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GC Homeschoolers – Sailing Group

GC Homeschoolers – Sailing Group

Story by Andy Kancacachian

Australia has a growing homeschooling movement, even before the recent surge in popularity due to COVID19 restrictions. The Queensland homeschooling community is regulated by the Home Education Unit as an extension of the compulsory education system. Often, kids are homeschooling because their families feel they can give their children a more engaged and relevant education than the traditional schools. Parents also might choose homeschooling because they want their child’s education to include specific interests, which are not offered at regular schools. This increasingly popular way of education offers families plenty of time and opportunities to engage in activities and events where participants share common interests while learning and enhancing important life skills at the same time.

In September 2020, a group of homeschooling parents approached the Oxenford Watersports Centre run by the Southport Yacht Club about conducting Tacker 1 training at a mid-week time slot. After several expressions of interest among the local Gold Coast and Brisbane homeschool communities were made, it was clear there was enough interest to meet the minimum requirements. A total of 16 kids, between 9 and 13 years of age, began their sailing journey.

Sailing on the Gold Coast has been around for centuries, even though the first recorded Broadwater sailing club was only in 1880, when four prominent Southport residents staged races among themselves and were sometimes joined by visiting yachtsmen. The popularity has not waned from then until the modern times.

Sailing can be a fun and powerful way of enhancing a child’s personal development. Through the skills involved in sailing, a child will enhance self-confidence and self-reliance, both of which are valuable in a child’s learning and community life, and future decision-making. Sailing improves awareness, coordination, critical thinking and keen sense of direction. A child who can sail will learn more about navigating the waterways, gain important knowledge about wind, tide and weather patterns. Essential skills that can be developed include preparation, precision, teamwork, strength, endurance and patience.

Sarah, a mother of four homeschool learners, signed up her son MacKenzie as she thought it would be an interest that her son could enjoy, learning new skills and challenging himself physically. “I always wanted to learn to sail while I was growing up, so as soon as I saw this regular group event advertised, I signed up my son. He has tried a little sailing at Paradise Point, but this is his first structured learning experience. My son was instantly thrilled once he learnt to use the wind to get him from point A to point B.”

Nancy, mother of two, shares, “My son Callum enjoys challenges and competition. Tackling the unknown, the water, and the weather has become one of his favourite weekly activities. The group of kids get along really well as they are all similar ages, and everyone’s starting out in the sailing fraternity for their very first time. I am sure that most kids would enjoy the Tacker 1 course. It’s completely hands-on. The equipment and facilities are first-grade. And so far, each session has been accompanied by strong winds across the lake.”

Kate, an active homeschooling events organiser from the Beenleigh area, signed up her son, Zac. “When Covid-19 hit, I needed to find interesting alternatives to in-home learning after an extended time in lockdown. Being outdoors and harnessing everything nature throws our way seemed the way to go. We are only just beginning the adventure of sailing and already I see the advantages. Zac seems more resilient, his confidence has sky-rocketed and he’s loving the social aspect of getting out there with a group of like-minded kids. I can’t wait to see him zooming across the water! I’m sure he has discovered a lifelong love of sailing. Homeschooling mums and dads are forever looking for ways to enhance their children’s learning, and sailing has to be right up there with the best.”

For young Gold Coasters, the opportunities on offer to learn and be part of interest-based activities have expanded from just the beaches and the surf into the less-popular inland waterways of the city. For this first group of sailing homeschoolers at the Oxenford Watersports Centre, the Gold Coast waterways are one of the many essential “schools” of learning — and a significant one at that.

For more information about this group, visit Gold Coast Homeschool Sailing Group