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.
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.
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,
One of the tricky parts of homeschooling is adjusting our curriculum to remain student-centered. If the work is too easy, too challenging, or not in the best format for the child, we have to go back to the drawing board. Otherwise, we may be giving assignments that are not engaging or not being retained.
Last semester, we used Time4Learning for our core classes (Math, ELA, Science, etc…), Kamali Academy’s curriculum for Africana History ideas, and a mix-mash of other resources. We belonged to a homeschool collective in Houston where my son was also able to learn Gardening, Sewing, Yoga, and Martial Arts.
In September, we moved to San Ignacio, Belize. For the first 5 weeks or so, we continued to use Time4Learning, also spending a lot of time outdoors, going on low-cost excursions, cooking, playing chess, watching movies, and just bonding. We have also had some fun day trips; for example, we caught a bus to Chetumal, Mexico a few weeks ago for around $25USD. I am also in graduate school online with the University of Houston, assisting with Instructional Design for Kamali Academy, and working on some new books, but it is a lot easier to manage my time here. I always seem to have more time than tasks.
My 12-year-old son, Hotep, loves to create video games in Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), so he has been spending at least 2 hours a day just programming games, alone or with friends. There are two other boys about his age on our street that he hangs out with every day. He is also working on writing his first fiction book, a chapter book about a boy with unique shapeshifting powers.
Since we live in the rainforest, the internet connection is sometimes unreliable. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to buy textbooks and workbooks for the year and bring them rather than to depend on daily internet service. For the past few weeks, I meditated on how to solve this issue. At least 2 days of each week, Hotep is either unable to access Time4Learning or it runs terribly slow, resulting in him spending twice as long to complete his assignments. Today, I cancelled our Time4Learning subscription and designed a new curriculum for the rest of the school year that involves downloaded books that can be accessed offline, active time outdoors daily, and fun educational activities.
I would like to share our curriculum outline with you to get your feedback and maybe also help you through your process.
- Math – downloaded 7th grade math textbook from ck12.org
- Grammar/Vocabulary/Language Arts – downloaded Middle School Grammar textbook/workbook from vanlueschool.org
- Writing/Publishing – downloaded composition textbook from ck12.org for; also working on fiction book and self-publishing completed book of poetry
- Typing – freetypinggame.net
- Ourstory/US History – Classical Africa by Dr. Molefi Asante (e-book)/A Young Peoples History of the United States by Howard Zinn (e-book)
- Science- learning about Belizean ecology outdoors (helper site: http://www.ourbelizevacation.com/ecology-in-belize.html); also downloaded Life Science textbook from ck12.org
- Technology – Video Game Programming and Animation using Scratch (scratch.mit.edu)
- Physical Education – 30 min together per day outdoor exercise/play
- Spanish 15 – 30 minutes together per day using Berlitz Essential Spanish (print) and Pimsleur Spanish (audio)
- Weekly Field Trips Friday – i.e. nature walks, bus rides to other cities, Cahal Pech, Belize Zoo, Jaguar Reserve, etc…
The structure of our courses will be a combination of guided and independent work. Ourstory and US History will be on alternating days, Monday through Thursday. On Wednesdays, we will work on book publishing rather than Science and Technology. I had gotten away from spelling tests, so I will be resuming giving him spelling words on Monday and spelling tests on Fridays. If we have a short field trip some Fridays, we will also do some fun learning activities and watch a movie or a documentary.
We have about a month and a half left in this semester, so I will work out the kinks of our new program during that time. What are you using for your children’s curriculum this semester? Do you have any ideas of what we might add? Have you ever had to adjust your curriculum mid-semester? Please comment with feedback and questions.
Love and Light,
We have returned safely to Houston from Belize, and we have exciting news. But, I will tell you about that later. First, I would like to share with you about our time in Belize.
My son and I were invited to Punta Gorda by the Wagiya Foundation Belize. We were hosted because I served as a fundraiser for a project with Wagiya to assist the Garifuna community of Seine Bight with aesthetic revitalization in order to boost their tourism economy.
We flew in from Haiti to Belize’s international airport, with a layover in Miami, and then caught a local flight to Punta Gorda. Our local flight was covered due to my service work, but it would have cost us each about $100 – 200US, depending on the season, to fly from Belize International to Punta Gorda. Another option, which we employed on the way back, is to take the local bus. Catching a taxi to the bus station is $25US from the airport, and then the bus trip is about $12US per person to Punta Gorda. The flight was pretty short, but the bus ride takes 6 – 8 hours.
My son and I really enjoyed both the airport and the local flight. The airport lounge featured long wooden benches with a tilt that allowed you to learn back in your seat, rather than upright metal chairs. It was small and enclosed enough that I could walk around while my son sat, without feeling paranoid. There were also little stores inside with local food and crafts for sale. We ordered two large cinnamon buns, cooked from scratch, while waiting on our plane.
Once inside of the small plane, we settled into the very back seat, joking about how we were having this movie star experience on a ‘hood budget. As the plane rose and dipped with the wind, our stomachs tossed and tumbled, but it was never so bad as to make us sick. It felt like riding on a very non-intimidating rollercoaster, or more fittingly, in a flying car. There were only 10 seats on the plane, so we bonded with the other passengers as we appreciated the amazing scenery.
Once we arrived in Punta Gorda, we met our host and took a taxi to her beautiful farm. My son and I shared a one bed cabin there surrounded by fruit trees of every kind, healing herbs, salad greens, and fragrant flowers. As far as cons – a creek ran behind our cabin which, while scenic, attracted plenty of mosquitoes. There were also howling monkeys in the rainforest around us. They do not harm you, but they make a horrific noise that sounds like the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park growling menacingly. If I was not warned about them beforehand, I would have been scared out of my mind the first night hearing their growls.
Over the first few days, as we got acclimated to the land, linked up with our expat friends, and met new friends, we also got absolutely torn up by mosquitoes and sand flies. Although I was using my same homemade mosquito spray (lavender and citronella) that had been very effective in Haiti, these Belizean creatures were swarming their way through it. Besides that minor inconvenience, everything was sweet as a ripe mango. We didn’t do anything too high energy on the first few days, as we were still quite tired from sweating and working hard in Haiti. We toured around the town, ate lots of fresh fish, vegetables, and mango, swam in the ocean, and spent time with friends. I also took my son to a Garifuna drum class.
On the third or fourth day, we headed up to Seine Bight by bus to meet with the townspeople and plan the painting project and market day. We stayed with friends on the beach in Plascencia and I plotted my revenge on the Punta Gorda biting insects committee.
We had a lovely time in Plascencia, having deep conversations with friends, eating, swimming, and enjoying the scenery. I also researched adjustments to my homemade mosquito spray to protect me and my son from future attacks. The solution was to use an oil based repellent to keep the sand flies away, and keep the citronella in for the mosquitoes. So, I mixed natural citronella oil with store brand Baby Oil and it worked! We only got a few more bites over the course of the whole trip.
On the street in Plascencia, vendors sold fresh fruit juice in little baggies for $0.50US, as well as many other little affordable drinks and snacks.
From Plascencia, we caught the public bus back to Punta Gorda, bringing a couple of friends who flew in from the U.S. to tour and volunteer with us. In Punta Gorda, we learned about local herbs, helped with development of the future rental spaces and kitchen at my host’s farm, observed local wildlife, learned about Belizean culture and history, ate a lot more delicious food, swam in the ocean more, and met many new friends.
At one location in town, A Piece of Ground Hostel, we met a lovely homeschooling family from New York. My son enjoyed playing with this couple’s children so much that I began coming here daily for pancakes and tamarind juice, just to let them play.
The food there was amazing, and they had many vegetarian options. For example, they boasted 2 distinct veggie burgers, the Afro-Burger, made of black eyed peas and chopped vegetables, and the Black Bean Burger, served with or without cheese. As far as meat, we only eat fish, but they also had chicken, prepared in several different entrees. The best part is, the owner, Jama, will gladly inform you on how to take a “Guerilla Tour” of the surrounding areas, saving you thousands of dollars.
We took our own “guerilla” style tour one day to Rio Blanco waterfall. The tour brochures offered this excursion for $85 per person. My son and I and one friend rode the public bus there from Punta Gorda for about $3US per person (an hour or so trip). Once we got there, I was prepared to pass for Belizean (don’t judge, lol – I was encouraged to do so by the locals), but no one was there to collect our payment. We walked down the trail to the waterfall, enthused by the bright red flowers, magically blue butterflies, and verdant green tree branches encompassing us.
No picture can do the Rio Blanco waterfall justice. The water was perfectly clear. I could see miniature yellow and orange fish swimming around me, exploring the floral designs on my bathing suit. Tiny white flowers floated into the water from nearby trees, guided by the breeze. It was just perfect. I took a mental snapshot to use for future meditation. We swam for a couple of hours, giddy from the overload of nature and beauty. Our friend jumped from the high cliff into the water, but we both chickened out. Maybe next time.
While in Punta Gorda, we also made bus trips back to Seine Bight to plan the revitalization project and hold business development workshops. We helped the residents to define which products and services that they wanted to offer to tourists and set prices that were fair to them and the future visitors. Seine Bight is not a tourist town currently, so they are really excited about transitioning to offering their goods and services to incomers. It will really help the struggling economy.
Once everything was planned and beginning to be set in motion, we left southern Belize and the Wagiya Foundation to bus up to San Ignacio. The project is still continuing as a partnership between Wagiya and the people of Seine Bight.
In San Ignacio, we rented a cabin on Smith Family Farm, a Black owned compound where several of our friends are living long term. While there, we ate the delicious local food, drank fresh fruit juice, and spent time with our friends. My son got a lot of play time in and I got a lot of rest and relaxation.
Through talking to my friends there, I found that they were able to maintain a very low cost of living while enjoying a peaceful life. My son woke up each morning picking mangoes and playing with other children outdoors. It was beautiful. Since all of my work is currently online and I do not have any pressing obligations in Houston, I made the decision to pack up our belongings and move to Belize!
I will still be homeschooling and blogging while there, but will be able to offer experience as an African Centered homeschooler living in Belize, rather than the U.S. I have so much more to say about this move and I’m sure that you have many more questions, but I will save it for another post. This one is already quite long. Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this major move. I will write you again soon. Thank you for reading.
Love and Light,
Do you struggle with your children’s behavior at times? Are you looking for a way to include Character Building in your curriculum, but can only find overly simplistic or strictly religious workbooks on the topic? Would you like to have a simple, fun, and interactive way to teach your children African centered spiritual and moral principles in a way where they can easily understand and apply them?
I am excited beyond words to announce that I am releasing a book series this August (just a few weeks away!) titled Character Building for African Centered Scholars. The first two books are for Grades 1 -4 (77 pages) and Grades 4 and Up (107 pages). The following books in this series will expand more in detail on the ideas covered in the main books or add to them.
In Character Building for African Centered Scholars, your students will learn character building principles from Ma’at, Iwa Pele, Nguzo Saba, the Adrinka Symbols , and more! The many sacrifices that we make to educate our children are for one reason and one reason only: to shape them into successful, critically thinking, and independent adults with good characters. Each book is fun, interactive, and written in a way where it serves as both a textbook and a workbook! I’m so thrilled and you will be too!
Pre-Order Now for a 20% discount!!! Your book will be shipped by August 31, 2015.
Each chapter is easy to read for self-guided work, with images and lots of activities. Also, there are additional activities in the back of the book to keep your student engaged and developing an excellent character:
Read an excerpt from the chapter discussing Ma’at (From Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up):
“I have satisfied God with that which He loves. I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and a boat to those without one.” – The Book of Coming Forth by Day
Ma’at is a concept of morality that originated in Kemet (ancient Egypt). The figure of Ma’at as expressed in hieroglyphic carvings is that of a woman with extended wings or a woman with a feather on her crown. According to this spiritual philosophy, when a human being transitions out of the physical realm (death), he or she meets Ma’at, and then his or her heart is weighed against a feather.
If one’s heart is weighted heavily with wrongdoing and poor character, it will be eaten by Ammit, a monstrous being who is part lion, part crocodile, and part hippopotamus. Once this happens, one will not be able to achieve eternal life, but will instead become a restless spirit – a ghost.
How do we interpret this in modern day terms? First, let’s look at the meaning of eternal life, or immortality. Can one truly become immortal? If so, we have not witnessed this phenomenon on earth. Science has not generated immortality on earth, nor has religion. However, we do see that humans have achieved immortality through their legacies.
For example, let’s examine the story of Imhotep, who is best known for being the architect of the oldest known pyramid. He was born around 2,667 BCE – nearly 5,000 years ago. Imhotep was born neither rich nor privileged, but he worked hard to develop his intelligence and to be of service to those greater than him. He did not just sit around and think, “I wish that I was smarter,” – he studied regularly to build his knowledge. He did not just read to make good grades or to impress others. He put his knowledge into action. In turn, he developed himself into the first known physician, a legendary architect, a brilliant poet, a scribe, an astronomer, and the advisor to King Djoser. He went from being a regular kid with no special head start in life to being a multi-talented genius who gave advice to the king. Wow, isn’t that incredible?
As a result of Imhotep’s practice of good character, he left a legacy that is still widely honored and studied nearly 5,000 years later. That is a form of immortality. Imagine – what if people are still learning from your life 5,000 years from now? That was the goal of many ancient Egyptians – to live their lives so well, with such upright actions, with such beneficial works, that people would still study their lives as examples for how to live, thousands of years later. Let’s now examine the principles of Ma’at to understand how the Kemetic people went about striving towards immortality.
SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MA’AT
What do these principles mean and how can we practice them daily?
TRUTH – Truth is to tell what really happened, i.e. not telling lies. But, truth is also to understand what is real and what is false. When we commit to learning history, we can separate fact from fiction and take action based on full knowledge. For example, we know that Christopher Columbus did not discover America, so we do not honor him, celebrate him, or idolize him in any way. We instead honor and celebrate real leaders who made sincere contributions to the advancement of African people all over the world, and to all humanity. Truth also applies to being able to critically analyze the information that we receive for flaws or biases. If we read a news article that refers to one young male who got into some trouble as a criminal, and another young male of a different ethnic group or culture who made a similar mistake as a troubled teen – that is a bias. They may have both been troubled teens who needed help. You can then write in to the news outlet asking them to make a correction, or you can write your own newspaper or blog to report from a more unbiased perspective. Actions like these would demonstrate your commitment to truth, and also help shape your legacy.
Check out the Table of Contents for Character Building for African Centered Scholars: Grades 4 and Up.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to Use this Book 11
Character Building Principles:
Iwa Pele 47
Nguzo Saba 61
Adrinka Symbols 74
Character Building Examples:
Queen Nzinga 81
Shaka Zulu 82
Marcus Garvey 83
Fannie Lou Hamer 85
Alice Walker 86
Putting Principles into Practice:
Creative Writing 89
Visual Art 91
Critical Thinking 93
Community Service Extensions 94
My Glossary 97
My Notes 101
Thank you for reading this far! I may run a contest to offer free copies to select followers. Comment if you would be interested in a contest of this nature.
All the best to you and your family!
Love and Light,
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X
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:
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!
© 2014 Nikala Asante
As a part of fundraising efforts for current projects, I am running the special of a lifetime. Right now, I will write a customized story about your child or children for only $5. Check out the info below. :)
Does your daughter want to be a real storybook princess? Does your son want to be a real superhero? I can make that happen.
I will write your child into a personalized one page digitally illustrated story in the setting of your choice in 7 days or less.
A Little About Me:
I am a homeschooling mother with a BA in Creative Writing from University of Houston. Additionally, I have published two collections of poetry and short stories, contributed to major anthologies, and currently manage a blog site for African American home education resources, blackhomeschoolmom.com. Also, I have 9 years of experience in Graphic Design.
- Professional quality stories from a mother, educator, and published author.
- Affordable for all parents.
- Requests to write in friends or grandparents will be granted as well.
- With a photo of your child, his or her actual picture can be featured in the story!
- Print the story at home and frame for a lifetime memento of love.
- Makes a great birthday or holiday gift!
- Cheers sick children up instantly too.
Order your child the greatest gift of all today - a customized story!
Example without background setting or photo (both can be added at no extra cost). I wrote this story today! Thank you for your support. Visit Fiverr to order your customized story: http://www.fiverr.com/nikalaasante/write-your-child-into-a-personalized-story
Interdisciplinary/cross-curricular teaching involves a conscious effort to apply knowledge, principles, and/or values to more than one academic discipline simultaneously. The disciplines may be related through a central theme, issue, problem, process, topic, or experience (Jacobs, 1989).
What are Cross Curricular Lessons?
Cross curricular lessons integrate knowledge, improve learning, and increase student engagement. Instead of narrowly focusing on one subject at a time (i.e.: adding single-digit numbers for a Kindergartner), the student interacts with multiple subjects around one central objective (i.e.: learning to make a fruit salad using single-digit calculations – 6 grapes + 4 grapes equal ?, etc…).
Where can I find some to use this week?
KinderArt is a great site for free Cross Curriculum Art lessons, grades K-12. Objectives from the disciplines of Math, Literature, Geography, Music, P.E., Science, Social Studies, Transportation, and Architecture are introduced through fun art activities. KinderArt also has great multicultural lessons.
The National Education Association has put together this awesome free collection of lesson plans, printables, and videos with various disciplines such as Math, Art, Architecture, and History learned through lessons from Mayan culture. The lessons are targeted toward grades 5-12.
Games Children Play introduces children’s games from around the world, through which your students will improve knowledge in math, history, and language arts, while having a great time and being introduced to a new culture. I can’t wait to play Senet, a board game from ancient Kemet (Egypt).
How do create Cross Curricular Lessons?
First, decide what the objective that you would like to centrally teach. For example, in the video below, I wanted my son to understand that poems were not composed of just words, but of images. When he writes his poetry, he can be cognizant of including images as well. Sometimes poets can get so caught up in their language that we forget to string images together. I am sure that you can think of a poem that you read in high school that seemed to be a heap of vocabulary with a signature, instead of an accessible piece of art.
In order to reach our objective, I shared an excerpt from my poem, The 16th Strike. Since the images in the poem are connected to specific historical events, we had to stop multiple times for clarification. This was great because the lesson became creative writing, art, and history – all-in-one.
Enjoy the video and please, let us know how you create cross curricular lesson plans.
I am IN LOVE with these photographs! Check out more at: http://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/
The site describes their mission as:
The Mission :To Educate and Connect a New Generation to Heroes Who Have Paved the Way
On October 28, 2008, just days before the election of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, my first son Chase was born. On July 9, 2012, a few months before President Obama’s historic re-election, my second son Amari was born. Six months later, a few days before February 2013, I began to reflect on my sons and their promising future – specifically the opportunities they could pursue as a result of the progress and achievements made by individuals past and present. I also thought about the responsibility and at times the fear, I carry as a mother raising Black boys. I thought about how just one-year prior, Trayvon Martin was murdered. The murder and circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s death awakened my consciousness and moved me to create the “I Am Trayvon Martin” photo campaign. It was through this painful time for the Martin family and America that I came to realize that my lens could truly serve as a microphone that could amplify the feelings, fears, dreams and even the pain of a community.
The Because of Them, We Can campaign was birthed out of my desire to share our rich history and promising future through images that would refute stereotypes and build the esteem of our children. While I originally intended to publish the campaign photos, via social media, during Black History Month, I quickly realized how necessary it was to go further. With so many achievers to highlight, and thousands of children to engage and inspire, 28 days wasn’t enough. On the last day of February, with just 28 photographs in my collection, I decided to resign from my job in order to continue the campaign. On March 1, 2013, after most national and local conversations about Black History and Achievement ended, I released a photo of a mini-inspired Phyllis Wheatley and began the journey to continue the project for a full year.
A year later I have come to the conclusion that even 365 days aren’t enough. What began as a mother’s passion project quickly evolved into a movement. Today we are committed as ever before to encourage and empower people of all ages and hues to dream out loud and reimagine themselves as greater than they are, simply by connecting the dots between the past, the present and the future.
I think that you will enjoy them too! Black History 365!
Please check out this great article by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, PhD, about why many African American parents are choosing to homeschool (http://theatlantavoice.com/news/2013/sep/27/more-100000-african-american-parents-are-now-homes/).
Dr. Kunjufu lectures, trains teachers, and has written many books about improving academic achievement for African American children and the importance of African Centered Education. One book by him that we personally use in our homeschool is Lessons From History, Elementary Edition. Each chapter presents a stage of Black history, beginning with ancient African civilization. Also, there is a vocabulary list, questions, and exercises for each topic.
I respect Dr. Kunjufu’s work and would recommend it to any parent to use for a Black history component of their homeschool. There are only two criticism that I have of Lessons From History. One: Sometimes Kunjufu makes broad statements without fully explaining them, and you will have to do the research yourself to justify his statements to your child. This is less of an issue in the Middle School and Advanced editions because the length of the text allows the author space to detail each idea introduced. The Elementary Edition is simplified. Depending on the comprehension level of your elementary student, you may just want to skip straight to one of the more advanced editions and make adjustments as necessary.
Enjoy the article via the link, and tell me, why did you choose to homeschool?
Homeschooling: Why I chose this alternative, crazy path?
My sister, Nikala, asked me to write a guest post for her blog, Black HomeSchool Mom. I thought my sister was nuts for homeschooling her son. Who wants to design curriculum? Who wants to deal with kids at home all day long? As you can tell, I was not a fan of having my kids at home all day. I love to ship them off on the bus, then head back to bed, maybe clean up in peace.
I never thought I would homeschool anyone, but myself.
In 2011, my oldest son moved from Georgia to Texas to live with me. His father had him solo since 2005 and it was now my turn. My maternal gene finally kicked in after having Kalen and I thought it was a good idea. School started down here within 2 weeks. Mama kicked into overdrive to get Brad enrolled in public school. He had his issues (meltdowns) but he did good until the end of the school year. Note: Brad is Autistic, ADHD, and has sensory issues.
His behavior issues got worse on the bus and in school. I was getting messages home from the bus drivers daily to the point where I was starting to dread him coming home from school. There was little written notes, but a lot of verbal notes. They wanted him off the bus and out of school. I even put him back on medication to control the behavior (Risperidone and Clonindine) but then it didn’t kick in fast enough for the bus drivers (since they was the ones giving me the messages).
Brad bit a student, but I did not find out until two weeks later. Brad also hugged a student, who was also special needs, but more verbal. She complained. The school had to separate the two students in the line, waiting for the bus. Even made Brad a bus line helper to aid the situation. He also had an increase in meltdowns, but no one knew why. His routine did not change at home, but I have no idea if something changed at school.
My son could not get kicked off the special needs bus and the special needs class. I had no way to get him to and from school. My mother did not get home until after school started. I started looking into alternatives for Brad. Private school. Online school. My church’s new charter school. Private school did not take medicaid. Church school did not accept Brad. He did not make the initial lottery pick. Then, the administration called a few weeks before school started because the enrollment was still low. I brought all my paperwork but got declined because I did not have a mortgage or rent agreement in my name.
I had heard about Brad’s home school on television before, but did nothing. I finally filled out an interest form on the website. He was enrolled. I still don’t like my child being at home all the freaking time, but I also don’t have to worry about those messages being sent home. I understand now that legally no one can put a special needs child off the bus or out of school without an IEP meeting and trying to make accommodations first. This will come in handy whenever I send Brad back to public school. I hate to send him back and run into the same problems, then have to pull him again.
The school creates their own curriculum, since it is a public school alternative. They send the books, the computer, and other materials. I have to log-in daily to attend live classes and log attendance. His work is scanned in weekly and uploaded to the drop box. If he needs to go to the doctor, I do have to get a dr’s note.
I also loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Jose, Brad’s in-person speech therapist. Jose comes to the house once a week and teaches Brad. Brad has made tremendous improvement since Jose started working with Brad in May, 2012. Brad was also receiving online speech therapy. I can live without that, as long as I have in-person. With public school, Brad received 8 sessions of speech total. I asked for more, but he never got it. I am thinking about re-enrolling Brad in public school next semester or next year. I wish there was cheaper special needs schools in the area. I am dreading sending him back. But anyway. Have a nice day.
Stacie Wyatt is a 33 year old, African-American, living in Houston. Stacie is also a published poet and author (Love.Lust.Life; Chocolate Kisses; Conversations 1; Conversations 2; Conversing with Normality; Conversing with Sexuality; Conversing with Salvation, and Miscarried). Her books are on Amazon (CreateSpace and Kindle), Lulu, Barnes and Noble, Audible, and Smashwords. She is also a blogger (Perfect Chaos and Celibacy Diaries). Next, Stacie is the mother of two special needs boys. Stacie loves to read, write, listen to music, and find free stuff online.