Monday, June 17, 2013

Productivity System

So, the beginning of June marked my son's end of Kindergarten.  Though I was SO excited to FINALLY have him out of school for the summer, I was also a teeeeeny bit nervous (RE: SCARED TO DEATH) because it also met I was returning to full time, full boat daycare status.  However, I was also excited because one particular group of siblings was joining our group who I knew to have certain habits that I hoped to see rub off on my kids, such as loving to be given jobs, and not being picky eaters.  So, I put a lot of thought into, not only figuring out creative ways for those kids to share their beneficial behaviors with the other kids, and also ways for all the children including my own to have meaningful, productive times in my home.  Add a dash of bribery, and what I've come up with has proved to be pure genius.  I want to share this with you because your home certainly doesn't need to be a daycare for this to change your life!

Quite some time ago, I saw this super cool pin on Pinterest called Work for Hire.  Now, I'd wanted to figure out a way to be able to engage my own kids in helping out around the house without having to force them to do things, and this idea struck me as golden.  So, once I decided to implement it into my home daycare, I tweeked it a little to maximize its use.

My system involves 4 major parts which serve numerous purposes.  The system monitors behavior, but leaves the kids the opportunity to earn back priviledges as well by independently making the choice to improve.  The system teaches etiquette and manners with a fun game that keeps their minds off eating and diminishes picking eating habits which I do not tolerate.  The system provides us with daily activities that are meaningful and productive where the kids learn something, and where I am directly interacting with them.  Most importantly to me, the system instills in them a sense of pride about their behavior and their jobs, and ownership in the household.

So, on with the system!  First, there is a behavior status monitoring function.  This, I totally stole from the school.  Each child has a heart, and four colors next to their names.  Each time they have an infraction that I believe warrants it, they have to move the heart one step.  If they reach the forth step, the color red, they must stand in the corner for 15 minutes.  However, if they do move their heart, they can earn the opportunity to move it back.  I specifically refrained from giving them definite ways to move the hearts back, just use my own discretion, because I didn't want them doing insincere things just to move hearts back out of the danger zone.  I wanted their attitudes and behaviors to be genuine.  There are also a couple other cool factors of this one, depending on the age of your kids.  There are colors involved, plus the colors are also spelled out which is a little sight word practice sneaked in.  Also, at the end of each child's name and color row, I wrote encouraging words for them to also read and practice.  This was made very simply with a chart hanger I found at and poster board inserts.  *note, I ordered this chart because if you click on the link it is pictured with game cards and I thought those came with it.  Wrong.  But it turned out to be useful anyway.

The next part of the system is the star system.  Now, this is similar to the heart moving system but much more cut and dry.  Basically, if by the end of the day, the child has not been corrected AT ALL, meaning, has been nice to his friends, has not had to be reminded of any rules, then he or she gets a star.  As soon as a child IS corrected, they get an x by their name.  Unlike the heart moving, there is no opportunity to earn back the star.  However, if they do get their star, they get an automatic $0.25 in their cup! 

Now, onto the explanation of the "cup."  The cups come into play in my Jobs for Hire part of the system.  Each day, there are a series of jobs available that pay money.  There are $0.25 jobs, $0.10 jobs, and $0.05 jobs.  Some jobs, such as picking up the living room are available to more than one person, or can be done several times.  That way, no one person has to do a ton of work by himself.  Some of the jobs include watering the garden, sweeping under the table, rinsing off dishes in the sink, and picking up toy areas.  I tried to come up with jobs that were useful to me (hehe, I'm no dummy) and also that I knew each child would find at least one thing on the list that he or she actually enjoyed doing. 
No child is required to do jobs at all.  There are two ways to earn money without having to do jobs.  As mentioned, earning the star will get a quarter.  The second way is the table manners game.  I posted a list of table manners above our table and also, the kids and I collectively came up with additional rules.  Each child is given 4-6 popcycle sticks at the beginning of each meal and snack.  While they are focusing on trying to remember and follow the table etiquette rules, they are also watching one another.  Whenever one of them catches someone else forgetting a rule (such as putting elbows on the table) then they get to take that person's stick.  At the end, whomever has the most sticks gets a quarter.  Most of the time, I play as well.  Hey, they're my quarters, I gotta try to keep them...  With everything the kids are focusing on at meal times, guess what they're not focusing on?  Being fussy about food!  Plus, one of the rules of the game is to not complain and to eat what they are served.  Their desire to earn those quarters outweighs their habits of being finnicky!

I have found that the kids LOVE picking their jobs.  They usually pick their jobs fairly early in the day because they don't want to miss out on their favorite jobs.  Then we work on things periodically through the day.  I help the kids, and I have taught them how to do the jobs correctly because any job worth doing is worth doing right.  But, I was surprised about how quickly and easily they picked them up and how they do not slack off on their jobs; they take them very seriously.

I put little 25, 10, or 5 slips into their cups throughout the week and then turn them into cash on Mondays.  A paycheck, just like their mom's and dads.  Obviously, not everybody will want to use actual money for this.  I chose money because my son's been wanting an allowance for awhile and now he is going over and above in earning one.  Even my two year old is happy and proud to do jobs.  They are both constantly asking for more.  And as for my daycare kids, because they do SUCH a good job, and this system has been so tremendous for all of us as a unit, and they're such a wonderful bunch, I wouldn't want to pay my own kids and not the daycare kids since, in my heart, they're my kids too.  However, I believe Lego, stickers, or colorful beads would be just as good as money.  The greatest thing is that just tickled me to death, they are enjoying all of this so much, they didn't even take their money today!  They don't even care about the money, they care about everything they're doing to earn it!!!  Could not be happier with the outcome of this system in my house!  If you decide to try something like this please share!