In May 2014, Lars Simonsen and his partner Suzi packed their kids Tiuri (7) and Liva (5) onto a pair of Hobie® Mirage® Tandem Islands and set off for Istanbul from Denmark. The trip took 18 months. Lars shares how he and Suzi educated their children while on voyage.
We had 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) of school books in our two Hobie Tandem Islands, to last us for one and a half years, but they where the smallest part of the home-schooling program. Unfortunately, we don’t have a home schooling program in Denmark, so we just had to make it up along the way. We also had two iPads but never used them. We sent them home after a few months.
What we really wanted to get out of this trip was to show and teach our kids about Europe and its people. So every invitation, coffee, dinner, tour around town or overnight stay, was a great and important way to introduce them to local food, traditions, languages, different ways of living and the kindness that one can find everywhere. From staying in an old fisherman’s cave to see how a person can live on a little island, to tour around Monaco Yacht club and a night in a luxury hotel.
Besides learning about Europe and its historical places and people, they also leaned to speak and understand English. And if you ask them, they also speak German, French, Italian, Greek and a bit of Turkish.
One thing we were surprised about was water treatment in Europe. I thought that Europe had some of the best systems in the world, but there are still places in Belgium and France, and other countries, where sewage water runs out into the rivers with out any treatment. We talked about this a lot, and showed the kids all the things that wash up on the beaches, birds that die because of plastic and dolphins swimming in oil polluted waters, beaches on islands in Greece full of washing machines, fridges, boats – you name it – just waiting for the sea to take it. We cleaned up many beaches and of course never left anything behind.
We adapted home-schooling to our life on the move. It worked best when we looked around and used what we saw, talked about it, made stories and drawings about it. We looked for information about places, or talked to the locals and sometimes used the Internet to add facts. I often told stories on the sea about the area that included monsters, cowboys, robbers and other good stuff to make them more interesting.
Lars Simonsen’s book LIFE IS GOOD follow us: A family kayak odyssey 7,300 km from Copenhagen to Istanbul is available on Amazon.