Editor’s note: Wayne Lemley is a member of the Steamboat Springs School Board and has written a number of articles on raising capable children. Visit www.usdiscovery.com to read more of Wayne’s work.
Kids work toward goals and rewards, just as adults accomplish goals. Kids enjoy receiving rewards for their accomplishments. This summer, my son (7 years old) trained at the water ramp at Bald Eagle Lake for a number of sessions. Before some of the sessions, we would set goals. Early summer goals were simply to earn $5 for doing five good jumps. Throughout the summer as he improved, our goals and rewards became more specific: earn $8 for doing three 180s. Then, by the end of the summer, it was to earn $8 for doing three 360s.
After each water ramp session, we would go to the toy store, where he enjoyed shopping and spending his earnings.
Toys, money and other rewards for accomplishments give kids a great feeling for earning and reaching goals. They learn the meaning of money. When they become adults they will have a much better sense of finding a good job, or founding and growing their own business. They will be motivated to set and accomplish goals, and they will achieve a good life for their families.
This summer, the kids and I set up a lemonade stand. We made signs and bought ingredients, cups and ice. We discussed pricing. The kids stood along the sidewalk, offering and selling our product. They gained a great sense of selling, talking to customers and providing a product that satisfies a need for people or businesses.
Kids are quick learners. They are more capable than we think. This winter, my son took his 180s and 360s to snow. The kids in his Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Bumps and Jumps group encourage each other on aerial tricks. On Sundays when we ski at Howelsen Hill, we set goals for 180s and 360s to earn $5. The trip to the toy store is a fun and immediate reward for getting their spins done.
Rewards for academic accomplishment also are good. Almost every day we work on math for about 40 minutes in the evening. If the kids finish a couple of pages in their math workbooks, they earn up to 80 cents. They add this money to their banks at home, and then to their bank accounts. After a while we make another fun trip to the toy store.
It is amazing how much math they have learned with this little program. My 5-year-old daughter does long division and interesting math word problems involving addition, multiplication and division. My son recently worked through a math work book on seventh-grade algebra and geometry!
It is important, of course, to give kids a variety of encounters with lots of freedom and latitude. But rewards and goals have been tremendous fun for us and are a great experience for the kids, as well.
Wayne Lemley has written a number of articles on raising capable children .. http://alumni.brown.edu/lemley.