You have to pay to play in our house

We are “techies.” Our family loves games on the computer and Wii. Our daughters have Nintendo DS systems and our son loves his handheld PSP. Recently I noticed a disturbing trend in our household. The more video games we played, the more we slacked off on our chores, our tempers were shorter with each other and basic courtesy and respect were on a serious decline.

I started a solid rule in our home: No more than one hour a day for computer and video games.

It was a good start in the right direction. Unfortunately, it is very easy to lose track of time when you’re playing your favorite video game. I’m so thankful the Lord blessed me with a better way to handle our video game situation!

Introducing our “Pay to Play” method!

Our children pay to play their favorite games

I grabbed a few of our old poker chips and designated colors: Blue for Rowena, Red for Daniel and White for Vivian. Each child is given four chips at the start of each day. Each chip is worth 15 minutes of game time. This counts for games on the computer, Wii or their handheld systems.

One firm rule is set: No game time until chores and school work are completely done.

The chips also come with some rules of their own. If the kids are spending their chips and we find a chore or a school assignment isn’t finished, they lose a chip (or two). But there is a perk as well, if we see them doing something above and beyond their chores – like unloading the dishwasher without being asked – and they don’t try to bribe chips out of us, then we will reward them with a chip (or two).

Miss Rowena was outside, raking the yard the other day. We didn’t ask her to do it, she just started doing it. You can be sure we gave her two chips for that!

Since we’ve implimented this new “Pay to Play” system in our house, attitudes are improving and our days are a lot more productive.

UPDATE:

When we started this blog in 2010, we had three children.

Since that time we have had THREE MORE CHILDREN. We would love for you to visit us at www.coersfamily.com to see how we’ve grown.

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Inspiring creativity and teaching about what matters

This morning I came across a link on Facebook posted by a friend. The link led to a video of Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, talking about how public education often stifles creativity. The subject appealed to me because I homeschool my children and I’m always interested in new ways to teach and I’m constantly conflicted about which subjects are the most important. This video is a breath of fresh air. Sir Robinson offers a wonderful perspective about where our society is headed based on its current method of educating children.

The video can be accessed here:  CNN video link

After watching the video with my oldest daughter, Rowena, we began to talk about what Sir Robinson meant. We were particularly interested in the story he told about Gillian Lynne.  When Ms. Lynne was in school, she often turned in her homework late, had trouble staying still and paying attention and was labeled a disruption for the other students. Her mother took her for a student-teacher meeting to discuss what should be done for Gillian. After talking about her struggles in school, her mother and the teacher left the room to talk and left Gillian alone with the radio playing. Gillian began to dance and the teacher told her mother that there was nothing wrong with Gillian. She was simply a dancer and needed to go to dance school.

From there, Gillian attended dance school, became a star dancer in several ballets and eventually became a well-known choreographer. Ms. Lynne choregraphed such famous productions as CATS and The Phantom of the Opera.

Sir Robinson made the extremely astute observation that today, Ms. Lynne would probably have been given medication and told to “calm down.” This made me think of my own struggles in junior high, particularly in math class. In the sixth grade I had absolutely no interest in math. I refused to do any of my math assignments. Instead I drew pictures and comics all over my pages. I was given detention, grounded at home, given spats from the principal and eventually sent to isolation for the rest of the year. It didn’t matter, I still didn’t do any math assignments. I failed the sixth grade.

Eventually, as my family moved around to several different towns and I attended different schools, my class credits jumbled around and I was promoted up to my original grade. All through high school I wanted to be a police officer. It seemed like an exciting job with plenty of respectability and leadership. I thought it would please my family. It wasn’t until my senior year that I had a teacher pull me aside and tell me that I was a talented artist and writer. She encouraged me to enter several writing contests, which I won. She also encouraged me to apply to a selective art school. I was accepted. She was the only teacher in high school, middle school and elementary who ever told me that I could do something with my talent.

Yesterday I was scolding my children for not concentrating, not staying on task and doing poorly with their math work. It seems I have forgotten where I came from. Hearing what Sir Robinson had to say about encouraging creativity in students has awakened me this morning. I told my daughter that yes, math is important because it helps your mind to work out puzzles and think logically. That is important. But I also explained that learning math should be fun, it should be a pleasurable challenge and not just to pass a test and get a good grade. It should be interesting. I told her that the math we do together would have been impossible for me all through middle and high school. I just couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t until I was an adult at college that I realized that math had practical applications and when treated like a puzzle – a game – it was fun and I could understand it.

I want to teach my children the basics: math, science, languages, history, ect. But I want our focus to be on our talents. What gifts has God given to us? He has blessed me and my children with the gifts of art, creative writing and music. Shouldn’t that be our main focus?

Thank you, Sir Robinson. Education in our home will be different because of you.

UPDATE:

When we started this blog in 2010, we had three children.

Since that time we have had THREE MORE CHILDREN. We would love for you to visit us at www.coersfamily.com to see how we’ve grown.

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