Wednesday, January 28, 2009

help wanted

Lately the lines between between "school" and "home" have become blurred... one begins to flow seamlessly into the other... there is no clear distinction.

One recent example of this is our "Help Wanted" board. My husband and I decided that the kids needed to work on their money management skills and Clara needed more experience with recognizing and counting coins. So, instead of buying a curriculum, we set up the "Help Wanted" board.

Please forgive how messy my writing is... if you could only see the position I had to be in in order to reach the white board, you would understand. :-)

I don't know how else to write this so I'm going to do it in bullet points:

1. The kids have specific assigned chores that are not on the board.

These are required each day and if done every day, they receive their base pay of $1. If not done everyday, payment for all other chores is forfeited (more on this later).

2. "Help Wanted" chores are completely optional.

We assigned the things that MUST be done (feed the dog, fill the dog's water dish, making beds, etc.). Everything on our list is optional... all things that would be really nice if they happened, but no big deal if they didn't. Or they are things that I was doing anyway... so them doing the item lessened my work, but didn't increase it if they didn't chose that item.

3. All chores pay less than $.50.

We did this because we wanted the kids to be able to reasonably SAVE for the things they wanted... not outright BUY whatever they wanted. We wanted them to really think about what they would use their money for once they had enough.

4. They may only have one chore selected at a time.

When they see a chore they would like to do, they put their initial next to the line. Once it is done, I check it and they may select another chore. This avoids the first one to the board selecting all of the choice jobs, before the other one has a chance.

We're a few weeks into this and so far so good. We had a glitch last week where near the end of the week they both missed a morning of their required chores. By the rules they were to forfeit all of their money earned that week. We quickly saw that this would not work since their motivation to do any chores (even their required ones) waned since they weren't earning anything any more. So, we told them that if it remained just that one time, we would assign them an extra non-paying task during the weekend that would "erase" the missed chore morning. So, one afternoon last weekend they folded and put away all of their clean clothes (which was usually one of the higher paying chores on the board).

Alex is saving his money for a new video game. He has been searching different sites seeing where he would get the best deal. He's thinking about whether he should buy it a) from the Lego store, with the highest price and shipping but he could use a Lego gift card that he has, b) order it from WalMart who has the lowest price but has shipping costs or c) order from Amazon with a slightly higher price but free shipping. I like seeing that he's really thinking about his purchase and what is the best deal for his money.

Clara saw a Webkinz in a store last Tuesday that she HAD to have.. it was the last one and she was afraid that they would be sold out by the time she had enough money saved. So, since she had enough money to pay 1/4 of the cost, I purchased the Webkinz and set up a layaway plan at home. The toy stays on my desk and she is not allowed to play with it until it is paid off. We each have little receipts to keep track of her payments and so she can see how much she still owes. She just made her second payment yesterday and is halfway to owning her toy.

Sunday is pay day here at our house. The kids both dump out their coins and can group them into dollars that can be exchanged for paper dollars. It's good to see them look for different coin combinations to make their dollars.

Oh... totally forgot to mention that as they complete their chores I drop the proper coin payments into their jars that sit on the counter by the "Help Wanted" board. They will count up their money in their jars multiple times a week.

I'm pretty pleased with this experiment so far. I'm hoping that we can add to it as we get further into it... adding things like savings and earning interest. But for now we're just taking it slow... one step at a time.

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