There are many challenges in motherhood including how to juggle all of the responsibilities. Many women aspire to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” but don’t know how to accomplish it. Well, I had the pleasure of meeting a Proverbs 31 woman who is doing it all – and is doing it well. Mashica Winslow, the matriarch of the amazing musical group WinslowDynasty and member of Anthony Brown’s Group TherAPy, manages her music ministry, marriage, and motherhood and with a smile! She has also chosen to take the road less traveled when it comes her son Jedi’s education. She and her husband, Dontae, opted out of the public and private school systems and have chosen to homeschool their son. I had the privilege to sit down with her to ask her how she does it all.
GT: Please share with me what you’re currently working on?
MW: I am currently working on our nonprofit, Music Motivating Minds, an arts enrichment program that Dontae and I started in Baltimore which runs from January to June 2015. The program introduces children to music and art. The program mentors young boys and girls in small groups as well. Our children learn about financial literacy, higher education, and history while being introduced to art. I am also a part of our family band, WinslowDynasty. We do life music that encompasses all styles of music.
GT: How long have you been in the industry?
MW: Well, professionally, about 18 years. I started doing Jazz gigs with Dontae at the age of 19 and from there, I came out with my own CD entitled The Real Thing in 2003. As a member of Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony, I was a featured soloist, and with Anthony Brown, I am currently a member of Group TherAPy! In between those [engagements], I get to do sacred music dates for various churches as a soloist. I have currently been doing a lot of background studio work for TV and various artists in the pop field. The latest project that I worked on was Aloe Blacc. I get called mostly to do samples for albums and movie trailers. This has been a blessing because I have been able to work from home a lot.
GT: Speaking of home, how do you juggle and manage it all – wife, mother, and Minister of Music?
MW: That’s funny I don’t consider myself a Minister of Music at all, but I like the ring of that. I am first a woman, and I try to take time for myself to stay focused on the most important things in my life which are being a wife and a mother. I try to get away as much as I can for alone time. Being a wife madly in love with my husband, I really try to keep the fire burning, so date nights are a must. This can be particularly difficult when you work together all the time, but I manage to separate the two. We have date nights and vacations alone. I have found that my marriage works better when we are together. We really enjoy talking, laughing, and long rides together. While I have seen many marriages work well with lots of space, that is not our testimony. Knowing what works is truly half the battle.
When my husband is on the road, we [my son and I] travel with him as much as we can to keep the family unit together. As a mother, I am committed to giving my son the tools to be a successful leader and world changer. I feel as a parent we all have ideas of our children’s level of success, however, I think more about his heart and his innate intentions for his community! We want our son, Jedi, to be equipped intellectually, physically, and spiritually in order to impact his community. When it comes to my schedule in the beginning of the year, I gather my curricula and map out my year ending goals. If I find I have to cut back on travel or my gigs to get it done I make adjustments. As a homeschooling mom, I have the luxury of teaching during the summer so we never really stop learning. My son travels with us so he finishes his work on planes and reads in the car or the studio. Time management is my saving grace. I have everything written out with my goals listed first.
GT: Please tell me more about your experience with homeschooling. Many parents don’t know that it is an option. What made you choose homeschool for your son?
MW: As a graduate student at University of Maryland Baltimore County, I worked as a Baltimore City public school teacher. It was there I got the notion that I would homeschool my son. I saw so many children falling through the cracks. Oftentimes, I wasn’t sure if the teachers were the issue or the parenting. I actually believe children should learn at home first. Many times I saw behavior issues that were not dealt with at home affect the learning environment. I also began to feel like the ratio of student to teacher was too high. It was interesting that not much attention at the time was paid to how students learned individually. After my time as a third grade teacher, I knew I would homeschool if I had children.
I truly believe that a child’s spirituality must be groomed with the same intensity and passion that we have for their education. I saw a lot of behavior issues and lack of moral values prohibiting a conducive learning environment. As a mom, it is very important to me that my son is a good person as well as a good student. We have time to work on character, integrity, and spirituality. We also learn about African-American history and the contributions they have made to the world. I believe children must be taught their capabilities of achieving anything they can conceive. As a homeschooling mom, I make it a point to find people who are doing things that Jedi is interested in. I really work hard at making sure he understands that he has no limits as to what he can achieve. Homeschooling has been a blessing for us because even as we work, Jedi has been able to see the world he reads about during school time.
GT: What advice and/or encouragement would you like to share with other parents who are thinking about homeschooling their children?
MW: Any parent who has graduated [from] high school has a right to homeschool their child, and they are equipped to be amazing teachers. I have learned almost everything about homeschooling from parents who don’t have college educations. Not many people think they can do it, but I have met many parents who have not gone to college do an exemplary job at teaching their children. I am an advocate for homeschooling especially for what children have to face today in school. With all the bullying and emotional strain put on children today, I feel that in some cases, it’s the only option.
Many people don’t know that you can still be part of the public school system and homeschool for free. There are many options today for homeschooling. However, it is a serious commitment that should be made with prayer and persistence. There are support groups and charter schools to help you get started. It is really not as scary as people think it is.
Also the socialization question often pops up which is a misconception that many parents have. I often say you socialize with your child. You go to church. You create playdates. And there are a number of other ways for your child to interact with others while being homeschooled. I have met many families that homeschool and they all look different. Some parents work full-time, some part-time. Some use curricula; some don’t. Some hire tutors and some teach all the subjects. There are many ways to homeschool, and there is no one right way. My greatest advice to a parent on the fence about it is “fear not.” There is a lot of fear involved because you want the best for your child, but when you realize you are the best for your child, that fear will fade. I would also say educate yourself about the laws in your area and be the best advocate for your child that you can be.
GT: We were so happy to be able to sit down and chat with Mashica Winslow! To learn more, freel free to connect with her online!