Monday, April 16, 2012

Behavior Bucks

I have been asked about a billion times, lately how i coordinate games, behavior, tv time,etc while doing child led learning.

My oldest would happily lock himself in his room w/ one of the game systems and only emerge to grab food or switch out games. He could probably keep this up for a month if left unchecked. My youngest emerges more often, but he has more of a strong will. So if he has his mind set one doing X and i say it's time to do Y - the battle would begin.

About a year ago, quite by accident, i discovered the key to happiness. Lol. First, i had cleaned their room of all game systems, ereaders, mp3, computers, etc. everything was moved into my bedroom closet. I wanted to start teaching them the value of the dollar, at that time. So i made each child a poster that looked like a checkbook register. The concept was they could earn fictional 'bucks' and use these bucks to get games and such. I was SHOCKED to realize it was a hugely effective behavioral tool as well.

Along the bottom of each poster are 3 columns.

Column 1-- Earnings -- these are the ings the kids can do to earn the bucks

School work = 10 bucks
Chores = 5 bucks
Being helpful = 5 bucks
Changing the litter = 5 bucks

Column 2 -- Deductions -- these are behaviors that will lose them bucks

Lying = 25 bucks
Fighting = 15 bucks
Being disrespectful = 20 bucks
Incomplete schoolwork = 15 bucks

Column 3 -- Spending -- these are ways they can use their bucks

Wii = 25 bucks
Nintendo DS =20 bucks
Nintendo 64 = 20 bucks
Computer = 15 bucks
MP3= 10 bucks
Bike riding = 10 bucks
Scooter = 5 bucks

If they choose to use some of their bucks, they are essentially RENTING the system from us. The length of time the renting lasts starts at the end of the schoolday (when they have earned their bucks for completing schoolwork and chores) and lasts until 10am the next day, when we usuallu begin school. So, the quicker they get their work done the longer they will have with their games. Oh, and they can not turn in bad work. Rushing through and claiming to be done, even when you know it's substandard work is considered cheating, aka lying, and will cost you bucks. There are exceptions to this. Using the computer or ipad for school work isn't limited. Using computer programming games like Alics (from Columbia University) or Scratch (from MIT) and creating their own games is not limited.

My goal, at first, wasn't to limit them in their play. It was to help them learn to appreciate what they have, at the same time learning economics (earnings, savings, spending, etc.) it was just a blessed surprise to realize it was also a great behavioral tool!

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