Homeschooling can provide a wonderful environment to teach your children about your family’s cultural heritage. Join host Mike Smith and his guest Monica Olivera, homeschool mom and founder of the blog MommyMaestra. That’s this week on Home School Heartbeat.
Mike Smith: Our guest this week is Monica Olivera, a homeschool mom and founder and publisher of the blog MommyMaestra. Monica, welcome to the program today!
Monica: Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.
Mike: Monica, in 2010 you launched the MommyMaestra blog to be an online resource for other Latino homeschoolers. Can you tell us more about MommyMaestra?
Monica: Sure, MommyMaestra, as you said, was started when I first began homeschooling my own daughter, and now it is an education site, not only for Latino homeschoolers but also for parents, Latino parents, who just want to get more involved in their children’s education, as well as bilingual ed teachers.
Mike: Well, this site sounds like a great resource! Now, why did you personally decide to homeschool your family?
Monica: Well, when we moved to our small town here in North Carolina, we discovered, when it was time for my daughter to start school, that we lived in a failed school district, and we really weren’t happy with any of the choices that we had in our area and decided that homeschooling would be the best choice for us.
Mike: Well, Monica, that’s a great reason to homeschool! And next time we’ll talk about the importance of cultural heritage. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Monica Olivera, founder and publisher of the blog MommyMaestra, is with me again today. Monica, many of us are aware of our cultural heritage, but not many of us give much thought to it. Now, why do you think it is important to pass on this heritage, and what are some ways that Latino homeschoolers and others can do this?
Monica Olivera: Well, you know, it’s really important, actually, for Latino students to grow up very aware of their heritage and proud of their culture. There was a study conducted a few years ago by the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, and the researchers found that Latino students who grew up informed and proud of their culture were far more likely to develop healthier behaviors than those who don’t. So it’s really important for Latinos to help their children learn about their own culture, and homeschooling is a great way to do that. Hispanic Heritage month—I personally celebrate that with my kids all year round, teaching them, in addition to our regular work, about famous Latinos who have contributed to our society. We study other cultures: Latin America, Spain; reading bilingual books or bicultural books—all of those are ways to help your child develop a great knowledge of their own culture and history.
Mike: Well, thank you, Monica, that’s very helpful. And I hope many families have a chance to take advantage of this advice. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Monica, do you think the popularity of homeschooling is growing in the Latino community?
Monica Olivera: I do. Just last year, I did a study on my site, asking what Latino families thought about homeschooling and if they homeschooled, and why, or if they had never considered it, why. And I was quite surprised that I had so many people respond that said yes, they were homeschooling or they had homeschooled. But there was also not a lot of support that they felt that they had, which is why MommyMaestra I think has been so successful, because not only through my site, but also through my Facebook page, there’s a lot of families that find each other there and get support. And really, recently I have received, usually at the end of each school year or the beginning of each school year, I get emails, frequently, from Latino parents who are saying, they’re going to start, how do they start, what do they do, and they’re really interested in homeschooling their children. So I definitely think it’s growing, and interest is there; it’s just a matter of who has the resources as well as the time available to do so.
Mike: Well, Monica, that’s very encouraging to hear how homeschooling is impacting the lives of so many families out there. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: One of the many benefits of homeschooling happens when a homeschooling community supports and encourages individual homeschool families. Monica, do you have any suggestions about how other homeschoolers can connect more with Latino homeschoolers?
Monica Olivera: It’s funny because we joined our homeschool group here in North Carolina, but we are the only Latino homeschoolers that are involved in this area. And so I asked, on my Facebook page, other Latino homeschoolers if they were involved with other Latino homeschool kids or families. And the majority of them said no, they didn’t have any other Latino homeschoolers in their area that they were able to connect with. But one of the ways that some of them did, and in fact there was one lady who said there was 10 other families in her area that did homeschool, and she said that they discovered them through their homeschool group. Some of them discovered each other online. Some of them discovered each other by word of mouth. And so if any families are out there looking to connect with Latino homeschoolers, one of the best resources I think is to start with your local homeschool co-op, for example, checking online through different groups; and you can also visit my Facebook page if you’d like to post a message and say, “Hey, you know, I live in Chicago. Is there anybody else in the area who’s homeschooling their kids?” And you might get a response!
Mike: This is very insightful, Monica. I know this will help many of our listeners. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: Everyone faces their own unique challenges when they begin to homeschool. Monica, do you have any tips for Latinos who are just beginning to homeschool or are thinking about homeschooling?
Monica Olivera: Definitely. I think, depending on how you’re going about homeschooling, one of the best tips that I received from a local homeschooler was to buy a curriculum, and because I did not come from an education background, I had never taught children. That really helped me tremendously in terms of timing and understanding that what my own child, ability, the amount of time that they have to focus on something; it really helped me how to pace and schedule our school day, so I definitely encourage parents to purchase a complete curriculum. However, I know a lot of parents are looking, or, Latino parents specifically, are looking for bilingual curriculum, and it’s hard to find. So, in some ways they can visit my site, and there are a lot of suggestions on there as to how they can incorporate both Spanish and English resources as they begin their homeschooling journey.
Mike: Well, Monica, I know many families will appreciate your advice, and I hope our listeners will check out your blog, MommyMaestra. Thank you so much for being with us this week! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.