It has become very clear this school year that we have turned a new corner as a homeschooling family. I think I suddenly have enough children in the house - especially older ones - to create just enough chaos and distractions, to require some school-day rules!
So in honor of "Constitution Week," back in September, we made a little school project out of drawing up our own classroom constitution. I asked each of the kiddos to come up with a few rules they thought would be useful. NO problem for them at all, since the exercise quickly became a golden (and usually not tolerated!) opportunity to tattle on each other a bit.
They came up with a detailed list that makes me laugh every time I read it. We really were having a rough week! Here's what they said:
No gum. No snacks. No secret stashes of snacks in your lap or pockets (I hadn't caught that one!). No glasses of water. No slurping spilled water off the table with your tongue while mom is talking. No belching. No other bodily noises, especially while mom is talking. No playing with your pencil, stuffed dog, fingers, etc. No putting your pencil in your nose & making goofy faces at mom while she is talking. No poking your sister. No looking at your sister. No making faces at your sister. No touching your sister's books, papers, pencils. No glaring at your brother & making growling noises - regardless of what he was doing to you in the first place! No tattling. No telling mom what General, Little Monkey or Peanut are doing while mom is talking. No telling mom what General, Little Monkey or Peanut are NOT doing, while she is talking. No humming during writing time. No staring at your brother during writing time. No clicking your tongue or making other irritating noises at your sister during writing time. No asking mom random nonsense-questions while she is teaching. No making baby-faces/baby-talk at Peanut while mom is teaching. No teasing, bragging or answering questions for other people. No bathroom breaks (or, limit one bathroom pass per morning).
Even though Little Monkey can't sign his name to a constitution yet, we thought we should include some rules for him, since he takes part in class time.
No pinching people's legs or feet during lessons. No tackling, tickling, hitting or poking people with toys/hands/spoons, etc. No yelling. No looking directly at mom while she is teaching and yelling even louder to make everyone laugh. No throwing things. No taking people's pens, markers, etc. off of the table when they aren't looking. No coloring on the walls, floors, table or anything or anyone else. No climbing up on the counters to peek in the cabinets while mom is teaching!
Tsk! Tsk! Of course, it wasn't so funny at the time. But the truth is that all children need guidelines and boundaries...if there are no rules to follow, how can they know what is expected of them? And how can one mom maintain order without some reasonable system for discipline in place?
So I translated our above ideas into a slightly more dignified, school-ish list that looks something like this:
1. Be on time. This means sitting in your assigned chair with all of your books and sharpened pencil ready to go; bathroom needs already taken care of.
2. Have a respectful attitude, even if you are tired or do not feel like doing school.
3. Show kindness to your classmates:
- No mean or discouraging words, looks or body language
- Keep your hands to yourself
- Don't touch other people's things without their permission
- Do whatever your teacher asks of you with a cheerful, willing attitude
- No talking or making any other noises during classtime
- Sit up and pay attention during class
- Be cooperative & set a good example for other students
- No disruptive behavior
6. No toys or other personal objects at the school table.
7. Do your work quietly and efficiently. Do your best to follow the schedule.
8. Raise your hand if you have a question.
9. Do not leave the school table until all of your work is finished and you have the teacher's approval.
10. Absolutely NO arguing or fighting with classmates. Be silent and the teacher will handle any issues.
What Happens if you Don't Follow the Rules
Tardiness: For each minute that you are late for school, you will go to bed 10 minutes earlier than your usual time.
School Behavior: For each broken rule, you will receive one checkmark on your card. (I'm just using a plain 3x5 card for each child, with their name on it.) Three checkmarks will result in a detention. You will receive a fresh card at the beginning of each week.
Arguing/Fighting: Automatic Detention.
Detentions: One hour after school, on whatever day Mom decides. You will either have chores, housework or schoolwork assigned to you, which you must finish during that time. Two detentions will result in a meeting with Dad.
It has now been several weeks since we officially put the "new rules" into place, and let me tell you, it really has made all the difference! Our days have been remarkably peaceful. And, even better, this has turned into a great way to teach/train the kiddos in good things like punctuality, diligence, reliability, perseverance, patience, self-control.
I also printed out & posted a copy of the Duggar's House Rules, which you can find here on their website. These guidelines are a little more positive - rather than just a list of don'ts, these are some good ideas of things to do!
A Peaceful Homeschool
Daily Schedule & Routine, Part 1