Focus on Achievement-#5 in a Series of Discussions
By Joan E. Gosier, CEO of HBCU kidz, Inc.
Definition of GAP [a problem caused by some disparity] Pronunciation: \?gap\ Function: noun
Science +Math +Artifacts of Culture +Reading +Test Taking Tips (S.M.A.R.T)=Gap Closure
Black History month has come and gone. Seems it gets shorter for me each year even though this was a Leap Year. Next year, we are looking forward to introducing a new children’s play called “Destination HBCU”. Sort of like a traveling event that resembles a story of strength, determination, and love of our culture, our heritage and our Historically Black College and Universities’ spirit of excellence. Stay tuned!
OKAY last month, we tackled a topic that stirred up a lot of conversation and discussion regarding the gap in computer usage between black students and white students. My favorite testimony absolutely brought tears to my eyes and has inspired me to work even harder on conveying my thoughts on this month’s topic.
“Thanks for the information and the stories. It motivates me to talk to some of my friends who don’t have computers at home for their kids, and try to get them to see the importance of having a computer…more important than the latest pair of expensive jeans, shoes, or game. –thank again-“
Did you know that it has been documented that there is a 36% gap in participation in kindergarten orientation/class visitation programs between schools serving low minority populations and schools serving high minority populations? Source: NCES analysis
So basically, the data suggests that when there is an opportunity to visit the school at the beginning of the school year for a munchkin, our minority parents are not as visible when minorities are the majority population. Why would this be the case?
In past discussions with friends and colleagues it has been argued that the teachers are unwilling to stay late and parents in high minority populations must work to keep a roof over their heads. It is assumed that in low minority populations, there may be a stay at home parent or a managerial parent who has more flexibility to be at the school during the day. Many say that teachers will not stay at the school beyond the work day for a variety of reasons and a Saturday event would be unheard of scheduling.
I probe the situation because at the end of the day, a munchkin’s well being in school is potentially put at risk. Why? Self-esteem is such an easy thing to build and destroy during those early years starting school.
My husband and I were so excited about our oldest daughter starting kindergarten that we practically embarrassed her! She caught the school bus early that sunny morning and VOILA! Our family was anxiously waiting for her to get off of the bus with the camera flashing and the camcorder rolling! At age 4, she turned to her new found best friend from her bus ride, started talking and laughing and pretended to not know who we were! She gave us this look in the camera like “Oh no you people did not follow me to school! How embarrassing! I am NOT a baby anymore!”
Well, we look back at that start date, and I feel that she knows how important her education is to us. In fact as the year went on she would definitely express her concern if we missed an event. One day I flippantly agreed to her request that I come to her school and eat lunch with her. I did not really think she was serious, and I recall that my calendar could not make me available that day with only a day’s advanced notice. She got of her school bus and cried when she saw me. She explained to me in her semi baby talk between tears, “Mommy, I looked for you all time at 11:00 in cafeteria and you never came to lunch”.
Oh it hurt me to visualize her anticipation of me walking through the door to no avail. So I really do take the parent support commitment seriously, but I also recognize and understand that awkward amount of responsibility we have in providing a living for our households too. So, we as a family are trying to make it a top priority to balance expectations. For example, on the anniversary of HBCU kidz, Inc., we decided to celebrate it at her school over lunch in the cafeteria. We brought in a little decorated cake, pretended to blow out a 2 year calendar, and we each made a wish for what we wanted our family business to grow up to be in the future. It was an exciting day and something that the school’s administration had rarely seen. Mommy, daddy, little sister…all eating together among the other children. We pray we can make it a tradition of some sort.
In order to strike that balance we have decided that we needed to dedicate a spot in the house for a school calendar to be posted or readily available for everyone in the house to see each day. We try to proactively talk to our munchkins about how they feel about us attending or not attending different events. Then we try to really assess what impact this has on her being able to enjoy learning. For example, we all went on both of her fall field trips. One was a trip to a pumpkin patch and the other was a trip to the Jamestown Settlement. We reflect upon what sacrifice it took to make those experiences possible and how we have to work hard together in order to be able to do it again in the future. We stay in prayer to ask for guidance on what we need to do to be there for her in the event of a school activity and alas we have a schedule conflict.
It is hard to stay involved, but I remember as a child how important it was for someone in my family to come out and cheer me on at times. The one music production that was missed is oddly the one I remember the most. I think I was in elementary school and it was such a disaster that I recall to the horor of our musical director, walking off the stage and running all the way home in the dark. I remember feeling so disgusted with how bad our orchestra sounded that I just wanted reassurance from my parents that I did my best.
So I think that even if a parent is unable to make the event, the next best thing is to substitute with an aunt, uncle, cousin or family friend. The more the merrier. Sometimes it is those after school activities that can be the glue to keep a child’s passionate flame burning for school. This month, why not call the kids in your immediate and extended family to see if there are upcoming events or activities in which they would like to participate? Spring break is coming up. Perhaps this is a good time to help out a family member in seeing a different part of the country. My sister has invited the girls to Detroit so we will most likely bare the cold and enjoy the visit.
I guess the bottom line to this month’s discussion is to see if we can better understand what active participation by parents in the school truly means to the child. That can only happen with a face to face discussion. When it matters, then perhaps we can make it a higher priority to be there for him or her.
Visit sites such as http://www.blackparentconnect.com/ and www.AchieversinTraining.com and find a gift that will inspire a love of being a part of an academic community. Every child deserves a special gift that reflects your hope for their future.
The Achiever in Training and S.M.A.R.T curriculum are exclusive copywritten and proprietary programs developed by HBCU kidz, Inc.
For more statistics and academic resources please visit http://www.HBCUkids.com and click on “Educate.” To comment on this article, visit the Blog. To communicate with other concerned Black parents, please visit www.blackparentconnect.com.
For more information about the program or the limited edition gift collection, visit http://www.HBCUkids.com. The site contains information and ideas to proactively promote positive images for African American children and their families. Contact Joan Gosier at 1-888-HBCU-kid.
Joan E. Gosier