Monthly Archives: September 2015

Paying My Son For Homework Time is A Win-Win

When we decided to go for it with the Chinese Immersion school, I was really nervous because on top of learning to read and write, NB would also have to learn Chinese.  Which, of course, puts a lot of pressure on– you guessed it.  MEE!

The teachers recommend that the kids study Chinese 15 minutes / day.  We’re also supposed to read in English together every night for 15 minutes.  SO 30 minutes of studying every night.  It doesn’t sound so bad but in practice it’s a lot to pull off.  

On top of that, my many attempts to get NB to study hadn’t gone well and I was beginning to feel like I had made a big mistake in attending this school where he’s REQUIRED to learn Chinese of all things.  

Then Steve had a great idea. 

Pay him for studying. 

Not a homework chart where the reward comes at the end of a long week,

Pay him right then and there when he’s done. 

Steve suggested $.50 for every 20 minutes.

I was like, “hmmm.”  NB’s certainly old enough to value $.50 since that buys him a gum ball at our grocery store.  So I went for it.  

Last week, NB earned $5.25 for his “work.”  

To a 5 year old, that’s good money!  And to me, that’s serious TIME.  Over 3 hours, spread out over the week in 20 minute bursts of him re-enforcing what he’s learning in school.  

So now, instead of me begging him to sit down and study, he’s begging me!

One downside.  Now, no matter where we go we ultimately end up in gift shops and toy stores.  

I know this eager studying won’t last forever, (or his price will go up), but for now we’re all happy and learning.  And besides, money is an incentive for grown-ups, so why wouldn’t it be for kids? 

Little Freedoms In Kindergarten

NB’s first weeks of school, to my surprise, have been downright pleasant.  I was nervous that he’d cry and need a teacher to pry him away (this has happened before), but Kindergarten has been different.  When I visited him for lunch the other day I figured out why.  

It turns out, that NB wants more than anything in the world to be, well, independent.  Here he is, happy as can be, in his lunch line.  

NB’s school has a “grab and go” set up so the kids to assemble their own meal from a small variety of options.  He LOVES this.  He loves the chance to make his own food choices without me screening his requests.  He loves standing in line with his friends without a grown-up hovering over him.  He loves the high child to grown-up ratio. 

It’s as though he feels his personal freedom increase when he’s at school because he doesn’t have me constantly monitoring him.  It goes without saying that I too feel a weight off my shoulders when I drop him off in the mornings.  

While I do love visiting him at lunch, and he does loves to see me, it goes to show that we both enjoy a little time apart too.  

When Kids Read Below Grade Level

NB, happily reading a kinder book.  Certainly he won't find this book very interesting in another year or two.  

NB, happily reading a kinder book.  Certainly he won’t find this book very interesting in another year or two.  

I used to tutor remedial reading for kids grades 1st-6th for our school district.  These kids were from migrant families and, even though they were all fluent in English, all had failed the reading portion of state test the previous year.  They all struggled with reading because they don’t read enough.  One reason for this is because kids don’t want to read books for “little kids”, but find the books consistent with their age and maturity too difficult.  

For example, I had a sixth grader in bad reading shape who should have been reading books like Goosebumps or maybe even The Magic Treehouse series.  He could have churned through these books with less difficulty while incrementally building his skills and “catching up” to where he should be.  But to him, these books were for babies.  He wanted to read history.  Together, we picked out a book that was so frustrating for him we had to find another book.  He wanted so much to access the content in the book consistent with his age and maturity, but just did not have the skills.  His reading skills were out of sync with the maturity of the content.