child leading a horse

What I Want My Free Black Child to Know

My youngest son at a homeschool equestrian program in Philadelphia as we follow his interest in animals and nature.

Back to school season is upon us. And while I’d tell you that we–as a homeschool family, but you and your children too–are learning all day, every day, back to school season is the time where we think about the upcoming “school year” and plan how we want to go about this liberated learning life. 

Years ago, back when I was still early on in our homeschool journey, I’d start these epic planning sessions by asking: “What should a *insert whatever grade my child was entering* know?” Convinced, whether I realized it or not, that not only was this a completely relevant question, but also that the answer to it was outside of myself. Outside of my children.

I even bought a book about it once. I think it was titled What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. A book that served as a moment of realization for me. As I flipped through the suggestions of European literature, history, and even geography, with little to no reflection of myself or my children, I began to realize how wild this question was and unpack why I felt the need to ask it at all.

These days things are different. Each year my approach evolves. Becomes more refined and aligned with where I am in my own deschooling and healing journeys. The more I unlearn and unpack, the more my perspective on learning and education shifts to a more free and liberating space. Now, I start our homeschool planning not by looking externally for answers regarding what my children should know. Instead turning inward and towards them to ask a different question. 

What I Want My Free Black Child to Know

Straight from my homeschool journal planner:

I want my children to have the tools to learn. Meaning, not looking for someone to tell them what/when/how to know something, but actually having the ability to decide and research and discover themselves. I want them to know about self-sufficiency. How to cook, grow their own food, earn and manage their own money. I want them to know how to think critically and for themselves. And how to move in the world AND how to create change. 

I want them to be empowered and affirmed. To feel safe and heard. To know they have a voice and how to use it. I want them to know they are important and loved. They should learn how to identify and embrace their emotions and feelings. 

I want them to know themselves. Self-awareness is the key. And I want them to know who they are, where their people come from, their ancestors, their history. From the motherland across the diaspora. 

Most(?) importantly, I want them to have ample time and space to explore their interests, passions, and simple curiosities. And to be supported in doing so as much as possible. I want them to have as much exposure, experiences, and immersion as they can, in whatever they can think of, and things they haven’t thought of as well. 

When people ask me what I mean by liberated learning, this is it. Child-led, Black-centered, holistic, and most importantly, something you pull from within.

This back to school season, whether you’re preparing for a year of homeschool, unschool, conventional school, or some hybrid of the bunch, take a few moments to ask yourself: What do I want my free Black child to know?

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