Strategies for Sanity in the Schoolroom: The Dad Cam

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this in a place as public and as permanent as the internet, but things haven’t always been sweetness and light in our schoolroom. (What? You already knew our lives weren’t perfect?) Most days were great, but when you’re living, working, studying, eating, playing, etc. in such close proximity, the minor conflicts of normal life can be magnified, and they can easily get out of control if left unchecked.

I was determined to address problems as quickly and fairly as possible, but as my darling little cherubs grew into clever little debaters, I found myself spending a lot time trying sorting out who said what to whom, what their tone of voice and facial expressions were like, what happened just before and just after, who had initial possession of any items involved…you get the picture. And after all that, it still often came down to a he said/she said situation. If the offense was more serious and required some counsel from Dad, the play-by-play had to be repeated several hours later, adding to the opportunity for misrepresentation.

It finally hit me one day that what I needed was instant replay—just like in a sporting event. This was long before the days of web cams or cell phones that captured video, so it was an off the wall concept at the time. I got out our old clunky camcorder and set it up in a place that offered the perfect blend of scope and detail. I told the kids my plan, then pressed “RECORD”. The Dad Cam was in operation.

Your first response to this idea might be, “Sure, anybody will be on good behavior if they know they’re being taped.” Uh, yeah. It was kind of nice.

But that can only last so long, and our Dad Cam stuck around for quite some time. It served several purposes:

1. If there was a minor conflict that just required a quick sorting out of fact from fiction, I’d say, “Let’s go to tape.” We’d gather ’round the VCR, and the truth would be plain for all to see in a matter of moments. Those who were mistaken or downright deceitful had an immediate opportunity to make things right. Those who were wrongly accused were vindicated.

2. If an opinion from Dad was in order, he could simply watch the video to see what really happened instead of trying to sort out the facts from several perspectives.

3. It gave me—the mom—a chance to see how I really looked and sounded. Sometimes I was harsher than I should have been. Sometimes a little more patience was in order. Sometimes a more watchful eye could have kept things in check.

4. If something wonderfully extraordinary happened in the course of a school day, we had a record of the event. On many occasions, the Dad Cam played a part in letting others get a glimpse of an amusing or profound moment in our homeschool.

These days, access to video is cheaper, faster, and easier than ever before, and even constant streaming is an option for regular folks. It’s the perfect time to bring the Dad Cam into a new era. If you’re looking for ways to keep the peace, keep Dad in the loop, and keep tabs on your day, you may want to give the Dad Cam a try.