Learning onboard a boat

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Remember the old rhyme “no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks”? It brings back fond memories of flying out the school doors and flinging our backpacks into the corner, forgotten until summer’s end. Now that we’re grown up, we know ongoing learning is not only good, but also enjoyable.

Here are five ways to bring learning onboard your boat this summer, without your kids grumbling over the lesson plan.

1. Knot Tying 101

The minute your kids can tie their shoes, they can learn to tie a bowline. Graduate them onto a clove hitch, a square knot, a figure-eight knot, and more. From picture books to online videos made especially for kids, helpful resources abound.

If you have two or more kids, consider making a game out of it: Whoever can tie a knot properly the fastest gets to pick the next new knot to learn.

2. Drivers Education

Each state has its own regulations in terms of requiring a boating license for motorised craft. However, there’s no age restriction on learning certain terminology and the “rules of the road.”

Teach your preschoolers, for example, what “port” and “starboard” mean, along with “red right return.” Older kids, meanwhile, can comprehend additional channel markers, and what your boat should do in head-on or crossing situations.

3. Navigational Know-How

Kids just learning to read can learn to identify speed and other basic data on your helm instruments. If you have a touchscreen chartplotter, these same little ones can learn what a waypoint is, and how to tap a position on screen to mark one.

School-age children and teens can help map out routes in advance. Similarly, they can ensure plotted courses don’t coincide with submerged objects or land masses.

4. Cooking Classes

If your boat has a galley, involve all ages in meal planning and preparation. Flex their math muscles (without them knowing it) by adapting recipes to the number of people in your family.

5. Swim Lessons

This is especially helpful, and all the more fun, if your kids can’t go to summer camp this year. Show them how to properly enter the water from your boat, and safely swim around it. Have them count the number of strokes it takes to swim from the bow to the stern, and back (bonus: they’ll be so tired at day’s end they’ll go straight to sleep, without a fuss).

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