Homeschool

Our Homeschool Story

Homeschooling has been an interesting journey for our family. With a surprise pregnancy, Alex and I had not discussed our children’s education prior to having children. To be honest, even after having Valentina, we had not put much thought into the kind of education we wanted for her. We had no idea what we were doing. We just winged it at the beginning, until we had a clear picture of what we wanted our future to look like.

The time came for her to go to preschool, like every other parent, we just thought that was what we had to do, after all, she had to socialize. If she was happy about going to school and not crying uncontrollably, we had accomplished something. We had done something right. Thankfully, she loved school.

We found a really cute school where the teachers were incredible and she was learning a lot. She went there for three hours, twice a week. Our idea was to send her for a little bit of time, so she would get used to being away from us and become more independent. I was lucky enough to be able to do that and not have to send her to day care all day since I was studying and could make my schedule according to my needs.

First Day of Preschool

After I graduated community college, I had to drive a lot farther to university and Valentina’s school was suddenly too far the other way. The summer between Pre-K and Kindergarten, Alex and I were worrying about which school to send her to. We went on countless school tours. We went toured both, public and private schools. We could not believe how little options we had. It was either public school in a township where let’s just say, most of the tax money (which is a LOT!) does not go to education, or it was a private school which cost more than our mortgage and was not impressive at all. My comment while touring the private schools to Alex was “I could do better than this for a lot less money”.

After going to the last school on the list, I should mention that we toured a total of 8 schools, I was so discouraged. I just sat in the car and wept. I thought it was extremely unfair that the wealthier neighborhoods have such nice schools and great programs, while ours was horrible. I felt cheated by the system because I believe that all children should have the right to the same level of education and that the programs should be the same all across the board, but that was not what I was seeing.

My daughter was going to be one of the victims of a system that focuses on school ratings based on standardized test grades, instead of curiosity and passion for learning. My 4 year old had no idea that her future was going to be destined to a life long struggle trying to make it in a country that is built for the survival of the fittest and the fittest were given the tools right from birth, while she wasn’t (as was my case). I just could not believe that the education system could do that to a little innocent child. That they could cheat them in this way.

I guess it was not the most typical takeaway from a visit to few schools, but Alex knew for years that I was not the conventional type. Seeing how upset I was, he said “You’ve been saying you can do better than the private schools without spending so much money, so why don’t you homeschool this year? We can put her in school first grade when you are more settled in the university and we are more calm to make the decision”. At that moment, I just felt so much hope. I thought, of course! Why not? How did I not think of it before? I can teach Valentina what I truly feel is important. I can teach her to be curious, to be passionate. I can instill my values on her and not someone else’s. I can teach her a foreign language and music without the extra cost. The possibilities are endless!

Right after the excitement of the moment kicked in, I thought of all the possibilities and a great amount of fear and doubt came over me. I mean, I was always different than other people, but this time it was too risky. I could hurt my daughter in the process. I could mess up so bad she would not know how to read, add and subtract, or use common sense. I was putting my daughter’s education in my hands. We all know how dangerous that can be! (sarcasm).

At that point, the fear did not matter because the thought of sending my daughter to those schools or being part of a system that discriminates children based on their parents income was too painful for me to consider something else. All that fear turned into a race against time to learn as much as I could about homeschooling before the school year started.

The first year of homeschooling, Valentina learned to read with me, we did science experiments, she showed a lot of interest in classical music and art. She took violin, swimming, gymnastics, and ballet classes to compensate for socialization (more on that later). It was a learning journey for all of us. She was incredibly happy and showed so much curiosity and excitement for learning. The time we spent learning together was an amazing gift. She was bonding with us in a way she had not bonded before. We loved to see her growing. We loved to see the way she learned and what would set her brain on fire. We were so proud of her and our decision to homeschool. I knew in my heart that this had been the right decision.

Valentina having fun with our first science kit
First Violin Recital

Alex, on the other hand, was having a hard time letting go of society’s expectations. What about spending time every day with people your age in a classroom? What about the core curriculum? what about the tests? High school? College? What if she is not at the same level as people in her grade level? All of those questions came up. Throughout the years, we’ve learned the answers to most of them and others we are still working on.

Alex has seen the growth Valentina has had and now takes part in her education more than ever before. He loves seeing her learning and being excited about new subjects. Many times, he compares her education to his own (he went to private school most of his life) and realizes how cheated he was.

Alex and Valentina on the day of her Kindergarten graduation
Valentina was so happy and confident. She could finally read!!
I was already pregnant with Julie. Valentina and I had built a strong bond that year. Until today, she loves learning with us and has the spark in her eyes when she discovers something new.

After seven years on this journey, we have learned so much! We have been assured that our decision was the right one. We love homeschooling our girls. We have seen our daughters thrive and we absolutely love it.

Julie is in Kindergarten now. Seeing her sister learning so much since she was a baby, she naturally has a lot of curiosity and loves “school time”. She chooses most of the subjects she studies, such as Geography, Anatomy, and Nature Studies. We only focus on teaching her how to read as she was getting frustrated since she didn’t know how to do it.
Valentina also chooses a lot of the subjects she wants to learn. She likes taking engineering and robotics. Now she is learning Python. She also likes to take cooking classes (she is currently doing baking this semester) She loves Science. Chemistry has been one of her favorite subjects since 2nd grade. She is obsessed with Japanese culture and wishes she can travel there one day, so she reads as much as she can about Japan and is teaching herself Japanese. Another thing she loves is reading science encyclopedias.

On this blog we want to share what we do and why. How to design a homeschool plan. We want to answer your questions and we want to encourage people who want to homeschool to just do it! Don’t be afraid of doing what you think is best for your child. Don’t be afraid to be criticized or judged. Don’t be afraid to let people down. Instead, focus on what is good for you and your child. We did it and we are loving it, so will you!