Luc 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.
|We 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.
|Self discipline is the key to
making homeschool work, especially with middle and high
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
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.
My 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.
Studies – Modern Latin American:
I have found this knowledge very
valuable during my time in Mexico and Central America.
- Latin American Literature
Including about eight novels and writing assignments.
- 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
- The Rosetta Stone software,
plus about 100 hours of one-on-one language school during the summer we
lived in Antigua, Guatemala.
- 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
|Betsey 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.