Words by: Victoria Jones
This is a sponsored blog post. A version of this article originally appeared on Curriculum and Culture.
If you’re a Black parent reading this post, you are probably already familiar with the many ways in which the traditional school system fails Black children. I don’t need to tell you about the lack of resources and experienced teachers in majority-Black schools or educate you on the school-to-prison pipeline. You also don’t need to hear any more stories about encounters with racist teachers or the erasure of our stories from the history books. You already know all of these things, which is why you may have decided to homeschool your child in the first place.
Choosing the right curriculum for your homeschooled child is a MAJOR decision, and I’m sure you didn’t pull your kids out of the traditional school system just to end up teaching them with a white-washed curriculum at home. What no one tells you is that a Black-centered homeschool curriculum is one of the keys to cultivating eager, inspired, and self-confident Black scholars.
A Black-centered homeschool curriculum, sometimes called Afrocentric or African-centered, is special because it incorporates our culture and points of view. It can look like reading workbooks that feature Black children with natural hairstyles and relatable names, or history books written from our perspective. Youtube videos and documentaries about our stories and traditions count, too. When discussing a Black-centered homeschool curriculum, it’s important to note that the emphasis on ‘blackness’ is about empowerment rather than separatism – it’s about educating Black kids in a way that allows them to see themselves reflected in what they learn.
Why Black-Centered Homeschool Curriculum is Important
In 1939, Kenneth and Mamie Clark did an experiment with dolls to find out how Black children felt about race. Each child was given a set of dolls and asked a series of questions. When asked which doll was nice and pretty, the Black children overwhelmingly picked the white doll. When asked which doll was bad and ugly, they picked the Black doll. Some of the children even refused to answer and started crying when asked to pick the doll that looked most like them. Even when a similar experiment was repeated decades later, Black children still demonstrated anti-blackness when given the choice between Black or white dolls. These findings demonstrate just how damaging it is for Black children to live in a racist society.
Black children are surrounded by messages that equate being Black with being ugly, undesirable, and less worthy. We must flood their brains with positive images of blackness in order to counteract self-hate and internalized racism. To do this, parents must point out the beauty in their child’s Black features, teach them about the incredible lives of Black historical figures, read books and watch movies with amazing Black characters, and incorporate a Black-centered curriculum into their homeschools. It is critical that our children see themselves represented in a positive way, which is why using a Black-centered homeschool curriculum is so important.
How to Choose High-Quality Curriculum
Choosing a high-quality homeschool curriculum doesn’t have to be a challenge. Before you begin your search, you need to know the following 4 things:
What your state laws require
Every state has different homeschool laws, and some of them require teaching particular subjects. Before you purchase or create your curriculum, be aware of your state’s requirements.
What you want your child to learn
Make a list of all the things you want your child to learn for the year. As you research different curriculum, consult your list to make sure that you are getting what you really need instead of impulsively buying something that looks cool.
Which learning method works best for your child
If your child can’t go five-minutes without dancing, wiggling, or doing cartwheels, a curriculum that requires them to sit still for hours is NOT going to work. If your child likes to move around (most kids do), choose a curriculum that incorporates movement and hands-on activities. If you do purchase a workbook, make sure that it is colorful and engaging.
What your child is interested in
I probably should have listed this at #1, but it is SUPER important to know what your child is interested in and select at least some of their curriculum based on those interests. A child who loves the outdoors will be much more engaged in a nature-based science curriculum than one about zoo animals.
With this information in hand, finding a curriculum will be a breeze. If you’re looking for a reading curriculum for grades K-4, Curriculum and Culture has you covered. There are also several lists of Black homeschool resources and Facebook groups with thousands of members to help guide you on your search.
You do, however, need to keep the following things in mind:
More expensive isn’t always better
A high-quality curriculum doesn’t have to be expensive. A very popular homeschool curriculum (I won’t name names) costs hundreds of dollars and is honestly not very good (in my opinion as an educator.) Instead of equating a high price to high-quality, read reviews and view samples of the curriculum to determine if it’s any good. You should also utilize free resources online and at your local library.
Quality is more important than quantity
You don’t need three boxes full of materials for each subject. Trust me when I say that buying too much stuff will do nothing but make you feel frustrated and overwhelmed. A few high-quality resources are all you need.
You don’t have to teach everything yourself
My boys are still young, but I’m already planning on enrolling them in a local science program when they are older. Why do experiments and dissect dead animals with them myself when I already know that it isn’t my thing? There is no shame in outsourcing if you need to.
Everything won’t be centered around blackness, and that’s ok
Please don’t feel conflicted if you can’t find a Black-centered curriculum that teaches your child Mandarin. Just use what’s available and try to incorporate a Black-centered curriculum in other areas.
Homeschooling your Black child will probably be one of the most courageous things you’ve ever done. Find a Black-centered homeschool curriculum, such as Curriculum and Culture, utilize your support system, and have FUN! I wish you well on your journey!