We have all probably been there and eventually found something that at least partially worked to motivate our kids to complete necessary chores and homeschool work. Can you relate?
But before you finally found something to at least have somewhat worked for you, you didn’t know what to do. I know I’ve been there.
A fellow homeschooler in our little community here asked what kind of reward system/consequences/motivations I might have used with my guys that worked for us. I had to think back just a bit, because it was a little while ago that my guys were in the 9-12 years of age range – that tween period that you have either experienced or will and when it comes the first time around with your first born – it can be a shock. Anyone else experience that? And I used to teach that age range (bk) before kids and really had no idea until I experienced with my own kids.
So when my first born was around that age and started resembling an emotional roller coaster, I was taken a little off guard. What used to work – like Dollar Store Reward Fridays – was no longer a strong motivator. I had to assess where we were at and where could we go from here to get back on track.
So here is my response to our fellow homeschooler who was kind enough to write me! (And I want to take this opportunity to ask all of you for input and ideas of what worked for you and to please share it with us all so we can have a number of ideas from which to choose and see what works for our families.)
“Since my guys’ best time for school was first thing in the morning right after breakfast -We did school (the main subjects- language arts, math, science, history, or a language) in the morning hours.
After lunch was any science experiments we couldn’t fit in the morning or projects/crafts that related to a history study we were doing.
After that was chore time (daily type quick clean up chores). Major chores or a weekly type of chore was usually completed on Saturday morning.
Then came outdoor and fun stuff – we would just do morning subjects if we had plans for something needing more time after lunch.
The deal was for us – if chores were not completed we did not do the afternoon activity or if they were slow to complete the chores we would be late or have to cancel.
The afternoon activity was the “prize” since the dollar store type prizes we had (on Fridays for a good week) were too lame for their ages. I would ask them what kind of things they would like to do and add a few suggestions – for us it usually involved going somewhere outdoors (free) or a free or cheap museum (and occasionally I have to admit a real treat was a slushie, icee, or a cheap sweet) (no judging
Getting input from them on incentives gave me insight into them – some of their ideas, of course, had to be steered toward another direction and within my budget and capabilities, but we found some they enjoyed.
We had nearby parks or trails, or fisheries, nature centers, old historic places to investigate, ponds or lakes with nets in hand to explore. Just something new and to get us out of the house.
The other part of the deal was we had a designated time for television or video games or other electronics from 5-6 or 6-7 depending on our day that they had to earn as well. No chores, no electronic privilege that night. It wasn’t 100% fool-proof, but a couple of evenings of just missing that one hour would prove too much and they’d complete their chores to get it back.
It was a win win for me – because while they would spend that hour or two if they swapped and took turns depending on the type of day and me and what I needed (again no judging
). I would have quiet time in the kitchen to make dinner and play some music in the background to allow me time to relax and unwind. (My husband travelled a lot – so that time was precious to me to be able to get to the bedtime hour.)
So, I guess our method was a combination of incentives as well as taking away privileges. It didn’t always guarantee the desire outcome but when they figured they had missed out on enough, they would get themselves in gear.
Was this at all helpful? I hope so.
Update: Since posting this on my blog, I came across this post on another blog suggesting non-monetary rewards. Maybe you will find something in this list that will motivate your family if you choose to use a reward system:
Also, another common technique used by a number of homeschoolers was to set a timer per chore or room to be completed to keep momentum going when doing the task.
This was such a great question and I’ve seen other moms on face book groups and the like express similar challenges.”
Please share your ideas and experiences with all of us in the comments box below. And thanks for your input in advance!