School has been out for over two weeks now and I refuse to spend the summer listening to the kids say, "I'm bored." So, we have a lot of ongoing projects right now in an attempt to keep them active and engaged.
A lot of our activities are just fun - going to the zoo, playing in sprinklers, having friends over, going to the beach. It was a long school year and we all need to unwind.
But, we're also working on some learning activities.
One of the big things we're doing is partially copied from a friend. (Thanks, Theresa! By the way, she copied a summer school idea from me so it's all fair. Plus, I broke her fence and Libby broke her butt at Theresa's house so we're doing well on the swapping/fairness issue.)
We've given the kids a weekly allowance for a few years now after Tom and I were lucky enough to see a noted child psychologist speak about many issues facing kids today and he truly impressed us. We refer to his ideas often, including allowances. If you're looking for a great book on raising kids, I highly recommend this one:
You can find it here.
Our goal with giving the kids an allowance is to teach them how to manage their time, money, and responsibilities. They have to do certain chores every week to get their allowance and are able to earn extra money by choosing to do extra chores. We've always had a chore chart typed up but never really used it. They all knew their responsibilities. But the extra chores were always...well...a chore. For me. Because they would ask what they could do and I would give them some choices but if they didn't like them, they complained or whined or chose not to do them. It wasn't working for anyone and we were all frustrated. It needed to be more organized and they needed to understand my expectations a lot better. I was not being a good communicator much of the time.
And then I heard about Theresa's stick idea. To be truthful, I really don't know exactly how she manages the "sticks" each child receives except that the kids know that they can turn in their sticks for rewards after doing chores and/or having good behavior. And the parents can take away sticks. Love that!
So, I took that idea of a system that had a hands-on component and ran with it. And came up with our own version.
Each child gets a jar.
They have mandatory chores and then extra chores listed on a sheet of paper. (We're still not quite done with week one and the list has changed a lot since I took these photos - it will be a work in progress for a couple of weeks, I'm sure.)
In the chore jar, there are three sticks (just cardstock really) with ribbons on them that say "All Chores Done." They can put this in their jars on Saturday mornings, provided that all of their mandatory chores have been done for the week. They will get their usual, age-appropriate allowance for this stick.
And then there are many other sticks. The ones the kids laughed at was the "Minus 1" stick. It's a stick that Mommy or Daddy can put in their jars if we are truly frustrated with their behavior or they are not doing their chores. Getting the Minus 1 stick taken out of their jar requires a conversation with us and each one will be handled on an individual basis. I honestly don't anticipate needing it much at all but it's there in case.
The rest of the sticks are for all the extra chores listed on the chart, such as dusting the downstairs, vacuuming the stairs and the hallway, cleaning bathrooms, etc... And then an "Extra" in case we come up with something else.
We are 5 days into it and so far, so good. The kids LOVE it. Really, truly LOVE it. Which kind of shocked me. But they like seeing what there is to do and they all appreciate getting rewarded for doing extra work.
The next step will be opening individual bank accounts for all of them and working on activities that show them the benefit of saving money rather than spending it.