Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Patrick has since joined the Sales Team of Marine Servicenter as a boat broker. Whether you are looking to make your dream of sailing away come true, or ready to sell your boat he can help. He can be reached at http://marinesc.com/about/crew/patrick-harrigan

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Truth About Homeschooling on Just a Minute

This topic is so huge that it is going to take several different posts to cover it all, so this first one is just general info.

Boy for cruising families, this is the "hot" topic. Usually, unless you are VERY good friends with a family, it is politely avoided like the elephant in the living room. And it should be. There are so many variables in the equation of homeschooling that trying to converse about homeschooling with a parent is like trying to get directions in Hong Kong from a person speaking Chinese - you can ask, but you are still going to feel lost. The age of the child, whether the kid enjoyed regular school or not, the attitude of the child about learning, whether the child has any special education needs (either super smart, or with learning disabilities), whether or not you have a lot of internet access, the family's religious beliefs, which state your child is registered as a homeschooler in - all of these things, and more, can make each family's homeschooling experience completely different.

So I can't tell you anything about homeschooling other than what our experience has been. We are a family with one 13 year old son who absolutely hated the school experience, has a horrible attitude about learning, and who has been diagnosed with moderate/severe dyslexia (which was the cause of his hatred of school), and who is quite intelligent like many dyslexics. Did you know that Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Alexander Graham Bell, Richard Branson and Erin Brokovich are all dysleyxic? So dyslexia is not about intelligence or abilities, it's about how your brain takes information in.

School was going so poorly for Jack that we were going to pull him from the system in 2008 regardless of whether we went sailing or not. School had completely demoralized his belief in his abilities and basically only "taught" him that he was "dumb". And he was attending a great private school with small classrooms where he was a popular guy. His idea about himself came from comparing his abilities to those of the kids around him. And truthfully, no dyslexic is going to shine in a school setting.

So for us on Just a Minute, our number one goal of homeschooling has been building self-esteem. We started out slow and just focused on Reading, Writing and 'Rithmatic - just like a little pioneer schoolhouse. Over time we have added in more subjects. Homeschooling has never been easy. But it has been incredibly rewarding. After two years of sometimes absolutely painful struggle, I am happy to say - things are going very well. I feel great success. Jack is now reading for fun; though it will never be his favorite thing to do, he does enjoy reading a good book. His attitude toward himself is very positive. He has passed his once-a-year Standardized tests that WA state requires with very good results (mostly in the 90th percentile ranges for the six different topics). But best of all, we have reached a place where our daily school session is not a battle of wills punctuated with anger and frustration. And that is heaven.


  1. You must be very proud of your son for working so hard. I'm happy for you guys, and a litte jealous of your lifestyle!

    You've just hit on THE BEST reasons to homeschool, I think. You do it not only for a child's educational needs, but also for their emotional needs. I withdrew my girls from public school for 2 main reasons: 1) although they were doing great academically, they were not being challenged; 2)their self-esteem was diminishing because of the way others were treating them. Homeschooling for the past 4 years has allowed them to grow and blossom into smart, confident, and independent young women. I don't think public school would have given us the same results. Continued success!

  2. Thank you Stephanie for you kind words. Just like your children, Jack would not be the same happy, confident kid if we had kept him in the school setting. Some kids flourish in school, but for those that don't homeschooling is a great option. It is scary to make the jump into homeschooling, but Iam so glad we did it.

  3. We are not cruisers, but I lurk around the internet feeding my "secret cruising desire." I came across your blog, and I LOVE it! Your son sounds exactly like mine (age 9)!! He has hated everything bookish, educational, or schoolish since birth I think. He had add and aud. process. difficulties. We also put him in a nice private school, but his grades are terrible and confidence is waning. We are seriously thinking about HS. You are such an inspiration! Jack is so blessed to have you both for parents!

  4. Again, thanks for the kind words. If you are interested in learning more about home schooling, there are so many great resources on the internet. I found a Yahoo group that was for parents homeschooling dyslexic kids and I still use that as a resource. Go see if there is an internet support group for parents homeschooling kids with the same needs as your son. It is amazing what you can learn about curriculum and it really helped me get over my fear that I would not be a "good enough" teacher for my son. I have since learned that I am the perfect teacher for him. It is a giant scary step to take, but it can have great rewards. I spent months researching on the internet and it really helped me make the decision.

  5. I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that from a home-schooled, 'boat kid's' perspective, home-schooling is the best!

    My sister and I were home-schooled from 1998-2002 (grades 6-9 for me) through BC's correspondence program -- this was while we cruised on mom & dad's 41' sailboat.

    After 4 years of cruising, we returned to public school with no issues; both my sister and I loved being surrounded by a class full of kids, and having a teacher at our ready to answer questions, but we missed the freedom of schooling from home. Later, in University, I found that my years of being somewhat 'self-taught' really helped my study habits & attitude towards school, and I think it was one of the best things my parents could have done for me!

    And now, 10 years after circumnavigating and returning 'home' (Vancouver, BC), I've bought my own boat & will be cruising the Sea this fall (that's how I found your wonderful blog!). So I hope very much to cross paths and thank you in person for providing SO much amazing insight into the Sea, and the best anchorages, shells, and taco stands :)


    s/v Brio