Your first year of homeschooling is going to be tough, especially if you’re a black homeschooler. Period. You’re going to go into the year with a lot of optimism and high expectations, but as a mom who has been homeschooling for 5 years, I’ve realized that everything I imagined about homeschooling that first year was unrealistic.
Not only do most black homeschoolers go into their first year having to undo damage done by their local school system, many of us know nothing about homeschooling. Luckily, there is a tribe. Brown Mamas has a ton of articles about homeschooling, and you’ll find a list of resources in the related post section.
Some people do well taking the structure of the classroom and transplanting it to their home, for our family that was not realistic. My children didn’t want to go to school. They didn’t want to sit in a classroom. AND, our decision to homeschool was predicated on our dislike for the current schooling environment. So why I thought that I would be able to replicate the school environment in my home and have a smooth day, is beyond me. Nevertheless, I made it to year 2, and year 3, and year 4 and now, my husband and I are doing it!
Everyday we make it work for our family. Check out this video from The Girlfriend’s Guide to Homeschooling. I talk about my first year of homeschooling and all the things I learned.
5 Things Every Black Homeschooler Needs to Consider in Year One
Don’t Expect Perfection
It’s not gonna be perfect. Schedule some deschooling and downtime for you and you’re children. Remember this is new to all of you, and there’s no need to rush to do something you don’t know how to do. Instead, make your first year flexible. Give yourself time to reflect on what you like and don’t like at every step of the way. Most of all, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP! What you’re going through is normal.
Create a Budget
Take your first year to put together a homeschool budget. How much can you afford to spend on field trips? Can you join a homeschool co-op to get cheaper curriculum material? Do you want your main homeschool objective to be travel? Begin creating a budget now so that in the years to come you can be realistic about your goals AND the goals your children have for themselves.
Witness Your Children
The one thing that changed the trajectory of my homeschool experience was taking time to ‘witness’ my children (in the words of the self-directed learning guru Akilah S. Richards). Witnessing is when you take all the time you need to observe your children’s natural inclinations. That means taking time to LET THEM BE. No curriculum, no schedule, no input from mom and dad. Let your children be themselves everyday for days, weeks or months (however long it takes) and observe their likes, dislikes, natural patterns and characteristics. Many of our kids have spent so much time being instructed that they have had not time to develop confidence in their natural selves. Give them time to figure that out, and in the process your will learn what your child actually needs to grow and thrive.
Find Your Tribe
Married? Close to your family? Super involved in your community? Explore your entire tribe. If you have now figured out that you don’t have a tribe, find it. Isolated learning is no fun for anyone. African-Americans shine through communal living. Witness your husband, what are his strengths. Go outside and find out what activities are happening in your community that you could take advantage of. Does your grandmother sew? Does your mother study a specific subject adamantly? Ask them to help you teach your children real life skills that will be priceless will years to come.
Free thyself FIRST!
Self-directed learning for your children is all about learning about yourself too, Mama. As you free your children from the shackles of useless testing, the four walls of a classroom and unnecessary structure, you will begin to free yourself too. Be patient with yourself. Be easy with what you will learn. Invest in your mind, spirit and body. Your children will learn more from your ACTIONS than they’ll ever learn from what you’ve taught them. Know Thyself. Love Thyself. Free Thyself and you will give your children the priceless gift of a happy Mama.
Need more clarity on your homeschooling journey? Sign-up for the Parenting Power Hour. During this one-hour session Muffy will help you tackle your most pressing parenting issue and put a plan in place to