One of my friends from highschool is an elementary teacher. She recently re-decorated her classroom and posted pictures of it online. While I loved what she did with her room, one thing particularly stuck out to me. She had a Tattle Box along one wall. I’m not sure exactly how she uses it, but I immediately had the idea that it could prove a useful tool in my school room.
Let’s face it. There are many days where strife and discord seem to suck all joy out of the homeschool environment. Here we are trying to learn as a family and enjoy lessons in one of the best environments possible, and there are times when I truly believe I cannot handle one more snipe, bicker, or tattle. I don’t believe any family is immune to the fighting, yet we are truly pursuing a lifestyle of repentance in our family, particularly in keeping with our theme for the school year of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. There is no place in the believer’s life for a lack of peace brought on by constantly being irritated by each other, trying to be first, and taking every little offense to heart. We’ve seen a rise in the tattling this year, and it disrupts so much of our day that I’ve been praying for a solution that doesn’t take away from my focus and goals for the children.
Finally, we’ve found a practical tool that will enable every child who has been hurt to express their feelings in a healthy way. I believe it’s important for everyone, but especially children to have an outlet for extreme emotions. Anyone who has an offense that doesn’t involve bleeding from the head or being imminently run over in the street will be able to come to the tattle box (that’s only partly in jest), write out their offense, and place it in the box. Pre-readers will be able to draw a picture of what happened to them. They will not run to me every three minutes with a new offense, and I will ignore all shouts of “I’m TEEEEEELLLLLIIIIIIINNNNNGGG!!!!” and calmly point my children to the tattle box. At the end of the day, everyone will be able to go through the box and remove any tattles for which they don’t feel angry or hurt anymore. Sometimes the act of writing something and then discarding it later in forgiveness is a great way to diffuse the negative energy. If there is something that is still causing residual pain, Pete and I can look at it, get more information, provide discipline if necessary, and pray with the offender and the offendee. This gives everyone a chance to be heard, to practice forgiveness, and to learn that sometimes tattling is not worth the effort involved in writing it out – so best just practice letting things slide off your back when they aren’t that significant! The real world for them will involve many hurts and misunderstandings, often with no referee getting involved. And as an extra learning opportunity, I’ve placed right on the box in plain view 1 Peter 4:8, which admonishes us that love covers a multitude of sins. Prayerfully, it will become a verse that is memorized as anyone desiring to list their offenses will be confronted with the Word every single time. I’m also not going to allow bad language or name-calling in the tattle reports. We can all stand to learn how to talk about hurts with effective language, not stooping to the lowest levels.
Already I’ve seen angrily scrawled notes placed firmly in the box with a triumphant glare, only to get removed moments later. We just might see some real fruit coming from this, thank You, Yeshua! I would like to stay in the vein of everyone learning to stop taking everything so personally, so on the other side of the tattle box is what I’m calling a blessing box. Here is where children will be encouraged to write out notes of encouragement, love, and inspiration for family members. Everyone has gotten involved. I’ve seen such an outpouring of love between siblings with this that it brings tears of joy to my eyes. Who knew I just needed to create an obvious place with pens and markers right within reach for my babies to truly start to show love to each other? For the blessing box side, I’ve place the verse 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which exhorts us to build up one another and encourage one another. At the end of the day messages and pictures from the blessing box get distributed privately. I don’t want to necessarily let on that Ketziah gets an outpouring of cards, letters, and stories most days, while the others may only have one or two messages. My prayer is that one day the blessing box side will be overflowing, while the tattle box lies empty. But I’m keeping my hand to the plow in the meantime.