Monday, June 08, 2009

Further Details on Summertime Systems

(Answers to some of your questions at the end of this post)
We're into week three of our summer point system (explained HERE) with the kids and things are still going pretty darn well! The kids certainly have their moments when they complain but mostly they're so excited to be making money and the twins have even started asking me for jobs they can do to make money - they're pretty cute helping their big siblings and getting in on the action. Ashton's really going for it on the guitar - he can already play 3 songs and has learned to find chords for his favorite songs off the internet. He's achieved "seriously cool" status with his siblings and the neighborhood kids as he plays his guitar and it's fun to see that beautiful proud smile of his popping out. Isaac has been really motivated with his reading when he reads to the twins. He still drives me crazy with how slow he reads when I try to read with him but if he's reading to the twins or helping Eliza read, he really shines. Eliza finished reading her 10 books and we're going shopping this week for her reading lamp - she's SO excited.

All the kids were thrilled with our DI excursion last week where they each found books and toys that they loved and got at great prices, barely dipping into what they've earned (they're all saving up for big things but I thought some more instant - and really cheap - gratification wold help keep the motivation up). Ashton bought a tiny pack of Pokemon cards at Walmart for $4 right before going to the DI and then found the water gun of his dreams at the DI for just $1. He had a little "buyer's remorse" when he realized how much more cool stuff he could have bought at the DI for that $4 and resolved not to buy more Pokemon cards for quite a while. Nice to have kids learn about being thrifty through real-life experiences!

We're getting little cleaning jobs done around the house each day so we don't have to take a big chunk of our Saturday to clean and everyone likes that. I'm loving following the kids' interests and learning about random new things most days. We went to the dinosaur museum last week and every kid really enjoyed it and we came home and researched even more about dinosaurs on the internet at home. We did a bunch of cool science experiments and learned about why oil and water don't mix and what cool things we can do with baking soda and vinegar. We've done bike rides to a farmers' market, spash pad and out to lunch at a favorite restaurant and we've been swimming a lot. Having this check list for each kid helps make sure we all stay balanced in doing chores, academic things and fun stuff as well as group things and individual things.

Finally, to get back to where I started with this post: Here are answers to questions I've received about our summer systems - several have emailed with different questions but Allison Chan's questions seemed to encompass everyone's questions so I'll answer her questions here. Allison, I tried to email you directly but couldn't get your email address to work and couldn't find a good address for you anywhere! So please comment back with a way to reach you - I'd love to be in better contact and love getting your comments on my posts.

I'm glad some of you thought some of our summer stuff might work well for your family. Be forewarned that it's taken me a few years to get to the point where I've got a system that works pretty well - there was a lot of trial and error with different systems I've tried and hopefully I can spare you a bit of that but ultimately, what works for your family will probably be somewhat different from what works for mine. I found that I had to keep my systems pretty simple when my kids were younger or it was just frustrating for everyone. With my "big kids" at 9, 7 and 6 now, they finally really "get it" on earning points and money and I've figured out more what motivates them and what doesn't. That said - here are answers to your questions - I'm so flattered that you'd ask!

1. What sort of reading lamp do your kids earn? Is it one they clamp on their bed to stay up a few minutes later using to read? I can see this being very motivating for my oldest!

So far I've bought a lamp for them that goes with their room - one for their bedside table. The lamp sits there in its package until they've earned it by finishing all their books. Then, once they've earned their lamp they get 15 minutes of reading time each night - after they're in bed, they're allowed to stay up 15 extra minutes to read on their own.

2. Could you send me the link to your free spanish lessons online? I'm always looking for ways to help Dallin keep up on the spanish he's learned all year, and now Ashton will start his Dual language education this Fall!
- Here it is:
The people who do it are Scottish so you have to get used to their accents a bit but my kids like doing this and 15 minute basic lessons are about perfect for us to review what they know and move them forward plus give us all more conversational Spanish phrases to try to use every day with each other.

3. I'm intrigued by your point system! How much money do they earn per/point? Do some things get more points than others? Do you mind sharing your point tracking document?

I'm happy to share the list of things the kids are doing to earn points and you can get some ideas and make your own spreadsheet with the stuff that works for your kids. Let me know if you want it and I'll email you the attachment. Basically, though, this is how it works: There's a list of things for the kids to accomplish each day:
  • they help pick 1-2 group activities for the day (research something off our "wondering list," read a chapter of a book together, play a game together, etc.)
  • they need to complete 4 out of 6 individual activities (journal writing, math, reading, music practice, art or crafts....)
  • they're supposed to do something physical (bike, hike, swim - usually something we do together each day)
  • they do an activity with one of the twins (help them bike ride, read them a book, do a craft with them, teach them to write a letter, etc.)
  • they do 3 household things (a chore I assign to them, clean room/make bed, do their kitchen job)
They get a point for each thing for a total of 10 points a day. At the end of the week, they get 10 cents for each point. If they get up to 50 points, they get a bonus $2.50 for a total of $7.50 for the week. They can earn extra points to make up for points they missed during the week on Saturdays (works great to get them trained on doing different cleaning jobs around the house during Saturday cleaning) then they can get up to the 50 points and get their bonus. They all have to pay 1/2 on movies, museums, other entertainment, presents for friends' birthdays, etc. and they have to pay for toys they want (when it's not their birthday or Christmas) and treats they want plus they're saving up for special things they want. I really like it when they ask for an ice cream or a toy and I can just say, sure - but it's your money but remember, that will take x number of dollars out of your bank account and then you'll be slower saving up for that ____ that you want. So far, my kids seem to be pretty money-savvy - they search out the best deals on things they want and usually want the cheap ice cream cone rather than the banana split when they see the difference in price. It's nice not to have kids begging for stuff very often!

I hope these answers help! I'm sure anyone reading this is doing MANY things that I could learn from so I'd love to hear about what works for you - please comment here and share!


Allison said...

Oh, thank you, Saren! I totally gave you the wrong email address! It is I'd love to see the spreadsheet for tracking all of their activities. I told Dallin about the book light tonight and he is SO excited! I decided to go with an individual book light since the three boys all share a room and he will be the only one allowed to stay up late to read. He's also on the top bunk, so there is no side table up there! :)

The boys are also ecstatic to earn their own money! At this point we haven't paid them for anything so it will also be an introduction to saving and paying tithing on money earned instead of just money that is gifted to them.

I really appreciate you sharing all of your ideas. I've got two days to work this out in my head and I'm sure our system will look and work a bit differently than yours, but this is such a great jumping off point! Thanks again!

Brooke said...

Your parents have played a huge part in the way I have organized my own home. And now you daughters are here with fabulous ideas.

I took this idea of points for different activities and applied it to my older two children who are in competitive ball, which is really expensive. In order to help them appreciate the amount of money it cost we told them they would have to earn a certain amount of money toward it. We then provided jobs that were listed with point amounts that they could do and suggestions for other ways to earn babysitting, road stands etc. I included a date by which they needed to finish earning the money by. So even though I may end up paying for it in the long run (I pay for the extra jobs they do), they earned it and took some ownership in it.

Eyrealm said...

Loved reading this! Good for you! Excited to hear more about it in just about three weeks.

Julie said...

I happened on your blog and would love your tracking sheet! Great idea, and right up my alley :). Thanks!


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