Captain Von Trapp from Sound of Music was on to something when he used a whistle to give instructions to his children. Gathering my children together to go somewhere can take me a good part of 10 minutes, and sometimes longer! So I use a special word to call the kids. It’s kind of a game but it works a treat when I need to give my children instruction before we head out somewhere.
Here is the word:
Yes, report. And this is how I use it. Say our family is going out for the day, and I need to brief the children about what to bring, for example:
“Get your shoes on.”
“You’ll need to bring a jumper and hat.”
“Don’t forget your drink bottle.”
“Make sure your hair is brushed.”
Well, I call out, “Report! Report!” And all my children come running to me like a shot, all the while saying, “Report! Report!” When they get to me, they stand straight like soldiers with their chins in the air and hands behind their back.
It’s a game, and the kids think it’s hilarious, but it’s proven to be a fantastic way to get them all standing quietly for a moment so I can brief them. They key to this being a success is to not overuse it; only when something important needs to be said.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I do whistle to call my kids too. I learned a cracker-loud finger whistle when I lived in Papua New Guinea as a child and it has served me well ever since.
I like to provide opportunities for my children to play in large, unstructured places, like on the beach, out in the country or on a bush walk or hike. When we are out in these large spaces, where the kids may not be able to hear me, I whistle loud and the kids know to come running back to me. Yes indeed: Captain Von Trapp was on to something.