Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduled program

OK, so for the summer, this blog has become more of a 'what's happening in our family' blog rather than an unschooling one and since school is starting everywhere, it's gotten me in the mood to get back on track.

Matthew and Rose have started a new game at snack time. It usually accompanies "the snack that smiles back" (you get bonus points if you know which one that is!) for some reason. Rose, now 4.5 yrs old, can now quickly tell you 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4 and 5+5 just from playing this game. I know she's memorized the answers because if I ask what 4+5 is, she gets out her fingers and starts counting. Matthew quizzes her on her math during this game while she excitedly shouts out the answers as fast as she can. Of course there are super bonuses (a very important part of any game they make up around here) to work towards as well.

Grammy started something a while back when she was goofing around at a restaurant one day with the kids. She made them a tiny paper boat out of a piece of paper. She babysat last weekend and I came home to kids who were trying to make their own paper airplanes. You can imagine the mess of folded paper on my floor. ;) But I found a good how-to-fold-paper-things website and Matthew has been working on new designs and we've been inadvertently doing science experiments with gravity, physics and mass as he makes new designs and compare/contrast them with the others he's made. We also had some new words that he asked me about..."What does bisect mean, Mom?" One of them that he made looked really good to me but he was really frustrated that it wouldn't fly. It did a nose-dive every time. He said, "The instructions said it's a slow flier but I'd say it's a fast faller." He came up with a great idea - he found a paper clip and fastened it to the end that didn't have much folding on it. But that didn't help much. Frustrated, he brought it to me. It looked good to me and I was trying to figure out why it wouldn't work when the idea struck me to turn it over. That was it! It glides beautifully. He commented that the poor instructions were to blame for his confusion in not knowing to turn it over to fly it.

In other news, the kids now have opportunities to make some dough. When Matthew was young, I fell into that trap that most moms do at one time or the other - buying little gifts here and there. The problem is that it usually ends up that most any trip you go on, you're buying a new gift. Maybe something small but it adds up and when I got to thinking about it, it doesn't teach them to appreciate gifts or money or rewards, etc. So I stopped that when Rose was born. Gifts are for birthdays, Christmas, Easter and very rarely, special treats (like the program/gifts he got from the Walking With Dinosaurs show they saw a couple weeks ago - more to come on this in a future post). So they have long dry spells in-between gifts sometimes (from Mom and Dad - grandparents are allowed their berth of course). I've seen Matthew eying the new Bionicle line all summer, frothing at the mouth and stating, "I only have one dollar in my bank." He doesn't ask because they've gotten used to me saying, "I don't have any money," or "do you have any money to buy that?" Hubby and I made the momentous decision this week to start an allowance. We're starting off fairly easy with mostly chores they already do such as making their beds, taking their dishes to the sink after meals, emptying the dishwasher of kid items, putting their dirty clothes down the chute, etc. They have so many opportunities for each duty every day. Then there are the once-a-week chores, etc. So all in all, they have 75 boxes to check off for one week. If they get all the boxes checked, they can earn $4.50 a week (this turns out to be basically one nice toy (or video game) a month). Not earth shattering but this whole thing is optional...and that is important to us that these be optional. After they get used to these and as they are capable of doing more, we'll change up the list. Of course, I had to add a Super Bonus (as they do to all games) - the Super Bonus is "have a good attitude all day". This doesn't mean they can't have a sad day or be allowed their feelings. This is basically the golden rule - treat others as you would treat yourself. If they get 10 checks for good attitude, their Super Bonus treat is picking out a special dessert for the family that they get to help me make. After showing them the chart and explaining it thoroughly, I have to say they're more excited about the Super Bonus than the money. Go figure?!?

As they were anxious to get started on their charts, Matthew started wiping down the lunch table and chairs. He said, "Mom, I get these jobs done a LOT faster when I know I'm going to get paid to do it!" I hope the enthusiasm stays long enough to start seeing rewards.

We spent two days this week cleaning out Matthew and Rose's rooms. *Not* an easy or fast task. But it's done and I'm excited to see how easy it is for them to keep clean if they tidy it everyday (one of their check mark items). I got this whole idea from Flylady - she's really helped me get on top of housework in the past and I'm excited to see the kids excitement about it as well.

And we had a big breakthrough for Matthew today. He's a slow-to-adapt guy. Always has been. If he expects one thing to happen and plans change, it's always a huge struggle with him. He also likes his room the way it is. I think for most kids, cleaning the room doesn't get done because they just don't want to stop playing to do it. But to Matthew, it's deeper - he is scared he won't be able to find things and scared I'll throw away things important to him. So cleaning his room, in the past, has been a big hassle. Today he was very willing to let his older Buzz Lightyear toys go. (And that was actually hard for Mom!...Buzz was such a big part of his life for a long time!) He was willing to throw away things and really help organize his stuff. He came up with some great ideas on where to place things, etc. He's come so far...sniff, sniff.


Jean 2 said...

I am also a mom and teacher and I have to say that I love what you are doing with your children with the gifts and allowance. My hubby and I also decided to stop buying little *gifts* for our children for no reason. They are now teenagers and the *gifts* were getting not quite so cheap anymore-a trip to the mall and an occasional shirt for no reason was adding up quickly. At their age, I was receiving allowance...and this blog reminded me of exactly what I need to do but have been putting off. We expect them to do chores because they are part of the family but they deserve to be paid or rewarded in some way for the above and beyond things. I will get on this. Tomorrow! ROFL

Jean 1 said...

Glad they're enjoying their goldfish math. (bonus points for me) Christi's fav thing to count is her horse collection and of course M&M's.
I also understand the emotions tied to some of the toys that the kids outgrow...I think Ryan still has his Thomas the Train table because I don't want to let it go. And Christi's tea set will stay with me FOREVER!