Cynthia Rodriguez
Homeschooling Veteran
When my daughter was two years old, all she ever wanted to do was color. She would take coloring pencils and crayons, whatever she could get her hands on to create the images she found so beautiful to her. At that time, all I saw was a little girl filled with joy and wonder at the newness of life and the beauty of nature. I really didn’t make much of it; I let her draw to her heart’s delight. As she got older I began to see that her passion for creating art did not diminish, but actually grew. Pretty soon she was drawing quite proficiently and without any formal teaching or training. I could tell that my daughter was becoming an artist. Around six-years old, she was watching a cartoon on the TV and begin to draw something on paper. I was quite busy in the kitchen making dinner, so I really was not aware until she called me over. Colored pencils and paper in hand, she excitedly exclaimed, “Mama look what I did!”. I turned around and I almost dropped the dinner I was making. I stopped, put down my pan and went over to her and said “Oh my goodness sweetheart.” My daughter replied “Yes, that’s strawberry shortcake.”

At that point, I realized my daughter was doing more than just doodling, she was becoming a very skilled artist. My husband and I had not decided on private or public school. . “We’re just giving her a little extra time before we enrolled her somewhere” I had thought, give her a little more time while I allowed her to draw and paint. Somewhere in the back of my mind I questioned whether putting her in a full academic oriented school would be good for her. She was so happy discovering her talent and creating, that stopping completely could possibly hurt her. When the time came, we actually did put her in a private school, and needless to say, my fears became reality. After a few weeks of enduring the school’s  curriculum, my daughter began to lose interest in her art, she would come home glassy eyed, numb and very unhappy.

I was losing my beautiful happy talented creative little girl to the routine of formalize schooling.

I would drop her off at school and stay in the parking lot and cry. This lasted about six weeks, and at that point, I decided enough was enough. I was no longer going to allow my daughter to be sucked dry of all her creative abilities simply because everyone else was doing it.

I had made friends with an older mom in a “mommy and me” class that we had participated in with her daughters a few years before, and I had still kept in contact with her. One day, while talking to her and describing how my daughter was slowly losing interest in everything, she told me that her grandchildren had been homeschooled. “Homeschooled?” I said, “what’s that?”. I had been to public school, so I really wasn’t sure what that was. I do remember growing up in the 60s, homeschooling meant being like a hippie where you just did whatever you wanted to.

In response to my confusion, she replies “Oh no, things are quite different now. It’s not the way it used to be. it’s a legal form of schooling.” She told me about a place by the name of Excellence in Education in Monrovia, California, and that I should call them.

As soon as I had some time on my hands I gave them a call. I was desperate, I wanted to relieve my daughter of the pressures of formalize schooling, but I wanted her to get an education as well. Frankly, I didn’t know if I was up for doing it by myself. I spoke with a wonderful person named Martin. He was kind and offered an appointment which I took immediately. After about an hour of speaking with him and Carolyn I was convinced this was the way to go. It didn’t take long to set my daughter up, pay the fee and begin. One of the first things Martin asked me was what style I would like to teach in. That stopped me cold because I wasn’t sure. I went back to the library that day and looked up philosophies of teaching.

I picked the Waldorf method because of its emphasis on art, and didn’t look back. The next week I un-enrolled my daughter from the private school and we began our journey.

My daughter flourished with this type of schooling. She became more proficient in her art and everything I taught was through her creative abilities. Fast forward 12 years and now my daughter is enrolled at Pasadena City College, majoring in studio arts while we look into the Art Center and other art schools where she will finish her degree. She also teaches once a week at EIE Academy.

I cant I say the journey was an easy one, as many things happened throughout the course of our 12 years of schooling, like caring for my in-laws until their passing, but I can most definitely say my daughter is happy and continues to create her art daily. I firmly believe that having made that decision all those years ago saved my daughter from an unauthentic life.

She is now free to choose whatever she wants to learn without any creative restrictions that would’ve been placed upon her. She found her true calling and now lives to pursue her greatest passion.
As for me, I can live with the decision that I made, knowing my daughter is a happy carefree person and now has a chance to live a life of her own. As a mom, it’s not easy to trust that instinct God gives us the moment we give birth. But without it, we are doomed to follow someone else’s path which may be completely wrong for us and our children.

I am a mom on the other side of the homeschooling fence now. I’m so grateful for Martin and Carolyn and for all of my friends that helped and supported us throughout our journey.

I recently read an article about how an art curriculum in your homeschooling can help to release that creative ability in your children. The article went on to say that in a world filled with technology, children need a safe place to create, to think, to be whatever they want to be, and to express it on canvas or on paper.

I’m so grateful for Martin and Carolyn for they have given us the ability to be there with other homeschooling children to help foster that creative ability every Friday throughout the school year to help homeschooling children find their voice.

The art of art, is the creative process, the creator is your child and the masterpiece is his work. Wherever you’re homeschooling journey takes you, my hope is that your children will have the opportunity to make their voice heard through their art because in doing so, they will find themselves.