This is an exclusive interruption 

We continue our home-schooling series with the story of another set of amazing parents taking education into their own hands as the best option for their child. As the first set of youths in our home-schooling feature, I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting this home-schooled young lady at one of our Business Bootcamp for youths in January 2017.

To be honest, she stood out. She was super confident in what she wanted to do as a business, she displayed incredible poise and she had mad confidence. The younger females latched on to her immediately. There was nothing about her that would have suggested to me or any of the other youths attending that she was different from them which is the ignorance associated with home-schooling. We are thrilled her mom, inspired by the story of our first home-schooling mother, decided to share her story. Here is our interview:

1. When did you start home-schooling your child and tell us how you felt making this decision. How did you know you were ready?

 I began homeschooling my daughter Tsahai in April 2016.

 Though I was quite confident in my decision to remove her from the traditional school system, I must admit that during my early homeschooling  stages, there were many days when I would glance over at my daughter completing her assignments and  an alarming feeling would rush through me, prompting me to ask myself “What on earth have I done and why isn’t this child at school?”

Thankfully I have not felt that way in months as I am quite pleased with her progress and the way she has adjusted to her new normal.  

 I knew that I was ready to embark on the homeschooling journey when the ills of the alternative had so deflated our daughter, that it was no longer a heathy option. 

2.  How does you home-schooled child feel given his and her sibling are having a different educational experiences ? How are their relationship with each others and/or friends different?

Our daughter is actually constantly expressing her surprise and elation that we even considered the homeschool option for her. She feels fortunate to be the benefactor of such a personalized learning experience and secretly expresses her sadness to me regarding her brothers’ grueling daily commute to and from school. 

Thankfully though, our choice to homeschool  Tsahai has not had any adverse effects on the relationship amongst her and her siblings. They are all happy to see her excited about learning again and fully focused on her dreams and ambitions without doubting herself. They all still look forward to their regularly scheduled afterschool shenanigans, where they congregate at the dining table and motivate each other through homework and project assignments in the hope of catching some time for a bit of mindless fun before bedtime. 

3. What support groups or people have you come across that have truly been helpful to you on this home-schooling journey?

During my manic introductory stage, it was the patient and sober guidance of Dexter Mahadeo of the HomeSchool Association of Trinidad and Tobago (HATT)  and Ms. Nikki Rodriguez, a homeschoolingparent herself, that greatly assisted my husband and I and helped us come to an informed decision. They both provided a lucid view of the pros and the cons of homeschooling and were forthcoming with stories relative to their respective journeys and personal experiences…. this inspired us immensely.

4. Have you ever made mistakes and taught your home-schooled child something totally wrong. Tell us about our mess ups and how you fixed them.

Thankfully this has not happened to me so far; mostly because I “bat in my crease” so to speak and never attempt to teach on topics on which I am less than proficient, such as Math. In areas, where I might have even the slightest doubt relative to know-how and or patience, I prefer to outsource professional assistance.

5. What is the biggest stigma and myth you have encountered so far about home-schooling your child?

One such myth is that homeschoolers become socially impaired in the absence of daily face to face interaction with their peers within the conventional school experience. 

Whilst I am a firm believer in the need for regular social stimulation with persons outside of the family unit and within their peer group, to help build their character, leadership and survival skills as we prep them for effective function as citizens of the world, I know for a fact that there are various alternatives that can provide such a platform for communal existence and a lesson in people.

6. What does a typical home-school day look like for you child and you?

I employ a Monday to Thursday schedule that’s dedicated to academic instructional. On the days that I work from home, I work with a schedule that mandates that our daughter is awake, showered and have eaten by 9:00am, so that we can begin working by 9:30am and work to 2:00pm. We approach a maximum of three subject areas daily,  inclusive of a minimum of one hour dedicated to reading. She attends modern dance and vocal training on the weekend as part of her all-round development. 

In April she begins an external mid-week group Math class that would provide two hours of tutoring per week. 

 On those days when I must work from the office, manage a photoshoot or I’m presenting at a workshop – as long as it is cleared with my clients, I dress my daughter professionally and she acts as my aid for the day. She assists with my setting up, distributes course material to my participants et al.

She thoroughly enjoys such days, as do I.

These scenarios afford her the value of real time experiential learning, that is crucial to her growth and development. At the close of said days as she and I reflect, I usually ask that she shares her take-away from the day’s activities with me. I encourage her suggestions on how we might improve our offerings and also request feedback re: her first impressions of key persons based on factors like behavior, mode of dress etc.. 

 7. If you had to choose up to 3 things you have noticed and/or experienced with your home-schooled child that you never noticed or experienced with your other children regular school, what are they?

a) Tsahai handles adverse situations and difficult people with a level of poise and grace that is beyond her age.

b) She is always seeking to be inspired and so she has become an avid reader of written biographies that allow her a peak into the lives of great men and women, as opposed to reading novels more favored by her peers.

c) She is incredibly perceptive when it comes to decoding the root cause behind people’s behavior.

8. Tell us a little about yours and your Husband’s education and background. 

After A’Levels my husband worked both in banking and at the office of the President. After a few years serving under two Presidents, he began his entrepreneurial journey, starting up a packaging and labeling company in partnership with a relative. Eighteen years later, he is the managing director of said company and recently secured a product distribution contract in partnership with a highly recognized multinational brand.

After O’levels I headed straight for the workforce and spent five successful years as a financial advisor in the life insurance industry. Within my sixth year I responded to an itch to explore my passion for all things beauty and fashion related. This curiosity led me all the way to New York, where I worked diligently in the hair styling and fashion industry for eight fruitful years, exploring countless opportunities and being trained in various disciplines relative to fashion, image management and personal branding. I was eventually hired to write a fortnightly fashion and entertainment column for a West Indian focused publication named Caribbean Impact; a position I held  for two and a half years before returning to Trinidad and setting up my image and brand ambassador management service.  

9. Fast forward 20 years from now, what do you think you home-schooled child would remember most about his or her home-schooling experience. What would be the thing loved the most and hated the most. 

She would remember with love the flexibility and joys of being able to travel abroad with her parents without the constraints of a rigid schedule, whilst her brothers were restricted by their traditional school schedule. She would also remember learning in an environment that catered specifically to her individual needs; one that was  custom designed and executed solely to enhance her capabilities and that recognized and rewarded her for her individual efforte, without comparing her pace and ability to other students.

She would hate not having a school prom to get dressed up for and attend with friends.

10. Finish this letter…..” Dear ___ ( your child’s name), I chose to home-school you because…….

Dear Tsahai, I chose to home-school you because I acknowledge what is special and different about you and your needs. I see your potential and believe that you were designed for a level of greatness that would require an unconventional route in order to aptly prepare you for your divine purpose. I’ve seen you struggle daily in an environment where the uninspired and demotivated are paid to lead and are empowered with authority. The effects of such a faulty and archaic system left a dark cloud over the shining light that we knew you to be and as a parent that propelled me into a “by any means necessary” mode.  I knew that it was my duty to step in and do all in my power to reconfigure your direction so as to ensure that you achieve your ‘win’. My decision rested firmly on the fact that your passion and tunnel vision deserved not to fall flat, but to be met with equal levels of enthusiasm by those meant to direct your path – now that person is me and I am willing to do whatever is required of me to fill those very demanding shoes. To-date I have not one iota of regret.

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