When schools shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, many worried about how students would continue to learn, especially for the nation's most vulnerable students.
School districts sent laptops home, coordinated internet service provisions, while families made the adjustment of having their students learning and living at home. The new arrangement strained some families while also opening an opportunity for Black parents to monitor their children’s education experience more closely.
“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going back to school,” Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price’s 13-year-old daughter, Saige, announced after schools closed in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Aryee-Price told New York Times' education journalist Melinda D. Anderson, that at-home learning has “liberated [Saige] from hearing negative tropes about Black girls in the lunchroom and hallways.”
Online learning created a pathway for Aryee-Price to be a part of her daughter’s learning while simultaneously empowering Saige to curate a safe learning space for herself. Classmates can be muted and the view of their camera disappears with a switch of a button.
Homeschooling expert, Dr. Cheryl Fields-Smith, pioneered the research methods on the tradition of learning at home in Black families. In an interview with the Black Information Network, “The pandemic has exposed parents to the possibilities of educating their children at home and even more importantly, the need to do so even after schools open up.”
She reported that, “more African American families have expressed interest in becoming full time homeschooling households” since the pandemic began.
Fields-Smith also highlighted the tradition of Black people taking ownership in their education. Before integration, in all-Black segregated schools, students achieved and were in an environment that expected them to thrive.
At the nation enters a third school year impacted by the pandemic, many Black families are leaning into community resources and learning about homeschooling. According to a report by NBC News, organizations that support Black families teaching at home have recorded record growth in the last year.
A few of those organizations include:
Dr. Fields-Smith also provided some tips for families preparing for a new school year. Check them out by clicking here.