The number of parents who homeschool their children is growing. There are many different ways that homeschooling can be accomplished. For some it is homeschooling, for others it is unschooling, and there is even road-schooling. This number is increasing in the African American community. According to an article in The Atlantic, in 2016, approximately 8 percent of homeschooled children are African American. The article further states that the number of African American students who were homeschooled tripled from 1999-2007. There are many reasons that African American families choose to homeschool—some do it because of the lack of quality schools in their community, others because of the educational bias exhibited among their children in schools. Whatever the reason, more and more African American parents are choosing to homeschool.
Kristal Davis, a Chicago mother of four (ages 15, 7, 4 and 2), started homeschooling her oldest child when he was continuously disciplined and labeled by a teacher as “a bad kid.” Though he was ranked second in his class and his grades and test scores were high, teachers refused to give him extra work to alleviate the fact that he was bored and finished with classwork.
Natasha Nicholes also a Chicago mother of four (ages 18, 9, and 8-year-old twins) chose to start homeschooling when she noticed that her oldest child was not thriving in a way she thought her child should. He too was a good student, passing his tests and making good grades but there was no fun in school for him. Nicholes also noticed that the teachers were not having a good time either. Her decision to start homeschooling came from not wanting to put her child in a climate where schools were run more like a business than a place of education. She says that she feels that learning should be fun, and it should be functional, but never a chore.
Ashley Marshall-Seward, mother of three (ages 12, 11 and 8), from Atlanta had different motivations. When her oldest was a toddler, she and her husband began to discuss school options. They noticed that their son was more advanced, and there were a lack of good school choices in their neighborhood. Charter schools were not in existence at that time and the cost of private school led them to consider homeschooling. Marshall-Seward, who believes that learning begins in the womb, has been homeschooling for 12 years now.
Of course, homeschooling is not without its critiques: what about curriculum, what about the children being academically on track with their peers, and what seems to be most important in today’s society, what about socialization? All of the mothers stated that none of these criticisms have any merit. As a matter of fact, due to the fact that their children are not limited to just interacting with their peers, homeschooled children, at least the children of these parents, are very socialized. Davis states that homeschooled kids, in her opinion, are comfortable interacting with any age group because they are not separated and interact with children of all ages. Marshall-Seward adds, “Most homeschooled children don’t lack social skills at all and can carry a conversation with various individuals of all ages. Homeschooled children meet up with friends, belong to clubs, and take classes (outside of the home). I usually have to dial back on the socialization because we are always on the go.”
The parents have different methods of choosing their curriculum. Curriculum is based on the educational needs of each child. For Nicholes, each of her children has a subject area that they excel in and she often allows them to be in charge of some of the things that they choose to study. Marshall-Seward builds her own curriculum specific to her children and uses books, workbooks, weekly classes that meet in person, the library, museums, parks and online programs to supplement the curriculum. All of the mothers stated that their curriculum is tailored to the needs of each child. Davis says, “I can have my 7 year old working on 4th grade math and 3rd grade science… the one-on-one attention gives my kids the opportunity to learn at a faster pace.”
Advantages to homeschooling vary for each of the families. All of the families said that the ability to make any location a classroom is one advantage. Nicholes says, “this fall we are taking an epic Route 66 road trip and we’re going to share things that we have learned in social studies units later. Being able to learn while doing and physically visiting the places and spaces that help solidify ideas is important in our household. Our ability to enjoy time in museums and other family spaces is greatly increased during times that schools are in session.”
Nicholes says, “I know that parents are out there doing what they have to do in order to make sure that their children are given the best, and learning each day. Our model just happens to look a bit different, but our values are the same as parents who choose to or have to put their children in brick and mortar schools.”
Davis says, “Homeschooling is the best decision I could’ve made for my family. My oldest son is now enrolled in high school full time. Have fun! The goal is to teach them to love learning.”
Ashley states, “Homeschool is way more popular now than when we started years ago. Homeschool takes dedication, time, and patience. It is not always an easy path to take because you may lack the support needed since it can be an unpopular decision. Homeschool is a very personal decision that can determine your child’s future so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
To research homeschool requirements for your state, go to https://hslda.org/content/laws/