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BoatSchool  at OceansideLuc writes:  When we started making plans to cruise, we had many questions about how we were going to continue my  high school education (10th and 11th grade). While home schooling is an obvious solution, the different programs available makes the issue a little complicated.

Our decision was much simpler than most. The year before we left, our friend Jack McKenna announced that he had been hired to coordinate the San Juan Island School District’s new home school program.  I was the first to sign up.  My Home school program requires me to email Mr. McKenna each week to update him on my progress.  In addition, my mom helps me write detailed Individual learning plans for each subject.  

And I do the rest.  In traditional schooling, students view the work as something done for the teacher. My schooling revolves around me.  I plan my lessons, I organize my time, and I evaluate and document my progress (with a little help from my mom).  I believe that I am getting a much better education than I would if I were going to a normal high school.  I admit it helps to have a mom who is a professional educator.

1st Day Boat School, jet lagged, out coldWe started out with my mom planning my lessons, and telling me what I needed to do. Then I would start each day complaining about how much work I had to do, how hard my teacher was, and waste time for half an hour before finally sitting down and getting my work done.  After listening to me complain about my assignments for several days my mom acknowledged  that what we were doing was not working. She showed me the curriculum for tenth grade work and taught me how to make a lesson plan. Now, in consultation with my mom, I write my own lesson plans, I do the work, and I evaluate my progress.  No one to complain to, problem solved. School for me has become a matter of how I want to meet the grade objectives, what I want to accomplish, what I want to learn.  Often my personal objectives are more demanding than the 10th grade requirements. I read a lot more, for one thing. Also, for example, in Algebra 2, I work through about 2 lessons each day, and every 4-6 lessons I take the chapter tests.  I set a goal of 85% or better on the tests, and keep track of my scores.  This is quite a bit more progress than I could make in a high school math class, and I usually do much better than 85% on my math tests.
BoatSchool, Catalina IslandSelf discipline is the key to making homeschool work, especially with middle and high school students. Outside help is always welcome, but I had to learn to do the work for myself, not to meet my teacher’s or my parents’ objectives. Only my own drive and monthly audits from my mom (a.k.a. Dr. Professor Barnett) keeps me focused.  My parents help when I need it but generally I do just fine on my own. My mom mostly helps with curriculum and writing, and my dad occasionally helps me with math.

I take my school responsibilities seriously. When I plan my own schedule I feel committed to completing my assignments. I resist invitations (even from my parents) to take a day off or to postpone my work.    

Luc reading Ghandi in SFMy typical school day goes something like this: I wake up about  6:30am, get dressed and start breakfast. At about 7:00 am I begin my assignments, each subject taking about an hour. Usually, I am done by noon.  On travel days, I usually do less schoolwork, and I take that into account when I plan my work

Here is an overview of my coursework for the tenth grade.  


Social Studies – Modern Latin American: I have found this knowledge very valuable during my time in Mexico and Central America.

English - Latin American Literature Including about eight novels and writing assignments.   

Algebra 2 - my 9th grade math course did not prepare me for this more intense algebra/trig curriculum, so I was forced to go back and redo the Algebra 1 course, before working through Algebra 2.  Luckily, home school allows for this flexibility.  So I did two years of math in a year.

Spanish - The Rosetta Stone software, plus about 100 hours of one-on-one language school during the summer we lived in Antigua, Guatemala.

Biology/Chemistry - painfully boring, but we slid some Biology lessons in to break up the monotony  

Many younger home schoolers work much more closely with their parents, but the over all personal motivation and dedication causes homeschoolers to excel in academics and other fields. I am enjoying the experience.  I have only two regrets; first I have almost no friends my age traveling with me and, and second I wish I had started home schooling sooner.  

So many wondrous books for ChristmasBetsey writes:  We had a few false starts early in the school year.  We had to deal with learning how to live on a boat, how to sail our boat down the West Coast, how to manage seasickness (no longer a problem), all in addition to Home School.

Homeschool has turned out to be one of the major good things about our voyage. I had to learn not to hold Luc so tightly.  Because I am a professional educator, I was worried that he wouldn't have enough structure, enough feedback. I needn't have worried. Once Luc found his sea legs, and developed his schedule, home school has gone very well. He is very responsible and disciplined about his work.  As a result, his reading, writing, and thinking are quite sophisticated.  His confidence in his math skills is high, a totally unexpected benefit of homeschooling.  

All George and I do is make the space for him to work (that means not calling him for chores during boat school, and planning excursions around Luc's schedule). I listen carefully to Luc when he expresses an interest in a field of study, and I try to find books to put on board that will feed his interests.  I took responsibility from the very beginning for making sure there were large quantities of delicious books aboard.  We only gave books as presents for  our first Christmas afloat   Even a year into our voyage, I have stashes of books the boys don't know about. I even brought some e-books for my Palm that we haven't used  yet.



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Last modified: April 27, 2010