Rules for Maintaining Order
by Joy Marie Dunlap

Speaking in Turn. With five children, our biggest problem is everyone talking at once. We have several important rules to avoid chaos.

  • No one is allowed to enter a room “mouth first” unless the house is burning. Children are to fully enter the room, stop to see what is going on, and speak only if the person they wish to address is not concentrating on a conversation, an assignment, an article, or a phone call.

  • All verbal discourses must begin with the person's name or title, followed by a pause to give him a moment to pull his thoughts away from whatever he is thinking about or doing. An acknowledgment means the speaker can now begin his discourse.

  • Interrupting is not allowed. This includes interruption of a conversation, phone call, music lesson, or teaching time.

  • Rapid-fire changes of subject, one after another, are not allowed. (This is to prevent making Mama's head spin and wearing her out utterly!)

  • Raising hands is required in any situation where the conversation becomes disorderly and out of hand.

  • During reading aloud or video viewing, the reading stops or the video gets turned off if there is quarreling, elbowing, or excess noise or shuffling.

  • A problematic quarrel means the end of that activity. It may also mean enforced quiet time with only quiet activities allowed. I leave the burden of keeping the peace on all parties, not just the oldest.

    Indoor Play. If indoor activity gets to be a safety concern, I order it stopped. A continuation of the behavior brings time-out or other discipline.

    Family Music Time. During our family singing times, no talking is allowed during a song. If a child is playing an instrument during singing time and can't keep up, he can either stop playing or start in at a later point.

    Art Time. During art times the children are not allowed to monopolize shared markers. No one is allowed to bump the table or invade someone else's drawing or painting space.

    Joy Marie Dunlap, California

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