If you are new to homeschooling and looking for resources to read to get started on learning more about the practice, the book Morning by Morning by Paula Penn-Nabrit is sure to be one of the first books on your radar. She is a Black homeschooling icon who homeschooled during a time when there weren’t even half of the resources currently available for newly homeschooling families.
I had the pleasure of interviewing her last month during the 3rd annual Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars virtual teach-in; she was the keynote speaker. Her humor and frankness is both refreshing and educational. This is a must-watch!
Paula Penn-Nabrit’s inspirational and practical memoir, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League, shares her intimate experiences of home-schooling her three sons, Charles, Damon, and Evan. Paula and her husband, C. Madison, decided to home-school their children after racial incidents at public and private schools led them to the conclusion that the traditional educational system would be damaging to their sons’ self-esteem. In 1991, they withdrew their children from the exclusive country day school they’d been attending. This decision was especially poignant for the Nabrit family because Paula’s husband, the late, C. Madison, was related to the famed civil rights attorney James Nabrit, who, with Thurgood Marshall, had argued Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. With this family connection to history, other members of their family perceived their decision to homeschool as turning their backs on a rich educational legacy. In Morning by Morning, Paula Penn-Nabrit discusses her family’s emotional transition to home schooling and shares the nuts and bolts of the boys’ educational experience. She explains how she and her husband developed a curriculum, provided adequate exposure to the arts as well as quiet time for reflection and meditation, initiated quality opportunities for volunteerism, and sought out athletic activities for their sons. At the end of each chapter, she offers advice on how readers can incorporate some of the steps her family took—even if they aren’t able to home-school; plus, there’s a website resource guide at the end of the book. Charles and Damon were eventually admitted to Princeton, and Evan attended Amherst College. But Morning by Morning is frank about the challenges the boys faced in their transition from home schooling to the college experience, and Penn-Nabrit reflects on some things she might have done differently. With great warmth and perception, Paula Penn-Nabrit discusses in the book her personal experience and the amazing outcome of her home-schooling experience.
Today, with her eldest sons, Paula continues to run their family business, a family-run demographic research and organizational development firm, as well as manage The Charles Madison Nabrit Memorial Garden, a small, biodiverse and organic, 5K sq. ft. space sited in the rear of The Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith, home to a congregation formed 110 years ago by descendants of formerly enslaved Africans in America. Paula has also authored several books, in addition to Morning by Morning and holds a law degree from The Ohio State University.
Black Family Homeschool Educators & Scholars, LLC (BFHES) is the first US-based research and education group dedicated specifically to the topic of black family homeschooling. BFHES continues to engage with our community through our podcast titled, Contemporary Perspectives on Black Homeschooling and maintaining a burgeoning community of homeschool educators via Facebook. Our mission in 2020 was to provide ongoing community engagement regarding black homeschooling through (1) the publication of scholarly and trade work on the topic, and (2) the production of community events targeting black homeschool familites and entrepreneurs engaged in the practice of black homeschooling. Since January 2022, our strategic goals have pivoted, focusing on training Black parents on homeschooling best practices and youth development theory, connecting them with resources and opportunities to optimize their homeschooling practice. Learn more at http://www.BlackFamilyHomeschool.org