Schools across the country are panicking because their funding is tied to graduation rates and test scores. Having too many underachieving students can result in deep budget cuts and lower grades for schools. One ethnic group that has historically scored low on standardized tests is African American students and the official name for this disparity is The Black Achievement Gap. There are many systemic reasons why this gap exists. I am authoring several articles that will highlight some of the problems and offer strategies that Black parents can use to assist them in ensuring their children achieve in schools, schools that often do not understand their needs. This is one and here are some suggestions:
“Educators can no longer put our children in a box. One size does not fit all.”
The most important time for brain development in children is from birth to 2-years of age. One of the essential things a parent can do to guarantee the success of their child is to begin reading to them as soon as they can hear in utero, at about 18 weeks into the pregnancy. Keep reading to your child, until they can read on their own. Once your child can read, provide a library of age-appropriate books in their room. Subscribing to a monthly book-box such as Just Like Me! will help to build an ethnic library for empowering your child. It may sound cliché but it is critical to your child’s long-term success.
Studies show that children who have a strong sense of racial identity early on, do better in school. “Persons of color who have unhealthy racial identity beliefs tend to perform lower in school and have more symptoms of depression.” Being confident in their Blackness helps a child achieve in school. Reading books with Black images as recommended above will minimally cover both of these steps. Also, regularly visiting places such as African American museums, events, businesses and doing school reports on Black people who have achieved will assist in educating your child on the contributions of their culture.
“Being confident in their Blackness helps a child achieve in school.”
Educators can no longer put our children in a box. One size does not fit all. If the curriculum is not interesting or hands-on, Black students will lose interest. Our children are raised to be practical and to understand their environment. If it does not make sense to them, then it is not worth their time. Project-based learning satisfies this need. It is time for new curriculums and teaching methodologies. Look for schools that allow your child to learn hands-on and that have teachers who understand the Black culture and experience.
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Janice Robinson-Celeste is a businesswoman, journalist, author, school teacher, entrepreneur, mother, grandmother and is one of the original founders of Successful Black Parenting magazine. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, is a published author of two parenting books, Pride & Joy by Simon & Schuster and Making A Supermodel: A Parents’ Guide. Janice has a degree in Early Childhood Education and holds and a master’s degree in business. Formerly, the School Age Child Care (SACC) Coordinator for the Philadelphia area with the non-profit organization, Parents Union for Public Schools, she developed SACC programs throughout the city. She headed a $2m YMCA where she served as the Executive Branch Director in charge of operations for a new facility, including the NAEYC accredited child care program and summer camp. In addition, Janice held the title of Early Childhood Specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Child Guidance Center where she worked with parents who struggled with substance abuse challenges to guide them with the healthy development of their young children. Janice was also a preschool teacher, has taught children through high school and in higher education at Hofstra University in New York. At the age of 49, she held the title of Mrs. New Jersey United States 2015 and still competes in pageants to this day. She is the mother of three successful adult daughters, including international supermodel, Sessilee Lopez.