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,
I would like to share a rather long post with you about my and my son’s recent service work in Haiti. Please grab a cup of coffee and settle into a comfortable chair. This will be broken into three posts, of which this is the first.
With cooperative support, my nearly eleven year old son and I were able to travel through Santo Domingo to the border Haitian town of Anse a Pitre last month. This was my first time taking my son on an international service trip with me. My friend Sarah, a University of Houston Psychology alum and child educator, traveled with us. Once there, we engaged in reforestation with a permanent community, Sadhana Forest.
It was quite the adventure getting there. The Spanish that I learned waiting tables for 5 years as a teen paid off in navigating through Dominican Republic. The first little road bump was when our taxi did not show up at the airport. I was able to secure a taxi and negotiate the price. We made it safely to our hostel in Zona Colonial where we slept the first night. You see, the Haitian border is only open during certain hours of the day, so if you do not arrive in Santo Domingo before 6:00 am or so, you have to wait until the following day to make the journey to la frontera (the border).
We rose around 4:30 am, which was too early to get the complimentary breakfast, but I was prepared. I had so many Cliff bars in my bag, lol. Our taxi arrived around 5:00 am to take us to the bus station. As we drove along, he pointed out Chinatown, beautiful governmental buildings, and the Presidential Palace. The Palace is constructed much like the United States capitol building, but with what appeared to be Christmas lights illuminating it through the morning darkness.
We arrived at the bus station, which was well lit and bustling with people, nothing like what was described in our communication with Sadhana. Sarah was the first to realize that we were at the wrong bus station. There was no way to be sure, but she had a feeling. I communicated with the taxi driver again that we wanted to go to the border town of Pedernales. He insisted that we didn’t - that to get to Haiti, we should take the air conditioned tour bus to Port au Prince. He thought that we were confused about our destination. We insisted, no, we want to go to Pedernales. Finally, he resigned with a frown to take us to the bus station to Pedernales.
The sky was still dark as he drove us down a narrow alley filled with discarded clothes and cans. My heart was almost jumping out of my chest. No, let’s go back to the tourist bus, I wanted to say. As we pulled into an even narrower, darker alley, he pointed to a guagua, or minibus, and said, “There.” The sun started to rise, bolstering my confidence as we moved our luggage to the guagua. Shortly, women began to set up cooking stations along the street to sell sausages and bread to workers.
The bus began to fill with mainly Haitians, trying to return to the border. Then, with chickens and small farm animals. The bus driver moved us to the front because we were, “Las Americanas”. I was a twinge guilty, but also thankful, for the privilege of a US passport. The ride would be 7 hours long and I did not have to worry about the noise and smell of chickens bombarding me for the entire trip.
Once we arrived in Pedernales, our group that was scheduled to meet us was not there at the bus station. I was so nervous just standing there with luggage and a young Caucasian woman, both of which identified me as not from there. Pedernales is actually a very safe town, but at the time, I didn’t know that yet. Moto conchos (motorcyle taxis) crowded around us to offer rides to la frontera. Sarah was nervous about riding a moto concho, but our bags were too heavy and conspicuous to drag for a long walk. I realized that we should we packed only backpacks. I turned to Sarah and said, “we’re going to have to ride the motos.”. She reluctantly agreed.
I had seen 4 or 5 people at a time riding moto conchos during my 2013 Human Rights trip to Dominican Republic, so I wasn’t nervous about riding. I knew that the drivers were very skilled. I placed my son in the middle so that he was sandwiched between me and the driver. Another moto took our big “checked” bags, while we carried our backpacks. We held on tight for a bumpy and gorgeously green ride to the border. Once we arrived, I realized that Sarah had placed her leg on the hot part of the moto and burned it. She knew not to do this, but in her nervousness, accidentally did it anyway. The locals began prescribing remedies. ”Toothpaste,” they said. Sarah pulled out her toothpaste and swathed it across her leg and foot shaking off the pain like a soldier accustomed to adversity.
The border was so calm that we should have realized that something was not right. A verbal stir went about of “pasaportes” and “las Americanas”, before we were swept into the Dominican immigration office. Our passports were stamped and we were allowed across the bridge. It was not until we crossed into Haiti that we were informed that both offices were closed for the day due to an earlier protest. They let us through because of our nationality.
In Anse a Pitre, a young Haitian man from Sadhana was waiting for us – Roosevelt. He informed us that someone was at the bus station now looking for us, but had been a little mixed up on the time. There is an hour difference between the DR and Haiti. I was so happy to have confirmation that my journey would soon reach a destination, I wanted to go right away. We hopped on moto conchos again to reach the forest community. The area was clearly a desert as far as climate – there was so much dust and many rocks and cacti. Yet, as we neared Sadhana, mango and avocado trees replaced cacti, with mountains swooping overhead in a breathtaking horizon.
Since we arrived on a Friday afternoon, our volunteer requirement would begin on Monday. We were able to take a tour of the facilities and visit the local beach.
Our first work day was Monday. We rose at 5:30 am for stretching and activity assignments, and began daily by 6:00 am. Our volunteer work was titled sevas, which I believe is Sanskrit for service or a love offering. It’s funny how when I thought of reforestation, I just thought of planting trees. I did not get to plant a tree until maybe the third day there.
I carried heavy buckets of water around the grounds to water trees, cut weeds with a machete to mulch trees, reached nervously (for fear of spiders or scorpions) into piles of fallen bamboo leaves to mulch trees, cleared the canal of clothes and trash to allow water to flow through to irrigate trees, carried saplings in buckets for 2 mile stretches to reach yards in need – not to mention what needed to be done to maintain the facilities and volunteers.
See more about our journey in the next post! Meet you there!
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
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!
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.
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!