I fell into homeschooling head first, without a life jacket and not knowing how to swim! After 2 1/2 tumultuous years of traditional school (public and private), I was at my wits end with the school system AND my twins “behavior”. You see, I was a 1st time mother – single mother, with years of background and education in health care, nursing, general health, and wellness but I was a novice when it came to navigating my boys educational and social needs. In addition, I had no idea about how the US school system was set up, and the disparities in education as it relates to Black and Brown children. Was I living under a rock? Hardly! I was just following the path that my mother took with me. Send your kids to school and make sure they do well.
Well, after all but having my children taken away from me by the state for refusing to continue medicating them (yeah, it got that serious), I learned about homeschool. Let me take you back for a minute. My twins – the only children I had at the time were rambunctious, inquisitive, leaders, outspoken, and self-directed. In a nutshell, they weren’t the kid that you could tell to sit in a corner and expect them to follow suit. So what was the problem? The US school system wasn’t set up nor capable of handling children like mine. They were equipped for robot like children who had no mind of their own. My boys were mistreated and labeled from early on. At the age of 4, yep you read that right…4, I was told by a psychiatrist (that I was coerced into seeing) that my boys needed to be medicated “for the sake of everyone involved”. Remember when I told you I was a novice? Well, I conformed and placed them on meds. They popped those “better behavior” pills for 3 1/2 long years! I would be on the brink of a panic attack if I sent them to school without taking them. God forbid I ran out of their prescription! The world seemingly collapsed. I had been programmed to believe that my children were broken, that I was failing as a mother, and that the only solution was to medicate my boys. I was a believer!
There were times when the teacher would call me from her classroom because twin A wouldn’t sit down to do his classwork, or twin B was laughing a bit too loud for her liking. We had a daily behavior manual, conferences with teachers (oh, there was that one time the principal came to sit in), behavior charts, and the frequent usage of words such as threatening, uncontrollable, disturbing, nuisance, troublesome, hyperactive, and a few more. The school was working against my Black sons instead of for them. My children were not disrespectful, harmful, threatening, callous, or malicious but to hear the school speak about them, you would think they were juvenile delinquents!
It was during a phone conversation with my mentor sometime midway through 2nd grade that homeschool came up. I’m pretty sure I was telling her about our struggles and how it was taking a toll on me and creating a sense of inadequacy in the twins. She mentioned homeschooling as an option, and gave me the name of Georgia Virtual Academy (now Georgia Cyber Academy). Now, until this point I had never even heard of homeschool much less considered doing anything with my boys education accept fall in line with what the school system had recommended. I recently shared about my homeschool experience on the Mama’s Minnie Milk Life & Times Podcast. After that conversation, I did a Google search for GCA and the ball began rolling from there. I also learned of this book, The Mis-Education of the Negro. The knowledge dropped in this book opened my eyes to a world that I never knew existed. Actually I did, I just didn’t know that world was larger than my twins and I!
I continued to keep my boys off of the medication and withdrew them from public school. We enrolled in GCA and awaited the start of the new school year. As time went on I realized that GCA wasn’t a good fit for us and I slowly began researching how to write my own curriculum. Once I had grasped the basics of curriculum writing, I took my show on the road. GCA was a thing of the past and we were swimming in the deep water, and staying afloat (without a life jacket) in our new found peace of homeschool.
It has been almost a decade since I began homeschooling the twins. They are now in high school and on track to finish early (next May) at age 16. My family has grown to include 3 more children and all of them are being homeschooled as well. My oldest son (my bonus son through my husband) has a cognitive delay and too was labeled in traditional school. He was written off as not being able to learn, medicated, and tossed into a special education class. We pulled him out and homeschooled him. He completed his studies this year (at age 18 although the school system would have still had him behind) and is now a proud high school graduate and planning his college pathway.
Curriculum writing is still a part of my repertoire for the twins, however I have moved onto more of an unschool path for my youngest two who are 5 and 3. With the knowledge that I’ve come across over the past decade, I feel that unschooling is the best fit for the littlest of my tribe. We spend much of our time reading, learning through living, sight-seeing, and exploring. They are much further along their educational journey than my twins were at this age, and my baby girl – age 3 is a knowledge seeker! She won’t stop! EVERY ounce of knowledge she comes across she sucks it up, easily.
I realize that homeschooling isn’t an option for many people for various reasons. However, if fear of the unknown is your reason for not taking the plunge into the homeschool waters I encourage you to do your research, prepare, and jump right in. The benefits over traditional school are too great to list! Some of the online resources I have used over the years are as follows:
Khan Academy (strong math and science)
Kamali Academy (African Centered Learning)
ABCMouse (Pre-k through Age 8)
Math-Drills (printable math worksheets)
Vocabulary.com (vocabulary building)
Open Culture (FREE resources on various subjects)
With homeschool my Black sons and Black daughter are safe, encouraged, applauded, respected, and believed in. There was no other option for my family, and there’s no looking back!
P.S. If you’d like a homeschool consultation to figure out if this path is right for you, drop me a line and let’s work it out!