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My Summer Rewards…

It’s already August!!! The new school year is upon us, summer vacation is almost over. It once again has arrived WAY too fast and we are watching summer come to a close. We hope everyone’s garden work is finally paying off with a bountiful harvest of veggies, fruits, and flowers. Our family bucket garden is starting to pour in. We are enjoying Strawberries, Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, and more. The annual summer garden is always a great way to engage our children and keep them eating healthy.

This short blog is not really a late article on gardening. I wanted to reach out to the Sprig community to discuss rewards and how we translate that into successful learning. The small garden is a great example of a project that fosters a sense ownership and more importantly task completion for our kids.

Take time to create projects/games with simple tasks that carry over from day to day.

Find small easy to handle projects that task your child on a daily basis. Summer and Winter gardens are a great for introducing fun based tasks for the child to take on each day.

These little garden tasks (watering daily, looking for weeds, finding ripe veggies for harvest) really attach our 4 year old daughter to the garden and makes eating those veggies a real treat! She beams with pride over her bounty, and being a “Garden Keeper” has helped to eliminate the dreaded “Sour” face when veggies come to the table at lunch or dinner.

Drum roll please…I am still basking in the glow of a genuine “thank you” for a few beans I left for her one morning fresh from the garden. First, I was floored that our child actually wanted veggies in the morning (I left them for her lunch or dinner), and secondly, I received a very important “non-solicited” thank you Dad!!! (a rare double feat indeed).

Don’t you love these minor accomplishments? It’s an even better feeling rewarding your child for taking these big steps. How do you reward your child as they reach certainly developmental and social milestones?

I wanted to share what we do and hope to hear how you do the same, as it’s always a learning moment for us as parents.

Our ticket for success…(parental success)

At our house, we use “tickets” to reward our daughter (we made them very quickly on the computer, printed and cut them out). Each colorful ticket represents a different reward, for example right now we have tickets for being a BIG HELPER, GENTLE with the baby, for being a GOOD LISTENER, for CLEANING UP, and more. When she was younger we even had tickets for specifically for potty training. Between us, “Poopy” tickets were a hot commodity worth SO much more in value.

Reward completion of these tasks in a fun engaging way.

Receiving the tickets is a fun way to end each day. We award our daughter each ticket with a short spiel on why she earned that ticket that day (1-2 examples is enough for us). This has been a great way to reinforce our teachings in a way that is not so preachy or demanding to her. But what good are collecting tickets you may ask??!?!?

Use these tickets as currency.

Yes, we are taking the Chuck E Cheese approach to rewarding our daughter, but lucky for us she isn’t being rewarded for her SkeeBall skills.

This may seem like a strange concept, but we keep a few items in the house that she desires (a new coloring book, special low priced toy, new crayons, craft materials, paints, etc).

She has the option of deciding what she wants to spend her tickets on. A really enticing coloring book would be 12,16, or 20 tickets, a Pegasus character could fetch up to 20-30 tickets.

It’s not just tangible toys and games that she can use her tickets for. Extra swinging time at the park, a trip to the museum or movies are personal favorites. Watching her learn the value of the tickets continues to be a great teaching moment for her.

She decides what to earn and how she earns it is dependent on her. It gives her a sense of satisfaction as she counts the tickets each night hoping she is closer to being able to “purchase” her trip to the museum. She certainly has begun to understand how attitude and hard working fun can be rewarded.

Please share your methods, thoughts/comments…There’s always a learning moment for all of us as we travel down the road of parenthood.

What are some additional games/projects you use to inspire your kid(s)?

What system of rewards do you use?

Finally, here is a quick easy project to get your kid(s) started on day to day task completion…

Milk Carton Garden – a great re-use project and a little science and nature fun for your little ones.

With Fall upon us, it’s time to start planning for window gardens. Start planning now by saving those paper milk cartons and juice containers.

What you need:
1. Milk Carton& scissors/x-acto knife – Cut off top of carton – PARENTS ONLY!
2. Potting soil – Enough to fill carton of choice.
3. Flower Seeds – Select smaller, easy to grow flowers and herbs.
4. Sunny Window sill
5. Water and TL

What to Do:

Cut off the top of the wax coated milk carton and fill with potting soil. Give it a healthy round of water and let the soil settle without pressing or compacting it. If needed add additional potting soil to top this off and plant your seeds as directed.

Keep this in a sunny place and water as needed.

Grow 4-5 cartons together if you have the space and really give your child a winter time garden. They are the garden keeper award them for tending, watering, and treating their garden with respect.

Optional fun: Try growing small varieties of plants in eggshells, you can watch the seed sprout and transplant the whole thing into the soil. Great science fun!

Thanks again for supporting Sprig and we look forward to having Kim back from her well deserved vacation this upcoming week.

Best regards,
Chris

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