A few months ago I read an article about Akintunde Ahmad, a 17 year old Oakland senior who gained accolades after earning a 5.0 GPA and 2100 SAT score and receiving acceptance letters from 5 Ivy League colleges. Akintunde, known as Tunde to friends and family, was not only exceptional for the fact that he had the appearance of a stereotypical black youth who might be prejudged as a thug or criminal. Tunde, however, was a very normal and average kid whose parents committed time and effort to ensuring that they provide him with the tools for success.
As a mother of a young black male, I was inspired. I have always committed additional time and effort to fostering my son’s early education abilities and it has done wonders and although I would never take away from his natural abilities, I know that our early focus on reading made a significant contribution to this. Like Tunde, my son is an average kid, whose parents invested additional time and effort into his educational attainment. Any kid can be like my son, any kid can be like Tunde.
So why aren’t more African American children reaching these levels?
Often we imagine that prodigious children are born with superior intellect but frequently the distinguishing factor between the children who excel and those who don’t is parental involvement. Many parents rely solely on the education system to prepare children for college and adulthood, but studies have shown that early childhood education and the amount of interaction from parents is a critical factor to a child’s long term success. Neurological research sustains that 85% of brain development occurs before age 5, however less than 5% of national educational investments are for early educational investment. Considering that public school enrollment does not occur until age 5, children who are not educated prior to entering school or whose parents rely solely on schools to provide instruction are constantly at a disadvantage. This disadvantage remains throughout school and inhibits success long into adulthood.
The ideal solution is that parents would begin providing instruction to their children at birth, but new parents are often unprepared to be teachers and constrained for time. What parents need is information and products that will assist them with teaching their kids valuable academic subjects to prepare them for school and also practical and historical information to prepare them for life.