99% of what we do during our homeschool day is an adaptation of what I did as a classroom teacher. As a teacher, I learned two important things:
1. Children like to be rewarded for “good” behavior.
2. All children love to please their teacher. Now this pleasing the teacher thing is much easier for some than others. But I found that it was my responsibility to find the “good” in each child. I was always on the look out for the smallest opportunity to reward those students who are not the perfect little girls who will actually one day grow-up to be teachers.
I tried quite a variety of reward systems. The most successful by far was our classroom store. I ran off a bundle of $1.00, $10.00, and $100.00 bills. And I passed them out generously to reinforce desirable behavior:
I like the way Johnny is walking quietly in the hall. Here’s $1.00.
I like the way Suzy is sitting flat on her bottom, hands in her lap, eyes on me. Here’s $1.00.
I’m impressed with the way Tommy is writing in his journal. Here’s $1.00.
Thank you Mary for cleaning you workstation so quickly. Here’s $1.00.
You’re getting the idea, I bribed the children into exhibiting “good” behaviors. Now some are very much against this. But hey, it worked! And it was all through positive reinforcement. Most of us go to work to earn a living. I explained to the children that school was their job. And just like a real job the harder they worked the more money they made. Yes some made more money than others. But all of the students made a lot of money! And all students left my class knowing that their teacher thought highly of them!
Each Friday I opened the classroom store the last few minutes of the day. Anyone with “ten dollar” behavior was allowed to shop. The store had stickers, pencils, books, posters, donated items from parents . . . Some items were $1.00. Some items were even $100.00.
Through the years, I saw the children learning some important life skills:
1. When the children had their eye on an item in the homeschool store they worked hard to save-up their money, even if it took months. They had to decide, “Do I want to spend $2.00 this week on candy or save-up for that poster?”
2. When the children collected 10 one dollar bills they traded it for a ten dollar bill. And when they had 10 ten dollar bills they traded it for a one hundred dollar bill. This was an excellent hands-on manipulation of the place value system.
3. I witnessed many children sharing their purchases with other students!
What in the world does this all have to do with homeschool? We have adapted this system to our homeschool setting. MacGyver is a little boy with his own agenda so he needs a little motivation to complete his homeschool assignments in a TIMELY manner. So I reward his good work with homeschool dollars. Here he is on a Friday shopping day, reading the directions and putting together the 3-D dinosaur he purchased.
Shopping at our homeschool store is like shopping in Japan, the prices are very high. But this way I can be very generous when giving out the homeschool dollars. When we are out doing our family shopping at a real store, I never buy my children treats. On occasion, if they see something they want at the store, I purchase it, price it and put it in the homeschool store. Sometime during first grade MacGyver asked, “If everything at The Dollar Store cost $1.00, why does it cost $10.00’s in the homeschool store?” Snagged!
MacGyver begged me for these space crystals. When they went on sale for half price, I purchased them and put them in the homeschool store. He worked very hard to earn these crystals. This purchase turned into a great family science investigation.
MacGyver and Miss Enigma move in for a closer look.
Now and again, I have tried letting Miss Enigma have a go at earning money. For the first 2 years of homeschool she didn’t really “get-it.” But we try to include her as much as possible. Here she is with one of her first purchases.
Miss Enigma is now approaching four and just starting to understand the homeschool store concept. We were having trouble with her sleeping in her bed through-out the night. So when she begged for this mermaid set, I used the opportunity to allow her to earn it from the homeschool store. Each night she slept in her bed, she earned $1.00. That solved our problem and now she has worked for and earned her first real homeschool store purchase.
The children also earn homeschool money by doing little family chores like taking out the recycle and . . .
sorting and folding their laundry.
If I weren’t homeschooling, we would have a family store and reward system. This summer we’ve taken a break from our homeschool routine but the children still do chores and earn money. MacGyver has especially participated in a lot of household cleaning chores this summer. He currently has his eye on this art set I bought on clearance. Wish him luck.
And Miss Enigma informed me that she will be purchasing these stickers from our homeschool store.
As the children get older we’ll probably transition away from the homeschool store. But at this age it works great! Joyce has been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class. She’s recommended Chapter 16: Crumb Snatchers and Money to me. Maybe we’ll tackle that next.
For those of you interested in starting a classroom store or homeschool store below is a link to print FREE money! I printed mine on different colors of card stock.
What reward systems do you use in the classroom and at home?
Life with Jeannine
Please join us tomorrow for more math “out in the world.”