*sniff* Seems like just yesterday, I was crunk, hype, excited about starting my homeschool. I had BIG plans to teach my kids how to be my kids. I was gonna bust their hearts open with black history, strengthen their minds with deep conversational talks and relax their souls with Gratitudes. Fast forward about a month, I got great things going, cool ideas brewing and a list of stuff that ain’t working. I would grade myself a B+ BEFORE the realizations that come with a retrospective post and upon further review, I’m still a solid B. I can get better. THEY (dem kids) can get better. We got space and opportunity to grow this thang on out!
I’m starting with the great ideas. These are examples of stuff we’re doing that I’d LOVE to continue into their following years because I can already see/feel the difference at home.
Fixed Schedule (control the clock)
This is the key element to my success with homeschooling. We started with an 8am start time to match and mesh their usual school routines. After week 1, I pushed it back to 9am because that hour makes a HUUUGE difference. Our schedule will adjust anytime that Principal Mommy is home because those days we drive to campuses for school lunches or she may cook breakfast/lunch. The advantage of a fixed schedule is that the students (dem kids) know the expectations and it’s easier to enforce an obvious rule concerning expectations. There is less backtalk, less whining, less complaining and it structures your day.
This is an old school method that works WONDERS for my “school assignment management”. I have 4 kids, aged 17 – 7, and the number of times I had to redirect was exhausting. By placing them in station rotations, I’m able to control how much I’m needed. For US, 1 station is reading. WHOMEVER is reading does not need my help, attention, jokes or anything so I can focus on the other kids. For a time, I had a laptop station hooked up to the living room for anybody that needed to do some type of game, worksheet with answers, etc. Why? 😑 My kids play TOO much. By putting that assignment on the t.v. for everyone to see, that person is suddenly being watched under the bright lights by EVERYONE and I have 1 less student to keep focused.
Lunch & Movie
This may be my most pleasant idea of the FIRST semester. The kids (errr students) look forward to this so much that on Saturday and Sunday, they’re asking what we’re watching on Monday! We’re usually rocking old school movies but if it isn’t old, it is a family themed film. The conversations springing from the movies are worth IT. We’ve discussed race, slavery, changes since I was a kid, kids’ attitudes in THIS generation, list goes on and on. We only watch during lunch and STOP. It really helps with managing the lunch time goofiness too.
Cleaning & Chores
What a mighty POWER move this was! My kids clean after breakfast, after lunch, after snacks and after dinner. There is absolutely no excuse why they don’t have time to finish and finish the RIGHT WAY. I no longer accept shortcuts, “I thought I was done” or the infamous “but I didn’t make that mess!” None of that flies and to reinforce the message, I take away LAPTOP time. (More on this concept later. 😉💪🏾) I know my kids are getting better at this stuff because I feel it, see it, smell it. They’re even helping each other with ‘Academy chores’ in a blatant effort to get recognized for doing good deeds. 🤦🏾♂️
I’ve written about this. Reading is a biggie for me, as I grew up an avid reader. We use the Overdrive app to check out public library books, audiobooks and ebooks. Naaaw playa. No excuses on why he/she/dem not reading! That hour of silent reading is magical relief for da lil handicapped homie’s nerves. Do they read together? At one unified time of harmony and love for poor Daddy? 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Reader, I almost cursed for REAL!!! Heeeeck no, that wish does not work on these folks. Their reading is staggered and if someone falls asleep, they’ll finish reading an hour BEFORE they eat dinner. *I’m a blogger PEOPLE. Damn right my kids gon READ. 📚*
The lunches are basic BUT with a little TLC, the kids are enjoying them. What they like to do is: get it home, daydream how to spruce it up, compete with each other on who does it best, save breakfast for after-Academy snack. It saves the Fam a few coins and every penny counts right about now. 💱
Cool Start buuuuut…
Not everything has been a sterling model of success. 🤷🏾♂️ The following ideas are examples of stuff I had to tweak to fit in.
Book reports sounded SO fly but in reality, it’s dragging stuff down. The kids fought it so hard that I made book reports UNnecessary BUT still pay smaller rewards. In my vision, the kids would read biographies, histories, maybe even research significant individuals of Black history, write a book report and just GROW immediately. All they want to read are graphic novels. I compromised by allowing them to read graphic novels, report on graphic novels and earning 25-40% per submission. It wasn’t easy but the two sides struck a fair deal that ensured both got SOMEthing. 😉
Enforcing their communication
I started strong and confident about teaching my kids to speak without the ridiculously mean sarcasm. After about a week, I was short with the energy to enforce more positive communication. They’re at the point now where they find it funny to tattle and snitch on each other for sarcasm. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I simply do not allow LAPTOP time if I hear too much. If too much whining about, “but he/she was talking negative and they have the laptop”, that person will wait even more. I don’t explain it anymore either. I want the kids to talk with better energy. This mess I’m doing isn’t really helping anymore but can’t nobody give me an excuse that they aren’t aware of what I want.
This was another uber-ambitious want of mine. I wanted to document the kids’ growth and maturation through Gratitude Journals and Gratitude Activities. It worked at first, then the real school assignments came in and there wasn’t enough time. Gratitude is crazy important to me and I refuse to give up on it. Instead of highly specific journal prompts, assignments and such, I left a basic prompt that everyone must answer on the days of excess playing around. Nope, they haven’t figured it out yet. #Meh #TheyWill
It started with jamming classical music for study/work. Early in week two, my 17yr old brought Chillhop to the Academy and we’ve been rocking ever since. I blog, write, note, video to it by myself! Chillhop is hip hop like instrumentals, nothing on the radio. We keep it low and hold this rule, “if you can’t hear, you’re the one loud”.
This shit AIN’T working
Finally, we make it to my WORST ideas and straight up failings.
Checking their work!!!
Yoooo. If it weren’t for my wife and the teacher emails, I wouldn’t know if my kids actually finished their work, the quality, nothing. By the time I’m finished with Daddy’s Academy of Gratitude, I don’t have enough spoons for checking shit but chores! Several times, my wife has asked about projects, missing work and major tests that I knew nothing about. Yes, I get the emails, like her, but following through with checking on stuff; I SUCK. If a teacher emails me directly about missing work, I’ll still miss it. The plan is to create a chart that everyone can see and check off as they finish work. I haven’t even started on that.
I had to separate LAPTOP time from screentime. I’ve learned that my kids will run through a brick wall for Roblox but go to sleep on PS4, tablet games and other electronics. To save my nerves, I’ll take the laptops but leave everything else. Those laptops are the carrot, not the other junk!
I learned to stop forcing regular bedtime too. It USED to be 7:45pm for kid #4 and every 45min, the next kid was out. Now, with cleaning, chores, goofing off, reading, book reports, we start at 9:00pm. OMG. Soooo much less stress and refereeing!