Why Black Moms Should Consider Supplemental Homeschooling


By Didan Ashanta

Let’s begin this little heart-to-heart with a confession. I’ll go first 😉

I dropped out of school. To be more specific: I dropped out of kindergarten!

No, I’m not joking. I started going to school when I was 2½ years old (after being taught basic early childhood literacy skills at home) – but, I quit after a year! One day, I came home and told my parents that I didn’t want to go back to school. The story goes that I was bored and my intellect wasn’t being challenged. In my 3-year-old words, “Everyday I’m learning A-B-Cs!” My parents checked my notebook and saw the evidence. So, for the next year or so, my mother and aunt continued my education with a variety of activities at home, at the Hope Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Then, all the way through primary school, I ended up skipping grades because I was out-performing my classmates. But, by the time I started high school (at age 10), I finally surrendered to the boredom of not being challenged by my teachers. Mediocrity became my normal.

However, my mother felt obligated to pass on her addiction for ‘time-travelling through the printed page’ to my siblings and I. She bought us books on top of books – every room was a mini library. Plus, she would give us reading assignments during the school year and then double the load when we were on holidays. I also had these hardcover notebooks that I had to fill with all sorts of writing assignments: book reviews, creative writing compositions, research essays, letters to the editor, and even poetry. She never gave me a chance to feel bored, but if I did, she would tell me, “Go and read a book!” I doubt she had a big dream or master plan, but she developed her own little curriculum for us children.

I could continue by detailing my mother’s methodology for supplementing the public and private school educations that my siblings and I were afforded. Instead, I’ll share with you the reasons you and I should be doing the same for our children, because unfortunately, we have forgotten that, “Home is the first school”. We have blindly handed over the job of shaping of the minds and futures of our children to the government. Yet, the truth remains unchanged: we need to take full responsibility for the education and empowerment of our children. We cannot expect the mainstream school system to shape and mould our children into the purposeful, dream-driven and empowered individuals they need to be. So, the burden lies squarely on our backs, as parents, to hew and polish our little diamonds in the midst of this rough world.

Yes, I know the reality – that we all can’t educate our children at home on a full-time basis. Many of us will still have to rely on mainstream schooling for various reasons. But, we all can be supplemental homeschoolers – just like my mother was. Supplemental homeschooling, also known as after-schooling or part-time homeschooling does not require a lot of time or effort, but produces significant, long-term results! We don’t need to purchase special curriculums or be trained teachers. A child will learn a lot through self-discovery if we guide them through well-selected reading material, assign a wide variety of writing projects and grab as many opportunities for goal-oriented recreational activities. From reading books about black inventors and scientists, to designing mini-magazines displaying the geometric designs unique to African hair styles, from writing book reports on the wonders of melanin, to debating the importance of having entrepreneurship as a school subject, the topics and activities are limitless! Just start with the first book and see how simple yet empowering this journey can be.

By homeschooling, we will give our children roots and wings! They will be grounded because they know themselves and understand their potential for greatness. We will empower them to shine and reinforce that they can succeed at anything they set their minds to. So, let us establish new family traditions and give our children more than the bare essentials they’re offered at school. Let us make the effort to be engaged in activities that can nurture our children’s gifts and strengthen their weaknesses. At the end of the day, we brought them into this world so we shouldn’t leave them to battle this world alone. Let us hold their hands until they can stand on their own. Let us school our children in our homes.

Didan Ashanta is a natural living enthusiast who blogs at DidanAshanta.com. She currently lives in Tokyo with her husband and 9-month-old daughter.

Didan Ashanta

About Didan Ashanta

Didan Ashanta is the author of "Jamaican Green Smoothies" and a LifeDesigner who blogs about eating your way to vibrant health at DidanAshanta.com. A native of Jamaica, she currently lives in the Tokyo, Japan with her husband and 3-yr-old daughter.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    I think this is a great idea! And the idea that it is part-time makes it seem a lot more attainable to most parents. I just came from Facebook where I was having a debate with some friends about yet another measure to increase school funding on the ballot where I live. As soon as people recognize that throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to solve it–the better off we’ll be.

    As the saying goes, “The system was never broken–it was built this way.” I think that is especially true when talking about schools.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      I’m thrilled that you’ve grasped the concept, myblackfriendsays. This means that you can enlighten and empower more of our sisters to be intentional about educating their children. Thanks, sis.

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  • LibraryLady

    Great advice to give! It’s funny, when I chose not to put my son in pre-school, and just teach him at home, along with his sister, there were several people who felt that the children should be in Pre-K instead so they could learn and socialize.

    My thoughts were, what could a Pre-K teacher be teaching my children that I can’t? Before staying at home I was an English and Reading teacher, and knew how to teach reading.

    Now, if we were talking about high school level math. . . that’s another story! 🙂

    But, it is very important for parents to take the time to teach their children, even their smallest ones. It amazes me how much little children pick up when we just put forth the effort to teach them.

    If parents do nothing else, African American mothers should try to teach and encourage their children to learn their history, because THEY WILL NOT LEARN IT AT SCHOOL!!! That’s for sure! Not beyond the realm of the Civil Rights movement and slavery.

    And, teaching life skills is super important, such as the value of money, how to manage money, etc. There is so much for parents to teach even if it’s not an “academic” subject.

    Thank you for the enlightening article!

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    • http://treesalldance.wordpress.com Dee

      Too funny that you had that experience when you decided to forego preschool for your kids. I got the same type of push back when I decided not to send my third child. He’s now a third grader and I believe that his time at home was more beneficial that preschool would’ve been for him.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      Thanks for sharing your experience, LibraryLady! You have highlighted two of my favourite areas to focus on: African history and life skills. As my fellow Jamaican, Mutabaruka said, “Slave is not African history. Slavery interrupted African History.”

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  • http://treesalldance.wordpress.com Dee

    I completely agree. I’ve always advocated doing supplementary “work” with kiddos in some shape or form. Sure, my children go to school, but their education doesn’t begin and end at the school doors. We have a home filled with books, try to regularly visit museums and attend cultural events, do art and craft projects together and explore our area. My mom did the same thing for my brother and I as kids and the best of my childhood memories involve the time we spent learning new things *outside* of the classroom.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      You know exactly what I’m campaigning for, sis! Keep doing an awesome job at equipping your children for a bright future.

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  • Angele

    Great read! I think this is a must, especially for Black parents. There is so much more kids need to learn that is not a part of the mainstream curriculum.

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  • http://beeyondabc.blogspot.com Faith

    Great article. I also practice supplemental homeschooling. I call it non-exclusive homeschooling, but mine requires lots of effort, because my child’s not getting much from school at all. It’s hard, but thanks for the affirmation that the effort is worth while.

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  • leslie johnson

    I choose to homeschool seven years ago when experiences with public and private schools did not address my children’s learning styles. I can not put into words the joy I have experienced with teaching my youngest from kindergarten to 4th grade currently and my two highschoolers. We are our children’s first teachers and who better to educate them but someone who is emotionally invested in their success.

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  • Nedivah

    I home school 3 and at one time all six of our kids were being educated at home. Education begins with the parents. In the time it take many children to complete homework and additional task from the teacher, my thought was I can home school. So, I did. I enjoy being able to give them more information to learn then the school has. We take field trips, have time for more sports and other activities with kids their age. It’s not something everyone is able to do full time. I feel blessed to have our kids home to receive top notch education.

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  • http://brownmamas.com CC. Mena

    I love your website. Thank you for talking about this. I’ve been feeling really guilty about not homeschooling and have decided to start this part-time home school program. I will definitely be taking your advice.

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  • http://MyNaturalReality.com Tiffany

    This teacher supports your message. My dad raised me like this and while I didn’t like it then, I’m a better person and a harder worker because of the skills he instilled in me before I cared.

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  • Youngin girl 1

    Your blog doesn’t come up on Bglh.com anymore but I like your blog and your threads. You highlight important topics and your a leader because it can’t be impossible to not have a few women gaining advice from you. I was taught and exposed to Martin Luther king and Rosa Parks in Elementary at the cafeteria. I was exposed to slavery stories and videos in 8th or 7th grade; I’m not sure. That’s all I knew but I was very interested in history when I was younger and I watched the Ruby Bridges movie so many times. I didn’t start getting into the deepening of my history until I watched the root of our problems caused by generations of European teachings passed down. That’s when it took me to the positive stories of my history. I didn’t start learning this until I was 17.

    I’ve been learning a lot since I graduated 12th grade. I have never had a problem with who I was. I will admit that I use to claim being mixed. But who haven’t claimed something they are not? I stopped doing that a long time ago like 3 years ago. I was asked if I was mixed and I told her I was half Cherokee. I’ve learned from that though. I didn’t feel any loathe about myself but I didn’t think claiming to be mixed was brainwashing. I’m only 18 and I am still learning. I don’t think I want kids of my own; too much pain but I would like to adopt children. Great article.

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    • Didan Ashanta

      I’m so happy to see a young, sister assessing life in such a mature way. I really appreciate how you have taken the time to apply the different lessons you’ve learnt so that you can better tackle the different issues that comes with living in this time. If you keep it up, we can expect great things from you.

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