When I started this series featuring African-American homeschool moms, I didn't know exactly the way it would turn out. I still don't know, but I do enjoy featuring a new African-American mom regularly. Jennifer shared this with me, "I think it's important for families of color to share their experience homeschooling. More minority families need to see that they can homeschool, too! And you can make your homeschool unique to your family/culture/faith, etc.! I also think it's important for families of color to share their family and homeschool experience with others to help promote healthy family values for people of color. There are so many negative depictions of families and people of color in the media. If more families share their experience, then we can show others that there are strong minority families and it will encourage other minority families!" Her words are part of the reason I will continue to seek out moms to share snippets of their journey here. Now let's meet Jennifer!
Meet Homeschool Mom, Jennifer, from Good Life Detroit
Tell us a little bit about your homeschool. How long have you homeschooled? What does your homeschool environment look like?
We've been homeschooling since 2013. I homeschool my two teens and preschooler. I also have a 19 month old and newborn.
How did your family decide to become a homeschooling family?
My teens were in grade 5 and grade 7. My 5th grader was having academic problems. After two years of seeking help from the public school administration and school board, I decided to homeschool my children myself. The school was not helping us at all. It was very disheartening. Because of the school's lack of help my daughter was several grades behind in math and two grades behind in reading.
What is your favorite part about home schooling? What helps you to keep going?
I like the flexibility of homeschooling. I like that we can schedule our school around life events. When my older two children were in school, I gave birth to my third baby during the school year. I was very disappointed that they could not have an excused absence from school to stay home with me for a day or two to spend time with their baby sister. It just didn't seem fair. My husband took three weeks off from work, but my children could not have two days off? I had to make arrangements for them to get to/from school, and I still had to make sure they completed their homework.
What I love about homeschooling is when we have a life event occur, we can take the time off we need to focus on the life event. We don't have to feel rushed and it doesn't diminish our life event. I also like that we can include our faith with our homeschool, and I can teach my children Bible study, etc.
What are your struggles with being a home schooling parent?
Right now my struggle with homeschooling is finding teen homeschool groups. It seems like there is a low amount of teens who are homeschooled. Another struggle is finding families of color who homeschool. Something else I struggle with is comparing my children's academic progress to public school students. I always worry if they are on the "right track". One goal of mine is to focus on my children and their progress and not worry about the public school standards.
Share a few words of encouragement with other moms who home school. What is your tip for keeping atmosphere joyous in your home?
One thing I would say is don't try to make your homeschool like someone else's homeschool. I fell into this trap my first two years of homeschooling, and it stressed me out. Make your homeschool unique to your family and what works best for your family. Don't be afraid to try new things, such as a new book or a new way of learning. And keep an open mind.
You can find Jennifer on her lifestyle blog, Good Life Detroit. She shares snippets of her family life and homeschool on Instagram under the handle @jmhamra. Jennifer is married to an Army Vet. They have five children ages 16, 14, 4, 1, and newborn.