While there are some states allowing for the reopening of schools amid COVID-19, there are others that have no plans on reopening in the coming weeks. Virtual learning is nothing new, but for millions, mainly those who are not at the college level, getting adjusted to homeschooling is not easy.
COVID-19 has altered the way education has been mandated for centuries, and parents around the globe are beginning to see the benefits of homeschooling as a result. For Keona Barnes, school life during COVID-19 wasn’t much of an adjustment, because she’s been homeschooling her twin daughters for the past two years.
As a communications professional turned educator, homeschooling has always been routine - even prior to her pulling her daughters from a traditional classroom. She has her hands full with two four-year-olds and a one-year-old, but she’s managing just fine.
Keona is always giving other parents who are interested in homeschooling advice on how to start. She’s also in the process of creating a program that guides homeschooling mothers along the way, as well as curriculum building for students at home.
Mayvenn spoke with Keona about navigating a new normal for parents who will be homeschooling full-time.
Mayvenn: What is your typical homeschooling schedule?
Keona: We homeschool once there’s “Order in the Court.” We do not have a strict schedule over here, as it’s best to pace the day. However, we typically are in session by 10am and are done by 12:30-1pm.
Mayvenn: Many parents worry about the responsibility of following the traditional classroom schedule, which involves multiple subjects throughout the course of an eight hour day. Your curriculum schedule is shorter. Why is that?
Keona: You 100% should NOT be teaching for eight hours. Teachers of a traditional schoolhouse don’t even teach for eight hours, as there are certain filler classes, such as gym and art, and there’s also a recess for some and a lunch break. You also have to keep in mind that students are cramming in multiple subjects throughout the day. Homeschooling allows for the homeschool teacher to create a schedule that works best for their students’ learning methods.
The beauty of homeschooling your children is undivided intentional instruction, catered to your child(ren). Homeschooling children for about three hours daily is more than enough for most children. It also depends on the grade the children are in.
Mayvenn: How do you delegate breaks throughout the day with homeschooling?
Keona: We break for snacks and also take brain breaks whenever I see that my girls need one. It’s important to take your teaching hat off and replace it with your mom’s hat during those brain breaks, because you know your children better than anyone. This is also the beauty of homeschooling, the ability to structure your day according to your child or student’s needs. If your children are showing signs of restlessness, there are creative ways to re-energize them. Throw a dance party, go outside and soak up the sunshine, or allow them to enjoy a snack. There’s no time clock that you have to abide by - this is your home, these are your kids, these are your rules!
Mayvenn: Do you teach the same subjects each day?
Keona: For the most part, the same subjects are taught daily. There are specialty subjects that I throw in, or special lessons. For example: I theme my lessons around major holidays that I find important or major moments in history.
Mayvenn: What does your preparation schedule look like and what do you advise for others?
Keona: I prep weekly, with a monthly overview. That means I plan the layout of what I’d like my children to learn each month, and weekly I plan more thoroughly step by step. It’s easier to have a plan so that you’re not teaching off the fly. But, you can always adjust your lessons as you go. Your children may catch on to a subject quickly, which enables you to move forward. Or, you may have to delay moving onto another subject if your children aren’t retaining the information.
Mayvenn: What extracurricular activities or fun school trips do you plan for learning outside of the classroom, or in your case at home?
Keona: Usually there’s a mix of learning at home and learning elsewhere. I take my daughters to museums, different parks for nature experiments and lessons and more. COVID-19 has changed that due to state mandates and social distancing; however, we still find creative ways to make learning fun and versatile.
Mayvenn: What do you say to parents who fear their children will lack social skills as a result of being homeschooled?
Keona: There’s a misconception that children who are homeschooled lack a social life. I mean as soon as you utter the words, “My children are homeschooled” the immediate response is, “How will they learn to socialize?” As if children in traditional schools are pushed to socialize. Children are almost pushed not to socialize in class every single day, as their focus is on learning.
The simple answer is keeping your kids engaged in extracurricular activities. It helps with finding a balance, just as in regular school. My children take dance classes, drama classes, swimming lessons and more. We also attend homeschool play dates, have recess dates, and participate in as many kid-friendly activities [as possible] outside of our home classroom.
You’ll also find that there’s a large homeschooling community. Finding friendships is only as daunting as one may think.
You can follow Keona’s homeschooling journey and learn more about her process through Barnes Prep. She also has a line of flashcards that she created for children of color, OurFrobet.