There is a significant under-representation of African American authors in Children’s Fiction. Prolific talents such as Patricia and Fredrick McKissack have made vast contributions to creating balance, with over 100 children’s books written together over the course of their marriage. Despite phenoms like the McKissacks dedicating their lives to this important work, in 2013, only 68 of the 5000 children’s books published were written by African American authors and only 93 by authors of any ethnic background were written about African Americans. For this reason, it is so essential that we celebrate and support African American authors. Our support will assist them in continuing to show our image and tell our stories.
Community advocate Noah Rattler, author Nekisha Pickney and illustrator Thaddeus Lavalais have teamed up to create Noah’s Walk, an inspiring children’s book that tells the story of Rattler’s journey while walking 1,800 miles from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California, to raise awareness for homelessness.
Noah’s Walk tells the story of real life heroism and of a young man who makes a decision to impact the life of others. Ms. Pickney is able to capture Noah’s odyssey as he encounters the elements, animals, and friends who support along the way. The book also serves as a fun learning tool that highlights vocabulary, geography, and cultural cognizance.
Noah’s Walk is available on Amazon.com and all other online book sellers in English and Spanish (ISBN: 978-1494968076). It is also available in the Kindle store and borrowing library. If you want an autographed copy, you can purchase one from co-author Nickesha Pickney’s website: freeheartoftruth.com.
Enjoy, and let me what you think when you’ve read it. My son loves it. The book also includes educational appendices that can be developed into lesson plans for homeschooling. Thank you for visiting, once again.
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 This concept of home schooling is outdated, if it ever held any truth.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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, my son received his first letter (via email) from a boy his age in Senegal. This is the first time that my son has ever had a pen pal, and he is really excited about it. I have been researching international work exchange (volunteering with a family, business, or NGO in exchange for room and board) and found a sweet homeschooling mom in Senegal who needs help with her children for a semester or so. If things go well with our children getting to know each other, maybe we will stay with her family for a little while to gain a different experience of the world. (If you are interested in opportunities like these, visit workaway or HelpX.)
Benefits of a Pen Pal
Having a pen pal can help our children to learn more about their selves and about the world. They can also practice reading, writing, and typing skills in the process. You can tie in lesson plans on English Language Arts, Geography, and Social Studies easily into your children’s pen pal writing assignments. For instance, they can learn about the terrain and weather in their new friend’s country, the history, the culture, and the literary classics. Also, they have fun playing the games and sports that their friend abroad plays. Best of all, you can try the delicious international foods together!
Over the next week, my son and I will learn more about Senegal at the library and on the internet so that we can better understand his new friend’s country.
Finding a Pen Pal
If you would like to get your children started with International Pen Pals, there are several sites that can help.
Students of the World: Etudiants du Monde (Students of the World) is a French non-profit association, whose aim and ambition is to open the doors of the world’s cultures to young people. If you are a student, then the website will propose you pen-friends who are the same age as you, in the countries of your choice. Then, you will be able to discover new cultures, exchange ideas, stamps, postcards, improve your knowledge of a foreign language, and why not decide later to travel there ? The database includes 250,000 pen pals from 220 countries, 4,000 blogs, 7,000 clubs, 2,500 pen pal groups, many forums, educational games, 248 schools from 57 countries, and cultural information about 234 countries & territories (including 234 forums, 532 touristic pictures from 65 countries and 750 “virtual tours” views from several countries).
Global Pen Friends: Global Penfriends Internet Friends Club specialises in Postal and E-mail pen pals from all around the world. Their members are REAL people of all ages, looking for pen friends. Registration and profile submission is free. Their goal is to create a comprehensive listing of people from all over the globe who are interested in communicating with other people, whether it be for friendship, cultural exchange, language, travel or education. The site is family friendly and developed with Safety in mind. People of all ages are welcome here and can search for new contacts in a safe and friendly environment. All profiles on our system are manually approved for language and content.
My Language Exchange: My Language Exchange is the effort of Helene Cormier and Dan Yuen to help people all over the world learn, practice and become fluent in a foreign language. Together, they decided to use the Internet to bring the benefits of language exchange practice to people all over the world. In October 2000, MyLanguageExchange.com was launched. This was an online community that has since helped thousands of people find language exchange partners and improve their second language.
Pen Pal Safety:
There are some basic rules that you can follow to keep your child safe when writing to a pen pal.
1. Choose reputable websites.
2. Use Skype or other video chat software to verify that the person you are writing to is a child.
3. Don’t arrange to meet with anyone without having had extensive conversation and doing some of your own research.
4. Never send money to anyone.
5. Don’t respond to requests for sensitive personal information (i.e. copy of your passport, social security numbers, etc…)
The sixth rule here should be HAVE FUN, but I already know that you will do that.
I hope that your children have a great time with their new pen pals. Let me know how it goes! We will do the same.
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.
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!
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?
Free E-Book This Week Only: Education for Liberation: The Top 20 Questions and Answers for Black Homeschoolers
I hope that you can benefit from this valuable information provided by Dr. Samori Camara. Download the full book free on your Kindle this week only.
While we all have our unique approaches to homeschooling, it is important to understand major methods as relates to what is best for our children. African Centered Education, as encouraged by Dr. Camara, puts African antiquity and modernity in the center of what can be a highly multicultural curriculum. Consider that there are thousands of cultures within the African Diaspora for our children to learn about, as well as European and Asiatic cultures.
Have your children learned about the Ashanti or the Mau-Mau? What about the Ba-Aka or Maasai? Does your child smile when he or she hears that you are about to recount an Anansi tale? Does he or she get excited at the thought of plantains or fufu? If you have not already researched African Centered Education, you will learn more about it in this free e-book, as well as gaining insights into homeschooling that will help any parent.
The book description on Amazon is as follows:
Are you ready to take the education of your child into your own hands? Are you disgusted with over testing and miseducation? Are you unsure about how to go about getting started on the journey of providing education for liberation?
Then, this book is for you. Within it, I use my years of practice and research to answer the most pressing questions new homeschooling parents have. No need to scour the internet getting half-truths and whole lies. The answers are here.
Will your child be able to go to college? Without question!
Can you do it? Absolutely!
“As parents you are the first teachers, so why not continue that natural process. You can teach your child using a culturally relevant curriculum, cultivate their minds and grow their spirits, and help bring out the natural genius already within them. You can find the time, resources, and faith to give your child the greatest gift: the gift of self-love, self-awareness, and self-determination.”
About the author:
Samori Camara, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of Kamali Academy, an African-centered school in New Orleans, and is quickly becoming one of the nation’s leading authorities on Black education and building independent Black educational institutions.
Kamali Academy in New Orleans:
All the Best to You and Your Family,
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.