Buying Diligence ?

I’ve long had a problem with linking money to my kids’ responsibilities around our home.   They get a monthly allowance, but it is not tied to how much or how little they do around the house.  In my view, we are a team, and we do things to help each other out around here, simply because it’s the right thing to do.   It’s not the doing it for money that bothers me, but rather, I feel it would teach them to be reluctant to help out unless there is a monetary reward. 

But an amazing thing happened this week.  We are working our way (verrrrry slowly) through The Mystery of History.   On Tuesday, I told the kids that we’d do the review quiz the next day, and that they may just want to read through (or listen to the audio cd) for the first nine lessons.  They didn’t like that idea, until I read the instructions on the quiz:

“For a right answer on questions 1 and 2, receive a penny; for questions 3 and 4, a nickel; for questions 5 and 6, a dime; for 7 to 9, a quarter and a dollar for a correct answer at the last question.”

After supper on Tuesday, Caleb took his Mystery of History book and started re-reading all the lessons.  Wednesday morning, he did the same.  I asked him if he needed help and he said “No, Mom, I just need time to study.”  In all, he probably spent over 2 hours reviewing the material.  I’ve never seen him behave so diligently with his school work and NEVER has he ‘studied’ beyond our school time each morning.  Oh yes, we’ve entered new territory.

Gabriel didn’t review anything at all, and fell just one penny short of the total possible amount of $2.07.  Caleb studied and highlighted and studied and highlighted some more and got 8 out of 10, and a total of $1.97.  Both boys were thrilled with the result and happily collected their coins.   

Gabe has an astounding memory, is very bright and will probably just breeze through school his whole life.  But the impact that money has had in this situation for Caleb is simply amazing.   He was truly motivated.

It made me think of them entering the work force.  Hard work and extra diligence should (usually) result in more income, or at least, over time, recognition that will ultimately lead to advancement.  Maybe Linda Lacour Hobar (the MOH author) was on to something here. 

It makes me wonder about using a bit of coin more often when it comes to school work.  I don’t want to go overboard, simply because I think, as a society, we are far too focussed on wealth and on acquiring items that represent wealth.  But I think it’s worthy of a bit of experimentation as their teacher.   Maybe quarterly bonuses?  A year-end ‘prize’ for doing well? 

I need to research this some more.  Your comments would be appreciated!    Do you think this is a good thing?   Or do I need to be warned??  

If you’re a homeschooler, what do you do to keep your children motivated? 

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