It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Atlanta’s Naomi Bradley, a home-schooling mother of three and author of three children’s books, can certainly attest to the truth of that adage.
Bradley, a former teacher, was dismayed and disheartened after listening to students who, by year’s end, felt disillusioned, disaffected and left behind by a combination of biased standardized testing, unrealistic expectations and an education model that didn’t cater to their unique, individual gifts.
“Instead of discovering and teaching to the things they already enjoyed now, as a young person, public schools and charter schools required teaching to the collective and ignoring the creative individual, unless that genius was found within the guidelines specified by administration,” said Bradley, who taught for 10 years at public, private and charter schools.
Not wanting her children to suffer a similar fate, Bradley decided to home school, a task that proved challenging because the three youngsters, all under age 4, were at different ability levels.
“Home schooling different age/grade levels requires quite a bit of planning,” Bradley said. “I [get] the goal/objective in mind first, then I plan lessons accordingly to achieve that goal.”
Bradley made it work, however, by utilizing advanced planning, enrichment from technological resources and especially peer-to-peer learning, which involves a student mastering a concept, then taking an active role in reinforcing that concept with another student.
“I firmly believe that you really don’t know something unless you can teach it,” she said. “So, the peer-to-peer model also helps me as the teacher see how well my older children know their material.”
It was this dedication to her children’s education that led Bradley to write her first two books, “Reading at One” and “The Big Book of Beginner Reading Stories,” which both encourage early literacy in toddlers. The books detail what to say, what to play and what to sing to get children interested in reading at an early age.
“What makes my books different from others is that, in addition to having phonics, sight words, rhymes and word families, it also [speaks] to the self-esteem of the child by having all Black characters,” Bradley said. “Black children need to see themselves reflected as much as possible in their reading material.”
Bradley has since added to her bibliography with books that teach various school subjects to young children, as well as a rhyming bedtime story written in English and Spanish titled “Goodnight, Princess.” Her latest offering is an informational and encyclopedic text that details historical facts about seven African countries called “Aaron Knows About Africa” and she is currently working on a cross-circular addition story called “Math Elevator.”
“I have a master’s in Middle Grades Math an Science, so, in addition to my passion for literacy, I have a mathematics background, as well,” she said. “I am a firm believer that reading and math go hand in hand, so this new book will allow parents and educators to incorporate both literacy and math.”