Why Social Media, Mailing Lists and a New Email Address May Help You Homeschool Better

I’m sure you’ve heard that the only constant is change. Well, it’s true. And, change has totally taken over our world in a matter of months since the introduction of COVID-19 into our lives. For those who are embarking on their homeschooling journey now as a response to COVID-19, the world around you requires you to embrace change and your homeschooling practice certainly requires it. As you think of what your homeschooling goals are by possibly creating a mission statement, or scrambling to find ideal curricula or homeschool co-op options, what your child(ren) will really benefit from is a conscious effort to build your well of patience and commit to building your own skills in certain areas while preparing to curate your child’s learning experience. Here are some skill areas that will best benefit you if you work towards building them as you homeschool:


  1. Optimize Your Internet and Social Media Skills

Are you someone who has sworn off Facebook, have no clue what Snapchat is and occasionally may post something on Instagram? Many adults who grew up before the internet became a thing may not have integrated their life so easily with social media use as millenials and younger folks have. Some of us have not had jobs and associations that have required us to maintain an online presence. But, here is the thing, as our world has gone virtual as of late out of health necessity, a lot of the in-person opportunities that abounded pre-COVID have gone online.

The online resources that have grown online have broadened exponentially. Museums have virtual tours and online lesson plans, libraries have daily online programs, YouTube offerings abound and Zoom courses are now normalized fare. Many of these things are not only advertised and shared through platforms like Facebook, but, many of the events themselves are held on Facebook using features like Facebook Groups, Facebook Rooms, and Facebook Live. I recently co-produced an event for homeschooling families using Facebook as the meeting space for the event that had over 200 registered participants. Parents who swear off social media and online platforms lose out on numerous opportunities to find resources and become part of community. If this is your struggle, my advice is become acclimated to online spaces slowly at first by joining a group or two and getting a feel for the space. Try out an online course on a platform you haven’t used before. Search for YouTube videos that can offer a tutorial on how use Zoom or navigate through a Facebook group. I can’t emphasize how important it is to not only get onto sites, but, learn how to use these sites efficiently. My advice is to learn a platform well before you sign up for a class, workshop or conference that uses the platform. The organizers of an event will not have the time to show you how to get up to speed with learning the new interface. It is your responsibility to be able to find materials and navigate the space. Your ease and comfort online can familiarize you with resources you never considered before.


2. Sign Up for Mailing Lists

Now that you have decided to homeschool, you want to expend as little energy as possible with having to search for resources. One way to save energy that could be devoted to engaging with your children is signing up for mailing lists of companies and institutions that offer free services, affordable classes and workshops, discounted learning materials, etc. Some of the recommended places to start are: Libraries, Museums, Homeschool Co-ops that offer virutal classes, Educational Supply Retailers, Online Course Sites like Udemy, Outschool and Teachable, Indie Children’s Book Authors, Organizations that serve homeschoolers, etc. Have you joined a Facebook group and want to ask a question in the group so you can start meeting folks and get a sense of who they are? Post a question like, “Hey everyone, I’m looking to join the mailing lists of museums and places that offer curricula and cool free resources. Any recommendations?” You will immediately see how helpful homeschool moms are and also get recommendations that you probably wouldn’t have considered before. Go ahead and join those mailing lists!


3. Create A New Email Address Devoted to Your Homeschool Life

And, lastly, before you join those mailing list, start a new email address that you will devote entirely to your homeschool life. This is especially helpful for those of you with an already packed email account that you use for work, general communication and the spam you didn’t ask for. An email address devoted to your homeschool resources and correspondence will help you stay organized and help you stay abreast of what’s available to you. For me, this email is also attached to my Facebook account and allows me to get updates if folks are responding to me which I prefer instead of having notifications coming noisily to my phone. They just go to my email or stay within the Facebook app.

In short, the homeschooling journey is as much about you building skills as it is about your curating your child’s learning experience. So much is online now. Don’t stay tethered to outdated modes of information-sharing. Get with the times. Be determined to grow and learn and embody the mindset of the eternal student. Embracing change will only make you more empowered!

Dr. Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman started So Our Youth Aspire (SOYA) in 2006. She is a cultural critic, educator and homeschooling mom. Join the mailing list of Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars at BlackFamilyHomeschooling.org.

Learn more at khadijahali-coleman.com

Homeschooling Because of COVID-19: Curriculum for High-Schoolers

I have been homeschooling my teen off and on for 12 years and currently she is being homeschooled for high school. She is in 11th grade and is dual-enrolled in community college. That means that she is a high school student and college student at the same time. Many folks ask me what curriculum do I use for her since she is in high school. I don’t use a pre-made curriculum for high school. I have created/curated her curriculum since I started homeschooling her since she was four and that has not changed now that she is in high school. In this article, I will share some resources that I’ve used to design her curriculum and the reasons behind my choice to use some of them. I encourage you to consider designing your own curriculum as it allows you to create a learning journey that is unique to your child. While I do advise you to visit the website of your local school system to get ideas on what the learning standards are for your child’s grade, you have the flexibility to aim above those standards if you wish.

photo from pexels.com
  1. Khan Academy for Math and Science

Khan Academy has been an asset to our homeschooling journey since my child was in elementary school. This free online resource offers a portal for parents to monitor their child’s progress and the site does the rest. The rest is in the areas of pre-assessment, instruction and tutorial. That’s right. This site has an assessment tool to gauge where your child is academically and then designs a curriculum that your child can begin to take to engage in the subject they are on the site for. I use Khan Academy for math instruction and even intend on having her use the site as she begins to prepare for SATs (I only decided this month that I want her to take the SAT which is why she is taking it late).

Khan Academy is typically used by homeschooling families for math, but there are other subjects the site helps with as well. Although it is a free resource now, I always encourage homeschooling families to donate to their organization so they can stay around for those of us who use their service so often.

photo from pexels.com

2. The Public Library for English, Writing and Critical Thinking

This sounds so obvious and corny to mention, but, let me share with you why I listed it. Public library systems have book/reading lists that they have compiled for different age groups. Many have them listed virtually while some require you to request them directly from the branch. Requesting a reading list based on your child’s reading level allows you to determine which books to assign or allow your child to pick from when building their curriculum for the week, month or school year. I am a college professor, so I have asked colleagues for their recommendations when putting together my own book list. When designing a syllabus for my teen during her first two years of high school, I would let her pick which books she would read and then do assignments on.

The library also allows you to rent movies, music and other learning materials if you don’t want to purchase materials. The online resources libraries offer are great tools in general to help your children begin to develop skills in researching and finding learning materials on their own.

photo from pexels.com

3. Udemy for Life Skills and Interest-Led Learning

One year, I spent less than $200 on more than ten courses that my daughter chose herself based on interest and three parameters that I gave her during her first year of high school. She chose courses in photography, how to use a smart phone beyond picture taking, sign language, singing and about five other subjects. Udemy is a wonderful site of online courses that you can choose from or direct your teen to if you are allowing them to create their own learning curriculum. The offerings are immense and people on the site are often professionals in the field they are teaching. I took a course on there on statistics to help me understand my doctoral course in quantitative methods where statistics was a large component.


3. Museums for Science, Art and Culture

Now with COVID-19, it is unlikely any museums are open. But, almost all museums now are offering virtual resources for those eager to incorporate their resources into your learning curriculum. Some of my favorite virtual museum resources are: The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Zoos and Aquariums, and Art Institute of Chicago.

Here is a link to over 2500 art museums sharing online materials.

Here is a story on art museums putting their collections online.

4. Gyms for Health and Fitness

Planet Fitness is the gym of choice for our household because it is affordable and allowed our teen to be our guest for free with the Black Card plan. Now that gyms are closed, they are offering online classes and work-out plans that have been helpful for us (even though, I’ll be real, we have not been using them yet). Here is an example here.

Since COVID-19 the workout that we have most engaged in have been walks in our neighborhood and dancing in the house.

In closing, when putting together a curriculum for your high school student, recognize that this is a fine time to engage them in their own learning process. Find your resources and let them have a hand in making some selections. You can use some of the spaces I’ve recommended above or choose sites on your own. Ultimately, know that homeschooling allows for flexibility and you have the power to curate your child’s learning experience as you see fit. Best of luck to you!

Dr. Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a homeschooling parent and researcher on homeschool issues. Learn more at khadijahali-coleman.com

Register for the 2nd annual Online Multi-Ethnic Homeschool Moms Conference here