From The Editor
People of Color and others in the diaspora must take an active role in the education and health of family and community. Storytelling is a way of helping us to understand one another and the effects that environment can have on our development. We explore these issues in this issue of the GEDER WRITES newsletter. Enjoy and please comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace & Blessings!
George Geder, Founder & Editorial Director.
Partnering with Your Child’s Teacher to Expand Your Child’s Educational Experiences
by Shawnta S. Barnes
A child’s first teacher is his or her parents. As an educator, I view parents as partners in helping their child become a well-rounded person who will grow up and become a productive citizen local and/or globally. For this to happen, it is important for children to also learn from their parents and have their support inside and outside of the classroom.
Good educators make efforts to ensure they are responding to the needs of all students by teaching culturally responsive lessons. Even the best educator cannot cover nor provide all of the experiences your child may need to become the best version of him or herself. Below, I have outlined three possible ways you can partner with your child’s teacher.
Talk to your child’s teacher about the curriculum
It is important as a parent to know what topics, themes, and subject areas will be taught during the school year. For example, I have worked in a school where administration decided to cut science and social studies to improve reading and math. If all subject areas are important to you and you don’t have conversations with the school, you won’t be able to advocate for your child.
Schools typically have a scope and sequence where they have mapped out the curriculum. If there is an area that is missing inquire about it and brainstorm with your child’s teacher ways he or she could incorporate it.
Volunteer/observe in the classroom
My twin boys are in kindergarten and I have observed their preschool classes and their kindergarten classes. As a parent, observing your child in class is your right, but it is important to know your school’s policy. When I have observed my children, I show up unannounced, but I have to check-in at the front office. In the school where I currently work, parents cannot show-up unannounced; they must notify the teacher in advance.
Observation allows you to get of feel of the culture and climate in the classroom and how your child is or is not adjusting. If your child seems to be having difficulty then you will have a basis for discussion because you have viewed this also.
Teachers love volunteers and parents can be a good resource. Sometimes children need to hear information from a different voice. Also, you may have experiences that are helpful to the class. My father fought in the Vietnam War. When I was studying it in middle school, my father provided information about his experiences during this war.
Visit local, national, or global locations
Many times having a hands-on experience or a field trip is not an option due the curriculum constraints or the school’s budget. There is no reason your child cannot continue to learn about a topic he or she learned in class or a topic of interest that was not covered in class.
Living within my means is important to me especially knowing that one day in the future I will have two children entering college at the same time. To stay informed about local activities, I sign-up for electronic mailing lists. Many cities offer educational activities free of charge throughout the year. My boys have attended an International festival, participated in STEM activities, and visited many museums. Some museums, like the Smithsonian museums are free and some museums have free or discounted days.
During spring break this year, we went to Washington D.C. In school, my boys had learned about Martin Luther King Jr. They also learned there was a monument in honor of him in D.C. During our trip, we were able to take them to the monument and talk to them about his many achievements from our point of view. We also informed their teachers about the trip which gave my sons the opportunity to share their experiences with their classmates.
Yes, if you send your child to school, the school should have a good plan in place to help your child learn, but the burden should not be carried by the school alone. If your child observes you being engaged in his or her education and partnering with his or her teacher, it will help your child take school more seriously and know how important obtaining a good education is.
Borders, Fences & Boundaries
by George Geder
My first fence was the one around my crib. Plenty to look at, not much ground to cover. Beyond the crib, the boundaries became the stairs and kitchen where fences kept me corralled.
The playground and schoolyard had really tall fences. The ‘Negro section’ of Binghamton, New York was in the center of town and had a border you couldn’t see but everyone knew where it was.
In 1956, we moved to the south side of town. I was five years old and the only borders I saw were the ones made by nature. Creek, canyon, wild orchard, tall pines, river.
In the creek we caught minnows and pollywogs. One had to look upstream in case some kid was peeing in the stream, as that was not the time to take a sip. We would pick the berries, apples, pears and rhubarb from the wild orchard.
By 1960, I was one of the big kids and had the responsibility of looking after the little ones. Aaron, the showoff, would run ahead to climb the lone tree at the top of the canyon. Sandra’s face would become purple from all of the blueberries and blackberries that didn’t make it to her basket. Jeffrey and Philip were engaged in a crab-apple war. I was gathering rhubarb and pears. The July mid-day heat reminded me to make sure that everyone drank some water and ate their lunches. I would tell them to watch out for snakes and poison ivy.
When I called out to Aaron, I expected him to climb down - not drop like a rock from the third highest branch. His arm was in a cast for the rest of the summer. The rest of the kids only suffered minor scratches, stomachaches, bee stings or pinches from baby crabs in the creek.
On most occasions I was the only Black kid. I learned these outdoor skills from a Polish kid who was older than me and my next door neighbor. He had a Boy’s Scout manual that he read and treated like a bible.
During my fifth grade school year, I would go to the wild orchard, alone, and run along the paths. I was free. In this wide open space that went on forever (and into Pennsylvania), the wind would try to catch me, but I was too fast. I would beat it to the tall pines every time.
I would start at the last street, then down the embankment to Felter’s Creek, hopping on the wet slippery stones to the other side, dashing past the spooky abandoned barn, around the rim of the canyon, slap the lone tree, through the rhubarb, stop for raspberries, flash past the apple and pear trees, up the hill to the tall pines and on to the final landmark; a part of a stonewall with a chiseled inscription; ‘1843’. On this particular day, I was running at top speed and the ground became soft and mushy. I began to lose traction and my balance and I couldn’t see the stonewall. I continued to slip, and decided not to fight gravity and just fall.
I looked up. Instead of seeing ‘1843’, I read a sign. ‘Keep Out, Private Property, Site of The New Orchard Park Homes, Coming Soon’. The ground had been made soft by bulldozers.
This new boundary or border contracted my once expanding universe. I was forced to make a retreat. In short order the tall pines, wild orchard and canyons were gone. The creek was converted into an underground tunnel emptying into the Susquehanna river. I had to make a retreat to the concrete sidewalks and asphalt playgrounds reminiscent of the ‘Negro section’. Back to fences, boundaries and borders.
Health is Wealth: 5 Deadly Health Issues for African Americans -
Blacks face alarming differences compared to all other racial and ethnic groups.
April is National Minority Health Month and is as good a time as any to begin a conversation that matters.
This week's article is from Black Enterprise Magazine posted April 17, 2015, by Kandia Johnson. Your comments will be appreciated
Til next time