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!
I hope that your week has gone tremendously well. The topic for today is how to work and homeschool. My personal situation is a little unique. I am a single mother, I homeschool, work 2 part-time jobs, and go to school full-time. First, I will tell you how I am able to do this. Then, I will present some other options that you can consider.
My hectic schedule works (and pretty well too!) because I organize with other homeschooling parents in my community to teach my son for part of the day, and in return, I teach their children for part of the day. He also attends piano lessons with another parent and her child while I am at work. Both of my jobs allow me the flexibility to study at the office; so, I use this time wisely to stay on top of my schoolwork. Also, one of my jobs, which I work on the weekends with a non-profit organization, allows me to bring my son with me. He even helps me at work.
The take-away from my set-up is that if you work together with other parents, even if they are just “sitting” for you part of the day, your child(ren) can have a rich homeschool experience. Also, they get that fun “socialization” component in!
Now, here are some other options to think over:
- Start a homeschool collective or co-op (while this link is for a Catholic Co-op, I think that the information is relevant for groups of any religion)
- Run a website with items for sale
- Teach English online
- Work at home as a call center rep
- Make jewelry (or other craft items) and sell them on Etsy
- Clean houses or offices part-time (and take your children)
- Tutoring from home
- Instrument lessons
- Become a licensed childcare provider
- Join a MLM like Avon or Mary Kay and host parties
- Host an Exchange Student
- Substitute Teach
- Website or Graphic Design
- Pet Sit
- Make Gift Baskets or Floral Arrangements
- Become an online educator (for an online K-12 school, for a college/university, or independently for a subject you are an expert in, i.e.: writing a blog, hosting webinars, and doing consultations for that subject)
- Creating and teaching an online course independently with a site like schoology or coursesites and collecting payment with PayPal
What are other ideas that you have for how to work and homeschool? Please share!
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?
Home Depot Workshops: http://workshops.homedepot.com/workshops/
Lowe’s Workshops: http://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/pages/default.aspx
I hope that your week is going well. Today, I want to talk about a super heroine of mine.
Dr. Wangari Maathai she was born in a small town in the East African country of Kenya. Even though it was hard for a girl to get an education in this area, she completed grade school, flew to the USA and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences, and a PhD in Anatomy.
She used her love for science and nature to start the Green Belt Movement in 1977. Women involved in the GBM have planted more than 10 million trees since 1977 which has helped to restore the soil in Kenya after immense deforestation.
Dr. Maathai was the first African woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize. She earned this honor for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy, and peace”.
She received honorary doctorate degrees from 13 universities, in Kenya, the USA, Norway, and Japan. She also received over 55 awards in her lifetime, such as the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights from South Africa and the Indira Gandhi International Award for Peace from India. Dr. Maathai was voted one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine and one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine.
Sadly, Dr. Maathai passed away in September 2011. Fortunately, her legacy continues. The Green Belt Movement has published a Community Classroom curriculum through PBS including lesson plans, handouts, and videos for grades 9-12 (or ambitious&talented younger students).
Please make use of this curriculum to expand your students’ social, environmental, and cultural awareness.