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  • Writer's pictureTiago Bertalot

Boatschooling First Impression

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

The big question: Is boatschooling for everybody? Well, we don't like to put people on columns trying to find a magical formula that suits everyone. Boatschooling is full of challenges and lots of frustration but has also it's joys which are very rewardable. Being able to assist on first hand each of your kids learning is just an amazing feeling, get those good results on assessments and feel part is memorable.

We are newbies on it and these are our first impressions, just would give some perspective: due to the COVID, and previously our move to the boat, kids had to be homeschooled so we learnt a lot about it and could understand the differences between have it at home and on a boat, I will try to clarify as much as I can:

1. Motion:

The boat swings and moves all the time, and this motion can cause from a simple distraction to dizziness. We found that even on marinas there is some sort of movement which is distracting and very challenging for small kids.

2. Noises:

The boat makes a lot of noise all the time, from the fresh water pump and cables to the anchor chain being pulled by the wind or us talking, or even the floor when we step on it. Keeping attention is very unlikely, even for us as a tutors, imagine for the kids!

2. Resources:

The resources vary a lot from place to place, a needed to buy a printer that could fit on the boat and it took weeks to find one, some maths books as well. Be prepared to improvise. We had some science experiments that needed flowers but where we were there was only rocks and sea so and we had to draw one, flexibility is the key.

3. Internet

Yes, it is 2021 and we are still fighting to have a reliable Internet signal, clapping for Croatia, while we were there SIM card with 100GB was cheap and conexion was reliable and super fast, working even on desolated bays. Arriving in Italy we had one of the worst services so far, even inside the city internet is never reliable enough to keep the YouTube running.

4. Unpredictability As better is your forecast, nature changes, your maintenance is ok but boat breaks or the food finishes faster than predicted again being flexible is mandatory. We were in this beautiful bay close to Split planning having our English class when the police came and told us to move away, the manoeuvre took more than 2 hours and we had to postpone that class, we were tired and a bit stressed afterwards.

5. Be prepared for the Sunny Days

It is sunny, beautiful and steady outside, summer approaching, and you have to make a decision: go to the beach or spend 4 hours inside the hot boat doing a boring lesson? We made our choice many times and never regretted it, the beach was always fantastic.

6. No school on passage

On Trouble Maker, Kids attempted to do some work while sailing, it became a dizzy-unusable time. A little about studying while on sailing: Our kids tried it two times, with motion both became a little seasick and not only that, we parents where both involved on sailing and could not tutor them. So, in the end, we had to spend another couple of hours to explain all over again what was supposed to be already done, double work! The boat keeps moving all around, there is a bunch of noises, we don't eat well, lots of interruptions... In our experience, while sailing, just use the time for reading a book or enjoy the cockpit, lesson can be done at anchor.

7. The relationship

In the end, being a tutor, father and sailor mixes up and creates a whole stress, but like everything in life there are pros and cons. Some days I have to pass the job to Mariana, some others she is not available and I have to stop in the middle of the class, handling my frustration as a parent which is constant exercise while teaching the kids. Not only that, the discussions about how to teach or the best approach to that lesson affects your relationship with your partner and can be the spark of that big argument. So, it is nice talk to someone out of the boat, a friend or professional and keep it cool.

8. Social life

There is something we have to touch: kids are alone, there is no one else to share experiences or, you know, copy the answer of that difficult test! Even when kids meet other boatschoolers, it is only for a brief time and not much can be exchanged, so, it is kind of a lonely learning process and so, very demanding for them.

9. Language

If you are doing the school on your mother tongue everything will be much easier, we are not. Our kids were educated in English and we speak Portuguese, it is not the same as the school where they were learning the words properly and we have to double our effort to do our best, so, if you can, use a language you dominate very well to teach your kids.

Some suggestions If you are doing boatschooling, the key word is not "planning" but "flexibility". Be flexible with yourself and your kids. Try to understand that a beautiful Monday can be the best day for beach or swimming while a rainy Saturday will be perfect one for dive... but into the books. Take the pressure off and understand that we came to this lifestyle to be more flexible, taking care of our lives and reduce the pace, this also applies for the kids.

Our method We are using the Wolsey Hall Oxford method, we choose it because we both are not teachers and English is not our primary language. Being on a structured curriculum helps us to have everything on track, but it is not the only way of doing that, during summer we met a lot of boatschoolers doing all different things. Some following other structured methods, others building their own curriculum based on the home country directions, and some others following book found on internet. We also were in touch with more relaxed parents doing nothing for a while to enjoy 100% of the boat life.

There is no rule

It all depends on what you feel comfortable with, or how much you can pay for that, or even how do you see your kids life in the future. So far, the biggest challenge on Trouble Maker is to keep kids on track, the program we use has lots of activities and requires many internet Gigabytes which sometimes does not work well for sailors.

Finally, while we were choosing boat life, living in Qatar, we spoke to a lots of people doing homeschooling, and only very few things were really useful. Along sailing we met other boatschoolers and than we could really go back and re-evaluate all the job we were doing. So, look inside the community you will be inserted makes much more sense and is a shortcut for real life.

If you want to talk more about it, send us a message, we will be very happy to share our experience!

by Trouble Maker parents on 22/11/2021

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