The little blogger niche I have found myself in just happens to have brought quite a few homeschoolers to my blog and social media accounts. We are still a bit undecided about what schooling may look like for our girls, and I figured that may be the same for a lot of my followers. As our babies creep towards preschool and kindergarten, we eventually have to decide what we are going to do. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to interview one of my favorite Homeschool Moms, Tenikca Gainey. Tenikca shares homeschooling and motherhood encouragement over at Hits With The Mrs. and the longer I follow her, the more I feel inspired by her and consider her a mentor on my motherhood journey. Below you will find real talk about homeschooling and motherhood. I didn’t edit our conversation, because this is real life! My hope is that in reading Tenikca’s story you will feel both challenge and encouragement. Some of you may come away saying ‘me too,’ others may have some things to consider. I view this conversation as a gift, and I am so thankful for Tenicka being willing to give a glimpse into her life.
Tell me a little bit about your and your family.
My husband and I have 2 boys, nearly five and newly 3. In our house, we are gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarians that don’t eat eggs. We do this for health reasons (and I think eggs are gross) but my husband eats everything anytime he can. 🤣 We love our family traditions, dance parties, and growing together.
What led you to choose homeschooling for your family?
It’s kind of a long story. When I was pregnant with my first, James, Mike Brown was murdered. I watched with many others as his slain body lay on the ground for hours and the joy I had was wretched from me. Mike Brown’s murder was one of many that sent a clear message that black and brown bodies, especially black men, are threatened and their lives, the life of my unborn child, is endangered. I mourned for weeks and prayed to God about how I could protect my child, knowing that racial bias against young boys can start at age 3-5. God told me to homeschool. Truth be told, I started homeschooling to prove God wrong, because I KNEW this would not be successful. Not sure about you, but I’ve never proved God wrong and I’m so glad I didn’t (not that I could).
Do you follow a certain method for homeschooling?
I think, technically, we are what’s called “eclectic homeschoolers,” meaning we use a variety of curricula and methods in our homeschool. My boys have special-needs and, through trial and error, me releasing my expectations and beliefs on what education is supposed to look like and yielding to their needs is what makes whatever method or curricula we use work.
I know that you do Artist and Composer studies with your kids and have been really inspired by the inclusivity you have brought to them. Could you talk a little bit about your studies, as well as giving your child a more inclusive education?
If I can be honest, part of the reason I was against homeschooling is because I only saw rural white Americans do it. I had to dig deep and join many a Facebook group to understand that many people of color homeschool their children. Many because of the lack of diversity and historical truth taught in traditional school. While I always planned to teach my children accurate African American History, raise them as allies for minority and attacked populations and learn about and appreciate other cultures, homeschooling allows me to do all of that on a larger platform and not have to undo the untruths taught in most public schools and displayed in the media. So my kids learn their history everyday. My kids also learn about other beautiful cultures every day. My kids learn about the contributions of women to their world every day. My kids learn how to serve and help every day. My kids learn about God every day. My kids see themselves in books every day. I am extremely intentional about raising them “woke,” meaning they learn truth and how to use themselves and their voices for positive change as they grow and develop, not have to “wake up” one day later in their life to these truths and issues.
What challenges have you faced finding materials and resources?
Oh my word! We’d be here forever if I answered that in detail. I will say this: I honestly never expected to find materials and resources that were inclusive, diverse, and accurate. I appreciate the efforts that some curriculum authors are taking to include diversity, but it’s not enough. I have to supplement just about everything with books, history, and truth.
What are some of your favorite homeschool resources?
Well, you, to start. I appreciate how you provide resources and show how to include learning and serving the world with your girls. I love Maya’s Book Nook to discover books new and old with diverse characters. The Jesus Storybook Bible, Kids Bible Story Podcast, and Holy Moly Bible Story videos and curriculum are amazing!
What advice do you have for homeschool moms and moms interested in homeschooling?
Pray. I know that sounds basic and nearly superficial but it is the best way to start. Pray for peace, pray for armor, pray for presence, pray for persistence. Then, if you start homeschooling, don’t stop praying. Get educated-learn your kids-their love language, their learning style and incorporate them into your teaching.
Find your tribe. You’ll need support, people to celebrate with, and people who will hold your hand on the bad days. Find your resources. I leave that for last because it is always ongoing and never ending. Lastly, don’t view homeschool as homeSCHOOL, but HOMEschool. Make it a thread of your home, not the place where you learn.