Wednesday, September 7, 2011

homeschooling and bribery

Yes, they do go together.  At least they do around here. 
Sometimes some of my students suffer from a lack of motivation, and to be perfectly honest this teacher feels the same way from time to time.  How to get us all on the same page when it comes to getting our school work done?  Bribery, or special motivators go a long way.  First off, let’s all get over the fact that it’s terrible to bribe your children to do what you want them to do.  Do most honest, hardworking people get paid for a job well done?  Have you ever received bonus pay or commissions for going above and beyond your normal work duties?  Seems like a grown up form of bribery to me, don’t you think?  I know we need to do some things just because in life, even though there is no reward.  But I think those things are on a different level than practicing handwriting or doing times tables. 
So on to what works for us, we have a star system going right now.  I had each child pick up a few inexpensive items at Target, lip gloss for the girls and little legos for the boy.  Then I packed those goodies away.  The kids will get their goodies only when they have earned the required number of stars.  They get stars by being on time for school, being kind and respectful, etc.  It’s been working wonders around here, and it’s a great motivator to get them into their assigned places on time.  At the end of the month the student with the most stars will get a ten dollar gift card.  We haven’t actually used this particular tactic yet, I’ll have to let you know what I think of it when only one is a winner.  It might backfire on us, but it might also turn out to be a pretty good motivator.
I get questions on how to motivate kids to participate and want to do school.  The thing is that we can’t really make them want to, but we can work to make it more fun or rewarding for them.  (And then we just get to pray for willing hearts, I’m doing that a lot these days.)  Right now bribery is what works for us.  And every once in a while I listen when they say they don’t want to do school, if there is a valid reason for it then we can work together to find a solution.  When they were preschool aged and they told me they didn’t want to do lessons I wouldn’t, not because I’m a pushover but because they were so young.  And I figured that if I was going to be committed to this whole homeschooling thing then I knew that I was going to be in it for the long haul.  And there’s only one time in your life when finger painting, library trips, and baking days count as school.  At that age play is their work, and learning is done through play.
All of that aside, yes we are totally bribing them.  And then sometimes we fine them (yes, we take their money away!) when they are not doing what they should be doing, or we let the natural consequences of their attitudes and actions speak for themselves.  Just yesterday our son missed lunch with his dad and the opportunity to look at toys at Wal-Mart because he took too long to finish up his work.  I think he learned, hopefully. 
That is our system, but it is subject to change.  The best motivating tools are new ones, so I am sure we will switch up rewards as the year goes along. 
And my reward?
What can I say?  I’m a simple girl, and a pumpkin spice latte at then end of a long week is a pretty sweet reward!


  1. I think parenting and bribing go hand and hand ... lol... I am so with you and you were right if you work hard in life it pays off, so why not start with school. The will love the feeling of working hard and having it pay off :)

  2. Oh my word... pumpkin spice latte... I am on my way! Best thing ever. Even in this 95 degree heat, I can still pound one of those! :)

  3. I am a consistent reader and lurker, but I had to comment on this. I have found myself feeling "bad" about bribing my kids. (Can we just call it motivating and keep it in a positive context?) Either way, I completely agree with you - the idea of the kids not ever earning anything extra for doing extra or non-essential tasks (such as cooking, cleaning, etc) seems harsh. As you said adults earn money for doing their jobs, and bonuses for going above and beyond. I'm trying to figure out something similar to what your doing. I do have a hesitation about doing something like the one with the most stars, only because I know with MY kids, there's one who would win every time. However, I'm going to set up a sort of treasure chest with different items or opportunities of different values. They can earn stars or points (still figuring it out), and spend them at the end of the week, or save them up for something big. Glad to know I'm not the only mom who doesn't mind


  4. great ideas gina. i much prefer the word INCENTIVIZING. if that is a word. they are not bribes! they are incentives. ALL of us work for incentives, even if the incentive is a clean kitchen or a sense of accomplishment. so i'm in full support. which i have to be, because as i dropped off today for the first day of school, i went to starbucks and bought myself a lemonade and a new CD i've been eyeing, and i silently called it a "prize" I won for surviving summer :)

  5. Indy's motivation is his Wii. He's only allowed to play on the weekends IF *I* think he worked hard enough during the week. Big time bribery and motivation.


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