School is a significant concern for any cruising boat with kids. For many, the solution is a correspondence setup where a school in the US, NZ, or another country does everything a teacher normally does, excepting lecturing. This allows a very straightforward learning style and puts minimal load on the parents, but requires a fairly rigid schedule and frequent communication. Few cruising boats can easily handle either. Another alternative is a complete home schooling setup, but that puts a lot of load on the parents. I used (and Amanda now uses) a middle option, where a school back home sets up part of our curriculum and puts together our transcript, but the students and family handle all the day-to-day work.
The Westbridge Academy (TWA) is not really a school in the usual sense, having no classrooms and working long-distance with university-bound home schooled students ranging from pre-kindergarten through senior year at high school. TWA has their own requirements, but in addition to those they put all of a student's school-related activity on his or her transcript. Unlike a normal correspondence school, they only require reports once per quarter.
This allowed me a very flexible curriculum. For example, while there is a required reading list, my mom decided what other English schoolwork was required, gave me the assignments, and graded my work. I was also allowed to choose some subjects, such as computer programming and underwater photography. I did projects which are related to life on the boat, such as my Energy Budget and practical knowledge of electronics, and learn about the places we visit. Maintaining parts of this website was part of my schooling.
TWA also helped set us up with good textbooks for home schooled students (most books assume you have a teacher to lecture and answer questions). In addition to Saxon's AP Physics and Calculus books, I have materials for language studies, literature class, and several computer courses.
My biggest boat-related project so far is an energy budget. This is needed because electricity on a boat, particularly one where engine use is minimized, must be rationed. My energy budget project tracks production from our solar panels and consumption by our on-board systems, and gives us an idea of what our electrical status is.
As a combination of writing class and social studies, I have written 3 excursions papers: Dominica's Indian River, Dominica's Emerald Pool, and Grenada's Spice Factory. I recorded a journal from inland Venezuela. I have also written an essay on the history and development of Carnival (Mardi Gras) after seeing the Grenadian Carnival, and another essay on the history of the Panama Canal and the controversial decision of the US to leave and turn the canal over to Panama entirely.
Amanda's jr. high agreed to take her on as a distance student (for her jr. high years), providing us with materials such as books, tests, teacher's guides, and so forth. Although she did much the same work as her peers back home, the schedule and exact path through that work were up to her and our parents. However, since entering tenth grade, she has joined me at The Westbridge Academy. If you want to read what she has to say about boat school, click here!
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