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Published 04/17/2020 | Reading Time 7 min 25 sec
By David McGuire, educator and doctoral student at Indiana State University
I am glad that over the past couple of years, the narrative about black fathers being present for their children has changed. I grew up with my father in my life every single day in the home. As I started teaching, it became more and more apparent that a lot of children, specifically black children did not grow up as fortunate as I did with their father in the home. I can say I have seen a shift, and more and more black fathers are stepping up to the plate and being there for their child in the home.
As we enter week four of the schools being closed due to COVID-19, and we now know that schools will not open back up this year, I wanted to do a follow up to part one of my series Here is What Parents Have to Say about School Closure with part two, so I interviewed three black fathers about being home with their child during this time.
HOW’S THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN FOR YOU?:
Edward Davidson (ED): Initially, it was challenging because my house typically runs on a schedule; however, like most active fathers, I’ve adapted to the new normal.
Eric Jackson (EJ): What this experience has been for me, is more like an opportunity. This has allowed me more time with family, read more, and to complete a checklist of things. But the biggest thing I would say it has given me the experience of opportunity that may never happen again.
Allen Mickens (AM): There are few to no words to describe the joy in my heart regarding the current home-schooling situation, where I take on the role of my sons’ teacher. We know as parents that we are our children’s first teacher, and this allows more time for them to be in our “classrooms.” I understand being a school administrator that, for me, it might not have been as big as an adjustment. Still, the change has come with building a schedule that is not overwhelming to my son due to my very high expectations regarding academics. It was so funny to hear his reaction when he first heard that we were going to be out of school for an extended period. His first statement was, “Daddy is going to be my teacher now.”
WHY AS A FATHER IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE ACTIVE IN YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION?
ED: We are the backbone, and real fathers provide structure in every aspect of their kid’s lives. We live in a society that has many kids lacking confidence, identity, and self-worth.
EJ: Growing up, I had only 2 African-American teachers, and they were my 3rd-grade teacher, and my high school history teacher, who I still keep in close contact with, but being active in all four of my children’s education is vital for both their visual and academic health. Visual health allows them to see me, their father, a Black man, invested in their image of who Black men are. I support them academically, from teaching them how to ask questions, to them teaching me what they learned for me to see if they understand what they just learned.
AM: As a father, my role is imperative when it comes to my child’s education, and this extends to college and beyond. As Allen Jr. recognizes the values that I have in regards to school, he will prayerfully follow the same path. The bible speaks on training up a child in the way he should go, and when he gets older, he will not depart from it. I must be there the entire journey training Allen, providing guidance, and maintain the goal of academic excellence while on his path to college and beyond. I should be aware of everything that relates to my Allen’s education, and my commitment shall never waver.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE STRUGGLING? OR WHAT SUPPORTS DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS EASIER?
ED: If you are struggling, reach out to those you trust that will speak positively and genuine words of encouragement on your situation. Do not air out your frustrations on social media. Finally, never give up because regardless of hard a situation, it is only temporary.
EJ: I would say not to look at this as a time of struggle but of opportunity. It will be hard at first, but eventually, it will become easier. Make sure you have your child’s teaching contact information, reach out to them for resources, don’t expect the teacher to give the answers, that is not their job, ask questions beyond how my child does this, ask more specific questions to the problems. Also, being their next to your child, you are showing them that you are all in this together.
AM: The advice I would give to others includes: Setting a realistic daily schedule for your children, asking for resources to guide your students learning if you are struggling with locating them, making yourself visible while your child is working, maintain a positive attitude throughout the day even when negativity begins to make its way into the environment, and finally create a loving and nurturing environment for your child. I am proud and grateful.
Part three of this series I will dive into the impact of COVID-19 and school being closed by talking to educators about how they are feeling and what they anticipate will be the lasting impact on children moving forward.
Join IndyK12 David McGuire and EmpowerEd Families Ashley Virden on Saturday, April 18 at 10:00 am for “At the Breakfast Table” Virtual Meeting for an honest conversation with families to talk about how they are feeling during this time and what they need to do ensure their child continues to be educated. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook.
David McGuire is a public charter school teacher in Indianapolis, as well as a Teach Plus Policy Fellow. He is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for educational leadership. Driven by the lack of having African-American male teachers in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of Black men pursuing teaching as a career.