Helping Our Boys Achieve Academic Success
Posted 6/24/2013 12:00:00 PM

When I read it, I loved it! Urban Prep Academy in Chicago, where the city is in turmoil , all of their seniors - young African American men - have been accepted to a four-year college or university. 
These young men are defying the odds in their city, where fewer than 40% of African American males even finish high school.

How I wish that was the norm across the country.

Ebony has been doing a series on raising black boys, pointing out their challenges versus that of females and their non-black counterparts. To me, two key areas are critical in aiding to the success of our boys comes down to solid family foundation and education.  These two issues can be further affected by poverty.

While we know education is a key to curbing poverty, how can we do that with so many failing schools? How do we even prevent generational poverty from becoming a norm? Projects like the Thirty Million Words campaign and Harlem Children’s Zone, aid economically challenged families to better their children’s chances of achieving academic success.  But what about for those of us not being served by those entities? Of course kids need encouragement, to be challenged yet not belittled and they need an opportunity for growth. While we can point fingers at the educational system – as we should- as parents we have to step outside the box and commit to helping our kids on our own.

From the July issue of Ebony Magazine, “The Miseducaiton of Black Boys”, here are 10 things parents can do for their sons:


  1. Don’t put a television in his room. Researchers have found a television in the room can impede a child’s intellectual and academic environment.
  2. Closely monitor his usage of the computer, cell phone and the music he is listening to. Make sure all media content is age appropriate.
  3. Talk to him as much as possible, beginning in the womb.
  4. Involve him in music and arts programs, in addition to sports.
  5. Feed him a healthy breakfast every morning.
  6. Make sure he gets a good night sleep every night.
  7. As much as you can, sign him up for outside academic programs and tutoring, such as Kumon and Khan Academy online.
  8. Particularly as he moves into adolescence, help him find an outside activity he loves that will help him learn discipline and how to self-regulate his behavior.
  9. Do as much as you can to instill a love of reading. Read aloud to him and, as he gets older, read the same books so that you can discuss with him.
  10. Keep him engaged and stimulated during the summer, signing him up for camps and fun programs. If you can’t afford them, design a fun summer curriculum for him yourself.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We have to be willing to sacrifice our personal time and prioritize to ensure our boys can have a chance to succeed. Though some facts may be dismal and grim, I am not going to believe all our brown boys are destined to fail.  I have seen too many successful ones – from all backgrounds- make it! I know racism exists. Yes, some of our kids come from unsafe neighborhoods. Poverty is an issue. The educational system needs to be reformed. But since those elements are harder to conquer on our own, let’s pick the easier one: our kids.

There are practical things you and I can to aid in our children’s learning and success. Be present in the school. Nurture our boys and encourage them, without being so hard on them they become discouraged.  Focus on other opportunities and studies that could help them move on to higher education.  Investigate alternatives other than the ball playing dreams for them to be successful.  Instead of settling for the “I wanna be a rapper”, encourage them to pursue the business aspect of entertainment.  Be open to new ideas to aid your child’s learning. For instance, instead of buying the latest LeBron kicks, buy some books to help them keep up with math and writing! But above all, don’t let the reports make you give up.  Let’s fight for our kids to excel academically; their future existence depends on it.



Posted By: Julee Jonez  

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