Tuesday, 6 September 2016

After boat school

It has been lovely to enjoy the company of the deckhands throughout the summer holidays. We’ve been exploring and playing and not watching the clock.


It is now just over two years since they started back at ‘real’ school. A long time for children, enough time to settle in and enough time for the novelty to wear off. The older two have now both started at secondary school. A change which did not seem to phase them at all. They were ready and they relish a challenge. Perhaps the changes of moving around whilst cruising has increased their resilience, perhaps they would have adapted fine anyway.
New horizons, a river mooring
The youngest had never been to school before we returned. He had just finished pre-school when we untied the ropes. It took him a few months to get used to being in a school environment. Nothing drastic, no problem behaviours or tears just guidance needed to teach him the things which had become natural for others. Sitting on the carpet, lining up at the door, doing the work when it should be done not in the time he wanted to. These things came to him with support from his fantastic teachers. The school were really encouraging and then he was able to rocket, showing them what he was actually capable of.

They have incorporated their knowledge and experiences into their school work. It crops up in writing, geography, history and of course in modern foreign languages. Have we given them an advantage? Did we make life harder for them? Did we do the best thing for them? Do they regret it? Did we break them? As a parent you always end up questioning the things you do.

Exploring on the French island of Houat

They certainly gained experiences. When you are cruising it is very easy to feel that you are making mistakes in their learning and that they may never recover academically. It is that parental guilt thing that gets us all. They are all working at or above the level expected of their ages. That is not meant as a boast, it is a fact. I only mention it to reassure and possibly encourage others. Maybe that is a nugget you might like to share with the family member that is, understandably, worrying about your children.


When we set off our boat school worked on the presumption that they would be retuning returning to formal schooling so we incorporated some bits to help with this. Simple things like writing the date at the top of the page, using exercise books to write in and using curriculum based workbooks alongside other learning. We followed topic based learning with age related differentiation. They also enjoyed creating wall displays between them for each topic. Maybe these things helped them when they got back. Then again maybe they didn't. There really is no way of knowing.
History in France

Other children generally do not have an issue with them being different (there will always be one or two who have their own issues and are looking for a cat to kick) and they have made some really good friends. The boys talk to adults as contemporaries (but, of course with respect). Some teachers can find this hard to deal with, others seem to enjoy having a conversation with them. They have been fortunate so far that this has only been an issue with one or two teachers.
Working on the deck in Spain
When it comes to homework, they have their own rooms now and there is the new bigger table in the saloon. This means that they can spread out. We are also fortunate to have wi-fi at the marina as a lot of school work involves the internet.
Maybe the most telling question is would we do it again? The answer is yes, without hesitation. You have no way of telling how home education/travelling/alternative learning will affect any of you until you try it. It can be challenging, it does involve work and preparation and a certain amount of sticking to it but it certainly worked for us.


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