Without a doubt, the subject most discussed with my fellow boat mums is boat school. We fret, we analyse, we commiserate and we encourage each other. We try to be each others champions and sounding boards. But the truth is we all find it incredibly hard. There are many joys of this life afloat but boat school isn’t always one.
Of course there are days when it all goes well, days when your children seem to be growing in confidence and you are suddenly aware of a whole new area of expertise but mostly it is a daily slog – draining for both parent and child. Most of us are not teachers and spending 24 hours a day with your children is quite daunting anyway without the pressure of making sure they are actually learning something!
Everyone seems to do it a bit differently: some countries are very strict and parents are expected to report back every few weeks with proof of their kid’s learning, some boats have purchased a ready-made ‘boxed’ curriculum with books for parents and kids to follow, some have been provided work by their schools and some (mostly the UK boats) are sort of left floundering, trying to find their way and just hoping they are doing a good enough job!
It’s a minefield out there. And we always seem to be questioning our choices. Do you follow a set curriculum and miss out on natural learning opportunities along the way? And if so which curriculum is best? Do you let your journey dictate the learning and risk missing the basics? How exactly do you get a reluctant 6-year-old to read without wanting to throttle him?
I did a fair amount of research before we left. The UK has a fairly relaxed attitude to home learning with only the expectation of ‘providing a suitable education’ for your child. We decided that if we kept our kids up to date with maths and literacy, the journey would provide enough education to cover the rest and in many ways this is still true. Only we underestimated the actual teaching part – there is a reason there are dedicated professionals out there doing this – it’s very hard!
So we continue to fret, we worry that we’re doing enough or too much. Are they up to date? Are we going to forever ruin our relationships with our children after yet another tantrum?! But there are also small wins: erupting volcanoes on the beach, World Book Day shared with different nationalities, new words learnt in foreign languages and overhearing your kids talk about the strength of the wind and the angles of the sails.
I’ve been researching new curriculums, new books, new ways of trying to get Fin to read!!! No doubt I will continue to worry until the kids go back to school and I can hand over the reigns completely but in the meantime I will try to recognise the small wins, try to enjoy this steep learning curve that sometimes has us all in tears and maybe even occasionally remember to pat ourselves on the back. All and any advice is very welcome!!
Resources I currently use:
Civitas: What your Year 2 Child Needs to Know
Civitas: What your Year 4 Child Needs to Know
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History
Letts Wild about English
Letts Wild about Maths
Lesson Plans Ahoy! – Nadine Slavinski