How to Teach an Inclusive Homeschool Curriculum
As conservatives’ mind-boggling crusade against social awareness in public schools continues, more and more parents are opting to homeschool their kids. Can you blame them?
Thankfully, those parents do have the freedom to use homeschool resources that are best suited for the diversity and inclusion values they want to teach in their own home.
Let's take a look at your options for teaching an inclusive homeschool curriculum.
Rethink Your Choices
The first step to ensuring your homeschool curriculum is inclusive is to take a look at your lessons.
Homeschool lessons that only illustrate the lives of majority populations — for example, White people, traditional families, heterosexuals, or able-bodied people — reinforce ideas that can confuse your student because it’s not what they’re seeing in real life.
To adjust your lessons so they’re filled with stories, activities, assignments, and illustrations that represent the real world, ask yourself these questions:
- Does the curriculum expose your learners to a group of diverse authors, characters, identities, and cultures?
- Are people of different cultures, skin tones, and abilities central to the stories being presented?
- Do the characters accurately reflect the histories and experiences of their cultures?
- Are the characters portrayed in non-stereotypical ways?
- Does the curriculum encourage students to connect to their real-life experiences, communities, and cultures?
- Are there references to different cultural traditions, languages, religions, names, and clothing?
- Are diverse family structures (i.e., single parents, adopted or foster children, same-sex parents, other relatives living with the family, etc.) represented?
- Are characters with disabilities represented?
- If there is conflict in the storyline, are the characters of color mostly considered the problem?
Many homeschool curricula come with a detailed lesson plan that isn’t always in synch with your family values. Ask yourself the questions above to see if that’s true.
If it is true, remember that it’s possible to modify the lesson materials prescribed by your homeschool curriculum of choice with material that’s more culturally relevant.
Swap Books Throughout the Year
Instead of always using the non-diverse book suggestions provided by your homeschool curriculum, regularly substitute (or supplement) a non-diverse book with a more culturally-aware book.
For example, if your child is about to study a traditional white male scientist like Thomas Edison, consider swapping it out for a book about Grace Hopper or Marie Curie. Or if your American history lesson includes a book about George Washington, think about replacing it with a book about Martin Luther King, Jr or Harriet Tubman.
Once you select new learning material, set the stage for your student. Talk about expectations for approaching difficult topics like stereotypes, racism, or myths, and place the information in its historical context.
This isn’t a “one-and-done” strategy. Contributions made by diverse people should be woven into the fabric of your homeschool lessons. Keep subbing in multicultural books throughout the entire homeschool year.
Learn the Lingo
Giving your children more culturally-relevant books isn’t the end of the road; there’s more you can do.
The language you use to teach diverse topics plays a huge part in getting your point across successfully.
An example of culturally-respectful language us using the term ‘primary bedroom’ instead of ‘master bedroom’ to avoid referring to slavery. Or talk about an ‘intellectual difference’ instead of ‘mental retardation.’
Educate yourself. Learn to use language that’s inclusive. If you use language that doesn’t represent the cultural awareness you’re trying to teach, your student will be extremely skeptical.
Start slowly. Substitute/supplement one book at a time.
Progressively use more current lingo whenever you’re talking about cultural awareness.
If you see your student gravitating toward a particular person or subject, build on their enthusiasm. Continue making lesson adjustments that align with their interest in cultural fairness.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary
- How to choose the best homeschool curriculum
- OurShelves (diverse children’s book boxes)
- Facing History and Ourselves (history lessons that stand up to bigotry)
- Homeschool and Diversity (video)