Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Homeschooling/Work Incentives

We were back to our schooling and routines this week...Sometimes this can prove to be quite challenging if resistance is met! 
Know what I mean?  
There have been moments in our almost 9 years of home education that I could swear there was a mutiny on my hands!

Well, there are ways to combat mutiny to include (most importantly) wearing out our knees in prayer:)  But there are others ways too. We actually had a great week with very little complaints after re-introducing this little incentive program!  Like anything else, we had fallen off the wagon with using it in the last year or two....but now we're baaaaaaaaaack!  
Like anything else, it has it's pros and cons but for the most part, it works like a charm.  Whining and complaining are reduced to a bare minimum.  I'm a happy Mama and peace is much more abundant. How's that for incentive? We use it for homeschooling but it also trickles over to regular life, chores, etc.  You could definitely use it for homework, chores, behavior, etc., even if you aren't a homeschooling family.

So the idea is that the children are rewarded with chips for good attitude and other things.  In our case, the chips have monetary value but you could also attach them to something else that works for your individual children.  I believe I adapted this idea from something similar that Kimberly Hahn used but my memory has escaped me for apologies.
On the flip side, these little chiparoos can also be taken away if the ills of whining and complaining creep in!  What we giveth, we can also taketh away;)
*Recommended for Pre-K~6th grade*

I started with these counting chips that I found at the Dollar Tree.
I printed out a poster with the value of each chip written on it and what kinds of things can be done to earn that particular color (dollar value) chip. It is hung in our school room.
{I have it on a Word document so if you would like a copy, just drop me an e-mail:)}
Each child has a special cup on their work area or desk to collect the chips.
At the end of each week, (or two, however you decide), everyone cashes in their chips for money.  We don't give allowances in our family so this is a good way for the children to earn money for spending on field trips, giving to church, or for their savings.

I only use 4 colors and separated them into individual baggies.

 I am tweaking and updating the activities for earning as we go this time but here are a few examples of the values for each chip that we use: 
Yellow Chips: Worth 10 cents
*Cheerful/good attitude about work or assignments
*Helpful with siblings or Mom
*Nice and neat writing (not hurried)
*Extra work book pages
*Chores without complaint

Red Chips: Worth 25 cents
* Each book read to little sister
* Each saint story read and retold back to Mom, Dad or older sibling
*Each new prayer or scripture memorized
*Super good attitude (bumped up from yellow chip) if sustained through the school day.

Blue Chips:  Worth 50 cents
*Each Fr. Lovasik spiritual booklet read
*90% or better on test or book work
*Extraordinary good deeds or kindness or attitude
*Each additional load of laundry folded or put away, after regular chores
{I keep our little Fr. Lovasik books and Saint books in little bins, readily accessible.}

Green Chips: Worth $1.00
These are ultra special and hardest to earn! Mostly given at Mom or Dad's discretion.
*Each chapter book read
*100% test scores
*Running for 20 minutes or P.E. for a week with no complaints.
We have re-introduced "P.E." and I'm getting major tears going on.  It's a priority for my husband and I to have healthy and active children so we pulled the big green chip for the week to get everyone motivated.  Ok, ok, bribery maybe.  But hey, it's working and a lot less drama to deal with! 

In all honesty, my kids were reluctant about the chips and their values...Especially the yellow ones: "Only 10 cents?" I kept it to my self but I wanted to accuse them all of being spoiled little children;) But let me tell you, once they started earning those little yellow chips, it was a crisis if one should be taken away!  And believe me, I take them away when I need to.  Having to do so, already, I bit my tongue again. I wanted to say with a little sarcastic voice..."Well, it's only 10 cents!" Ok, that's just a little keeping it real moment, just like there is any time you try to introduce something new or different to your kids.  You'd think it was some foreign vegetable for goodness sakes!  

They really DO dislike having their chips taken away so they really serve as both an incentive and disciplinary measure.  As for taking them away, I give out one warning that I'm going to take away a chip if the attitude doesn't change and the next time I do it with no hesitation. Complete follow-thru has to be made for the system to work.  I really don't raise my voice at all when I say: "Hand over your chip!" Oh my goodness, it's so nice.  But I won't lie and tell you that handing over the chip is always a peaceful process.  I have some children who do it knowingly and willingly, while others insist on screaming and pleading.  I will say that the screaming and pleading child gets quieter once he figures out how everything works! *wink*

Well, that's just my "two cents", no pun intended!
Do you use incentives in your home?


  1. Nice work Tiffany! Great visual to motivate your children to work hard! Kids do enjoy when they earn money. Maybe not the working part but the being paid...that's the fun part. Good for them to connect that hard work leads to positive outcomes. My son goes to a Catholic school and has P.E. but I still make Hume jog 4-5 times a week. Fresh air is good for him!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Noreen:) I with you...Fresh air is GOOD! Wishing you a blessed New Year.

  2. Awesome! Question, how do you pick which color to take away?

    1. I typically start by taking away the yellow chips first. The sting of that alone (a time or two) usually gets the message across. However, it's only our first week "back at it" and I'm not opposed to going higher, if needed. It feels like life is revolving around chips, right now, as we get used to it. Everyone seems to really like it, for better for worse:)

    2. Hi again, Patty. I have also updated this post since your comment and mentioned that I have the poster on a Word document, if you are interested! Blessings:)

  3. Great idea, Tiffany! We have done different incentive things before without any lasting success. The little ones (and momma) get tired and the newness wears off and then *poof* we are back where we started :(
    I am glad you are off to a good start for the New Year and will be giving this a try as we have never had an incentives with the opportunity to take away the reward before. That may work better with older ones ;)
    Hope you are well sweet friend, and I do promise to get back in touch...SOON! Take care!

    1. Hi Ann-Marie~Oh boy, I know what you mean about trying different things. Sometimes it's just plain difficult, um... impossible, to be consistent all the time. However, a peaceful home is worth the effort and that's where I'm at right now! This Mama is motivated to get back on track:) I think that what's important sometimes is that we don't give up:) Take care and I look forward to hearing from hurry:) Wishing you many blessings!

  4. This sounds like a great idea. So do you do this with just reading age children? What is that last book two of your children are looking at in the last picture you have on this post? Looks really good.

    1. Hi Kari~Thanks for asking! I am actually using it with my 4 yo as well. (My only non-reader) She can earn chips for being patient, a good listener, not interrupting, etc. Today, I was actually thinking of making a separate list of incentives just for her. She has her own list of chores so she can also earn chips for doing extra things, being a good helper, practicing her letters, etc. When her brother read to her today, she earned a red chip for being able to tell me what she learned from the story. She also earned a red chip for offering and making her older brother some chocolate milk:) It was a kind deed that she thought of all by herself. Kind of a funny side note...She got a chip taken away yesterday for whining and complaining about something so this morning I discovered she had taken all of her chips out of her cup and HID them! Pretty clever...he he! SOoooo, I told her that if she continued to hide her chips, she wouldn't be able to earn them any more. They were "found" real quick and we had no problems today:) The book my 8yo is reading to her (Red chip earned) is called God's Alphabet (The ABC's of the Church) by M.H. Ruane. I can't remember if it sells on Amazon but the publisher is Angelus Press. It really is a beautiful Catholic book for little ones! Long reply but hope it helps!!

  5. We've just started doing allowance, jars, spend save tithe. If that doesn't work out how we wish I'll check out the chips. Right now they sure do perk up when we say allowance is in jeopary. :)

    1. Yes, isn't it funny how they perk up real quick when their incentive is in jeopardy? Thanks for stopping by, Tina!

  6. I really think this would motivate my Marky and James!! I know what you mean about PE- when we started hard core back in August, my boys really did accuse me of trying to kill them! ;) Much better now!

    1. That's so funny, Laurie...I got the same accusations from my kids:) Great to hear from you!

  7. Hi Tiffany,
    Thanks so much for the idea. Every week I hear myself say "Next week needs to go better than this one or else!!"
    Maybe I should try this idea instead of chasing everyone around the mulberry bush.
    God bless you!

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Kara! Sometimes these kinds of weeks are good for us as it leads us to the solutions we need, right? Hope you are having a blessed New Year!

  8. Happy New Year. I hope you had a Blessed Christmas season. We have been doing the point system and we just got back from a 3 week vacation and I start up the point system again and its almost like magic. I do like the color coins. I once read or heard a speak talk about how he has the kids pay him for the chores that he ends up doing such as feeding the dog so on. Thanks for sharing. I do have to do add the PE into it also. It just seems we run of out of time with school and music. God Bless.

    1. Blessed New Year to you too, Cecelia and thanks for stopping by! It's always nice to hear how other families are doing things that work...Thanks for sharing too:)


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