An excerpt from The Best Tips from Women Aboard, Edited by Maria Russell, ©2000 ISBN 0-9663520-1-7 To order call 1-877-WMN-ABRD or click on

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     Long before we had children, we suspected that kids who grew up on boats were the best children in the world in terms of their behavior,  education, and appreciation of their environment.  It was when we lived aboard the first time, in the Keys back in the ‘70’s, where we encountered several cruising families.  It always seemed that these kids were the first ones on the dock to help a new boat tie up.  They seemed so self-assured and independent.  They were able to talk to people of all ages, not just those of their own age group, and usually on a more mature level than one might expect. 

     Now that we’ve lived aboard for almost seven years with our own kids, we are convinced.  Boating families are together families.  There is no doubt in my mind that our children are very different than their peers.  They have grown up in an atmosphere that places a higher value on who a person is rather than what a person has.  Peer pressure doesn’t exist, and they are becoming the kind of people they want to become. 

     Raising children aboard is a personal decision, but the point is that living aboard or going on an extended cruise doesn’t HAVE to wait until the kids are grown and on their own.

     The subject of  “where the kids will go to school” always comes up when considering raising children aboard.  My husband and I are former teachers and we believe that education in and of itself is a life-long process, not just something that “happens” for 12 or 16 years.  If you are thinking about raising children on board, you’d best find out what educational options are available and learn to discuss the matter in a knowledgeable way.  Well-meaning grandparents (who are going to worry anyway) will be very concerned about their grandchildren’s education.

     Growing numbers of families are choosing home-teaching as an alternative to regular schooling.  In some places, the local school is not the best environment for children, academically, socially, or from the standpoint of basic safety.  Thanks to the media, and newspapers in particular, much attention is now being paid to homeschooling.  News such as the 1997 National Spelling Bee champion being homeschooled makes headlines.

     There are many magazines and books that are recommended for anyone contemplating this educational adventure. 


Growing Without Schooling, 617-864-3100


Home Education Magazine, 800-236-3278



Learning All the Time, by John Holt (ISBN 0-201550911)

Home School:  Taking the First Step, by Borg Hendrickson (ISBN 0-945519-08-7)  

Homeschooling for Excellence, by David and Micki Colfax (ISBN:0-446-38986-2)

The Art of Education, by Linda Dobson (ISBN:0-945097-26-3)

You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully, by Ruth Beechick (ISBN:0-940319-04-7)

     There are many, many more.  (This is a hot topic!)  Check out your local library or favorite bookstore.  Also surf the Internet.  There are a LOT of homeschooling websites!

     Many cruising families use correspondence schools.  There are quite a few to choose from.  Some of them are: 

     Calvert School, 105 Tuscany Rd., Baltimore, MD  21210, phone:  410-243-6030.  To grade 8 only.  Great reputation.  Quite structured.

     The American School offers a high school program.  The program has an excellent reputation.  The address is 850 East 58th St., Chicago, IL  60637. 

     High school correspondence courses offered by University Extension, University of California - Berkeley, CA 94720.

     University of Nebraska Independent Study High School, Continuing Education Center, Rm. 269, Lincoln, NE  68583.

     There are more trustworthy schools.  For many more, including those offering college level courses, see Peterson’s Independent Study Catalog, available in most libraries.

     We support a concept known as “interest-initiated, child-led learning” or “unschooling”.   To understand what it’s all about, think about how YOU would have filled your school days if you were free to learn whatever you wanted.  You would, most likely, have followed your natural tendency to find out as fully as possible about the things that interested you,  whether that be oceanography, photography, art, music, horticulture, mechanics, art, computers, writing, sailing.  

     Fortunately, there is a school that supports the concept of unschooling as well as traditional homeschooling programs: Clonlara School Home-Based Education Program (1289 Jewett St., Ann Arbor, MI  48104, 313-769-4515).   In addition to their many services, they offer several challenging classes via the Internet, mentored by teachers all over the world.  Most importantly for families like us, they deal with any legal issues (and absorb any headaches) encountered because we homeschool.

     To find out more about alternative schools, see the annual National Directory of Alternative Schools.  Many of the alternative schools listed are friendly and helpful to homeschoolers, and it includes a valuable section on homeschooling with descriptions of support groups all over the country.  Order from National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools, 58 Schoolhouse Rd., Summertown, TN  38483.

     Also, The Teenage Liberation Handbook:  How to quit school and get a real education, by Grace Llewellyn (ISBN 0-9629591-0-3) is a great sourcebook for older homeschoolers, as well as being an excellent book on education.

     Don’t forget that local boards of education are sometimes sympathic to families  who are are cruising for periods of one year or less.  Also, some local school systems have their own home-education programs.  Call your local school to find out what’s available in your area.   An excellent website to refer to for legal ramifications regarding homeschooling is

     For a number of years, one Sea Sister and her husband cruised British Columbia and Alaska with their sons.  It is not uncommon to go days and weeks on end without seeing another boat unless one is buddy boating.  This Sea Sister is an avid supporter of buddy boating with at least one other couple with kids if one is cruising with kids in these waters.  Since fishing and whale-watching provide just a limited amount of entertainment for youngsters and teenagers, she feels it’s best to spend more time at docks when traveling with children.  It’s a lot easier for them to get off the boat to meet and spend time with other children.  Now that she’s cruising in Mexico, this Sea Sister often hears people “advertising children aboard” via VHF nets in order to hook-up with other cruisers with children.