School's In !!
One of the most frequent questions we were asked before we left was about schooling the kids. Well, now we've started - school began on Mon 6 Jan and we've now done a week and a bit. So how does it work?
Since we have a teacher pupil ratio of exactly 1.0 (see, we can do maths), the lessons are pretty intense, and because we know what was taught, we can easily continue the same themes in daily life too. So school is just two fifty minute lessons a day, 8:30 and 9:30 with a ten minute break between for snack and playtime. We do have a five day week, but our days off are Wednesday and Saturday, since those are days when the shops are open and we can make full use of the day if we need. We also move things around - today the weather is good for the passage to Guadeloupe so no school today but Wednesday instead.
We've set a timetable of subjects, it's like this:
Mon: Writing, maths
Tues: Reading, science
Weds: No school
Thurs: Art/drama, maths
Fri: Writing, science
Sat: No school
Sun: Reading, geography
Gesa and I tend to lead on the lessons we're most comfortable with, so I usually do maths, science and geography, but both of us are usually around so the 'assistant' can help out if the topic needs a split between Issie and Max's levels, or if one of them starts to lose interest.
We only have three school rules, two for the kids and one for us.
1) Always listen to the teachers (Mr or Mrs Ward) and do as they ask
2) Put your hand up if you want to do or say anything
3) The first rum punch cannot be poured until school is over
We've got a lot of materials on board, but no long term structured courses, so we try to develop concepts through the lessons, and build on those. We also take items of interest where we can. So the kids had been asking about clouds and rain, so the first science lesson talked about the water cycle, weather, fresh and salty water, and we went into the galley and boiled some sea water to make clouds in the saucepan, rain on the lid and collect the fresh water in a cereal bowl 'lake'. Geography was about maps, the chart of our ocean crossing, finding the Canaries and Antigua, tracing a map of the island and finding our way by road and sea between the places we have been.
As the teachers, it's good fun, but challenging. Planning a lesson and maintaining the interest of two kids is no doddle, as any parent will know, and my respect for our teacher friends continues to develop as we try to do some of their job - but shh, don't tell them I said that.
As time goes on we'll doubtless get more used to the routine and better at it, and school has already helped bring some structure to their days, and to ours. It's also tremendously rewarding to find stuff you've taught being brought out a few days later, it clearly does sink in!
I think we're going to really enjoy the home schooling, but I also get a feeling that we'll be perfectly ready to hand them over to the Canadian school system in a couple of years time....
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