|No kids were harmed in the writing of this post!|
"Remember when we were little and Mom used to reward us by giving us rocks?"
I hope the coach didn't hear.
This is why rocks work for us. All parents know you should praise your kids more than you scold them. Easier said than done. For homeschool parents it's even harder for the simple reason that we are always with our kids. We play dual roles as teachers and parents. It's easy to become full-time correctors of bad behavior.
The system involves two types of rewards: marbles and rocks.
We are working together as a family to fill the huge hurricane jar (pictured above) with marbles and rocks. Each child starts his homeschool day with an empty marble cup sitting on the kitchen counter. Throughout the day, as I catch a child doing something right (listening, working quietly, encouraging a sibling,) I walk over and drop a few marbles in that child's cup. This is an especially effective way to stop bad behavior. If one child is complaining while two others are working quietly, I simply walk over and drop marbles into the cups of the quiet children. Usually, the complainer gets the message and quickly adjusts his behavior.
At the end of the day, each child counts his or her marbles, and then we pour them all into the hurricane jar. There is no reward for getting the most marbles, but they still like to count. When the jar is full, we'll get to celebrate with a family outing -- something that's not too expensive like mini-golf or go-karts.
One thing I love about this is that it's not a competition. Everyone should be happy anytime someone gets marbles. We are working together as a family, and every marble puts us closer to our goal. Each person's good behavior benefits the whole family, which is a truth that closely parallels real life.
So where do the rocks come in? Well, rocks are special.
Whenever we are out in public and another adult compliments one of our kids, that child gets a rock. It has to be a non-family member who catches our child doing something right.
When we get home, Mike and I make a big deal out of it. We announce to the whole family what Mrs. So and So said about our child. We let them know how proud we are of them. And then. . . drum roll please. . . we let them go outside and choose a rock. They choose the biggest rock they can find.
Rocks are gold because they help fill that giant hurricane jar much quicker. And everyone loves to be caught doing something right.
Katherine recently noted that she is at a disadvantage when it comes to gathering rocks. Her teacher is her mom, and her soccer coach is her dad which significantly reduces her chances of getting praise from a non-family member. So if you know Katherine in real life, and notice something nice about her, please speak up. You'll make her day. She'll get a rock.
And in our family, rocks are gold.
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