Category Archives: Black Homeschool

Potatoes and Eggs

My SJ is a STEM girl through and through and I unfortunately am not.  I see I am going to have to keep up with programs and classes in our area as she gets older. Today she was asking to do an experiment. I really like to give them some room to participate in what we learn. Since there is no (or very minimal) common core directives for science in kindergarten this is a great place to let the kids flex their freedom.

First we defined experiment. SJ said it was trying something for the first time. KJ said its going faster and slower. Um….okay. I explained that an experiment is a test to see if something is true.

We decided to see what would happen if you boiled an egg. We also wanted to know what happens when you boil a potato. 

I let the kids handle both them state their hypothesis.  As you can see KJ though they would both be soft and SJ thought they would both end up hard. 

I let the kids prepare the experiment. The more hands on they are the more they retain. 

They waited a whole 20 minutes which is really long when you are 3 and 5. As soon as the potato was soft I removed it from the heat and put in on a plate to cool. 
The kids got to squeeze the potato and peel the egg. 

The kids were excited to see that the proteins in the egg bind together when heated and the starches in the potato break down. I then let them act it out. When I yelled protein they stuck together. When I yelled starch they ran away from each other. Both my kids have a hard time staying still and since science is at the end of our day I try to limit frustrations from all parties by keeping them up and moving as much as I can.  

We had cooked potato and cooked egg the natural progression was to let the kids make their own lunch. Potato salad! They loved being able to cook for themselves. 

All in all it was a great day!

State Testing

Why are test so stressful?! Today SJ’s education specialist from the charter school came by to give her a kindergarten assessment. So a few things happened.

First the ES per an earlier conversation was supposed to be here at 9am but she sends me a text at 8:50 asking if “can meet today?” Hint: She isn’t coming at 9 so we start our school day late because of course I spent the early morning running around cleaning, and getting the kids dressed.

**I have a confession, most days when we are not leaving the house I let my kids wear what they want. Today I picked their clothes with little protest from them because they were excited to have a visitor.**

So I start school late, get them through all but science and our ES comes at 11:30. In the previous post you can see we end our school day by noon because I have noticed that after that time it is very difficult to get my kids to sit still or listen to anything instructive. They prefer to go outside and play, go figure. So she shows up to test SJ who immediately goes into “what can I get away with” mode.

Now I’m frustrated, SJ is restless and the ES is ready to give her the assessment. She starts with asking SJ letters that are mixed up, SJ does good missing only one or two after declaring that she wanted to do something else.

She goes from what the letters are to how each letter sounds, same result. SJ is then presented with short vowel words and asked to sound them out. She does the first one, skips the next two and gets the fourth right. She doesn’t want to read the long vowel words at all and by the time we get to the sight words the only ones she wants to say is “a” and “is”.

So I am sitting there frustrated because my ability to teach my child is wrapped up in this assessment presented by an ES who has just met my child and has no idea how brilliant she is! I desperately need this affirmation so that I can  prove to the imaginary “perfect mom” in my head that I can best her. So here I am asking myself why this test was so important.

 See my identity is not wrapped up in what I do, how smart I am or how well my child scores on an assessment. My identity is wrapped in I Am and I homeschool my children not for my glorification but for His. I guess the test wasn’t for SJ at all. I hope I passed.

First Day of School!!!

Today was our first day of school!! I read these home school blogs where moms get up at 6 am have devotion time, make breakfast and start school all before 8 am. I admire those women and their ability to adult, let alone parent before the break of dawn but I am not that person.

So this is my schedule with the kids. I wake up carefully around 7:00 and try not to wake the AJ who sleeps with me to make nursing easier for us both. Once I successfully pry myself from my bed (I am not a morning person) I go into the kitchen, make my coffee and start breakfast (today I made pancakes with caramelized apples). By this time both SJ and KJ are up and on my heels. I feed them breakfast, talk to them about their dreams and whatever else the little people may come up with.

I then send them outside to play. I love sending them outside to play! They need the fresh air, imaginary, adventures and mommy needs some quiet time. Did I mention I am not a morning person. Well once they are in the groove of playing I finally get some quiet time with God, its about 7:45 now. I read the Bible, pray and I may read a devotion or book. Right now I am reading Rival by Lisa Bevere so far I love it.

I call them in at 8:45 to get their beds made by now the baby is up so its okay if they are loud. At 9:00 am school starts. We start with reading, geography, have a quick break then do math, science and history. Here is a look at our classroom.

This is one is the has the order of the day. 
At the bottom a string with clothespins hold their favorite pieces of work. 
It can be anything they are proud but they can only choose two I file away the rest of the work. 
SJ loves math and can tell time so she loved that I used clocks for our schedule during breakfast and throughout the day she made it a point to tell me what time each activity should start. 
She is also learning to read so the combination of the two is proving fruitful.

On the left side of the “Today Is…” chart are our super stars! Each star has the kids names on it and represents a subject we are going through. We have one for reading, math, science, history and geography. The last two subjects share a star. As the day goes on and we complete each subject the kids get to put a hang their star up. SJ is on the left, KJ is on the right. The kids love this because it helps them keep track of whats left to do for the day. They also are both very competitive so this way they work hard to get a star rather than to best the other. 
I wanted their classroom to be filled with historical pictures of people who look like them. 
They have had so much fun asking me questions about the various heroes on the wall and are inadvertently learning history in the process. 
I got both the posters and the timeline from School Specialty

I have a state and world map in my classroom (it was remounted after this picture to be flush with the wall). The kids loved hearing the story of how we came to live in California since we have gone through some other states. They also got to make their own flag today and tell me about their made up state which they thought was really fun. My map covers this bookshelf which houses all our homeschool stuff. I need to get more baskets so it could be a little more organized but the kids know where everything is. 
So far I have an… 
Art basket: colored tissue paper, glue, pipe cleaners, finger paint, chopsticks for the glue, and construction paper
A coloring basket: markers, crayons, pens, chalk, and pencils for some reason I also have play doh and a shower curtain in here. (The shower curtain makes for easy clean up when the kids play with the play doh.) 
A math games basket: tangrams, geoboards, string and beads for patterns and dot to dots
Mommy’s basket: curriculum books, and adult coloring books
The kids can access all but the top shelf any time they want. If they don’t want to play outside they can play games in the classroom. 

The last station is the math station. I have base ten blocks in the top drawer and the bottom drawer is where I store their work books. The basket below it houses a math card game, the clothespins from the previous post you can read about them here, flashcards and puzzles.

All this and I forgot to take pictures of the kids on their first day! 
I guess we will have to take second day of school pictures tomorrow. 

Planting Day!!!

We have not officially had our first day of school. I am still waiting for her school supplies from her charter school. Through the charter school I have funds allocated per semester to go towards school supplies and curriculum. This semester I ordered a lot of school supplies that I will be able to use for the next few years. Since the learning never really stops I am still doing fun teaching activities with the kids. 

Our family recently moved into a new home. Prior to that move I’d been buying various plants and seeds that we could put in a garden. The kids have been asking about these seeds but I kept putting it off. Well there was a loose pipe under the kitchen sink where I just so happened to store my seeds which caused my seed packets to be soaked through. So today became plant day, while daddy fixed the pipe. I’d asked my husband to put a cheap desk we’ve had for years outside. We then potted some rosemary, cilantro, dill and basil in pots. I have some pea seeds as well but I’m saving most of those for a pee tepee later on this fall. I did let the kids plant them in a baggie so we can watch it sprout. The baggies were then taped to the table to deter the kids from pouring out the seeds and dirt. 

After we planted the seeds the kids and I talked about what seeds need. I let them answer and ask me questions and found they new most of the basics. Even KJ (3) was able to answer questions about what plants need to grow and how all plants start. I’m hoping that as the kids see their seeds sprouts we can venture into photosynthesis and if we get SJ’s microscope in the next week or so we can even look at leaves on slides. This will naturally lead into the makings of a cell. I don’t want to push it to far. I want them to be able to understand some basic science terms though and science is all about exploration right?

The picture on the left is showing the sun, the run rays, and rain following onto the seed covered by the ground. That one is mine, I wanted them to use they materials in the art basket (shown on the table) to copy my picture to the best of their ability explaining what happens to a seed. 

They had fun. SJ did her own thing and put multiple seeds in her blue ground and KJ  tried to mimic exactly what I did. I love teaching these two!!

Puzzle Mat!

My kids love puzzles and I love saving money. At my last dollar store trip I found these awesome letter mats. I bought two one with animals and one with letters and numbers. I had the kids assemble it then KJ removed all the animals put them in a pile and put them back. This is great not only for his fine motor skills but also for his logic development.

As you can see he was pretty proud of himself for creating and completing his own learning activity. I am a firm believer that if you include kids in planning their activities then what they learn will stick. He also picks pretty good activities for a 3 year old.

Math Games

My little people LOVE numbers they did not get that love from me but it is a love I try to foster. I happened to find some clothespins at the dollar store. It came in a pack of 50 so I will have to go back for more to make an even 100. I took out all the clothes pins and added numbers to them, the kids loved them. The ASKED to play with the stuff I got from the store. It was only fair I oblige.

KJ added clothes pins to dots I drew on a circular cardboard cut out. I just did one through 8.

SJ decided she would work on her addition. We put the clothespins on the floor randomly so she also liked having to “hunt” for the right numbers.

Lastly we put the clothespins in order on our activity rug. The three of us worked on this with occasional help from K. SJ did most of the work and was proudest when we finished. I will be writing the numbers to 100 on some additional clothespins sometime this week. This was a few hours of math activity the kids enjoyed for a buck!

Types of Homeschool

While trying to navigate this sometimes overwhelming system I have learned there are many ways to start homeschooling.

1. Online Programs – Programs like K12.com allow you to work through the traditional school system but from home.
Pros: You child is on track with the state requirements, you have a teacher who you meet with weekly and your child learns from online daily. You are provided with all the materials you will need to teach from home including lesson plans.
Cons: Rigorous schedule, basic computer programs that kids may find boring, little room to deviate from plan. State testing (for those who want to avoid it), all forms including a record of vaccines or a religious exemption form.

2. Create your own school- Become a recognized charter school by the state, all you need to do is fill out a form and name yourself or whoever will be teaching the child as their teacher.
Pros: Complete control over what and when the student will learn, no testing, no vaccination records
Cons: No state testing may mean not being able to accurately track your students growth, must fund yourself, must provide own curriculum and lesson plans.

3. Public Charter Schools- Allow you to choose your curriculum as well as allowing you to choose what school materials you want to order.
Pros: Your tax dollars pay for your school supplies, the school has a per child per semester budget for you to use on approved school supplies. You pick the curriculum and design the learning environment. A teacher meets with you monthly to monitor the progress of the student.
Cons: You do have state testing, you have to fill out all forms including a record of vaccines or a religious exemption form.

We feel the public charter school is the best option for us. Its allowed us the freedom we want over or children’s education and the school supplies we may need are covered by the state. They do not cover any religious materials and the supplies are delivered to the teacher who then brings me what I need. She and I meet every 20 days for her to obtain samples and assess my oldest. SJ is the only one officially enrolled in school but since she and KJ are so close in age he tags along for most of her learning activities. This is our first year homeschooling and so far so good.

Who, What, Why?

Who: Hi!! We are the James’ and we are just starting on a homeschool journey. I (Lee) have been married to the man of my dreams (K) for 6 entertaining years.

We have three kids SJ, KJ, and AJ

Our newest addition AJ is only a few months old!

What: Christian, black, homeschooling wife, mama and entrepreneur! As you can see I have my hands full but I am loving life.

Why: Here’s the thing, I have scoured the internet for information and resources for Black home schooling families and have found very little. According to the National Center for Education Statistics approximately 3% of school ages students are homeschooled and of that number about 5% are black. This number is growing but the resources aren’t. I’ve done some research and have found that some curriculums always paint the black kid as the villain while others may be void of all melanin. Rather than bore you with that information I will be sharing and posting about what works for us. So strap in and join us on this wild ride as document our live.

New Shoes

These shoes, these very cute shoes belong to Summer and they are two small. At the ripe young age of two years old SJ loves shoes especially this pair, which she’s outgrown. 
I’m sitting here watching her try to squeeze into these too small shoes. I’ve tried explaining they’re too small, they will be uncomfortable if she gets them on and though they’re cute they are no longer good for her growing feet. This is when God tapped me on the shoulder. 
Have you ever been in a comfortable place to long? Have you felt God prompting you to move? To go into a new season? To grow into something means you grow out of something. I, like all of you, have a comfort zone. This place is cozy and comfortable but every now and then things get too tight and then things change.
The Israelites had a comfort zone and they were pushed way out of it. Cool thing is where they were going was greater than where they’d left. They were in slavery but had gotten comfortable operating in bondage. In the same way we get comfortable operating in sin. When they’d reached a point of discomfort God created a way of escape and gave them the opportunity to obtain something better. Some of us are operating in relationships, jobs, or seasons we’ve outgrown but we try to remain there because it’s comfortable. 
God doesn’t want you comfortable, he wants you thriving. He doesn’t want you in bondage He wants you to operate in freedom. He doesn’t want you to be a borrower, He wants you to be a lender. God doesn’t want you where you are, He wants you to thrive in His promise for your life. 
Unfortunately, the Israelites that were freed from captivity didn’t enter the promised land, they could not let go of their comfort zone enough to go in; but you can. You can decide now, today to leave where you are spiritually, physically, relationally, emotionally and decide to walk into Gods promise for you. 
You can decide to accept God into your heart and make a decision today to leave the comfort of sin and walk instead in the freedom of love. What God has for you is so much better than what you can get for yourself. Take off those uncomfortable shoes, Gods got you a new pair.