Sailing and Lesson Plans

Nadine Slavinski, a long time friend of mine and the author of several books, has just published a new title. Her latest book Lesson Plans Ahoy! is for sailing families who want to undertake educational activities with their children – but the practical, hands-on units she describes can be applied to many other contexts. It’s really about learning outside the classroom and in the real world.

Nadine writes:

Lesson Plans Ahoy! is a resource for sailing families heading out on a short cruise, an ocean crossing, or a year of home schooling. The book includes detailed instructions for six units in Science, Math, History, and Physical Education; all are designed to be fun, practical, and relevant to sailing children. Dissect a fish, graph resource use, and even exercise on board – have fun while learning! What were the consequences of Columbus’ “discovery” of America?  Why isn’t there a lunar eclipse every month? All units include tips on how to adapt the lessons to each child’s own level through a section called Age-Appropriate Adaptations.

My website,, lists many free resources for families interested in education, including recommended books and educational projects described online, as well as tips from families who home school their children aboard boats. Reviews of my book and links to recently published articles can also be found on the website.

Nadine is a sailor, teacher, and parent. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University and she has been teaching in international schools since 1996. A lifelong sailor, she took a 10,000 mile, year-long sailing sabbatical with her husband and four-year-old son. On their 35-foot sailboat, the family explored the Mediterranean, crossed the Atlantic, cruised the Caribbean, and sailed on to home waters in Maine.

More on Lesson Plans Ahoy!: Hands-on learning for sailing children and home schooling sailors (where a “Look Inside” feature allows browsing) from

Private Education in Germany

I just wish Germany would legalize homeschooling. Then Germans, like the Romeike family, would not have to live as asylum seekers in the United States.

From Time magazine:

In Spain and the Netherlands, homeschooling is allowed only under exceptional circumstances, such as when a child is extremely ill. In Germany, parents can be fined and lose custody of their children for homeschooling them. In Sweden, parents have to get permission to teach at home. In Austria, homeschooled kids have to take annual tests. France regularly monitors homeschooling families, and Britain may adopt a similar system.

Read Time magazine’s full article Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Homeschool.

And now the story continues on our side of the ocean. Political pressure in parts of Germany has tightened regulations even more to keep German students in public school. Not only does it take a special permission to attend a private school (thus saving the German government 8000 euro per student on average), but one also has to give specific reasons in addition now.

Message received from our school on 09 March 2010:

Political Developments Affecting New Students Holding German Passports Entering Grades 1-9

In January, the Ministry of Culture and Education in Wiesbaden issued a new decree that amended guidelines for German students applying to the school in Grades 1-9. Due to the school’s status as a supplementary school (Ergänzungschule) with an international curriculum, new students not only have to apply for a special permit to attend (name of school) as in the past, but must also give specific reasons for doing so. The new guidelines are seen as a reaction by the educational authorities to recent developments at other area supplementary schools. At present we are discussing the implications for (name of school) with educational officials and will keep you abreast of any news from this sector.
Please note that this does not affect current (name of school) students. We will be sending out a separate letter to those Primary School families who could be affected by the decree.

This political development is beginning to look more like a case of shutting doors instead of opening gates to higher education.

A little spark on the horizon – one of my friends is in the midst of writing a Homeschooling Program for Sailing Families. Available for purchase on the internet later on. Obviously, this program is not intended for German students.

Most Germans could not fathom the idea of packing up their kids, selling their beloved home, giving up job security, sailing around the world, and homeschooling the children at the same time. I have to admit, the first time I heard of such endeavor, I was taken aback too. One of my son’s classmates, his sister, and his parents went sailing on a yacht around the world for two years. Between ports, the children were homeschooled via internet and other material. While in port, the children were taught by private teachers on board.

And yes, it was feasible and legal, because one parent was non-German.

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