Swimming in lakes, singing camp songs on the deck, and making up an endless round of nonsensical games. Oh yes, the Conger Clan has a hard life, they do indeed. We make them “do school” all the time, year round, non-stop, without remorse, endlessly. We are vicious, boat schooling brutes.
The school week is actually eight days long: three days on, one day off. On the fourth day, we clean the boat. On the eighth day, we rest. Even the Christian God got a day off occasionally. On school days, the girls generally roust out of bed when they hear us start to grind the coffee. Experience teaches them that if they do not get upstairs by the end of my first cup, they get cold cereal with reconstituted powdered milk for breakfast. Timely arrival at the breakfast table, however, yields rewards in the form of muffins, pancakes, hot cereal, or eggs and toast.
After we break our fast and clear the debris, the girls start work on their “checks.” We have a table of checks appropriate for each girl designed to balance out their workload. Despite all my exposure to unschooling, I’m still a big fan of eating your vegetables before you get dessert. With our girls, each has subjects she loathes and others she craves. We balance our conventional twisted need to control with their passionate need for freedom. Take thirty checks, divide by six days, and each girl gets to pick her five for the day as long as all thirty get done by the end of the week. School is over for the day when they finish their checks, generally by lunch.
A check can be a lesson in one of their work books, progress on a project, or a class with one of the adults. We have “Health” class once a week -- generally a time for family to learn health and safety relating to their boat lives. Last week, for example, we worked on fire prevention. Now the girls know how to shut off fuel to the Yanmar’s and put out a fire in the engine compartment without opening the hatch. At Dr C’s request, I teach a “Computer Class”, he teaches Spanish four times a week, and the girls are doing a large scale project on an imaginary country.
My own progress on weather fax interpretation, emergency medicine, and algebra is -- I’m afraid -- considerably spottier. I keep getting distracted by sail and canvass repair books, sewing projects, and new bread recipes. It’s probably time to set myself up on a check system, too.