Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 16

The best part of the day : we found some new chairs for the school room. The kids were dragging our chairs from the dining room table into the school room every morning, and they'd migrate back again come dinnertime. Until we get our new dining room table (we need something that better fits a family of six), this will be a great solution! The chairs were on clearance for $4.98 at Target and the kids picked their own colors. My only regret is that we bought 3 instead of 4; it looks a little weird having 3 chairs around a table. I don't expect them to last forever, but we'll enjoy them while they're here.
our new school chairs, not bad for less than $5 each!

Now let's play Good Idea, Bad Idea. I've been struggling for awhile with an appropriate incentive and discipline strategy for schoolwork. Last year we tried incorporating the marble jar, which in spite of its name was actually a set of two plastic Ziploc twist-top containers filled with glass beads. Necessity is the mother of invention. Each of the older kids had a set of containers and 100 beads, and the object was to move all of their beads from container 1 to container 2 through good behavior and attitude both in school and daily life. A full jar was redeemed for $5. That worked so-so; Ibis at age 6 I don't think really quite grasped the concept of good behavior = reward, because it took about 2 weeks to move all of the marbles an earn the $5, and because money didn't have a lot of meaning for her. On the flip side, Alexei at age 8 lived and breathed money and there was entirely too much expectation (i.e. everything was done for money instead of out of kindness or because he just should have been doing it).

This year I really felt like I had an epiphany. I was, of all places, looking online at our local public school's website (dreaming a bit, perhaps?) and there was a blurb on there about their School Store and that children were given reward dollars to spend at the store. Of course that's not a new concept; I have memories of one of the elementary schools I attended for the fourth grade, and our school principal had a store filled with little doodads like erasers, pencils, and little pencil pets. I can clearly remember being the first kid in my class to learn all of the times tables up to 12 x 12 (I went home the first night and memorized them, I was such a nerd!) and going to his office to pick out a bendy rubber kitty pencil pet. The thing about school stores is the reward is more tangible and doesn't involve real money, so I was hoping this might be the key to motivating my kids for a happier and less stressful school year.

our reward dollars (feel free to click for full size and print for yourself)
the school rewards menu so far, still thinking about ideas for the bigger-ticket items

Coral was the first today to earn the first ever school reward dollar. Alexei followed shortly, after a morning of no complaining about his work and - shockingly - a pleasant attitude toward reading. Alexei also receives grades on his work with a separate incentive plan every six weeks; this new plan is bribery solely to keep a smile plastered on his face. Being the oldest, he definitely sets the tone for the entire classroom. I was feeling *really* good about the morning and my new plan, and Ibis kept an admirable pace through her math lessons. We were ready for her reading practice pages, followed by reading a story and a science journal entry. She sailed right through the word box on the first reading page, and then she slammed on the brakes. She informed me, in no uncertain terms, that she wasn't going to do school today. She *will* be doing her school lessons, but she will *not* be earning her reward dollar for the day, and I will be researching other strategies. I really thought I had her with this one.

*Update - she finished her work in the evening after our 4-H meeting. I was considering not letting her go, but I guess she and her daddy had a long discussion and she swore she'd do better tomorrow. I can only hope.*

Alexei, Grade 4
math p 95-97 : relating addition and multiplication
spelling p 7-10 : words with long vowels
grammar p 5-8 : imperative and exclamatory sentences
read book of choice for 15 minutes (new book, Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor)
science p 48-55 : read about vertebrates and invertebrates, and draw and journal about a sample of each

Ibis, Grade 2
math p 37-40 : using adding to subtract
reading practice p 19-21: prepare to read Henry and Mudge
reading p 92-105 : read Henry and Mudge : The First Book by Cynthia Rylant
science p 42-47: read about plant needs and journal about a plant and its needs

the wonder of workmats and counters to help understand 2nd grade algebra

Coral, pre-K
color letter Dd template
trace and color squares (from her Mead workbook)
sing and act out The Wheels on the Bus
read together Very Busy Barbie by Barbara Slate

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