||03-13-2011 10:54 AM
What I've observed of cruising children is that the most successful parents have established a routine and schedule. For example, "school" from 8 am to 11 am - or noon. Then the children can be engaged in other activities - learning a new skill, such as crocheting, knitting, drawing, net making, whatever. These should not be gender-centric. Boys and girls both will benefit from learning these same things, whether knitting or woodworking. And it's fun for kids to interact with each other, and help and teach one another.
Those games one played to keep kids busy on a long car ride can be modified for ocean travel - identify the bird (and you will be amazed at how very far from land you will see very small birds), the fish (one of our coolest experiences was the dolphin fish that swam under our boat for days, enjoying the shade the hull provided - it wasn't interested in any lure Peter dangled in front of it, it seemed to just want to make miles), the mammals - whales, porpoises, etc. Trained eyes can see a whale spout for a long distance, and then the kids are set on watching for the next one - or two, or whatever. So it's educational and fun for the adults as well. Having the reference books on board to identify and learn more about what they see is always engaging.
And just fun games.
I am an advocate of schedules and routine to teach children discipline and ensure that learning does not go by the wayside when cruising. And breaks from that routine and schedule when necessary - weather, parents' sanity, unusual events.
Part of that routine is requiring that PFDs be donned every time a child goes into the cockpit. Harness, too, offshore particularly.