Home Sweet School: How One Dallas Mom is Homeschooling in a Pandemic

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Sarah Zubiate Homeschooling
ZUBI’s founder and farmer Sarah Zubiate with her twins Louis and Liliana on their Athens, Texas, ranch. She is homeschooling her kids until the threat of COVID-19 abates. (Photos: Caroline LeGates / Teresa Earnest Social / FoodandFemales.com)

By Sarah Zubiate
Founder and Farmer, ZUBI’S

Like parents everywhere, I am navigating life the best I can during these uncertain and unprecedented times. Throughout the past few years, my family and I have split our time between our home in Dallas and life on our farm in East Texas. 

Weekdays consisted of jam-packed days filled with school, carpool, swim lessons, gymnastics, and more. Weekends, our days to relax and unwind, were always spent on the farm. The contrast of our two worlds was never lost on me, but with so much change due to the current nature of our world, it has been a priority that my family feels as much a sense of normalcy as possible. 

Aside from being a mom to the most amazing kiddos, I am the founder, CEO, and farmer of ZUBI’S, a Latina-owned, plant-based company headquartered right on our organic ZUBI’S farm in Athens, Texas. 

What will the new normal look like?

Prior to COVID-19, I lived and worked from both our lovely Highland Park home, which was undergoing a major renovation, and our East Texas ranch. Life was crazy busy managing both residences, being a full-time business owner, and a full-time mom! Yet, here we are in these times of uncertainty and my oh my, how things have changed! We have postponed our remodel/renovation of our Highland Park home and have found ourselves working and living full time on our beautiful ranch/farm! 

In late February of this year and upon reading the breaking COVID-19 news, my family and I quarantined exclusively at our farm, taking every possible precaution to stay well and help flatten the curve. My kiddos were thrilled to spend their days roaming the farm and playing with their favorite chickens and even our camel, Toosey. But deep down, I had this feeling, we may be in this “new normal” for the long haul. 

homeschooling with COVID-19

Planning a classroom and curriculum is a daunting task.

Thoughts of uncertainty about where the state of our world and the school system would take us ran rapidly through my mind. After a great deal of time and research, I felt it was necessary to purchase the entire homeschooling curriculum for my twins and my two step-kiddos from Critical Thinking.

At the time, my husband looked at me like I was losing my mind, but as things began unfolding over the following months, he began to see the “genius in my madness.” He often tells me, with his mirthful sense of humor, that I will place him into an early grave because of the pace at which I often function. 

In March, with uncertainty still present, I printed off the learning objectives from Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (then-first grade) and the Diocese of Dallas and decided that I would create the basis and foundation for a learning center on our beautiful land in East Texas. Now, as I sit on my couch and enjoy a delicious ranch water, I reflect and am grateful for my over-planning of homeschool, despite the concern and friendly harassment of my brilliant educator friends. 

You see, I surround myself with the most incredible friends, so despite my lack of knowledge in education, I knew exactly who to ask and seek advice from concerning the best resources for my twins. Plan for the worst but hope for the best, right?! In the end, I knew lots of sleep, a good exercise and work routine, healthy food, outdoor exposure, and hands-on learning could help keep us sane during these times.  

As troubling and concerning as our world may be now, I wouldn’t trade the last few months for anything. My family has grown closer, my children are thriving and enjoying the simple things and life of being on the farm … all feels right in the world. Yet, I know that time moves on and I must think ahead.

Like many I know, I’m on a text chat with eight of my mom friends — these amazing women are the best support when it comes to all things kiddo. In the past, we discussed stomach bugs and school assignments, but the gravity of our group messages has changed drastically over the spring and summer. 

Living on a farm provides ample learning opportunities.

homeschool curriculum homeschooling

Most recently, we have been on pins and needles awaiting the announcement from Governor Greg Abbott regarding the reopening of schools. My twins, Louis and Liliana, who are headed into 2nd grade this fall, thoroughly enjoyed their recent two-and-a-half months of homeschool with me on the farm, and frankly, I believe would prefer I homeschool them the majority of the week — again, that is certainly not my vocation (my mom was a teacher for 38 years and I always knew that it just wasn’t for me).

The learning opportunities about everything in our world and home are vast! If you are making fewer trips to the grocery store, like many of us are, try challenging yourself to learn more about the origins, ingredients, and details of the things in your home — the manufacturers who make refrigerators, hairdryers, ping pong tables, the food that we consume, the clothes that we wear, etc. Now is the time to learn by a “hands-on” approach, and in the end, it can help us all feel a little more grateful. I truly believe that what is happening now can have an incredible impact on our children and their future, especially how they see, participate, and engage in life.

Thankfully, I am able to use ZUBI’S as a means to teach my children so much about life and the importance and challenges of entrepreneurship and business. During the height of our economic shutdown and solitary mandate, the price of garlic, which happens to be in all of my recipes, skyrocketed! Did you know that the majority of our garlic comes from China?! The plant is native to central Asia and in 2016, China produced 80 percent of the global supply of garlic. That’s crazy right?

With this knowledge and the incredible soil of our East Texas land, we will be proudly growing garlic on our ZUBI’S farm. Did you know that much of the garlic we consume from our grocery stores is actually frozen then thawed to keep a longer shelf life? While not necessarily a bad thing, it may reduce the time in which you need to consume it. 

In addition to our ZUBI’S farm of peppers, onion, and garlic, we have a personal one-acre garden located right near our main house that is filled with beautiful peppers, squash, asparagus, kale, grapes (to be harvested for wine in four years) and many new fruit trees. The learning opportunities for my kids from these crops on our farm is vast. I’ve taken the challenges not only in my business but also from a personal perspective to show Louis and Liliana how everything around us impacts our lives. For your reference, aside from the Farmer’s Almanac, there is now a version of the Old Farmer’s Almanac for kids!  

Sarah’s twins would prefer to be homeschooled in the fall, she says. However, it took a lot of planning to feel comfortable with creating a home classroom.

The most prestigious and private elementary schools in the U.S boast “certified wildlife habitat, trails, and outdoor classrooms.” I’ve always remained informed about what my kiddos would need to understand the world around them, and these above-listed schools served as an excellent guide for me.

Pre-COVID, my husband and I limited our kiddos to one sport per season so that we would have ample time at our East Texas home. Now more than ever, I believe this shift in learning can serve as a way to reconnect with our world and the systems that we have all grown to appreciate.


If you are a parent and are anxiously awaiting the news of e-learning or in school learning, I’m doing a giveaway with a few items that I love in order to help brighten your kiddos lunch experience — whether at home or at school — because we as moms and dads are in this together.

I’m not sponsored but just truly love these products and wanted to share them with you: Stasher Bags, A Planet box Lunchbox (color will vary depending on who wins), several 4 oz. jars of my lunch-size ZUBI’S top-8 allergen-free and organic queso, and a Farmer’s Almanac Intro Book.

Stay tuned for details on the ZUBI’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram!

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Comments

  1. Jack F Hamlett says

    Sarah is quite a person ,very diverse and knowledgeable. Nice to have a Mom like that . Great example of a good leader .
    Congrats

  2. Amy Thrune says

    This truly is a scary time… it’s great to see that you’re trying to create a safe and educational environment for your children. It’s really admirable, I hope everything goes well for you this year! visit website

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