Amy and Rebecca swim for the Pleasanton Seahawks in the summer and in the fall they swim for the Pleasanton Valley Club. Amy hopes to be a life guard at the Aquatic Center this summer. She likes to compete in swimming and has been swimming since she was 4.
The sisters also volunteer at the Valley Humane Society once a week and they used to volunteer twice a week about a year ago, but then they go too busy. Volunteering at Valley Humane Society was Amy's idea because they had adopted two cats from VHS. They also volunteer at the library.
They began being home schooled after Amy's parents were disappointed in the kindergarten in Davis, where they used to live. Her mom, Anja, quickly realized that the kindergarten students were just doing worksheets all day long. She discovered Amy had no art classes or other enriching activities at the school aside from academics, and felt she could provide Amy with a better education. Anja therefore told the principal of Amy's school that they were going to try home schooling and that Amy might be back the following year.
But she never went back. Anja and Amy liked the home schooling method and Rebecca, Amy's younger sister, began home schooling as soon as she was old enough.
Now, both Amy and Rebecca learn at home, where Amy teaches herself and Rebecca is taught by their mom. Soon Rebecca will begin teaching herself, too. Amy and Rebecca stick to a basic plan every day of learning curriculum required by the state of California, but because they have extra time after the required materials, Amy and Rebecca also get to learn all sorts of extra subjects that are not offered in school. Amy likes to teach herself philosophy and Japanese, and Rebecca enjoys learning biology, a subject that students in public school don't get to learn until seventh grade.
Instead of a structured school day like in the public schools, Amy and Rebecca have a more relaxed school day, but it has just as much educational value (and maybe even more) than public schools. Usually Rebecca starts her school day around 8:30 a.m. and Amy starts hers closer to 9 a.m. Amy likes to start with biology or math because they are her hardest subjects. She then she moves onto some of her easier subjects towards the end of the day. Teaching herself about three subjects a day, Amy likes how at home she can move at her own pace and learn more deeply than she would be able to at school, about topics that she especially enjoys. Also, Amy divides her year into sixths so after each portion she'll review what she has learned. This helps her remember the information permanently.
Rebecca's day usually starts with chemistry or math and then she moves onto biology and languages. Their schedules are not always the same and from day to day. It might change depending on what they understand or what they want to learn more about.
Both of the girls like their school-related activities. They don't get grades from their mom, but they are still motivated to do a good job with their school work. They think of themselves as their own best competition because they compete against themselves to always do their personal best. Rebecca likes to make up learning games and do artwork while Amy invents projects for herself. Both girls will take the SAT, so they want to make sure they know all the material that students in public school learn. To remember everything she has learned, Amy keeps records of all the books she has read, movies she's watched, museums she's been to, hikes she's gone on and lots of other experiences.
Varying from Amy's methods, Rebecca keeps all of her schoolwork in folders that she classifies by the subject and the year. When it comes to organization, both of them feel that they are each organized, but they agree that Rebecca is definitely more organized.
It is a mutual feeling for both of the girls that they don't feel like they're missing out in any way by not attending public school.
"I don't have to feel guilty if one day I do less work than another," Amy said.
Sports are the only thing that Amy feels she is missing out on a little bit. She said that maybe if she went to Amador Valley High School she could be on the swim team, but other than that she loves to be home schooled. Amy is very interested in Philosophy and believes this subject will help her in the future.
"I would like to work with people one day," Amy said.
Studying philosophy now will give her an advantage in the future and maybe for college since she will already have learned so much about it.
Rebecca says that being home schooled helps her to see things from a "unique perspective." Rebecca also says she concentrates better at home than if she were in a public school.
They both feel like they are a part of the community and they have met and made good friends through their activities in town. A lot of their friends they met through swimming and some of their neighbors also became their friends, too. Amy and Rebecca prove that a different schooling lifestyle can be just as good as a traditional education and that "different" can actually be good and not bad.