Zeroing in on the boatschooling

One of the goals for January has been to finalize homeschooling supplies, and have them waiting tidily in a rubbermaid bin. Of course, the reality has been a bit messier, but we’re approaching a point where we could maybe check it off the list (for now).


We’ve gathered lots of free math materials over the past few years, but when it came down to deciding the best program for our family, we’re feeling like Beast Academy and The Art of Problem Solving will be the best choices. We’ll also be toting along the math curriculum for F.’s middle school, to make sure she’s not missing anything, as well as some Kumon books and the Key series for extra practice.

Literature is a big deal to us, and prepping for that aspect of the kids’ education will probably never be “done;” but while we’re in Wisconsin, we have access (free!) to a great resource called It’s a site that compiles teaching guides for different books. Our current process looks like this: find a likely-looking title of a book we feel is important (we’re sourcing from the staff at our middle school, the amazing CCBC lists, books that we remember loving, and librarian-friend recommendations); figure out if this is a book that’s either available for Kindle (free or not), free electronically from our public library, or a book we’re likely to want as a physical copy; see if a teaching guide is available from; download a guide; and order the book if necessary. Clearly, we could spend weeks doing this, and we will–but it’s important to us all.

Literacy and language arts is a bit of a different catagory–grammar, spelling, etc. We’ve got some workbooks, and have downloaded some additional spelling/vocabulary lists. We don’t expect to spend much time on this, but hey–it’s important to know what a gerund is. Our kids will also be keeping journals–the old-fashioned, pen-and-paper kind, not the bloggy kind.

Bin full of books
Bin full of books

As far as science goes, we expect there to be a lot of hands-on naturalist work, mostly because it’s fun, and we’re stocked up on guidebooks: fish, birds, reptiles, geology, shells–it’s taking up a lot of space, but we think it’ll be worth it. We’re packing along a few kid-centered books on astronomy (yea, dark skies!) and oceanography, plus some plans for science experiments and a microscope. Still debating about the heavy chemistry text.

Social studies and history will be location-dependent. We’re toting along some US-history-and-government books to prep for time in D.C., but after that we’ll be mostly discovering the history of where we’re visiting. So much of common core instruction in this country is focused on using non-fiction texts; and while we’ll be happily ignoring most common core standards, we will be relying on a lot of our lit to provide context and history for our location.

Learning Spanish is important to us. We all love Duolingo, but we don’t expect to have the internet capacity to keep it up. Instead, we’ve got the Rosetta Stone for homeschooling (thanks, Rebeca!), a few workbooks for the kids, and a wide range of dictionaries. Not sure how this will work out in real life, but at least we feel equipped.

Fiddlin' with friends
Fiddlin’ with friends

Music, it turns out, is a bit of a tough one for us. F is in her fourth year of violin, and third year of fiddle class, so we think she’s pretty well prepared to continue on her own for a bit. We’ll be bringing some sheet music, downloading some YouTube videos, and most likely be checking in occasionally with her teacher via Skype. T, on the other hand, is in year three of cello. Oh my lord, the cello. F already owns a neatly-contained violin, but purchasing and storing (and tuning) a cello is proving to be a bit of a hurdle. T is also not as far along in his musical education, so going it alone is going to be tough. We’ve tried steering him towards the ukulele, but he’s not having it. I guess our current plan is to attempt the same type of program as our violinist, and not worry too much if it all falls apart.

Then there’s the category of general resources. We’re learning how to use Kahn Academy Lite, and will be checking if we can put all of Kiwix on the kids’ Chromebook. We are HUGE fans of Crash Course, and we’re debating about the old-school WorldBook encyclopedia that we have…hopefully there will be room aboard!

So, internet community–what do you think? Any gaping holes? Any books we should absolutely be including? Weigh in!

6 Comments on “Zeroing in on the boatschooling

  1. Thank you for this Deb! I have been researching/fretting over the homeschooling choices for a while – and we don’t even have a departure date, lol! When my parents took my sister and me cruising, they ordered Calvert, and then Univ. of Nebraska, and called it a day. Looking back, I feel they were too rigid & limiting, and contributed to my hatred of school. But at the same time, they were great at keeping us on-track for reentering traditional school. In my case, that was as a high school senior.

    Now, my own kids are in an International Baccalaureate school, which I will be loathe to leave. I like how rigorous it is and feel it’s a good way to prepare students for university & life. If only they offered a homeschool option!

    But, again, thank you for the resources you linked to. I will be revisiting this post as we get closer.

    • Thanks for reading, Dawn! We rejected the school-in-a-box approach early on–partly because it seemed so expensive, which now makes me laugh. Our alternate school resource center has not come cheap. We think it’ll be a better approach to tailor to our travels and interests, though–the things they pick up will hopefully stick. We expect to be back in the U.S. by the time the eldest is a freshman, also, which takes some of the pressure off.

      And IB programs are great!

  2. Deb,
    I love your site. I am definitely in the beginning stages of planning so I’ll check out your suggestions. I have the same struggles bringing instruments aboard since my daughters play the saxophone and trombone respectively. We thought about transitioning them to something more boat friendly. I will be following you.

    • Oh, my gosh. Brass! The rust! The trombone spit valve! Suddenly not feeling so bad about the cello.

  3. Thanks for the information here. I’m trying to figure out how to do this with an 8yr old. This seems to be my biggest hurdle to cruising. I’m not a teacher, I’m very worried about being responsible for her education. I don’t want to have her fall behind due to my lack of preparation.

    • We’ve found the math curriculum to be really good, and our kids were always miles ahead on reading, but if you’re really worried, a school-in-a-box type program like Calvert would simplify things. You can always switch things up later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *