Thoughtful Thursday Week 30 – Kids and Money

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Any thinking adult knows children should be taught about handling money, but where do you start? How? When? Money experts agree that children must be taught about money as early as age 3.

You start by giving them an allowance, usually their age in dollars per week, or half of that. Dave Ramsey advises against an allowance, but we have chosen to give one because it is one more way to discipline them. Back talking? That will cost you a dollar from your allowance. Refusing to do chores? I will have to take some of your money to pay your sibling for doing your work.

Thoughtful Thursday - Kids and Money

By the way, we don’t link allowance to chores. It’s two different things. Should allowance be tied to chores? You decide after reading this debate on the Wall Street Journal.

Chores are split into two categories: Continue reading »

Family Member Chores (which are done daily, weekly, monthly, annually without any expectation of remuneration and with consequences for not performing them) and Extra Money Chores (special projects children ask to do in order to earn extra money). In our household, Family Member Chores are doing the dishes, setting the table, making the bed, feeding the cat, cleaning day chores (weekly, on Friday), watering the plants/garden, changing the trash bags in the bins. Extra Money Chores are sweeping the porch, weeding, emptying out all the trash cans around the house,

To teach them about money, I was going to invest in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Jr. program, but then I realized we have a philosophical difference. (affiliate link) He says no allowance and he pays his children for all chores. He calls it “commission.” I understand his reasoning, but I also understand mine.

We decided to give our children an allowance so they can learn about the three jars and categories (Giving, Spending, Saving) and, then, we pay for specific chores. Real life is like this: you don’t get paid for doing your dishes, but you get paid for using skills to produce widgets for people. Once you have this wad of money, you need to have good money habits at your finger tips already.

Providentially, I found a great book from Crown Ministries at a used curriculum fair, for $1: The ABCs of Handling Money God’s Way (affiliate link). As you can see, you can get it for about that same price from Amazon as well.

So you have some choices to make. Then, the key is to be consistent.

We pair all this up with the Accountable Kids program. We started recently with this whole allowance/money education, but we have been doing Accountable Kids for four years now, in different variations. I will have to get back with you in a few months with an update about how the money part works. So far so good.

The kids are already changing their attitudes toward purchases. One of them is saving all his money, putting nothing in his Spending jar, after putting his tithe in the Giving jar. He wants to save for a bigger purchase. The other kid is already asking for smaller toys, because… now it is real. There is only so much money available in the Spending jar. I like it when reality discipline does the job for me.

Accountable Kids Review

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I have written on my blog several times about Accountable Kids but it has been briefly, just in passing, i.e. we use it and are happy with it. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, I rate it at 5. I think the time has come for me to share with you more in-depth about it. This program is for children ages 3-14. I started using it four years ago, when my oldest was 3 and my second was still a baby. Obviously, the baby could not do much with it. So we only bought one kit.

Accountable Kids board and cards

Accountable Kids board and cards

The kit contains a wooden board with five pegs, cards to hang on the different pegs, and a book. I highly recommend the book before you start the program with the children, not just so that you may understand what you are trying to accomplish, but to learn more about childhood phases, how you should think on your children’s level and many other parenting tips.

Accountable Kids Book

Accountable Kids Book

The Accountable Kids program has helped me (1) prioritize and schedule chores, (2) motivate my children, (3) hold them accountable for their behavior, (4) reward them for positive behavior and (5) build a forum for addressing negative behavior. It is not just a chore chart, mind you.  Continue reading »

First off, the Accountable Kids program is customizable to your child and situation. That’s the best part. We all have different philosophies about child rearing. Some of us have none, so we need help figuring out what we should be aiming for, right? I know I was clueless when it came to allowance and chores, for instance, because I was not raised with any structure when it came to those two concepts.

Secondly, this program will take the guesswork out of parenting by giving you step-by-step instructions on how to implement chores, their execution, and their rewards.

Last but not least, the kids learn to be accountable to you and to the family for their behavior.

So the program comes with several types of cards:

  • basic chore cards (chores for which you will not pay your child; they must be performed as a citizen of the household; your child receives a ticket for performing morning, afternoon, and evening cards; these tickets come with rewards you decide on with your child)
  • tickets (see above)
  • extra chore cards (chores your child can do for money)
  • best behavior cards (you give these out to your children now and then when they exhibit a value-based behavior)
  • bonus bucks (they are paid for extra chores and exchanged for cash at the end of the week)
  • privilege pass (if you are working with your child on eliminating a negative behavior or habit, you can target it by offering a privilege pass when your child does not do that particular behavior; e.g., your four-year-old keeps getting out of bed after you have put her down for the night; if she does not come out of her room one evening, the next morning you can give her a privilege pass which can be redeemed like a ticket, for a field trip, a date with mom, play time with dad, screen time etc.)

They have very helpful videos on their site to explain how it all works, but nothing beats reading the book, which comes with the basic kit. Their website also has free printables, like the forms used for your weekly Family Forum.

Morning Cards

Morning Cards

As my children grew from 3 and 0 to 5 and 3, I had to adapt the way I use it. I put both of them on the same board. I wanted to experience the program fully before I invested in another kit. Besides, we all stayed home, nobody attended daycare or preschool, and did all activities together, so it only made sense. Because they were so young, my children loved looking at the colorful cards, touching them, moving them from peg to peg, understanding that we cannot have breakfast for instance until we finished our morning cards (making beds, dressing up, combing hair, taking our vitamin etc). It was a concrete way for them to grasp what we were asking them to do.

Fast forward two more years. My kids are now 5 and 7. It is time for me to stop coaxing and reminding them about their cards. I am ready to make them more accountable for their behavior. They know what they have to do. I should not have to nag. So … it is time to get a second kit with another board. That way, they each are responsible for their pegs, for moving their cards and themselves through the day, and receiving their rewards accordingly.

All in all, I highly recommend this program with a five-star rating, but please beware. The program only works if you work the program. Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Try, try again. It will all be worth it in the end.

First Day of Homeschooling

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And… they’re off! No, not exactly. They are still here, at home. And yet, they are learning. A lot. Isn’t that amazing? Our homeschooling journey started yesterday, on September 1. Of course, Self-University Week started yesterday, too. When I made this schedule I did not know about this neat coincidence.

I dressed the kids up in their school uniforms. DD asked, “Do I have to wear this all the time?” She’s such a girlie girl, she wants the scoop on her outfitting options. “Only for school time.” She accepted it.

I chose to buy school uniforms because

a. children look cute in uniforms.

b. it helps them get into “school mode”.

c. we are a private school. Well, sort of.

d. we can use them on field trips.

The routine wasn’t much different than before, but we did take pictures.

First Day of Preschool at Home

DD and I

We started with our Accountable Kids morning cards, followed by a devotional. We are using GraceLink Kindergarten for our Bible story time. This week’s lesson is about Baby Moses. It find it providential, because when God came to me about homeschooling two years ago, He used the story of Baby Moses. Another neat coincidence for our first day of homeschooling.

DS tutored himself through Simple and Motorized Mechanisms from LEGO Education while I worked with my daughter on preschool activities. She was very eager to learn, but got silly after 10-15 minutes. That was my cue she was done. I sent her to play by herself, which she was happy to do, while DS and I tackled the 3 Rs for 30 minutes.

They had recess and lunch. Then, they had P.E. and art (drawing with chalk).

That was it. Easy, peasy, homeschoolese.

First Day of Kindergarten at Home

DS and I

However, it was not smooth. In the early morning, our cat left us a calling card on the living room carpet. Later on, as I reached for a box, I knocked down a tray. Glass shattered and contents spilled out. My husband and I spent fifteen minutes cleaning. Just when I thought I could start teaching, I noticed the magnetic letters I had chosen so carefully the night before for my son’s reading lesson were missing. DD had noticed them in my tote bag and put them back up where they belong. So I had to pick them out all over again.

How do I come up with the four hours of homeschooling instruction required by the State of Tennessee? I’ll tell you in a future blog post. For now, I covet your prayers on our behalf. We need wisdom to guide our children well. Thank you in advance for praying for us!

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Help Me Be Good Books

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Besides the references to manners, virtues and character in our Bible curricula, we use Accountable Kids for a hands-on approach to character building. After all, I am dealing with concrete thinkers. DS and DD are five and three, respectively. They see their morning cards, they go accomplish the task in the picture. When finished with all the cards, they receive a ticket, which they redeem for an activity they enjoy. The same process happens in the afternoon and evening.

Last week, I was glad to find some books at the library which supplement our character training so well, I am thinking about buying them. It’s not as much a financial decision as it is a logistical one. I have been warned by veteran homeschoolers that my house will become engulfed in books. We love books, but we do not want to get suffocated by them. Hence, our great appreciation for the local library.

As a member of several Yahoo Groups, each with a specific theme under the general category of “Homeschooling,” I learn a lot from veteran homeschooling moms. I am so thankful for their generosity. Recently, on one of these groups, I read about a series of books on individual character traits, published by Scholastic and written by Joy Berry. The name sounded familiar and then I remembered she was the author of the potty training kit we bought a few years ago.

I made a mental note of the series and went on with my life, as I was not sure we needed to look into other character curricula as yet.

When I got to the library last week, I saw new books on display in the children’s section. Sure enough, it was the Scholastic series “Help Me Be Good”. Six of them, to be precise. There are a lot more in the series.

My children loved the books. They asked me to read them over and over. We even took two of them to church, for a tactile, concrete reminder about interrupting and being messy. So this last time in church, when they started talking a little louder in their pews, I put the book in their hands and asked, “Remember what we read about?” It worked to settle them down.

It was a good day at the office. Like anything though, this method might grow old and ineffective on them over time. Oh well. I will cross that bridge when I get there…