Four years ago, as a mom of three little girls, I was at a crossroads. It was time to enroll my oldest daughter in Kindergarten. So as any mom would, I started to read books, research programs, and even tour some schools. I quickly realized that the goals I had for my daughter's education were a bit “different” and this left me feeling empty during the search process.
It wasn't necessarily the schools themselves, it was the education philosophy as a whole. I started to think and plan for the elementary years and that made me question “is this a good fit for our family?”
I thought to myself “could we do this at home?” Fast forward four years and I became a full blown homeschooling parent of 3 elementary aged children. There were a lot of things that led us here, and honestly I never thought of myself as a true homeschooling parent but as one out of necessity. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved it, and the girls thrived, but I always knew there was something else I wanted for my daughter’s education, I just hadn't found it yet.
Why We Started Homeschooling
I put a lot of weight on this decision to homeschool. I spent months making sure this was the right decision for us, with quite a few sleepless nights.
There were things I wanted for my children's education that I wasn't willing to compromise on.
Season of Change
After Homeschooling our children for almost seven years (including preschool), we became really good at it. We planned our school year around our interests and family travel. We collected some of the best curriculum and resources we could find. We had a really great routine and we all loved the schooling environment we had built here at home. The girls were truly thriving.
“So if it’s working so well, why change?”
Like I mentioned before. I knew homeschooling was not a forever option for us. As much as we used resources in our community we wanted even more for our girls. Could we find a true child-led program where our girls would fall in love with learning while also building a practical skill set that would prepare them for the real world? I really wasn't sure there was such a thing in Tampa Bay.
Choosing a School
The road to choosing a school was very bumpy along the way. We toured many schools that we knew right away were not a fit for our family. There were some excellent choices in the Tampa Area. There were traditional and Montessori, both which we considered. Several of them came highly recommended by friends and other families that we had spoken with. Unfortunately, in the end none of them had the same core values that we held dear to us. There wasn’t any place that shared the child-led philosophies that we built our years of homeschooling upon.
Needless to say, we were getting very discouraged in our search for a new school. But like most blessings, they come very unexpectedly. For us, it couldn’t have come at a better time. One of our friends had posted on social media about joining a new school in Tampa. She was a fellow homeschooling Mom that we had done some cooperative learning with over the years. We knew her schooling methods and philosophy was very similar to ours, so we inquired further. After just one meeting with the school founder, Beth Ann Valavanis, we knew immediately that Apollo Academy was a school that aligned with so many of our values.
Our Hero's Journey
This was a big step for our family. To leave something we felt so comfortable with to start a new journey, a hero's journey.
One of the first things that caught my attention when researching Apollo Academy was this idea of the Hero's Journey.
The Hero’s Journey
“Each child has a special calling in life and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Apollo Academy's mission is to prepare your child for his or her special journey.” Read more about the Hero's Journey here.
Even though we hadn't heard of the Hero’s Journey before we felt so aligned with its philosophy that we knew we needed to embark on our own Hero’s Journey. We had no idea then how much our family would grow because of it!
During the research process I stumbled upon this video of the main Acton campus in Austin Texas. I cried as I watched for so many reasons. I felt relieved to finally have found a program that felt so right for our family. I felt sadness to say goodbye to the homeschooling chapter that meant so much to us. I felt so incredibly thankful that my girls would get the opportunity to continue their education in a way I had always wished for them. I felt excited for this new chapter and anxious to see what would unfold.
We made our transition to Apollo Academy and couldn’t be happier about our decision. This school is everything we’d hoped it would be and more. Does it look a little different than Homeschooling? Yes. Was there a rocky adjustment in the beginning? Yes, there was. Will there be opportunities for more change and growth? Absolutely, and we are looking forward to that.
We can't wait to see where this journey will take us next.
This is the first blog post in a series of blogs written by one of our own Apollo Families. To read the next post, click here.