The (not so serious) Serious Word

Captain-von-Trapp-whistleCaptain 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.

Do you have any tips on calling and briefing kids?


Words as Concepts

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  • Reply
    June 23, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I whistle my children too :-). It gives them freedom to go further away and only on the condition that they return immediately on the whistle.

    And instead of “report”, I say, “we need to make a list” lol. Then my children do almost exactly the same thing!!

    Great post Kelly.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 7:32 am

      And that’s exactly it! The responsibility of coming when called means more freedom is given. It goes hand in hand.

  • Reply
    Jen Finch
    June 23, 2011 at 7:43 am

    The Captain had it straight I reckon!!! My boys play way down the paddock, in sight but out of calling ear shot, so I have a FOX 40 whistle that I used to use whitewater paddling. It gives a great ear piercing whistle and has the boys attention instantly. (Mind you I should invest in some good earplugs for myself so I don’t go prematurely deaf!) I have memories as a kid of playing in a tree house a fair distance from the house and being called back by an old bronze gong! It still gets used to get Dad or the guys up from the shed if they’re needed at the house urgently, (although we’ve had to hang it up a bit higher after a couple of false alarms sent by the grandkids!:) ) I don’t use the report report but love the idea Kelly! Love SOM too!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

      Jen, reading your comment made me laugh. So much tradition and history in that one comment. When did you do whitewater paddling? With school students? That cool! And the gong had me in stitches. I can so imagine kids having a blast with that. BAHAHA!

      That reminds me Jen, that my Mum had a triangle and spoon outside the backdoor and she used to call us that way for meals.

      Thanks for the memories. xx

  • Reply
    Eleanor Formaggio
    June 23, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Loved this post, especially when you said “It’s a game, …… and …..They key to this being a success is to not overuse it…” so true, amazing what the kids will do, when they find something fun/funny. Also, if it’s saved for important times, it works a treat and so much better than other alternatives like nagging or begging.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Great points Eleanor. I do try not to nag and beg but try and find creative ways to parent. It’s much more fun!

  • Reply
    Kate @ Puddles and Gumboots
    June 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I love the idea of having a special word and making it a game to get the kids to pay attention to important instructions or information, what a great idea! I think I would need a whistle like Captain Von Trapp’s in the picture though as I can’t whistle to save my life. I am very big on the idea of giving more freedoms as they demonstrate regular responsibility though.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      I think Captain Von Trapp’s wistle is gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind one myself. You said it just right Kate: give more freedom as they domonstrate regular responsibility.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2011 at 9:57 am

    LOVE this post – what a GREAT idea!!!

    Oh, and off topic a bit, i just noticed your Awesome Shoe Blogroll… those flower sandals…. i LOVE them!!! Where oh where did you get them and can i get my hands (or feet!!!!) on a pair too?!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks Emily. They are the BEST SHOES EVA!!!! I purchased them from a small shop at Mt Tamborine but they don’t sell them any more … boo hoo…

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    June 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Oh, love this idea. We don’t do anything in particular, but I may well be adopting this one now!! Although, my whistle is a bit lame… 😉

  • Reply
    Kelly Lock
    June 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Hahaha! I was JUST wishing for a whistle the other day!!! I find 5 kids manic to organise… now to think of a “code” word!… (And maybe buy myself a hardcore whistle!)

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      HA! Yes, I can imagine! Good luck with your “code” word 😉

  • Reply
    June 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    OMG I am so jealous. I never learned how to whistle because my mum forbade me from practicing as a child (apparently, it’s unladylike…) Now I fear it’s too late to learn.
    BTW, how old were your kids when you started using “report”?

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      It probably isn’t that ladylike. HA! But I love being able to do it. It’s awesome. And VERY VERY loud. Hurts my ears. I should do a video tutorial on how to whistle with your fingers ay…

      Trying to think when I started using the word “Report”. Probably been doing it for a couple of years now, so since my youngest was about one…but that is because he has older siblings. I think using words as concepts can start at any age…but what you expect changes, I guess more than anything. Now my kids are aged from 3 to 9, it’s a perfect age for this kind of thing. But I think even a 2 year old would be able to grasp the concept somewhat. xx

  • Reply
    June 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

    You made my day, Captain von Kel! I love the fun of this – plus the bonus of it being so useful and clear a communication.

    I used to have a coo-ee call for the bush with my son, but I didn’t have a special inside call. I wonder how my husband and son would handle “Report”? I’ll let you know!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

      BAHAHAHA! I don’t think I’ve used it on the husband…might try that too!? Do you think that will go down well? lol And Captain von Kell: I like that! HA!

  • Reply
    June 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I can’t whistle, which is very sad. Not from lack of trying I just can’t do it. But my husband whistles and it’s great, especially in places like shops where you can lose sight of everyone.

    I tend to use a lot of hand gestures, I started as a teacher on yard duty and it works just as well with my own kids. To get attention a loud ‘Oi!’ will cause most people to look up even if they have no idea who I am. I do like the idea of a special word for my girls though.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      I will have to do a video tutorial on whistling I think …HA! I have been thinking about hand guestures…I notice a lot of teachers to it and it can be really useful along with verbal instruction hey… So I’ve been using it a little more with my kids. Like: “Can you take your plate to the sink?” and use hand gestures too. And I like “Oi!”…I can see you using that very well. 😉

  • Reply
    July 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I have a whistle attached to my keyring. I have a 5 yo and 2yo twins and have found myself in the need of something more attention grabbing than my voice lol. I have not used it often but I always have it on me. I will try the Report thing though. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Kelly b
      July 2, 2011 at 11:47 am

      That’s a great idea: to have it on your keyring! Good for safety too,

  • Reply
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