Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barter

A few years ago we instituted, "Summer Math", in answer to the, "I'm bored..." chorus from the offspring, caving to perceived pressure from other moms whose offspring were all reportedly delighted with learning, and addressing one of my own lovey's falling math grades. Summer Math may be remedial, or it can be a chance to become familiarized with the following year's expected course work. Or it may be writing one's multiplication tables over and over until Mom is satisfied that the New Math is not interfering with one's basic skills.

The kids were not exactly thrilled, but once the declaration that they would have to earn time on the computer, video games, or staring at the boob tube was made they became infinitely more interested in the completion of daily math assignments. Adding in the proviso that limited swimming pool trips to after Summer Math helped to motivate them to complete their daily work early. Summer Math as a currency has expanded. Over the passing years, the method for gaining time to goof off has grown to include Summer Reading, Bible reading/study, physical activity, chores, and volunteerism. Such efforts can be exchanged for rewards ranging from a hug or praise to the more obviously appreciated cash, time with friends, a trip to the movies or swimming pool, or electronic access. The lovies give Mom the satisfaction that they are doing something parentally perceived as beneficial in trade for an equal amount of time spent doing something potentially mind-numbing.
No legalistic system is in place to track the time with sticker charts, tickets, lists, or tokens as we did when the kids were all young. They keep a general idea of what they are doing to earn their goofing off in Mom's Economy whether that is Middle Child keeping a mental tally, The Boy charting his detailed time sheet, or Little Bit who reads late into the night while playing her computer games during the hottest part of the day. This barter system has become something of an honor system as well because these kids are old enough to do what they are supposed to do.

Summer Math has become so ingrained in the lore of our summers, that the absence last year was lamented. They pester me ask about when we will go on the annual progress in search of appropriate material for their self-paced summer curriculum. It seems to alleviate both the brain drain and the foolishness of risking self-proclamations of boredom. The years have marched past in a series of workbooks offering matching and shapes until now we have to head to a regular book store in search of Algebra and Geometry texts and workbooks. It's a progression that makes ma a tad nostalgic, but that also brings a sense of accommplishment in considering the proof that the lovies can be taught.

1 comment:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

We do a similar system here! Math, penmanship, keyboarding for Travis and reading for ALL! Plus, "summer school" at home is less time-consuming and more targeted than "summer school" at school.