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Homeschooling is not easy. In school your child can be left behind, or sent to the principle, or detention, or some other means of disciplinary action, outside of actually having the child comprehend and complete his work. At home this doesn’t work. There is no passing the buck. You are the teacher, the mother, the father, the friend, the disciplinarian all at the same time. Some Days are good, some days are great, some days are difficult. There needs to be a balance of fun, encouragement, and discipline when needed. This is something that I’m sure none of you struggle with as everyone’s child is a perfect angel with no disciplinary problems, or bad days, but for the .000005% of us out there who just occasionally have a rough day with our children, where they throw a rebellion, and you lose your temper we have to try to keep it all together.
Recently in our household we came up with a concept that combined a few different ideas we’ve seen roaming around the homeschool arena in order to help keep us from losing our cool as well as a healthy way to discipline our children, and give them some material encouragement for good behavior, so this is what we did.
1st we introduced a reward system.
We came across play money at “Toys R Us” and decided that we would use it to pay our children every time they did something good. This brought us to think about what we could reward our children for. First we have our educational program. Each child has a weekly timetable that shows which subjects he studies on any given day. For each subject that they study well, we will give them a dollar. We have also been wanting to introduce the idea of chores for quite some time. As a result, we put together a list of chores that we wanted done daily and would alternate the chores between the boys. Each chore that they complete earns them a dollar. Abdurahman about to turn 6 we’ve also been wanting to encourage him to start praying. We have a chart with the prayer times and a place to put an X or a check mark next to each prayer. For every prayer he prays he gets a dollar. On top of this if the either of the boys have an excellent day, with regards to the homeschooling, chores, and behaviour, then we give them a good behaviour card which is worth 5 dollars.
Here are a list of the chores that we have for them.
- Making their beds (both of them)
- Making their sister’s bed
- Setting the table
- Cleaning off the table
- Folding the clothes
- Putting the clothes away
- Hanging up the wet clothes on the drying rack
- Taking out the trash
- Filling up the water jugs
- Vacuuming the floor
- Pick up the toys
- Put away the homeschooling materials
- Put the dirty clothes into the basket
They each have seven chores to do a day. We have a chart up on the wall for them to see and their names are velcroed at the top of each list and we rotate the names every day. This is what it looks like:
2nd we introduced a penalty system.
When I was in elementary school I had this great teacher who had this system of merits and demerits. When you did your homework or got a good grade you got a merit, and when you got in trouble for something you got a demerit. The demerits basically ate up your merits one for one. We introduced a similar system whereby bad behaviour earns you one red ticket. Red tickets can be handed out for a variety of things from lack of cooperation in studies, to disobedience, fighting with siblings, having an accident, or bad manners like not saying sorry. At the end of the day we look at the number of dollars to tickets. Each red ticket eliminates a dollar. If their dollars are more than their red tickets than they keep the remaining dollars, if their tickets outnumber their dollars then they carry them with them to the next day as a sort of debt they have to work off in order to start earning dollars again. But what do they do with all these dollars?
3rd We created a store in our home for the boys to spend their dollars.
Basically what we did was we came up with a number of rewards. We then put up a collage of images of the prizes along with the cost of each item in a “store” on the wall. At the end of each day the boys are allowed to purchase vouchers for whatever they can afford, and then the vouchers are with them to cash in whenever they want.
Here are a list of our items in our store.
- Ice Cream $20
- Trip to the bookstore $100
- Hot chocolate: $15
- Blowing bubbles: $6
- One riyal (our local currency): $10
- Choose your favorite meal: $6
- Picnic: $50
- Boxing gloves and bag: $5
- Trip to the haram: $10
- Call someone on Skype: $8
- Use the telescope/microscope: $10
- Trip to the playground: $70
- Painting: $25
- Coloring Picture, with choice of crayons, colored pencils, or markers: $5
- Balloon: $10
- Chocolate bar: $20
- Baking with mom: $20
- Trip to the carnival rides at the mall: $150
- Smoothie: $10
- Documentary: $15
- Board game: $25
- Playdough: $10
- Radio controlled monster truck: $5 for 10 minutes
We’re just in the beginning stages of this so it’s taking some time for all of us to get use to it. Right now for certain things we are only giving out rewards and no red cards. For example if they don’t do their chores we don’t give them red tickets, they just don’t get their dollar. Likewise we have a chart up for the five daily prayers if they pray them they get a dollar for each prayer, but if they don’t pray them there is no penalty. Eventually we may change this once they have become accustomed to racking in their dollars to add penalties to these categories when they leave them. Already it seems to be having a positive impact as the promise of a dollar has seen the rise in enthusiasm for carrying out daily tasks, and the ability to give out a red ticket has relieved us of becoming overly frustrated and losing our patience.
If you have any suggestions for rewards, or other chores please list them. We’re limited in our abilities due to our location, but we’d love to learn from your ideas, and they would be a great help to others as well.