Generosity and compassion are virtues we have emphasized with our children. Recently, however, my children have become a bit more interested in material things. As a result, we have decided to introduce a more formal approach to money.I thought I would document it in case it gives anyone else any ideas that might work in their family.
We have a magnet chart we have used for various reward systems(including potty training) over the last two years. We have most recently transformed it into a monetary reward system that we hope to use to teach some basics of stewardship. The concept is simple: children are rewarded for extraordinary behavior with a magnet for their chart.
I use this system to emphasize different things with different children: Because R is my child who is most likely to explode in an emotional outburst and K still struggles a bit with using a whiny voice, we have a 3 magnet reward for making it through the morning with no complaining, arguing or whining. Because P is my child who most frequently requires repeated requests to stay on track, we have magnet rewards for completing elements of the standard morning routine without being asked. Additional magnets are rewarded for being completely ready for school (shoes and jackets included) before the 3 minute warning, offering to help with chores like dishes, laundry or setting the table. We also reward kindness with magnets. Ugly behavior results in the removal of magnets--and to keep everyone's motives clear, magnets MAY NOT be requested. If a child ever asks for a magnet in exchange for a behavior they automatically forfeit their ability to receive one.
As I am typing this it sounds more complicated than it is...It is actually really straightforward--and the kids understand it and are motivated by it.
Each child has 20 magnets to 'complete' their section. When they do so, they are rewarded with $3. (We decided on this amount because it made the next part of the lesson easier. We don't understand the value of coins yet.) This makes each magnet worth 15 cents.
The 3 dollar bills are given to the child and they must put the first $1 in their Give jar. The second $1 must be put in their Save jar. To help them understand 'saving' we have asked them to tell us what they are saving for and we have that on a sticky note on top of that jar. (K is saving for a new stuffed lambie, R is saving for a Spiderman toy he saw in TJMaxx and P is saving for a hula hoop.) They get to decide what to do with their third $1: Give, Save or Spend.
I know there are preprinted systems and 'banks' out there, but I just made the jars out of plain Mason jars purchased at the grocery store. I liked the idea of using clear glass so they could see their money as it accrued. Using a Sharpie in each child's special color I labelled the jars as Give (with a cross), Save (with a dollar sign) and Spend (with a question mark). Because there are nine jars, I have them on the lowest shelf of my pantry.
We are only about 10 days in and each child has been rewarded once. K is getting very close to her second 'pay out.' The jury is still out on the long term success of our little system, but so far so good.