Beginning Our Homeschooling Journey: We’re Boatschooling Now!

Today marks a big milestone for us here on SV Mosaic. We’re a family prepping and planning to sail the world aboard our 40-foot sailboat. It’s interesting to realize that we’re about 4 years into our big plans … wow, something to think on there! But that’s not what this blog post is about. This is about our son’s last day of public school. Yep, we’ve reached the end of the school year and will be moving forward to the next step of our lives preparing to homeschool, or more accurately ‘boatschool’, our children.

Ready to start homeschooling on our boat

Growing up, I went to a traditional public school in SW Washington state. I lived in a small town in the ‘country’ – my parents own 10 acres, we had horses, we had various livestock, my graduating class had 100 students. I never thought much about homeschooling. I certainly didn’t intend to homeschool my child(ren) when my oldest child was born or in the early years.

But, when Kali was born, and in the intervening 3 months as Brenden and I were home with her, our sailing dream began to take shape. We began to consider a different life for ourselves and our children. A life outside of the social norm.

Cue: The Need to Homeschool

Suddenly, as our strategy evolved and our scheming turned to actual planning, I was faced with the understanding that we would need to take on the role of primary educator for our children. I say “I” because, while I’m sure it crossed Brenden’s mind, I think he was more absorbed in the details of making the actual sailing come into fruition, whereas I, as MOM, was more considering daily life and how this would impact our children’s learning.

For better or worse, I didn’t immediately spiral into a panic about being solely responsible for their education. I have great confidence in Brenden’s intelligence, and in my own. It was simple: in order to live this new life that we’d dreamed up, we would need to homeschool our children. This hadn’t been in my grand plan but there was no reason that it couldn’t be.

natural playground boat kids boatschooling

The kids enjoy a natural play area in SW Washington.

The Timeline: Preparing to Homeschool

Evan was about to start Kindergarten. I was still working fulltime at the Humane Society. There was no way this was going to start now. So there was no need to panic, no need to rush to figure things out.

But I did gradually start to immerse myself in the homeschool and boatschooling culture. I started to find resources all over the place: in print, on the internet, on Facebook. We live in a world where homeschooling has become more mainstream and homeschooling support groups and organizations are aplenty. Of course, you must be a little careful with advice you find on the internet, but I’ve now been following and participating in some of these communities for several years and they’ve earned my trust.

My Trusted Homeschooling Resources:

  • The holy bible for families preparing to cruise: Voyaging with Kids
    • This book was co-authored by 3 cruising families, including Behan Gifford of Sailing Totem. Behan has been indescribably helpful to us personally and to dozens, if not hundreds, of other families that are preparing to travel the world living aboard their sailboats. She and her husband are truly invaluable and now have a decade of experience cruising with their 3 children. She’s spoken multiple times about the in-depth interview she held with a lawyer discussing homeschooling for the book.
  • Washington Homeschool Organization
    • Jen Garrison Stuber started out homeschooling decades ago and evolved into an amazing advocate for homeschoolers in Washington state. She knows the laws like the back of her hand and is over the top willing to help anybody with any question on homeschooling in Washington. She also has an amazing Facebook Page that is extremely active and interactive. Seriously, join this community of people if you’re homeschooling in Washington.
  • Facebook Groups such as BoatSchooled, Kids4Sail, etc.
    • These groups are amazing resources as they’re both focused on families with kids living on their boats and they’re more global and versed in the ways of the wider world beyond Washington-specific homeschooling laws and regulations.

Also, by the way, if anybody has found any other great resources that I’m missing here, please let me know!

boatschooling boat kids playing in the sand

Playing in the sand during our last visit to the Puget Sound.

The End of Public School: What’s Next?

Ok so now fast-forward a few years and here we are! Evan has just completed 2nd grade and we’re close enough to being ready to leave Portland that we are pulling him out of the public school system. Whether we actually get out of Portland or not this summer, we want to be ready. So we’re diving in.

What’s that mean right now? Actually, nothing. Well … sort of nothing.

I will be continuing to plan and prepare myself mentally for the task of homeschooling my children. But for Evan, he gets the summer off. There are studies that show that children that have been public schooled and which are being removed from that system to start homeschooling, actually do better if given a rather extensive period of ‘deschooling’. This is a period without demands on their brains in an organized manner specifically planned to let their brains sort of reset.

Will we still be requiring that he read every day? Yes, of course. Will he (and Kalyra) still be learning new things every day? Obviously!

That’s part of what I’ve come to be really excited about in homeschooling: the dedication and commitment to learning from your everyday activities. We will grasp the spontaneous opportunities to educate. I want to proactively pick some topics that naturally come up through the course of our day and circle back to it for research and a lesson. This is something I’m excited to start doing in a more intentional manner.

boatschooling kids prepping to cruise

Studying local wildlife on one of our waterfront walks.

Moving Forward

Additionally, as part of our schooling plan, I intend to push more blog posts written by Evan so that he can practice his typing and sentence creation and we can monitor reactions in our audience. Watch for updates on this topic as I definitely plan to touch on our homeschooling and boatschooling adventure frequently.

As always, thank you for reading. Help me grow our blog by sharing this post. Send me questions. Follow us on Facebook and on Instagram to keep up to date with our adventures as we prepare to leave the Portland area for the Puget Sound, start cruising, and eventually venture beyond as a family aboard our sailboat. Thanks!  ~Rachel

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