Home schooling is a major hurdle for anybody committing to long-term cruising with children.  Everyone who does not want you to sail away, everyone who envies your decision, everyone who wishes that they could change the course of their own lives, will point triumphantly to this insuperable obstacle.  Even the minority among your friends and family who are open-minded enough to rejoice in your decision will want reassurance that you have planned this aspect of your life with care.

We, along with almost every other cruising family that we met, undertook the homeschooling of our children with the help of the Calvert School , the gold standard in homeschooling programmes in the English language.  The link above gives you more detail about their history, services and ethos, then we have room for here.  They supply you with one packing case of school materials a year for each child.  It contains absolutely everything that you need for that year's school including detailed day by day lesson plans for each subject.  The quality of the lessons and the materials is absolutely first class and because homeschooling is such a mainstream choice in the USA, their principal market, the economies of scale keep their prices surprisingly reasonable.  For older children they also supply web based services including testing, progress monitoring, and mentoring.

George and Thomas were only three and five years old when we left, so our approach was to focus on the three “R’s” as their core curriculum and to teach other subjects opportunistically on the back of their experiences in day-to-day cruising life.  Natural history, geography, physics, and history all flowed naturally from events and experiences that caught their attention in the course of normal life.

Thanks to a massive commitment on Catherine's part, the homeschooling years have proved to be a very positive experience for both boys.  They have re-entered mainstream education a year ahead of their ages and both have an exceptional range of interests and general knowledge for their years.

Do not fool yourself that this part of family cruising is going to be easy.  It is the hardest part to do really well.  It is also harder with young boys than with young girls, who tend to be much more self-motivated.  One of you will almost certainly end up shouldering most of the responsibility for schooling.  On most family cruising boats, this turns out to be the wife.  A common division of time and labour was that mum did school while dad worked at maintenance and repairs on the boat, although science lessons were often considered to be a blue job too.