Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rocks and Marbles

At a certain point in the raising of children, the focus shifts away from the negative to the positive.  There's a lot less of, "don't do this" and "don't touch that" to "do this" and "do that."  At ages nine and seven, my kids don't get a lot of discipline, shall we say.  Corrective actions happen less and less frequently, and we were looking for a way to shift our approach toward rewarding the results of their training.  I stumbled upon a 'system' online, and we adapted it for our own uses.  Here's the original post from which I got the idea.

How we do it:  Each child has his or her own color of glass marbles (Kathryn:green, Alex:blue).  Throughout the day, marbles may be earned for a variety of things (the vagueness started getting to us, so our list is as follows:
1.  Complete morning chores before school without being asked.  (1 marble)
2.  Complete bedtime chores before 8:00 p.m. without being asked.  (1 marble)
3.  Do all homeschool without complaint.  (2 marbles)
4.  Get caught doing something nice for someone else (not their chores).  (Reward up to Mom)
5.  Eat breakfast and lunch with a good attitude.  (1 marble per day)

*  On number four, Kathryn began 'doing something nice' for Alex by completing his chores for him.  He was delighted and more than happy to let her 'earn a marble.'  You can see the problem here.  An example from yesterday of 'something nice' was when Kathryn wasn't feeling good, Alex went and got her a blanket and stuffed animal.
*  On number five, this is a big deal for picky eaters.  They truly dislike so many foods.  I don't die on that hill at suppertime, since that is family time.  At supper, they can pick from whatever is on the table.  Sometimes (rarely) that may be just bread and butter.  They haven't died yet.

Each day, they earn marbles and then at night they combine them in a big jar.  This is intentional, as I don't want them 'competing' for goodness.  Rather, they are being told that loving actions benefit the family as a whole and gets us all closer to our goals.  The goals are lines marked on the jar.  As they are reached, preset fun things are done.  It may be pizza night, or a new book they want, or whatever is on their minds at the moment (and approved as appropriately motivating and budget friendly as possible).

On to the rocks.  Rocks are a big deal.  They are given ONLY when a stranger comments on their CHARACTER.  Not their appearance.  This would be, "You are so polite,"  or "You are so kind," etc.  Sometimes, they get close with a "thank you sooo much," but that isn't a rock.  Needless to say, rocks get us a lot closer to our goals and are hard to earn.

This has also allowed us to pull back a little from stronger forms of discipline.  There are times when discipline (I'll leave this up to your biblical imagination- haha!) are needed.  Lies and outright rebellion are the main two no-no's here.  For smaller infractions (for example, yesterday when Alex didn't want to write and I could tell he was goofing off by s-l-o-w-l-y! writing), I pulled a marble out of the jar.

This is working really well for us.  It is a way to reward progress, correct wrongs, build teamwork.  All with an emphasis (I verbally emphasize this to them on a regular basis) on how doing right affects others. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Daybook Entry:

Outside my window:  The deep darkness that precedes the sunrise.  Yesterday, at 3:00 p.m. there was a beautiful doe tiptoeing around outside our back window eating the wild violets that grow in the low places next to the brush.  Such a gorgeous, delicate creature.  What a fun interruption to our school day as we sat and admired her. 

I am thinking:  about doing another fall series on poetry.  Just for me.  And maybe Sonja Vernon and Kim Neuenswander :o)  Something about the change of the seasons makes me long for cozy blankets and deep thinking poets.

I am thankful for:  a man who is "obsessed with God's Word," as Pastor Potter encouraged the congregation to be last Sunday.  I must admit, it IS all he talks about, and there are times that I say, "OK, my brain is tired, no Bible discussions for the next few minutes, please." (Is that terrible??)  Due to his unique salaried position, he has the freedom during much of the year to study all day long.  And he does.  Every time he stands up to speak, I know the many, many hours he has poured into his topic.  He takes 'rightly dividing the word of truth' seriously, and I'm so thankful for the example he sets for our children.

In my kitchen:  only the coffeemaker is bubbling away at this time of the day.  Today I plan to make some lovely roasted butternut squash with cinnamon.  Maybe I'll throw in some toasted pecans.  Who needs dessert?  Never tried it?  Try this link for ideas.  The hardest part is peeling the aggravatin' squash.  My goodness!  It must be impervious to all wild creatures, because I can barely get into it with a sharp kitchen knife.

Around the house:  Alex.  What?  Where did he come from at 6:00 a.m.?  Bad dream.  Sip of milk.  Hug, kiss (since no one is watching). Back to bed with you, short person.

I am loving:  the pumpkin spice iced coffee I tried at Dunkin Donuts this week.  Note to prospective buyers:  there is no need to ask for any extra sweeteners.  It's already good to go.  Loving the shine of wood post-Pledge dusting session.  I normally dust my furniture with a feather duster.  A quick swipe and off I go.  There's something about rubbing the wood down with Pledge, or Old English (even better) that imparts that lemony smell and shine that just inspires me.  When I was little, my Mawmaw would assign me the chair legs and hard-to-reach places with a dust rag cut from my grandfather's ribbed tank style t-shirts.  I can feel the memories flooding back every time I pick up that shiny yellow can.

I am hoping:  the fall leaves will be glorious.  If not, I may have to go find some glorious ones.  See below.  Mentone, AL perhaps?

I am sorely tempted by:  the thought of jumping in the car and taking a road trip with the kids to see Jamestown.  When we study these things in history, I would love to have the money to make it come alive in person.  "Guess what, kids?  We're studying Japan this week.  Here's your passports."  (Can you imagine?) :o)  In the meantime I've discovered "Anna's Adventures" in Jamestown here. These videos take you there and are much cheaper.

I am reading:  Jan Karon's newest novel, Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good.  I am savoring it, like a piece of fine chocolate.  At 77, I think she's at the top of her game.  The book is hilarious, gripping, tear-jerking.  I recently went to hear her speak in Birmingham- more on this later.  It was a magical evening!

On my to-do list:  Find someone, ANYONE, who will fix the motor in my garden tub.  It must a bad sign that no one wants to touch the task.  Hmmm....  Also, pop some wheat bread ingredients with cracked wheat into my machine this morning to have delicious, buttered bread at lunch.