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Homeschooling and parenting

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There are a multitude of reasons why you may want to consider homeschooling your children beyond our nation’s present health crisis. Perhaps your child has an underlying health condition, which means that COVID-19 will always be a potential threat. Maybe you’d like to have more control over what your children learn each day. Maybe racial biases held by teachers and administrators in your district have led to unfair treatment of one or all of your children. For Stephanie Carter, author of Trials and Successes: Effective Teaching and Learning at Home, the decision was made when she came to recognize that the unique personalities and learning styles of her two sons might make learning in a traditional setting challenging.

“Well, I just saw from the very, very beginning that my children thought differently, just conceptually and the way they interact,” Carter told MadameNoire. “Particularly, my youngest son was very hyper at that time. At first, he was diagnosed with ADHD and I was like, ‘No, it’s not that. Unfortunately, they automatically just diagnose little Black boys this way if they’re a little hyper. And so he got retested and turns out he’s high functioning on the autism spectrum.

“I was just like not sure about how they would be treated, especially my youngest son. I did not wanna medicate him or anything like that. So that’s when I began looking into homeschooling. We also wanted to do homeschooling to expose our children to an Afrocentric education and to know more of the achievements of Black people all year round, not just in February. Now, we’ve been doing it for eleven years. My, my oldest son is in tenth grade. He’s 15. My youngest is in eighth grade and he’s 13. They’re doing very, very well. So I definitely believe that was the best choice.”

Like many other Black moms, you may have been curious about removing your child from the traditional school setting for quite a while, but some misconceptions may have deterred you. Here are some of the more common myths we’d like to debunk:

It’s not possible to home school special education students

Homeschooled special education students are generally able to receive services and specialized learning plans just as they would if they attended traditional public schools.

“Instead of IEP (Individualized Education Program), they’re called the SEP, which is student educational plan,” Carter explained. “So it’s basically a written plan of the accommodations that you might be able to receive from a local school system. It depends on the jurisdiction, too. Some jurisdictions allow homeschooled children with special needs to actually get services from the local school system. Others require you to actually have them enrolled in the school system and others are like a hybrid when half of the time they spend at a home, half the time spent in the schools.”

Homeschooled children can’t take state exams

Though standardized tests catch a bad rap, depending on how they’re used, they can serve as a helpful benchmark for educators in regard to student progress. While some may assume that state exams are unavailable to students who homeschool, that is actually not the case. While some states require homeschooled students to take achievement exams, other states make it optional.

“You have the choice to take standardized tests,” Carter shared. “Personally, I do not. I’ve had my son take a standardized test maybe like once in his life in sixth grade. A lot of parents like to do that to see if the children are on par, but it is not a requirement, at least not where I am in the state of Maryland.”

You have to be an expert in every subject
“You do not need to know everything,” Carter emphasized. “For instance, I’m teaching my son geometry this year. Okay, I hated geometry in school. I did not do well in geometry but I was determined to make sure that I learned and understood. It seemed like when I’m, teaching him I’m also learning as well.”
You have to teach every subject
“As a homeschooling parent, you can be the principal. You can be the administrator of your home school, meaning that you don’t have to teach a child everything,” Carter went on. “That’s why you do online classes. My son took a Japanese class online last year. I’m not going to teach him Japanese. So you know, you can either try to do it yourself. You can look for something online. I use this program called Outschool, which is a great program. It’s almost like an Amazon for classes. You look through the class and enroll your child. There’s a whole bunch of different subjects to choose from. Another thing is to use what’s called homeschool co-op which is basically when homeschoolers come together and attend classes together. Most of those classes are taught by parents or by a subject-matter expert.”
Homeschooling will make your child socially awkward.
“Socialization doesn’t only happen at school,” said Carter. “One of the things that can combat that is homeschool co-ops. There’s a lot of classes that happen during the day if you check your local parks and recreation. Community colleges or libraries have classes for homeschoolers during the day because we have flexible schedules. Also, allow for playtime as well. Homeschoolers do a lot of playdates. That’s the biggest misconception.”
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