School at Sea!

15 November 2023

If you're considering participating in the ARC or going bluewater sailing with your children and are interested in home schooling while on board, there are a few things to consider. We asked our 2023 ARC families to share their experiences. This year we have 10 family boats, with a total of 17 children aged under 16.
One of the first things to consider is whether home schooling is an option in your home country, and what permissions need to be obtained to home school your children.

Carol, Ricky and their children Julia (8) and Lis (6) onboard Apoena 11:11 (a Beneteau Oceanis 473) hail from Brazil where home schooling is not recognised as an option. Taking time out to sail around the world has always been a part of their plan as a family, so when Ricky had the opportunity to move to France for work – where there is a very well-established home-schooling system (Cned) – they jumped at the chance.

Curriculum Planning
There are several homeschooling curricula you can choose from, dependant on your child’s age and learning style. Many of our family boats choose curricula that is flexible and adaptable to allow learning through real world experiences.

Canadians Natalie, Peter, Sonnen (11) and Remy (7) took delivery of June a Nautitech 44 Open launched in La Rochelle in early June 2023. Natalie explained:

“Home schooling was a bit of a challenge to begin with, just figuring out how we would do it and what it would look like, but I feel like we are really on a role now. The kids are learning so much more than they would back home in Canada. We are part of a programme called ‘SelfDesign® Learning Foundation’ which is based in Vancouver. We design all the lessons ourselves, but the programme has a facilitator who we submit a report to on what we have done each week, and who then gives us guidance and feedback to help make sure that we are meeting the Canadian curriculum requirements.”

Guillemette and Adam along with their son Seth (11) from the USA are completing the 2023 ARC and will be going on to join the  World ARC 2024 fleet onboard Saltair (a Hallberg-Rassy 57 launched in 2023). Seth previously went to a French international school in the USA so they chose the French Cned home-schooling system. This programme includes physical workbooks and resources for each subject as well as requiring Seth to complete assessments for each subject. They also have access to a wide range of online resources. Initially choosing a wide curriculum, they made the decision to drop to just three key subjects; science, maths and French. The curriculum can be studied at your own pace, so is really flexible.

The Weiden family - Danielle and Todd and their four children aged 7, 9, 11 and 14 on Waymaker are using a range of home school resources. The platforms they use include The Good and the Beautiful for English and Arts and Shurley Instructional Materials for grammar. Their eldest child is also completing the Saxon Homeschool Curriculum for Science and Math. This is an online self-paced programme that he can log into when his schedule allows – the qualifications with also give him high school credits. For subjects like history and science, Danielle will teach the same subject to all four children as one lesson, but will then differentiate the work the children need to produce depending on their age.

Technology and resources
Sonnen and Remy onboard June each have an iPad which have various maths, English language and French programmes on them. They also use them for producing multimedia projects. They utilise their Starlink connection to watch YouTube videos on various topics and connect with a private tutor for a two-hour lesson each week. However, Natalie has also made sure there are lots of paper-based resources onboard, as they didn’t want the children to be spending too much time on electronic devices.

Danielle onboard Waymaker explained that Starlink has been phenomenal for them. Having moved onto the boat in Croatia in October 2022, they have cruised throughout the Mediterranean, and have been able to get an internet connection even in the most remote anchorages. For the Atlantic Crossing, they will only be using the Starlink connection to get the daily weather reports, however the homeschooling platforms they are using allow you to download materials in advance, so they can still access the resources that they need whilst at sea. Reading is also big part of the curriculum for the children onboard Waymaker - they all have Kindle books but also hard copy books and must read a certain amount each day. Each child has their own basket of books and home school resources in the saloon.

Seth onboard Saltair is doing much of his learning ‘offline’ completing all his assignments on paper, which is then photographed and submitted electronically. Guillemette explained that for them, they wanted the ability for Seth to study remotely, and not be reliant on an internet connection, and whilst they have Starlink onboard - so Seth’s work can be sent to his tutors - a important part of their round the world adventure is ‘disconnecting’ and not being online all the time.

Routine and structure
Onboard June Sonnen and Remy do a couple of hours ‘schoolwork’ each day after breakfast, covering maths, reading, grammar and phonetics. They will then pick a theme from the curriculum and do a project on it. However, Natalie explains there are so many learning opportunities onboard each day, whether that be spotting dolphins and then working out which species it is, and then doing a project on the marine mammals in the area or simply looking at the night sky and identifying the different constellations.

Some families often find it is often easier to get into a routine on passage, compared to being at anchor or in a marina where there are many other distractions. For others, they flex with the conditions. Heidi, Anders, Tiril (8) and Freida (7) have been living onboard Tempus (an RCC Majestic 530) for a year, having cruised the Mediterranean the ARC is their next stop on a around the world adventure! They have developed a flexible routine, fitting schoolwork in around the conditions and where they find themselves, Heidi explains:
“I try, if we are on anchor, to take the kids to shore and have a lesson there, look at some seashells, find bugs, go for a walk, incorporating teaching into nature.”

The Weiden family on Waymaker home school Monday through Friday, usually starting around 08:00 and finishing at lunchtime. Danielle explains:

“The motivation for the kids to complete their schoolwork is that they get to adventure and play afterwards and explore where they are. Most days when we are under passage, we are still able to do school, unless sea conditions are a little rough, and then we take a little break from that.”

ARC 2023 family advice!
For those parents considering taking their kids out of school and taking part in a World Cruising Club Rally, our 2023 ARC participants have the following advice for you:

Guillemette from Saltair advice:
“Don’t try and do too much, try to pick something that is achievable, so that when you achieve success, when you achieve what you set out to do, there is a good sense of accomplishment, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming. And also, adapt, use the experience of the trip to teach topics like history, geography, culture!”

Natalie on June comments:
“I would say just go ahead and do it, this was my biggest fear leaving was how I was going to educate my kids and how they would adapt to it, what kind of a teacher I would be with out those skills. I find that more and more I really enjoy it, it’s a really fun part of our day. It’s amazing how much your kids will learn about the world, about themselves, so you can really focus on their individual needs. I would say do it, there is no better time than now!”