CRUISING WITH CHILDREN
Please, do take your daughters cruising. My parents took me, and it was the best thing they ever did for me (which is saying a lot since they were wonderful parents in every way...)
We live in Maine, went to the Mediterranean for 13 months the first time, and circumnavigated South America the next. Recently they sailed to Sccotland and Norway, although only my brothers went on that trip. I have 3 brothers, on the first trip ages ranged 3-15. Second trip 3-21, and the last trip my youngest brother was 16.
My parents struggled with the education issue as well, looking into all possibilities. I went to an extremely good public school, although a couple of my brothers were in private schools during some of the trips. After examining various programs such as the Calvert school, my parents opted to have us continue our education through our current schools while traveling. Obviously this means different things in different grades: in grade 11, for example, we met with the teachers of the classes that I would have been taking at home, like honors english, biology, trig, etc. The teachers set up curriculums for me, often tailoring them for the travelling we''d be doing. For example, my honors english teacher gave me a reading list to include "Coming of Age in Samoa" and other classics relating either to travel or the areas we were visiting. My biology teacher set me up in an independent study of Mediterranean sea life. We received mail packages every month or so ar American Express offices, so I was able to send and receive assignments, tests, papers, etc. I would imagine this would be significantly easier today when SSB/Ham email is so easy to use.
I have to say that i probably learned 500x more on the trip than I ever would have at home. Seeing history firsthand, as in Europe, South America, etc. makes it infinitesly more interesting and accessible than simply reading about it in a textbook in a boring classroom at home. And seeing how other people in the world live, and what they think and feel, and how they have different values, perhaps, than Americans, can only make a child smarter, more tolerant, more inquisitive...... in addition, the responsibilities and self-reliance of sailing are wonderful lessons for kids.
We are leaving next fall for a 1-2 year cruise. Our daughter will be 7 when we leave. Her school has agreed to set us up with materials for the trip, and has enthusiastically agreed that it will be a wonderful education for her. They have no worries that she''ll be behind when she returns.
In fact, from other people who have cruised with their kids, I hear the problem is just the opposite: the kids return far advanced beyond their peers. They are more self-possesed, adaptive, and believe in themselves much more than if they had stayed at home. They are sometimes bored back in a traditional setting, or chagrined at the shallowness of their peers.
My parents initially had concerns that missing my junior year would look bad to colleges. However, I think that having such an amazing experience to write about in my essays probably served me very well.
You''ll find, when cruising where there are other cruisers, that the kids all usually have a few hours of study time in the mornings (depending on age) and then all the kids in the anchorage come "out to play" in the afternoon. The same amount of study can be accomplished in much shorter time because there are not the distractions and interruptions of class changes, recess, etc. that fill a school day on shore. it is good, though, to have a schedule to stick to (i.e. Mon-Fri 9-12) with flexibility for weather, inland travel, etc.
As you pointed out, another major benefit is to be able to spend REAL quality time with your kids. I really can''t see any reasons not to do it!
Good luck and best wishes,