Tag Archives: teacher resources

The Best Education Money Can’t Buy

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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. ;-)

With Love,

Nikala Asante

 

 

 

Approaches to Homeschooling in the 21st Century

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Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X

Greetings,

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: 

Old School:

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!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

 © 2014 Nikala Asante

Fulfilling Responsibility: My Drop in the Bucket

Coaxing a small girl to take deworming medication.

Coaxing a small girl to take deworming medication

Greetings,

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.

Elandia Pierre-Louis

Elandia Pierre-Louis

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.

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 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.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Creating Cross Curricular Lessons

Greetings,

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).

Malcolm X - El Hajj Malik El Shabazz

Malcolm X – El Hajj Malik El Shabazz

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.

 

 

Free E-Book This Week Only: Education for Liberation: The Top 20 Questions and Answers for Black Homeschoolers

Free E-Book Here

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Greetings,

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:

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All the Best to You and Your Family,

Nikala Asante

 

Where to Send your Children to Summer Camp (or How to Create Your Own)

Where to How to Summer Camp or How to Create Your Own

Greetings,

Now is the time to look for those perfect, affordable summer camps for our kiddos.

Here is a wonderful directory provided by the National Association for Gifted Children to get you started.

Also, if summer camp is too pricey, think about putting together your own “camp”.  For instance, my son loves robotics and computer technology, so we are organizing our own Robo-Tech camp with a few other children using kits from Amazon and free online programs.  Some of the resources that we will be using are:

  • Renewable Energy Resources Textbook/Workbook (free, tvakids.com)
  • Scratch (MIT Computer Programming/Video Game Design Software; free)
  • Erector Multi-Model Construction Set by Erector $22.99 (Includes materials for 6 Models)
  • Elenco Snap Circuits Green – Alternative Energy Kit $43.66 (125 alternative energy projects included)
  • Elenco Electronic Playground 50-in-one $18.71
  • Thames and Kosmos Air+Water Power $32.11 (Includes materials for 15 models)

We will also be gardening, swimming, playing outside, playing chess, visiting museums and workshops, watching films, cooking, and feeding the homeless.  It should be an exciting summer and I am sure that you and your little ones will attend or create a program just as exciting.  If your daughter likes fashion, maybe you can create a two-week fashionista camp where she studies design drawing, color combinations, basic sewing skills, and finishes with a project or fashion show.  Be creative and have fun.

I hope that this was helpful.

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Kirikou and the Sorceress

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Greetings,

If you and your children have not seen this wonderful movie, do not deprive yourself a minute longer!

Kirikou is a young African boy (a baby, really) who is determined to save his village from an evil sorceress.

Kirikou teaches children lessons about bravery, perseverance, problem solving and more.

I encourage you to purchase the DVD from Amazon to add to your collection. Meanwhile, you can watch the full film with your kiddos on YouTube.

All Best,

Nikala

Free Africa Unit Studies Lapbooks

Free Africa Unit Studies Lapbooks

Free Ghana Unit Study and Lapbook

Greetings,

I hope that you are having a pleasant Sunday.  Please enjoy these free Africa Unit Studies Lapbooks in creating a culturally relevant and diverse curriculum for your students.

All Best, 

Nikala Asante

Black Books for Kids

Black Books for Kids

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Greetings,

I hope that your week has been awesome.  Today, I would like to share my new website with you.

I created Black Books for Kids to fill the need for a central online marketplace for affordable African American children’s books.  

As a parent and home school educator, I am always searching for books.  Personally, I love books from all cultures.  Some of my favorite authors are Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Chitra Divakaruni, and Ama Ata Aidoo.  While I believe that children should also be exposed to literature of all cultures, I find that it is a little more difficult to locate books from Africana cultures to fill a child’s library.  The books are out there.  They just require extensive time and energy to uncover.

With Black Books for Kids, the footwork is already done for you.  The prices are great, because we are powered by Amazon.  Everything is divided into age groups and genres for easy navigation.  Best of all, I am sharing reading resources, articles, and videos regularly.

Please visit whenever you need to purchase books for your child or teen.  Check back often, because new books are posted frequently.  If there is a book that you do not see listed, send me an email at blackbooksforkids@gmail.com and I will include it.

Thank you for your support.

In unity,

Nikala Asante

8 Great facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

8 Great facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Greetings,

On the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, let us celebrate his life by learning a little more about him!

All Best,

Nikala Asante