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African-American Homeschoolers, Breaking the PS Mindset

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, January 21, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 6 January 21, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!


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Notes from Heather
-- Black Families Homeschooling
Resource Review
-- Traditional Logic
Reader Question
-- Breaking the PS Mindset
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I thought it would be fitting
to share something about the growing movement of black families who
are choosing to enjoy true freedom in homeschooling their children.


Black Families Homeschooling - A Dream Realized

I was reading an article that was written about this time last
year by Jennifer James, the director of the NAAHA (National
African-American Homeschoolers Alliance):

"The black homeschooling movement is just beginning to take shape.
Fifty years ago, little did we suspect that black families would
today be exiting the public schools in growing numbers to embrace
other means of education. While we all acknowledge and appreciate
the sacrifices made by those who worked in the Civil Rights Move-
ment, we also recognize that now is a new time in America's educa-
tional landscape. While homeschooling may be picking up steam in
our community, the great majority of black children are still
educated in the public schools. Though we don't believe that
public education is wrong for all black children, we know from our
own experience, and from the experiences of other black families,
that there are other ways of learning. Many black families across
the nation are finding this to be true, and I'm sure others will
as well. Now, as our daughters grow and learn every day, Michael
and I are even more convinced that we have made the right choice
for our family and for our daughters' educational futures. We
have equipped them with a true and unwavering love for learning
that has been made possible by homeschooling...

... After speaking with hundreds of families across the country, I
learned that blacks homeschool for the same reasons as other fami-
lies, as well as for a unique set of reasons that do not apply to
other races. For example, homeschooling is one way black children
in America can gain true educational parity."

Wow. She is SO right! Homeschoolers of all races and colors are
on equal ground so far as our ability to steer the direction of our
children's educations in the way we see fit.

I think if the Reverend King were alive today, he'd agree. We have
freedom at this moment in time -- in education -- that may never be
realized in a mass public school situation, no matter how much it
is struggled for. Black *homeschoolers*, however, have fulfilled a
part of the realization of his awesome dream of freedom. :-)

Blessings to ALL our freedom-loving readers on this historic day!

-- Heather

PS. Here is the link to Jennifer's website and articles by her:



Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Resource Review

Traditional Logic

Author: Martin Cothran
Publisher: Memoria Press

For more information or to order: www.memoriapress.com


"Just to set the record straight from the very beginning, I must
confess to you that prior to reviewing Traditional Logic, I had
no experience at all with Latin, logic or any of the other 'tradi-
tional' classical studies. I found the Traditional Logic text
challenging - in a good way - and easy to understand, for even
a novice such as myself. Traditional Logic Book I is an intro-
duction to the study of formal logic. There are 15 lessons, which
are designed to be taught in one day through the reading of the
text, with the student completing four days of exercises related
to the material presented in the lesson. Through these exercises
the student has the opportunity to re-read the lesson and then
write answers as they are found in the text. They then do exer-
cises to apply what has been learned by creating scenarios using
the principles presented in the lesson.

Traditional Logic was written with homeschoolers in mind --
including those that have no prior experience with the subject.
This course works well in a co-op situation. In fact, the material
is regularly used in classroom settings. However, it is not
necessary for you to find or form a class in order to use this
course. The systematic, step-by-step presentation makes it ideal
for students to learn independently as a self-study course..."


Editor's Note:

This review is continued in-depth at Cindy's website, which is
well worth visiting for all the great reviews and products she
hand-picks to offer! Unfortuately, we didn't have room for it
all in this issue due to the amount of answers for our reader
question. But I *highly* recommend Logic as a math course before
graduation -- and recommend you finish reading the review here:


Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am in the second year of homeschooling my 7th grade daughter.
I am having a very difficult time getting rid of the 'public
school' mindset -- where it says she should be doing 'this' at
this time and should be 'here' by this age, etc. I tend to use
the textbook approach... do a lesson, have a test, next lesson,
etc. However it has always been a battle. She shows no sign of
caring about the quality of her work, she doesn't want to apply
herself -- and when the test comes, she fails it (according to
curriculum standards) and we get nowhere. It seems strange to me
that she does not want to learn or progress. How do I not get
hung up on 'where she should be' and worry about her getting behind,
and just teach in a way she will want to learn? Do I get rid of
the textbooks? I still have a feeling, especially at this level,
that she *should* be doing certain things. How much do I push?
Thanks for your help." -- Mari in Illinois

Our Readers' Responses

"First, keep in mind that your daughter is now entering the wonder-
ful world of teen-ager-hood. She will, by nature, not want to
care about the things that are important to you... like applying
herself to her studies. And the more you push her to care about
how much she applies herself, the more she will dig in her heels
and not care. She may, in her mind, have already crossed the line
into thinking that you are just like her teachers in public school.
You use the same textbook approach, you use the same teaching style
(lesson then test), you demonstrate the same frustration with her
attitudes that her old teachers did... so, to her, you are the same.
School is the same. The only change that you have made is in the
location. A change in your approach to schooling may truly be
needed. If she were my daughter, I would set aside all the text-
books except math and spelling. I would talk to your daughter
and find out what she is interested in studying. Explore each
subject... science, reading and literature, creative writing,
social studies, history, art, etc. Find out where her interests
are. Children, including teen-agers, are naturally curious, and
most really want to learn. But sometimes the expectations of
parents keep them in a cramped style of learning just to meet some
arbitrary standards. If you strive to develop a creative atmos-
phere -- an atmosphere that allows your child to discover the world
around her -- she will begin to enjoy her schooling, and learning
the needed subjects will just be a by-product. Discovery of the
world we live in and creating a love of learning is one of the
goals we homeschoolers are all about. We see how sterile the
public school learning has become. We want something more for our

Now, this in not to say that there aren't subjects that aren't all
that exciting to a child that still need to be studied. But when
that is only one subject, like English Grammar, it is easier to get
a child motivated to get through the boring subjects and onto the
ones that they enjoy more. Some kids will just whine a lot about
doing things they don't want to do, and that is the time that a
parent has to be a little hard-hearted. But eventually they will
begin to understand that sometimes one must do work that isn't all
that entertaining.

Your daughter may excel in a video school instead of the approach
you are using. If something doesn't seem to be working (and this
is after giving any curriculum/approach a fair shake) don't be
afraid to look into something different. Remember your objective:
to create an atmosphere that allows her to discover the world
around her. Keep trying different things. Get her input. Listen.
Research. There are answers out there; don't give up and just put
her back in public school.

Developing an atmosphere that allows a child to discover the world
around her will take time on your part. You may have to study
parts of a subject yourself in order to know how to turn on your
daughter's interest. You may find some time spent reading books
on unit studies helpful. You may want to talk with other home-
school parents in your area, take a look at their curriculum, see
how they have handled challenges similar to yours. The time you
invest is well worth the payoff at the end. Believe me, I know.
I have been homeschooling since 1985 with 5 now graduated from
homeschool. Only 5 left to go!

But most importantly remember: God gave you this child. He led
you to homeschool. He has a way for her to learn. Hang in there!"
-- Kay I. in Texas


"Dear Mari -- I also have a 7th grader (boy) and 5th and 1st grade
girls. I've been homeschooling from the beginning. I have an
education degreee so it was very natural to teach the way I had
been taught to teach. We ALL hated it!!! I'm also a curriculum
junkie (in recovery) so I've tried lots of things. A friend sug-
gested 'Learning Adventures'. We LOVE it!!! It includes every-
thing you need except a typing class and Math. We do Math U See.
It is a Unit Study approach with each days lesson listed. If
you've just started homeschooling then give yourself and her some
time to unschool. Do lots of hands on stuff. Maybe you both
can learn a new skill (sewing, knitting, rug making, etc.). I
hope this helps." -- Tiffany in Missouri


"I have a couple of thoughts in regard to your question about
your 7th grade daughter and homeschooling. I have found that
it is a good idea to find out just what my children enjoy and
are interested in -- and work from that place -- and put curri-
culum (not textbooks) around that. That sometimes means we
leave textbooks behind and use other things to help them in the
area that we think they need to go using what they are gifted
in -- or use living books rather than textbooks. For example,
I used Joy Hakim's 'The Story of US' for history. It is fairly
easy to see when they are interested in 'why' something happened
-- or who someone was -- like my girls' interest in the Revolu-
tionary War and the issue of slavery and the Civil War. They
started asking questions and that brought me to taking them to
the library where we could check out books about Harriet Tubman
and Harriet Beecher Stowe. If I want to know what they have
learned I can either have them write a report or we sit and
talk about what they learned. For science we started using a
book called 'Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation' by Dennis R.
Petersen -- it opened up a whole new interest in science.

There is a website called 'Homeschool Oasis' that has helped me.

They have a lot of information and I would encourage you to take
some time and read through some of her articles. One of my
daughters really liked using textbooks but the other two did
better as I allowed them to focus on their interests -- and then
we worked from that. One thing I found with textbooks is that
they do not allow a child to go deeper into their own interests
and in public school they were not encouraged to ask about things
or question what they read. My girls ask a lot of questions now
because they know they *can* -- and it always leaves the door
open to more talking and sharing ideas and opinions -- and some-
times they share a little more of their hearts. The beauty of
it is that I get to see more and more of *who* my child really
is, what she loves, what bothers her, and what is boring to her.
I wish you the best!" -- Lori


"Mari -- the advice I give to all new homeschoolers with children
coming from the public school setting is to relax. These children
have had the love of learning stamped out of them, leaving them
burned out and exhausted.

My recommendation is for every year that she was in school, take
at least 2 weeks off of all 'school'. Sixteen weeks in your case
sounds like forever, doesn't it? What is that in the face of
restoring her love of learning? During that time, reconnect with
her on other levels. Read out loud, go to the park, watch a good
movie, cook and bake together. As you do these things, re-educate
yourself about learning and education. Reading out loud intro-
duces new worlds, new vocabulary (language arts and cultures?).
Going to the park is physical activity (P.E.?). Watching a good
movie (fine arts?); cooking (math and home economics). Doing
these things are 'real life'. A math test or comprehension test
for a reading selection is not something you do in the real world.

Open your (and her) eyes to the great big wonderful world we live
in and begin to enjoy life. Set aside formal learning for a time
and see if you need to pick it up again later.

You will find that she will sprout and and blossom with time.

I am so excited for the adventure that you are about to embark
on together!

Also, a great reading list to use as a resource is the SonLight
catalog. I used it for several years without purchasing the curri-
culum because they did such a wonderful job of making a list of
quality books by age/readiness level. I did eventually take the
plunge and purchase the whole thing but I just used it as a
resource for several years. It's a great place to start and much
easier than pawing through the shelves at the library to find the
'buried treasures'. Good luck and God bless!" -- Cheryl in Oregon


"Hi, Mari -- I too was worried when I pulled my daughter out of
public school how I was going to get her interested in school
again. I knew that textbooks weren't going to work; she is bipolar
and AD/HD, and sitting a desk was half of her problem. Then a
friend recommended KONOS to me. It is a wonderful hands-on char-
acter based unit study program. You have to give up the idea that
your child must learn state history in 6th grade and so on, but if
you go with the program both you and your child will have a fun
time learning. KONOS does not cover math and language arts so you
will have to supplement, but there are plenty of chances for
writing with KONOS. Check it out and see if it might fit in with
your family. They also have a online teaching support group. I
joined in for one semester, the minimum commitment, but quit after
that because my daughter just had a hard time absorbing the
material at the pace that they set. Joy and blessings!" -- Jessica


"Your letter really caught hold of me today. I just wanted to
encourage you to hold on to your vision. Why did you begin home-
schooling in the first place? We chose to homeschool because we
want to give our kids more than the public school can. We don't
copy the way that they teach kids because it doesn't work. The
school approach to education focuses on covering certain topics
by certain ages. Real education goes much deeper than simply
covering topics. Real education means working on something until
you know it. It doesn't matter what other kids of a certain age
know. It matters what your child knows. The time real learning
takes is different for each child. Using a textbook is a great
guide. There's nothing wrong with taking time to complete a sec-
tion or adding in more practice to help your child really 'get
it'. Accepting a 'C' grade is accepting mediocrity. We keep
working on things until they are able to do them well and they
show real understanding. That's when they get an 'A' and we move
on. There are loads of websites, activity books, computer pro-
grams, etc. to give more practice time. Libraries provide many
resources to learn more and come to really know a subject.
Field trips are a great reward and they really solidify learning
and bring it into the 'real world'.

One way to make learning matter is to connect it to real life.
School begins to mean something when the skills you are learning
are needed to complete a project. Connect learning to real life.
Then it's not 'schooling', it's living. Really concentrate on
losing the conception that 'kids who are (your child's age) know
certain things'. Determine where your child is at academically
and help them move forward. The most important thing about
school is learning. Simply make sure your child is learning and
moving forward. Also, remember that we as adults use certain
common basic skills like reading, writing, and math. We have a
basic knowledge in most of the other subjects and more special-
ized knowledge in our areas of interest (career, hobby). Really
work hard on the critical subjects like reading, writing, and
math. Give a basic introduction type coverage of the other
topics and help your child really develop and pursue areas of
interest. There is much more enthusiasm when they are learning
something they choose to know. We make the 'interest driven'
learning more school-like by writing a report based on what they
learn. Writing a report is an important skill. When they are
writing about something that interests them that makes it a
little more fun.

Don't worry so much about pushing your child to learn and begin
walking with your child and learning right along with them. Let
them watch you learn something. Work on a project together.
That way they will learn how to research something and then do
it. Learning is fun when it is connected to something that
matters. Is there a homeschool support group near you? Getting
involved would give you some support and your child may gain a
friend who is also learning outside of school." -- Alisha


"Mari, it sounds like you and your daughter could use some de-
schooling, a phrase I have heard that loosely refers to taking
time OFF from school and pursuing (or not) only subjects of
interest for awhile. My daughter is 6th grade this year. She
came out after 2nd grade, we did worktexts for third grade, and
she did not succeed like we both thought she should. I tried
harder in fourth grade, then for fifth grade I just stopped.
We ordered no curriculum, bought nothing, took no tests, learned
no spelling, and basically did not do school -- and yet she
learned more that year than ever before. Yes, I felt like at
times I was letting her down; that I was lost and didn't know how
to make her learn. One note -- I continued her math and grammar
that year (we use Saxon and Easy Grammar), because I couldn't
stand the thought that she would get behind in those areas.

I spent the year looking into what I might want to try. We did
little bits of this and that (mainly lapbooks or units she wanted
to do). We entered the science fair (she won the whole thing),
the spelling bee (won that too), and participated in our support
group's enrichment co-ops (this is where the lapbooks came in).

We came out of that year and into this one flying. We found a
science we liked, and she informed me she was finished with little
kids' science -- would I please get a serious program? So we
began Apologia General Science. We are doing the next step in
math. I found Amblesideonline.org, a fabulous site, and ordered
a bunch of books from the reading list for Year 6. We read
together, follow the science and math, and let the grammar and
the rest of language arts fall into the categories of 'reading
and writing across the curriculum'. In all, I think we found
what worked best for her (and for me as a teacher/parent).

I know people who use textbooks and love them. If it doesn't
work for you, try something else, or do summer school with a
method you think you might enjoy. Also, just as a side note,
we don't keep any grades or take any tests, with the exception
of the science. She learns the material, or she does it again.
Mastery of the simple stuff has to come before an attempt at
harder material, at least for our school ;-)." -- Anne

Answer our NEW Question

"I'm a mom to a bright 4-year-old who is learning French from me.
I earned my French degree from Indiana University. I've contacted
my college's French department, as well as both the Alliance
Française in New York and Chicago, to ask about a resource manual
with lesson plans for teaching French to toddlers. Recommendations
for a foreign language cable station, various websites for books
and DVDs, are the feedback I've gotten. What's frustrating is that
rather than jumping around between websites, I'd like to fine one
excellent site for all of my toddler teaching needs. Does it exist?

Early on, I'd made my own laminated French-English picture flash-
cards and my son's vocabulary is quite good. Now I want to immerse
him into the language and keep him challenged. Are there any sug-
gestions for a more organized lesson plan – on how to add structure,
variety, and entertained learning to my toddlers love of French?
Thank you!" -- Deborah


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Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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