The fishing life: Getting schooled on the road

We have been wrapping up our school year this past week while on the road traveling. It is always a bittersweet time for me. On one hand, it is such an awesome feeling to know another school year is completed. However, on the other hand, it is sort of sad knowing the boys are getting older and one year closer to college.

The fishing life is definitely a different “normal” than what most people experience. Randy and I don’t have 8 to 5 jobs, and our kids don’t have a normal school year. Our job is more of a 24/7/365 commitment with limited amounts of “off time.” When Randy is not fishing, we work on the next few months of scheduling, promotions, phone calls, emails, etc.

When we are at home and Randy is not fishing, a typical workday for us usually begins around 7:30 a.m. and might end around 6 p.m. However, there is really no set ending. After regular business hours tasks are completed, Randy may be in the basement for the rest of the evening working on his tackle for the next event.

We get a lot of questions about the boys and their education. Fortunately, I have a degree in education that has really helped the process. What does a school year and a school day look like for them? Well, take for instance this past year. We began our school year at the end of July. It was hot, and they were inside a lot; so why waste the time when we can get a lot accomplished on hot, inside days. I also knew that our schedule had three additional vacations included, so starting the school year early would be beneficial. By Christmas, we were somewhat ahead of schedule which is always a great feeling when taking time off for the holidays. Soon after that, Randy won the Bassmaster Classic, and “normal” life took quite a bit of a turn for us and for them!

There was quite a bit of off time to keep up with the responsibilities that winning the Classic presented. As a result our school year dragged into May when it usually ends in April.

As far as a typical school day is concerned, it is similar in some ways to other kids’ school days. We usually begin 7:30 and 8 a.m. My oldest has more challenging work, so his day can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours with only a couple of breaks. My youngest son just completed 2nd grade; his days usually last 4 to 6 hours with several breaks. His attention span is quite a bit different than my 7th grader’s and therefore, for his sanity and mine, he takes several small breaks! There is usually no “homework” since their whole education is basically “homework.” When the work is completed, their school day is completed. We use the A Beka DVD curriculum, which is a classroom on video with other kids. Laker also has a few computer-based classes that are right up his alley since technology is of great interest to him. I believe the fact that I can teach my children based on their learning styles is a real plus in today’s world.

They also get to experience traveling the nation as part of their education process. It is so cool for them to travel to south Texas and go on a field trip to see real Mexican artifacts and history. While visiting Detroit, they were able to go the Henry Ford museum and learn the history of transportation. And then there was the trip to St. Augustine and learning about the Castillo De San Marcos National Monument. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to field trips and learning about the history of our country while we are traveling, and for this I am so thankful!

Of course, there is also the question of sports and friends. We are very blessed that while we are home during the winter months, both boys are able to play basketball with our city league in Springville. They both love basketball, as do Randy and I. Randy also helps coach both of the boys’ teams, and they love that time with their dad. Through basketball, they have made many friends at home as well as friends they have in our neighborhood. When we are at home, they are constantly with other kids when they’re not doing schoolwork. In addition, when we are on the road, we are always around other fishing families at the tournaments. They have traveling friends, too, that they pick right up with when we get back on the road.

We also work hard at teaching the boys how to communicate with adults. We try to take them to business dinners and functions when appropriate so that they learn the art of communicating and interacting with adults. We also think it is beneficial for them to be a part of their dad’s career and to know what it takes to make it as a professional fisherman, or for that matter, as a professional in any field.

Is this the life that I envisioned for my children? To tell you the truth, I never really thought about it; it just happened. I take each day as it comes, and we make the best of that time. I am always asked, will you homeschool the boys through high school. I take each school year as it comes and try to take advantage of every learning opportunity available to us.

We are thankful and blessed to live in a country where I have the freedom to educate the boys as well as spend everyday with them. I plan on making the most of our time together and to look back with no regrets!

Until next time, SMILE, it could change the world around you.