work the deckhands were producing when we first started out compared to now and the confidence and thirst for knowledge that they have, although I have had my concerns at times, I certainly feel that they have gained a huge amount from this experience.

Passage planning

The next question that comes up in conversation tends to regard how we know that they are working at the right level. This is an interesting question. Usually people mean relative to the year groups they would be in at school. We use workbooks alongside the other stuff they do to ensure all the basics of literacy and numeracy are covered and more recently a structured maths computer programme (IXL). Visitors kindly deliver new workbooks for us, often ordered from the internet. For other work we follow their interests, this is why they have been learning about physics, the periodic table and nautical theory amongst other things.

Selection of workbooks.
We have found that the flexibility of home education is a definite positive. We are fortunate in Britain that home education, whilst still very misunderstood by some, is widely accepted. The tolerance for home education varies enormously from country to country. In Australia and America it is less uncommon especially in areas where the nearest school may be many miles away whereas in the Netherlands it is illegal. The support for families who are home educating also varies. Canada and the United States provide whole year resource packs which some love and others find restrictive. Britain does not provide any resources for home educators which is in some ways a good thing. We can follow the deckhands interests and work in a way that suits them, using inspiration from things around us that we see and using the world as a giant teaching resource.
Practical experiment - learning about volume 
The first part of this year was filled with memories. They have created a fantastic wall of pictures -‘snapshots’- of our trip, done a science experiment seeing what different smells reminded them of, played memory games, created blogs of 2013 and found out lots about how the brain works. We all enjoyed hearing stories of other peoples memories which were kindly emailed to us by Grandparents and our wonderful neighbour from Somerset. There was a very good visit to an art gallery in the city which prompted an exploration of cubism, pointillism and other art styles. World book day was celebrated by the deckhands with the creation of some artefacts from their favourite books.

Learning whipping (rope work)

International opportunities abound as the boys have played with the French girls from a neighbouring boat, we have had the chance to visit a local Breton primary school and have also taken part in the geography project of an elementary school in America.

Exploring - PE boat school style
The current topic is animals and they have been working hard this week after an extended break due to illness. With lots of exciting ideas lined up and school report day this month too it looks like it will be another busy half term.  

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