If your child has ever been the only black/brown person in a room, or if you have struggled to connect with the other moms (who do not share similar physical characteristics) at homeschool events… The chances are that you already understand why the black/brown homeschool experience is well…different.
From the moment we (black/brown families) decide to homeschool, we embark upon a journey filled with experiences that may not always mirror most other homeschoolers. But, we press on because we understand that just because our adventure is different, that does not mean that it will be less valuable.
In fact, many of us homeschool because we see the value in creating an academic, emotional, and social space that deviates from “the norm.”
We fill our homeschool days with academically solid content, rich stories about our history, moments to spark curiosity, and confidence-building opportunities. We try our best to ensure that our children get what they need to feel safe and loved. Of course, we create tons of beautiful moments just like other homeschool families, but still, some things are different.
Why is this kind of post important?
In our nation’s current state, it is more important than ever to, at minimum, be able to have open discussions.
For families who have never experienced any of these issues, I hope this post encourages you to become more sensitive, enlightened and motivated to learn and support homeschool families whose experiences are different from yours.
For families who do share these experiences, I hope this post leaves you feeling heard, seen, and appreciated. I also want you to understand that you are not alone on your journey.
My goal is not to cause division or single out a particular group of people. Instead, I hope that we will all come to the same conclusion…homeschooling is a beautiful, yet challenging journey for all of us who are brave enough to embark on it. Still, some homeschool families experience more significant issues.
Imagine for a second how homeschooling would be if we were indeed all members of homeschool communities where these challenges are nonexistent.
Wouldn’t that be amazing!
Keep reading to find out how the black/brown homeschool experience is different…
#1 Let’s start with our reasons for homeschooling, aka our “whys.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of my family’s story.
I have always been a thorough researcher when it comes to products and services. I read ALL the reviews I can find before making big decisions.
After retiring from the military, we moved to a new area a few years ago. Like many parents, we selected our neighborhood based on the school ratings of the area. I was laser-focused in my quest to find the “perfect” school for my children.
And I found it…or so I thought!
It seemed like each day bought about another phone call or email about my children’s actions. Indeed, they could not have been the only students who did not perfectly follow the rules.
Maybe it was easy to see when they did something “wrong” because there were no other children in their classes that looked like them.
My children were frustrated, and so was I. How could all of the reviews be so wrong? Why did my children have a less than stellar experience at this “perfect” school?
At the end of the school year, my family decided that it would be best to withdraw from the school and embark on our homeschool journey.
I’ll be honest and admit that my main reason for homeschooling (at first) was not to provide my children with an amazingly tailored education—my initial homeschooling “why” was because I needed to restore my children’s joy of learning and confidence.
Unfortunately, this story is not exclusive to my family. Countless other families have encountered similar (or worse) issues. Disappointment, frustration, and in some cases, fear was their homeschool “why.”
#2 Let’s talk about co-ops.
The idea of a co-op is excellent! These magical places allow homeschool families to gather, share resources, foster relationships, and provide a more expanded academic and social experience. In some cases, they also provide an avenue for parents to take a much-needed break.
Lots of black/brown families desire to be members of co-ops. We want to be a part of a community where we fit in.
Where we are not just tolerated but entirely accepted.
We want places where our children can play just as freely as other children and where our moms/dad feel “seen, heard, and understood.”
But many co-ops fail to provide this experience, which leaves us with a choice. We either “overlook” some of the issues that make us uncomfortable, or we walk away.
Sadly, leaving the co-op group is the only way to bring peace and joy back to the lives of some homeschooling families.
Challenge #3: Curriculum.
Homeschool families diligently seek resources to fit the needs of their scholars. But what happens when the books rated “perfect” by most homeschool families fail to meet the needs of the black/brown family?
Have you ever cringed at specific passages in your scholar’s academic resources, especially history? I know I have!
Most families seek academic resources that are engaging and that work best for their scholars’ learning styles.
Black/Brown families have an additional challenge: finding culturally, historically, and morally accurate resources. We look for books and other resources that reflect the truth and allow our children to “see” themselves.
Most big boxed curriculum fails when it comes to telling stories of black/brown history. Essential details are glossed over, presented inaccurately, or omitted. This leaves us scrambling to find supplemental information so that our children get a more authentic picture.
#4 Unicorn Status.
For years (and even now), it seems like Black/brown homeschool families are like unicorns–mysterious and rare.
Okay, so am I the only person who gets excited about seeing another black/brown homeschool family?
Homeschooling, at times, can feel very lonely. It is uncommon to see other families who look like us at activities. In addition, publications, curriculum, and products rarely show our faces or share stories from our perspective.
It sometimes appears that there are not many black/brown homeschoolers, but that is not accurate.
“Black/Brown families who homeschool are not mythical creatures. We do exist!”
–Alfrea Riley Moore
Many families are people of color who homeschool. In fact, due to the recent COVID 19 pandemic, there are more black/brown families homeschooling than ever.
#5 Our life lessons are different.
Some homeschool families can spend countless hours studying the classics. In addition, many homeschool educators spend time teaching their children about entrepreneurship and about being responsible citizens.
Black/brown families do these things too, but there are some lessons we teach our scholars that are unique.
We must teach our children to keep their hands out of their pockets in stores, always get a receipt when making a purchase, and not “look” suspicious. We have to remind our children that they must always be respectful to those in authority and follow the rules as closely as possible.
Many homeschool families hope that the lessons they provide will help their children grow up to be highly successful adults, but for many black/brown families, the hope is that we teach our children enough to allow them to make it home safely.
As you can see, the black/brown homeschool experience is…different.
Our homeschool “whys,” struggles with co-ops, curriculum, unicorn status, and life lessons may not mirror other homeschool families.
But as much as we are different, we all want the same thing: to give our children the best possible homeschool experience and to raise them to be great human beings.
In closing, here is a challenge for you: Spend some time getting to know a homeschool family who does not “look like” your homeschool family. Learn about their challenges and find ways that you are more alike than different.
I bet you have more things in common than you think!
Sometimes having tough conversations is necessary. To read more about how to have tough conversations with your children, check out this post:
Also, please sign up to receive our newsletter so that you won’t miss any of the valuable information that we share. We would love to have you as a member of our homeschool community!