Outside of homeschooling my own son, I also tutor other students part-time. They are mostly private school students. At a session this week with a 7th grader for Pre-AP Algebra, my son, who is in the 6th grade, wanted to jump in and help him with a difficult problem. I stopped my son because I like to give my older students more time to figure it out on their own, but I was proud of him for understanding the work and for taking the initiative to want to help. It let me know that I was doing something right.
This exchange prompted me to think about the sacrifices that we make for our children. The parents that I work with often select their neighborhoods and their career paths based on wanting their children to have access to the best possible education. Likewise, I make many decisions based on wanting my son to receive the best education – the one that God has blessed me to provide to him.
At times, I have thought about how I could possibly be making more money if I did not spend the time that I spend with my son. Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts. Yet, my sacrifices in the financial area have allowed my son to be more advanced in many subjects than my private school students, though their parents are much stronger than me financially. Please keep this in mind if you’ve had any financial challenges due to working less hours or not working as a homeschooling mom. We don’t always have to have more money to do more for our children. Sometimes having less allows us to do more – and as a bonus, our children learn not to be materialistic.
For 5 years now, my son has been out of the public school system. At first, I was really just hoping that I was doing the right thing, lol. Thanks to my heightened investment in supporting his academic growth, along with support from friends and strong sister-mentors in my community, we quickly witnessed major improvements in his reading, math, and interest level. Within 2 years, he had strengthened academically more than I imagined that he could have so speedily. I knew then that we had to stick with independent education.
Of equal importance to academics, he has had the space over the past 5 years to pursue computer programming, animation, chess, creative writing, visual art, and drumming to the point where they have become passions for him. He has also had space – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to research extensively on one of his greatest loves in life – animals. At the same time, he has a great sense of his culture and history, thanks to both our studies and our strong community.
If I had a lot of money, maybe I would have enrolled him in a private school and secured private tutoring for him from the beginning. When he was struggling with reading at age 6 and I felt like his teachers were against him instead of for him, maybe I would have said, “Forget this – you’re going to the best school that money can buy.” I’m so glad that I wasn’t rich, because it turned out that learning to be my son’s educator was the best decision that I’ve ever made.
If you are considering homeschooling or just starting out, stay strong in your mission. When you feel you are not doing a great job, ask yourself what you can do differently and make changes. All teachers make mistakes. It’s important to recognize these challenges and fix them instead of beating ourselves up about them. When you are doing a great job, celebrate that too. Set goals for each semester and celebrate the goals that you are able to achieve. Homeschooling is like gardening – it’s hard work and you may not the results clearly from the beginning, but it will result in a beautiful harvest.
Also, when you feel discouraged about financial challenges, look at all that your children are able to gain from your sacrifices. Many resources can be had for free or very little money, so it is not necessary to have a lot of money to homeschool. Stay strong, focused, and positive – you’re giving your children the best education possible! Even more importantly, no amount of money can replace the family bonds that are forged all while providing an excellent education!
Stay tuned for the next post which will have money-saving tips, goal setting tips, and other tools for providing the best education that money can’t buy.
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,
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!
Every February in grade school, I learned and re-learned the limited histories of a handful of key figures. Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Garrett Morgan, Harriet Tubman, and Dr. George Washington Carver. It was rare that we heard about anyone else and if we did, we received trivia rather than histories.
“Who was the first Black major league baseball player?” (Jackie Robinson)
“Who was the first Black millionaire?” (Madame CJ Walker)
(For a more extensive famous firsts lists, click here)
The answers to these trivia questions have become embedded into my adult memory. Rosa Parks sat on the front of bus. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for rights. Harriet Tubman freed slaves. Garret Morgan invented the traffic light and so on. However, these men and women did much more than that. Their extended biographies are not discussed until collegiate level African American studies, if at all.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized and spoke for both Labor and Civil Rights. The Poor People’s Campaign, planned near the end of Dr. King’s life, was intended to advocate for good jobs, healthcare, and housing for all Americans.
Each of the leaders mentioned have a deeper history than what is touched upon in common education.
For instance, Dr. George Washington Carver was a great scientist and inventor, but many people only associate him with the invention of peanut butter. Though Dr. Carver has done many great things, inventing peanut butter was not one of them.
Peanut butter is recorded as having existed as far back as 3000 years ago.
However, Dr. George Washington Carver did change (read: save) American agriculture by introducing crop rotation.
He did invent over 300 products using the peanut and over 115 products using the sweet potato.
These inventions included printer ink, synthetic rubber, material for paving highways, insulation board, and:
From the Peanut:
- 19 types of leather dyes
- 18 types of insulating boards
- 11 types of wall boards
- 17 types of wood stains
- 11 types of peanut flours
- 30 types of cloth dyes
- 50 types of food products
From the Sweet Potato:
- 73 types of dye
- 17 types of wood fillers
- 14 types of candy
- 5 types of library paste
- 5 types of breakfast foods
- 4 types of starches
- 4 types of flour
- 3 types of molasses
Dr. Carver also created over 500 different shades of paint, using extracts from the earth as well as research in manufacturing “paints and stains from soybeans”.
Dr. Carver is a perfect example of why we as parents and teachers should conduct further research on celebrated African American figures before we select our curriculum. I, too, am guilty of long associating Dr. Carver with peanut butter and could have easily passed down this unfairly abbreviated history to my son. It is our job as educators to dig deeper because we want our students to know full histories.
Also, we want our students to do the same, right? If we are going to continue teaching about the same central figures that were introduced to us in grade school, let us expand the lesson by adding a research dynamic. Let us challenge our students to teach us something that we did not know.
Our goal in this is to raise well-rounded scholars, not trivia champions on traffic lights and peanut butter.