As white parents continue their collective struggle to reckon with America’s racist history, those parents who choose to homeschool their children find themselves in a unique position. In their dual roles as parent and educator, those who homeschool their children may find themselves concerned with how best to navigate what may be uncomfortable conversations about racial inequity. Without the support network of other teachers or a school administration, parents acting as educators may feel isolated. However, as the below guide makes clear, homeschooling parents have quite a few strategies and resources to utilize as they engage their children in conversation.
Recognizing the harm
Parents might wish to begin conversations with their children by simply acknowledging that American history is rife with racism. By beginning discussions within a historical context, students of all ages can explore the causes and effects of racism using historical figures as examples. Parents can then ask students to recognize the harm in the behavior of historical actors, so that they can bring those lessons into the behavior of individuals in modern times.
Resources are everywhere
Whether parents are reading guides such as this one, or doing their own research, there are plenty of resources for parents struggling to talk about racial justice. Blogs, podcasts and even discussion boards provide homeschoolers the support they need in these difficult times.
Increase your child’s diversity of experience
While racial inequality may take many forms, the BIPOC experience is not a monolith. To ensure students don’t see BIPOC as a monolith, parents should expose their children to a variety of BIPOC. For students who are homeschooled, it can be easy for parents to see themselves as the only example of an educator, but by getting one’s student involved in a variety of community activities, events or volunteerism, white students can have a multitude of meaningful interactions with people of color.
Parents can admit their own flaws
One of the ways parents can ease their own discomfort while educating their children about racial inequality and social justice is to acknowledge that they themselves are imperfect. As anyone who has spent time educating students knows, children are perceptive and will likely sense their parent’s discomfort. It can be liberating for parents to acknowledge their own biases and share how they actively work on overcoming bias in their own lives.
Use flaws as an opportunity to reexamine choices
Parents who acknowledge their own biases should be open to sharing with their children how they are rectifying bias. Parents might want to expose their children to diverse authors and writers. If parents are already ensuring a diverse curriculum, perhaps it is time to reflect upon whether their own friend groups need diversification. If parents lead a mostly white life, their kids will notice. Without engaging in tokenism, parents should ask themselves if they are living an open and multicultural lifestyle or whether their actions are reinforcing the bubbles from which they are attempting to remove their children.
Leave room for more conversations
As with any important issue, parents know that racial inequity will not be taught or solved in one sitting. As such, it’s important for parents to leave room for children to ask further questions and revisit issues as they arise. Privilege comes in many forms, and once aware of their racial privilege students may begin to explore some of the other privileges from which they may benefit. Parents should remain open to additional conversation. By creating space for children to engage and re-engage with these conversations on race, homeschooling parents are entering a long-term partnership with their children.
National education expert Cindy Chanin is the founder of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring, created with the intention to transform lives through the power of personalized education and customized homeschooling, as well as impactful mentoring and enrichment.