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Educating Your Children: Combining Cruising and Homeschooling

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The sailing cruising lifestyle is ideal for couples who really have no desire to be stuck in one place for too long. It is a lifestyle that is generally not perceived to be good for families, given the fact that children need to be educated. Yet there is a way to accomplish both without either one diminishing from the other: homeschooling.


Homeschooling was not legal in the United States from about the mid-1850s until the 1980s. It is now legal in all 50 states, though state regulations can vary quite a bit. The point is that you can now legally homeschool your children even as you cruise the world's oceans. If you are so inclined, don't worry about your kids missing out on traditional schooling. What they experience at sea will more than make up for what they miss on land.


Know the Law in Your Jurisdiction


The first thing to consider is the legal jurisdiction that controls how your children are educated. You might not have a home on shore, but you probably have a legal address. That address determines your jurisdiction. Let's say Long Island, for example. Long Island is part of New York State, one of the most restrictive states for homeschooling.


New York homeschoolers have to file paperwork with their local school districts five times per year. This would mean docking your boat and getting to the post office or postal supply store. If your legal address were in Florida though, no such requirements exist. You inform the local school district once, and that's it.


Homeschooling Styles


A lot of new homeschoolers are surprised to delve into things only to discover that there isn't just one way to do it. There are lots of different homeschooling styles, each of which can be adapted to your life on the water. Let's look at unit studies, for example.


Unit studies teach core subjects, by unit, based on a single topic. So let's say one of your youngsters is taking an online sailing course from NauticEd, a nationally known organization that trains and certifies sailors. You can use that sailing training as an entire unit around which to teach math, reading, history, etc. You can obtain teaching materials either by going ashore and visiting bookstores and estate sales, or by doing everything online.


Start with a Plan


The key to success as a cruising homeschooler is to start with a plan. From a planning standpoint, educating your children is no different than cruising from one port to the next. Going without a plan is asking for trouble. Don't do it.


Also understand that your plan does not have to be ironclad. You can build flexibility into a homeschooling plan just as you do a cruising plan. The point of the plan is just to have a framework in place so that you always have goals, purposes, and ways to measure success. You can always modify your plan as you gradually learn what works and what doesn't.


One last thing to remember is that you should never compare your child's educational outcome against anyone else's. Your child is an individual with his or her own interests, abilities, and so forth. One of the worst things traditional education has done is pigeonhole children and force them into standardized molds. You have the unique ability, as a cruiser, to let your children be who they naturally are. Take advantage of it.


Cruising is a viable lifestyle even for families. You can homeschool your kids at sea, giving them an education unparalleled by anything they can get on land. The additional benefit is the self esteem and confidence gained by kids on this type of world adventure is unparalleled.


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