By selling their Texas house and committing to a life on the open seas, a homeschooling mother raised the bar for “real world learning.”
“My kids meet people from all over the world, different languages, different cultures,” said Renee Whitaker, a mother of five. It is a very international education.
The Texas Education Agency estimates that between 1998 and 2018, 353,000 public school children in Texas switched to homeschooling. In spring 2021 compared to the previous year, there was a 40% rise in students being taken from public schools for homeschooling following a post-pandemic homeschooling boom.
Whitaker started off homeschooling her kids, but in 2016 her husband, Keith, decided to sell his Texas oil and gas companies. The family went out with the idea of staying at sea for two years, but they have already been at sea for seven years and have made nearly two complete around of the world.
According to Whitaker, it took some time for the youngsters to adjust to their new way of life.
“They didn’t love it at first,” Whitaker said. “As the years go by, they’ve started to really come into the life. They’ve started to love it. They love the adventure.”
When the Texas couple departed on their boat in 2016, they brought four of their five children with them. The family’s second-oldest daughter left the boat to attend college after the family’s oldest daughter, who was in her thirties at the time, chose not to cruise with them. Ages 16, 17, and 20 are the three children who are currently at sea, and two are still enrolled in homeschooling.