"The Gem System"
This is an idea we got from Talia's grade 2 teacher. She had a similar system in her classroom and we've adapted it to use in our home. Here's what we did:
- one small bucket per child (found at Target for $1 each)
- one bucket to keep gems in
- plastic jewels (found at the dollar store)
- vinyl & Cricut (optional)
Note: Of course you don't have to use buckets- any little container will do! Talia's teacher used small boxes with a hole cut in the top for each of her students, and a wide mouthed vase to store the rest of the "gems". She also used small coloured glass stones for gems (the type you can put in the bottom of a vase with fake flowers).
I started by labelling the buckets with the girls' initials. I used some adhesive vinyl that I had on hand and cut the letters out with my Cricut. Of course, you could just use two different coloured buckets or containers, too.
These are our "gems". We bought two bags for $1 each at a dollar store. I keep this bucket up high where the girls can't reach it, so they're not tempted to tamper with them!
How It Works:
We made a list of chores and tasks that the girls can earn gems by doing (some are worth more than one gem).
When they accomplish a task, they report to me (or Ken) and we check to see that it is done properly. When they earn a gem, we put it in their bucket.
We made another list of rewards that they can trade gems for. Most of these rewards are just regular things that they like to do (like watch a show, play a computer game, or even play with toys). If they don't have enough gems for an activity, they need to earn them before they can do it.
How It's Going:
This has been such a great system for us! Can you imagine your kids coming to you and asking what they can do to help (or what they can do to earn gems)? It's great!
I have altered our lists as we go (some things need to be worth more or less gems- whether they are chores or rewards), and added to each list as we go, too. It will take some time to get your system just right for your household, but as you adjust, everyone is learning how it works and getting excited about it.
Here are a few chores (some are just simple tasks) & rewards we have had on our lists:
Examples of Chores:
- make your bed before school (2 gems)
- make bed after school (1 gem)
(they don't make their beds twice but the gems decrease if they don't do it early)
- tidy the shoes in the entry way
- sweep the kitchen floor
- clean your room (2 gems per day)
- put backpack, lunch stuff, coat away after school
Examples of Rewards:
- Watch an Episode (4 gems)
- Watch a Movie (9 gems)
- Go to the Park (4 gems)
- Play a Computer Game-15 min (4 gems)
- Play outside (2 gems)
When you have an "out of the ordinary" chore or task that needs to be done, you can just call out, "Who wants to earn 2 gems?" and you'll have volunteers!
If you have a habit (like bed making) that you want to reinforce, just make it worth gems!
If you're frustrated because your kids seem to be getting too much screen time, just make screen time "worth" more gems, so that they have to do a little more help around the house before they can earn it. (Either they'll stop bothering to watch/play, or they'll work hard to earn it, thus spending time contributing to balance out the screen time- win/win!)
If you have a "reward" you want them to choose more than another (like go outside to play instead of watching a movie), make that reward worth less gems, to entice them to choose that activity over another.
In the end, this system is all about letting them make their own choices based on the "currency" you've created. With the lists you'll make, you're setting the expectations for everyone. By adjusting as you go, you can keep the whole family in on the conversation and discuss the reasons why you choose to make something worth more or less gems, so that everyone understands and gets to be part of the conversation.
Adjustable Daily Schedule
When all else fails, Play Cinderella!
Morning Schedule Chart
Dry Erase Chore Chart