February 26, 2017

A Mother’s Journey [Part 39]: The parent trap

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Courtesy Giselle Rivera-Flores

Evian gets her discovery on at the EcoTarium.

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January 2016 but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

We have seven family vacation blocks every year, and the February school break is one.

Normally, this is our week to drive to Washington, D.C., to enjoy the Smithsonian museums and add a little more creative education for the girls. This year, we had to take a detour.

Not only is this is our first February vacation as a full-on homeschooling family, but Evian and Brooklyn had recently been battling the flu. So we put down the books, gave the girls a break and tried to enjoy the week on a local scale.

With an abbreviated schedule of classes at The Learning Hub last week, there was extra time to spend with the family, and it was a break we all needed.

Accustomed to a full schedule, I, of course, packed the week with daily entertainment and activities. With no less than 10 outings since President’s Day, we were able to forget about D.C. and focus on enjoying our time together. But guess who has the flu now?

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The time trials, or scroll down to explore more of her story

Between ice skating at the Worcester Common Oval, exploring the nature trails at Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife Sanctuary, strolling through Boston Common and hanging out at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, this week was all about discovery.

We wanted to explore the things that resonate with us; the things we find zero time for during our normal busy week. It was a great way to combat the disappointment of not taking our yearly D.C. trip, and a great way to remember how much Worcester and Boston have to offer for inquisitive minds of all ages.

The girls were not missing out on anything.

Courtesy Giselle Rivera-Flores

Brooklyn and the family made it to Worcester Common Oval just in time.

Despite scheduling the maker classes around last week’s school vacation and catching a break from trekking to six different libraries, I have trouble putting down and forgetting about The Learning Hubs for seven days.

While out exploring with the girls, I sparked conversations with parents and others about The Hub and our maker classes. In retrospect, I was probably a little obnoxious, but it was worth it.

I had parents tell me they have been interested in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] classes for their kids but couldn’t afford the prices of the average program at places like Sylvan Learning Center. With so much interest in the places I went, I now have a few more local libraries to contact and pitch the Hub’s programs to.

And now that The Learning Hub was voted as 2017’s Most Loved STEM Program in Worcester by Hulafrog – a network of regional websites keeping parents up-to-date with local events and parenting information – it seemed easier to convince parents — many of whom subscribe to the site — The Learning Hub was worthy of their consideration.

Parents have never been the hurdle for our organization. They are always the supporters, and it hurts me to know their needs are not being met. It hurts me to know that many STEM programs are out to make a dollar by jumping on the bandwagon of “trendy businesses” without listening to the demands of the market.

Parents, for me, are my greatest resource. The more parents I encounter, the more I understand about different challenges and how I can find solutions for them.

The Learning Hub is still young, though, and while I would love to implement these free maker classes nationwide, that is something that will take time.

But with every encouraging new parent encounter, I gain confidence. My goal now is to add a new library to the schedule every week.

So although February vacation is usually about hanging out and relaxing, leaving behind the everyday routine, for me it was about learning. Learning more about my consumers, letting the girls learn more about the topics that intrigue them, and a simple and important lesson that entrepreneurship has no off switch.

Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning:

Part 1 — The Brooklyn trip

Part 2 — The playbook

Part 3 — The space race

Part 4 — The unsettling score

Part 5 — The point of no return

Part 6 — The poetry of motion

Part 7 — The keys to success

Part 8 — The stumbling block

Part 9 — The Learning Hubby

Part 10 — The next breath

Part 11 — The imperfect storm

Part 12 — The defining moment

Part 13 — The balancing act

Part 14 — The right turn on Pleasant?

Part 15 — The exploration within

Part 16 — The long way home

Part 17 — The road to empowerment

Part 18 — The new direction

Part 19 — The social club

Part 20 — The way forward

Part 21 — The momentum conundrum

Part 22 — The Pleasant Street exit

Part 23 — The stemming of the tide

Part 24 — The starting line, finally

Part 25 — The full head of steam

Part 26 — The kernels of wisdom

Part 27 — The Book of Hub

Part 28 — The great debate

Part 29 The girls are all right

Part 30 — The movement keeps moving

Part 31 — The picture of serenity?

Part 32 — The network effect

Part 33 — The original Woopreneur

Part 34 — The gift of reflection

Part 35 — The resolution revolution

Part 36 — The model students

Part 37 — The growing pains

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