Tag Archives: African American education

Updates and Summer Math Tutoring

Greetings,

I hope your summer is off to a great start.  We are visiting family for the summer and then heading back to Belize.  This year has been productive so far; I’ve been blessed to co-write and release a new book, 50 Afrikans You Must Know Vol. 2 with Dr. Samori Camara, and to walk with my Master’s in Education from the University of Houston.  The focus areas of my master’s program were Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Technology.  I’m using the tools that I’ve gained to offer more distance learning opportunities to our children.  This year, that involves the independent educational services I offer, instructional design for Kamali Academy, and helping international African-centered schools transition to online platforms.

More updates – Belize has been a good move for us.  It has been peaceful and I’ve been able to get a lot of writing done.  Many of our friends and family have been down to visit.  My son has been having a great time too.  He has not made a ton of new friends, but his friends from Houston have been coming to visit for extended periods.  He also communicates regularly with his friends on Google Hangouts.  He enjoys seeing new animals and swimming in the river most right now about our environment, but spends a lot of time working on writing, programming, and animation too.  He just finished writing his first novel, which I will be helping him edit and publish over the course of this year.  This is his third full length book and he just turned 13, so I would say that homeschooling and being in a rural environment has been good for him creatively.

We took a trip to Merida, Mexico by bus over Easter for 9 days.  It was sooo awesome!  Since we live by the river in Belize (not close to the beach), it was great having lots of beach time and also enjoying all of the excitement of the city.  Merida is safe and very affordable for family trips, in my opinion.  A nice hotel with wifi and AC was around $20US per night and taxi rides were $1 – $2US around the city.  Also, many of the attractions (such as the beach, street concerts, museums, and city events) were free.

Some of the highlights of our trip were: the delicious food, the vibrant markets, cotton candy, snow cones, fresh fruit popsicles every day, free museums, the Spanish/English bookstore, horse and carriage ridin’ through the city, Mayan sculptures, LOTS of art everywhere, cheap taxis, dancing in the streets with live bands, watching the crazy amazing Mayan ball game, stunning beaches, fresh fried fish on the beach, the old school traveling carnival with games and bumper cars, visiting the pyramids, swimming in the cenotes, meeting new people, and being amazed at the MAGIC of each day.

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If you are looking for a fun trip this summer, look into Merida.  A final update – I am offering online math tutoring this summer for grades 6 – 12 one-on-one via Google Hangouts.  I can take 4 more students based on my schedule at this time, with monthly flat rate pricing on a structure based on your child/children’s learning goals for the summer.  Please fill out this short interest form if you are interested and I will contact you: https://goo.gl/forms/vM0sw7Ru6tPkDIXB2.  I have 8 years tutoring experience and have assisted many children in reaching their educational goals.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Those are my updates for now!  What’s going on with you this summer?  Feel free to message me or comment – it comes straight to my email either way.  I love you all!  Happy schooling!

Love and Light,

Nikala Asante

 

 

 

Approaches to Homeschooling in the 21st Century

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Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X

Greetings,

Home education can take various forms, according to your needs and resources.  One common perception of home schooling is that you will spend all day at home with your children, painstakingly drilling through academic subjects, while isolating them from the rest of the world.  The most frequent that you will be asked as a home schooling parent is, “What do your children do for socialization?”  This concept of home schooling is outdated, if it ever held any truth.

Personally, I am a single mother who works part time during the year and full time during the summers, attends school, and home schools my son.  Thus, I have had to be very innovative in my approach to home schooling.  I use a combination of the three methods that I have listed below.  If you struggle with making money while home schooling, visit How to Work and Homeschool.

What I can tell you is that home schooling your children does not require 8 hours a day and you do not have to do it alone.  Honestly, there are too many resources and like-minded parents available to make doing it alone necessary.  

As you plan your upcoming school year, reflect on these methods for home-educating: 

Old School:

Decide which subjects that you want your children to study and secure books and worksheets in these subjects.  Combine instruction, self-guided exercises, and independent projects.  Include online components, outdoor play, and regular exercise.  Plan daily time for reading, whether that be student independent reading or you reading aloud.  Allow your child to fellowship with other children through after school programs, academic clubs, community/district sports teams, and/or religious meetings.

Home School Collective/Cooperative:

You will still decide which subject that you want your children to learn, but you may not be teaching/guiding in all of these subjects.  You will work with 1 or more other parents to provide a collective education for your children.  Sit down before the semester begins and plan which times and subjects that each of you will teach or guide the students.  For instance, you may teach English and Writing, another parent may teach Math and Science, and another parent may teach French and Art.  

If you need to work part-time, you may leave your child with the other parents for a certain amount of hours each day and they may do the same with you.  Or, you may work full-time and pay or barter with the other parents to teach/guide most of all of your children’s subjects.  The reason that I said, “teach or guide” is because not all subjects require teaching.  

A new math lesson, for example, may require 15 minutes of presentation and demonstration and the exercises can be completed alone by your student in an additional 45 minutes, with a small amount of guidance.  Similarly, a reading comprehension selection with questions can be completed independently many students, third grade and above.  Also, junior high and high school students should be taught how to learn rather than just memorizing what is taught in lecture format.  At the JH/HS level, well-taught students can follow in-text directions, watch online videos, complete independent research for a majority of their work.

Mixing it Up:

Another approach to home education is to take advantage of local classes and opportunities being offered.  Your city’s major museum may offer a fine arts class for home schooled children, while the Black bookstore may have a Saturday history class.  Many nature centers/arboretums and libraries also have home school offerings.  

Research free and paid home school classes and activities in your city at the beginning of the semester, and you can combine your selections into the daily schedule.  Also check your local YMCA, community center, or parks for swim, martial arts, boxing, soccer, softball, basketball, football, or other athletic training that may interest your child.  

Another important resource to research is musical training in your area.  You can enroll your child in private lessons for any instrument that you choose, and join or form a home schooled children’s band.  Free or low cost language courses are offered through many public libraries or religious facilities as well.  For instance, in Houston, children can learn Spanish or Mandarin Chinese for free through Houston Public Library, French for  a low cost through Houston French Alliance, and or Arabic through local mosques.  In any area with online access, your child can use free resources like Duolingo to learn a foreign language.

Are you already using one or more of these approaches?  Are you planning to incorporate part of all of an approach listed here for the coming school year?  If so, please get back to me and let me know how it works out for you.  Blessings to you and your family!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

 © 2014 Nikala Asante

Fulfilling Responsibility: My Drop in the Bucket

Coaxing a small girl to take deworming medication.

Coaxing a small girl to take deworming medication

Greetings,

As I recently shared, I spent two weeks of service in Haiti in the latter half of May.  Here in the States, I often feel that I am living in false reality.  In the age of social media, talk is confused with action and acknowledgment is mistaken for participation.  When I am not actively contributing to solutions – my intelligence is only self-placating and my degree useless.  It is not enough to know.  I must do.  It is my human obligation to direct my life in a way that adds to alleviation rather than exacerbation of the ills of the world.

 It is my human obligation to direct my life in a way that adds to alleviation rather than exacerbation of the ills of the world.

Due to the United States unique and often exploitative relationship with Haiti, anytime that I buy a shirt, I may be supporting a sweatshop.  The CEOS get rich while the workers have to choose between eating and sending their children to school.  Anytime that I use my phone, I may be supporting a call center that does not allow pregnant women to breastfeed or take restroom breaks.  These are all things that I have heard personal testimonies of well-known American companies doing in Haiti.

I cannot completely eliminate my role in Haitian exploitation because imbalanced trade with developing countries is so circumferential to our economic system.  However, I can proffer alms to equity.  As a good friend recently told me, it may be only a drop in the bucket, but if no one puts any drops in the bucket, the bucket will be empty.

My “drop” is a choice to support a young girl’s education.  Elandia is in second grade. Her favorite class is reading.  Elandia, her mother, and 2 sisters live in a small tent in CAPVA since the earthquake of 2010. Someday, she wants to live in a big house and have her own bed.  She aspires to be a doctor because there are many sick people living in CAPVA that aren’t able to receive medical care.

Elandia Pierre-Louis

Elandia Pierre-Louis

I met Elandia while running a deworming station near her school.  Contrary to the norm in Haiti, Elandia’s mother does not have to pay for school.  It is funded by donor contributions.  Elandia and her classmates’ educations depend on people continuing to care enough to donate.

Whether Elandia has a uniform each semester (usually children in Capva’s only real outfit) depends on if those who begin to donate remember that children are always growing.  Some of Elandia’s friends came to school nearly naked because no one donated for uniforms for them this year.  Some boys wore only women’s blouses that hung to their knees, because that was all they had.

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 How you decide to put your drop in the global bucket is your choice.  Today, I made my first $30 monthly contribution to Elandia.  My $30 will pay for her books, uniforms, and help to keep the school running for her peers.  If you would like to do the same or find out more, please visit holdthechildren.org.

Many friends have told me that they want to contribute to an international aid group, but are afraid that the money is not really going to the children.  I visited Elandia’s school myself and can vouch for the credibility of the organization.  Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  God bless you.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

October is Black Science Month!

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Greetings,

If you have never heard of Black Science Month, it is no fault of yours.  This special time to celebrate Africana scientists was recently established by four young African Americans: Leonce Hall, Kimberly Washington, Sydeaka Poisson, and Asar Imhotep.  They are committed to “promoting the accomplishments and achievements of Blacks in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”.  Currently, while Black Science Month’s website is under construction, the collective is sharing tons of valuable information on their FaceBook Page (https://www.facebook.com/BlackScienceMonth).  Some of their recent posts concern free medical school for Blacks and Latinos, a link to a Black inventor online museum, and a cartoon with Black characters personifying the scientific method.

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Blacks are “not good” in Math or Science is a long proclaimed myth that through self-fulfilled prophecy, is affecting many of our children each day.  How many of our boys believe that they are supposed to excel in athletics and struggle with academics?  How many of our girls believe that computer programming and electrical engineering is only for Whites and Asians?  Projects like Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S (a hip-hop based science program) and Black Girls Code  (both of which are shared on Black Science Month) are working diligently to change these myths.

Fallacies about Africans in Science are also dismantled by Black Science Month.  Many students believe that Africa is one big charity case or war zone, based on images that they have seen in the media.  Learning about the Nigerian who built a jet car that runs on the road and sea or the South African student who invented a waterless shower will open students’ eyes to a new reality.  A reality in which their history and present is inundated with creative genius.

Asar Imhotep, a University of Houston Linguistics alum, states that he got involved with creating the page, “to encourage Black people to participate more in the various sciences, whether it be Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Mathematics, Agriculture…”.  Imhotep gave us the inside scoop on what’s next for Black Science Month – exciting science experiments that children can conduct at home!  Like the page on FaceBook and stay tuned throughout the year for news, history, opportunities, and much more!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Building Workshops for Children

Greetings,

I hope that your week is off to a productive start.  I have some exciting news.

Recently, I learned that Home Depot and Lowe’s offer free building workshops for children.  Please visit the following links and enter your zip code to find the upcoming workshop near  you. Enjoy!

Africana History Fact: Did you know that one of the first known architects was Imhotep, who designed the first pyramid – the Saqqara Step Pyramid for King Djoser?

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Home Depot Workshops: http://workshops.homedepot.com/workshops/

Lowe’s Workshops: http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/pages/default.aspx

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Greetings,

I have sometimes heard people say, “Isn’t education just education?  There is no Black or White education… it’s all about what works.”

By the same token, I have heard people say, “Literature is just literature.  It’s not Black or White.”

Some even go as far as to say labeling education or literature by race or culture is “racist”.  (Sidenote: Culture is what is important here.  ”Race” is a social concept based on phenotype.)

So, let’s talk about culture.  Which cultural group is predominantly central to modern education and literature?  The answer is obvious: Anglo-Saxon culture.

This is not accusatory, it’s just a fact.  If you take an English, History, or Math class, you will learn about Shakespeare, the Greeks and Romans, and Pythagoras.  You will be less likely to learn about August Wilson (a great African American playwright), the ancient empire of Mali, and Imhotep (the first known physician – an African).  If you are a Black student, you see Europeans being great throughout history.  Yet, your “history” is limited to a handful of heroes and heroines spanning from Harriet Tubman to President Barack Obama.

Let’s talk about literature.  One can attain a PhD in literature without reading more than a few Black authors.  How many literature students are required to read from the African Writers’ Series or the Norton Anthology of African American Literature outside of those specializing in Africana Studies?

If you are a Black student, should you not read more literature reflective of history and cultures of the African Diaspora?  Would that not grant you a greater understanding of your modern plight?

Would a well-balanced education with account of Africana contributions to all disciplines not grant you greater knowledge to solve modern Africana problems?

With these questions in mind, please enjoy this wonderful video by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of a single story.

Black History Month Resources

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It’s that time of year again – Black History Month.  While African American History needs to be celebrated year round, February is a great opportunity to stock up on diverse lesson plans and printables.

Below is a starter list of links that I found useful.  We can continue to build this list together as the weeks go by.

Please check back every week or so for updates on this post.

Free Black History Month Resources:

http://edhelper.com/BlackHistory.htm: Free printable plays, easy readers, photographs, lesson units, and more on African American history.  This is a GREAT site from what I see.

http://www.teach-nology.com/worksheets/soc_studies/blackhistory/:

Teachnology offers many free Black History printables.  Please be sure to check out the “Revolutionaries of African American History” printables at the top.

http://homeschooling.about.com/od/holidays/ss/blackhistprint_all.htm: “Famous Firsts” Black History Month Printables including word searches, crossword puzzles, and draw & writes.  I challenge you to research the history of 5 people of African descent that made notable contributions to history before the Transatlantic Slave Trade to include in your Black History month curriculum this year!

http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/black-history-month.htm: National Education Association presents lesson plans, quizzes, printables, video, audio on Black History.  Poetry, literature, jazz, and much more…

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/inventors/: Scholastic presents “Top Ten African American Inventors”.  Click the “Find out More” button after the short synopsis on each inventor to see more detailed biographies.

http://www.abcteach.com/directory/holidays-months-and-seasons-months-february-black-history-month-3635-2-1: ABC Teach Free Printables including Black History KWL Charts, Report Forms, and Acrostic Poem Forms.

http://www.nickjr.com/printables/all-shows/seasonal_black-history-month/all-ages/index.jhtml: African American history activities and printables.

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/black-history-month/teacher-resources/6602.html: Includes many free crafts, lessons, quizzes, and activities on Black History.

Welcome!

Count with me!

Greetings!

My name is Nikala Asante and I am a homeschooling mom.  I started this site because as I was searching for homeschooling resources, I noticed that the amount of support and materials for African American parents is much less than those for everyone.

This is problematic because as African Americans, we have cultural speficities regarding our childrens’ educations.  For instance, we want lesson plans that are significantly diverse so that our children can learn about their history and also see their image in a variety of disciplines such as Literature, Math, Science, Art, Music, etc…  As we know, Black contributions are not limited to Civil Rights.

And these lesson plans are out there!  There are units, downloadable books, photographs, audio & video clips, and much more available online regarding Black history and culture from all over the world.  However, this information can be tricky to find because it is labeled under “Humanities” on one site and under “African Diaspora” on another.  You would almost have to be a professional researcher to dig everything up that you can benefit from.

The intention of this site is to compile much of the wealth of information available for Black homeschoolers in one place.  Of course, new data is being shared everyday.  I invite you to send in what you discover so that I can post that as well.

Together, we can make home education a more culturally sensitive and rewarding experience for our children.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

blackhomeschoolmom@gmail.com