Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boarding School at Home, Part 3: How It's Supposed to Work & the Why

Why boarding-school-at-home? I already touched on many of the points in Part 1: the Catalyst, but it doesn't hurt to expand a little bit. I think the main reasons is that I need more order in our homeschool, more discipline in K's life, & more structure, which I guess is another way of saying order, in my life too. Discipline for K, obviously, being the main one.

By discipline, I don't mean beating the kid with a stick or having him answer with, "Yes, sir!" and "No, ma'am!" As I've said earlier, I need him to take me and schooling more seriously. Having a more structured environment where Mom is in control is a way of encouraging such a mindset, enforcing the rules & that school must take priority.

For those that don't know me, our homeschool has always been very loose & carefree. We're not unschoolers, but we're not school-at-homer's either. We school on the couch mostly, have no set schedule unless it's an activity day or have some place to be, laugh a lot, live in our pjs, try to school as many subjects as we can, but honestly, a lot has fallen to the way-side as we keep being forced into long breaks such as with the plumbing disaster & Thanksgiving. It's been this way for 7 years and while it has it's downsides, it'd been working up until K turned 13.

Again, K is an amazing kid. The best child you could ever hope for. He's the reason we stopped at one. We got the cool, crazy kid on the first try, the perfect fit for our family. But also again, the hormones have kicked in. We're nipping the attitude in the bud now before it becomes an even bigger problem. We've seen adults who grew up to be egotistical jerks because their parents let them run all over them & we don't want that for K. We want him to remain awesome. We also want to instill in him the personal discipline he'll need to make it in law or whatever profession ends up driving his heart.

Does that make sense?

So it's become a "the old way isn't working anymore, let's try the opposite" kind of thing. Hence, going from a very easy-going lifestyle to a boarding-school-at-home one.

How boarding-school-at-home is supposed to work. Emphasis on the supposed.

1. His room is a dorm room. As part of his grounding, it's not supposed to have any video games in it. Ditto for boarding-school-at-home. However, to be honest, there really is no other spot for them. So, games will be allowed in his room, but no game players.

In addition to removing "nearly everything he loves" from his room, I've also been helping him to give it a thorough dejunking, cleaning, rearranging, installing new organizers, even buying him new bedding & a new lamp. In essence, transforming it into a dorm room of sorts. His bureau is for undergarments & off-hours clothing. His closet, complete with two 6 pocket hanging organizers & hangers for ties & slacks, is where his uniforms are kept. There is no confusing which garments are for which times. (Trust me, he tried to get away with such early on, & stopped when it didn't work.)

We're not 100% done with the room, but a huge amount has been accomplished.

2. The uniform means it's time for school & gives me more parental control. The uniform stays on until schooling is done for the day. If he drags it out till 3 in the morning, then guess what? The tie stays on. Math is the subject he dawdles at the most. We're talking 2 hours to do a simple math lesson & nagging doesn't work. What is working is being in uniform. Doesn't work all the time of course, but for the most part, yeah, it's going according to plan. The kid is in uniform, I'm in uniform, and that means school is on.

Now people may call me an ass for this, & maybe I am, but the uniform is another way of showing that Mom is in control. She controls what he, the student, the sassy 13 yr old, is allowed to wear. The kid may have gotten a say in colors & some uniform pieces (he loves his gym uniform,) but there is no wearing of video game T-shirts or pjs during school time. I say when it's a shirt & tie day. I say when it's a polo shirt day. I say when it's a "I'm exhausted, you're sick, let's just have a pj day."

On a tangent note, the boarding school I looked into actually didn't have a uniform. They had a strict dress code, but no required uniforms. Personally, I figured if I was going to be paying that much in tution & fees, then there should be a frelling uniform rather than a
"look at stores like Lands End as examples of what is acceptable" dress code.

3. Is there a schedule? Right now, no there's not. We've never been good with schedules. Before the plumbing disaster & grandpa's funeral, I did have a lovely color-coded chart full of subjects that needed to get done based on their color-coded priority. We still haven't worked back up to that yet. We still haven't worked up to a full subject load again either.

There's still those problems of K's room not being finished & all the areas damaged by water in the basement dejunked & repaired. We can't keep paying a $90 for a storage unit. We can't keep having water leaking in through a poorly boarded up window, nor carpet that had been soaked by the Christmas of Poo. So, I've given myself till the fall for such to happen. For his room to be done & for enough of the basement to be cleared out & repaired so that we haul back what we've had to place in storage. K's still has a lot of schooling, it's just not as much as he needs if he's going to graduate 2 years ahead of regular schoolers.

I guess you could say that the day runs like this right now: I wake up first, have my coffee, go online, get into my Teacher Mom uniform, do laundry (there is always laundry to be done,) and a few other things at the same time. Then I wake K up, let him have 1/2 hr to an hour to have his breakfast & get some free-reading in (he's currently obsessed with the Redwall series & just finished all the Percy Jackson books.) Then I tell him what the uniform of the day is, have him get dressed, and we start school. There's a few breaks, of course, but he schools until he's done & then is allowed into his jammies. If he were to get done before midnight, of course he'd be allowed in regular clothes, but that hasn't happened yet. And to be honest, he LOVES his gym uniform so much that he's maybe worn non-uniform clothing only once or twice since this all began.

I hope this made sense. I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out, so please feel free to ask away. Just no bashing. I don't say your way of parenting is bad, so don't say mine is. It's something new that I'm trying. It may not work. We may only need to keep this up for a year or just a few more months. However, it is working for us. Hub & I are seeing a difference in K's attitude. To each his own and for us, at this point in our lives, it's boarding-school-at-home.


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