I didn’t mean to become Mommy Maestra. I sort of fell into it when my husband and I found ourselves in a bit of an educational dilemma.We’d recently moved to rural North Carolina from Texas after my husband accepted a new job. With two young children, ages 5 and 3, we were faced with the problem of choosing a school for my daughter. But the county in which we live is considered to be a failed school district.
In 2009, the state came in and took control over the district, and two of the schools in our small town were closed. We live in a small farming community, with no immersion schools or Spanish programs for small children. They simply don’t exist.
There was a private school in a nearby town, but we weren’t sure we could swing the payments on one income. I had previously worked as an education outreach coordinator, but I could not go back to work yet, since our youngest child was not old enough to start kindergarten. With no family nearby to help with childcare, I was unwilling to leave my children with strangers.
So with the encouragement of friends and family, we decided I would start homeschooling. I’ll be the first to admit that I had absolutely NO desire to homeschool my kids. But because their education is so incredibly important to me, I felt that this was the best route to take.??
As a Latina, I also felt the overwhelming desire to raise my children to be bilingual and bicultural. I am a sixth-generation American on my mother’s side. And while I understand Spanish perfectly and can speak it well enough, it has been a terrible struggle to pass it on to my children. I wish that I had started off using the One Parent, One Language (OPOL) method, where each parent speaks only one language (usually their native tongue) to their children from the very beginning. Still, I thought that homeschooling would provide me with an opportunity to teach my children Spanish. And I also wanted to find ways to supplement our curriculum with cultural books, activities, and themes that reflect the richness of our heritage.
I immediately began searching for resources for Latino homeschoolers. Guess what? I couldn’t find any. I was so frustrated! And I felt very alone.
I found hundreds of sites dedicated to homeschoolers in general, but no support for Latino families. Through my research and work for my site, LatinBaby Book Club, I had already stumbled across some great resources in Spanish, but they didn’t really fit the book club’s content of Latino children’s literature, so I often just set them aside or bookmarked them for future reference. As my stack of references and resources grew, I could not help but wish that there was one website where I could access all of this material in an organized and informative manner. So, I did something about it.
Last year, after my first year of homeschooling and at the urging of my Latina friends, I created my own website, Mommy Maestra. I want to share the many resources for Latino homeschoolers that I am slowly discovering through my own journey as a Latina homeschooling mami. My goal with the site is not how to teach your children Spanish (there are already plenty of websites for that), but rather to share with you ideas and educational resources in English and Spanish that are available for those of us trying to raise bilingual children.
I have been truly amazed at the response this site has received. Latina moms, bilingual ed teachers, and non-Latinas who are married to Latinos have come pouring out of the proverbial woodwork to share their own discoveries and ask questions. Some are homeschooling, some are considering it, and others are not.??
I am very flattered and want to thank Mamiverse for asking me to join its education team and discuss some of the great resources available for Latino families. If you are a homeschooling parent, or are simply looking to get more involved in your child’s education, I look forward to sharing information and ideas that may help you to foster their love of learning or to supplement their education. You are their first teacher. No one will care more for your children and their future than you, their mami?