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Paying Allowance for Chores

June 12, 2014

By Beth Wilson

$5 allowance, $4 for spending, $.50 for giving, $.50 for saving

Illustrated by Libby VanWhy

Should children be paid an allowance for doing chores? I posed this question to a few of my colleagues recently and all had a strong opinion against the practice, stating that it's part of being in a family. Yet they were just as likely to withhold money to go to a movie if things didn't get done around the house. Alternatively, it was not unheard of to give money to a teenager to wash and detail their car.

At the simplest level, both of these examples involve giving or not giving money for work that was either done or not done, which, to me, sounds a lot like paying an allowance for doing a chore.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to the question. Each person brings their experiences and opinions into their role as a parent, and each family situation is different. The important thing is to discuss with your parenting partner beforehand and agree upon the reward system.

My husband and I had different opinions on whether or not to base allowances on chores. After some discussion, we agreed on a reward-based chore system that took into account our budget and incorporated saving and giving. We strongly believed that teaching our children the value of money and how to handle it would help set them up for success in later life.

Rewards. We budgeted for allowances and included the extra incentive of "Daddy Bucks." Since not all chores are equal, the younger kids with the easier chores received a smaller portion of the overall allowance payout. We paid allowances based on the percentage of chores completed for the week.

In addition to the allowance, each child received a set amount of Daddy Bucks redeemable for activities that always involved their dad with options like a trip to the local convenience store for an ice cream treat or breakfast out before school.

Giving. We chose tithing as a way to incorporate giving in keeping with our belief in God and his ability to provide for all of our needs. On payday, each child put 10 percent of his or her earnings into an envelope for the Sunday church offering plate.

The practice of giving can also be applied to charitable causes. For instance, if your child loves animals, encourage him or her to donate 10 percent of the allowance to the local animal shelter. You will teach your child about sharing and charity while helping someone in need.

Savings. Learning to live on less and wait for something were disciplines that we wanted to establish early in the lives of our kids. Each payday, another 10 percent of their earnings went into their savings envelopes.

This article is part two of a three-part series. Read the first in the series, 4 Tips on Assigning Age-Appropriate Chores, and come back next month for the final article in the series.

Tags :  socialacademicfinancialparenting

Keep Your Child’s Skills Sharp this Summer

June 11, 2014

By Dawn Stevens

A photo of a completed worksheet by Mariana.

Summer vacation is here, and the thought of it brings different reactions from children and parents. Kids look forward to long, lazy days, while parents try to juggle childcare, summer schedules, and jobs.

It’s important that summer vacation be relaxing, recharging, and mentally challenging to your children. Studies show that children lose some skills over the summer vacation if they are not reinforced regularly.

Your child will benefit from the educational and recreational activities offered at many daycare centers. If you have a small, independent daycare or in-home childcare, you can still provide your children these important benefits with a little planning on your part.

As your children finish up school for the year, try to have a conference with their teachers to discuss areas where your children may need additional work. Then, visit your local school supply store for educational workbooks related to your child’s grade. Make sure you browse the store, as there may be fun projects outside the math/English/spelling books you are looking for! (Of course, age-appropriate projects are important for the safety of all.)

When the school year ends, give the kids a few days of vacation before discussing a schedule of activities for the summer months. Depending on other camps, classes, or lessons your child is involved in, you can establish a goal of one hour a day for workbooks and reading. Check your local library to see if they have any summer reading programs available.

By planning ahead, you can make your children’s summer both relaxing and educational, leaving them well prepared when the school bell rings again in the fall!

To get your kids off to a strong start, we made this worksheet for first through third graders to practice their fractions. Download and print it for your kids today!

1. Circle the shapes with the equal parts.

2. How much of this circle is purple? 3. Is this half of an apple or a whole apple?

4. There are 4 people in the Rodriguez family. If Mom cuts one equal piece of pie for each family member, how many pieces of pie are there? 5. If Mom eats a piece of pie, how much is left?

Worksheet illustrated by Libby VanWhy

Tips for Toddler Discipline

June 10, 2014

By Jennifer Eckert

A toddler sits in time out with her head in her hands.

By the time our son turned one, my husband and I felt like pros in the parenting department. If he cried, we fed or changed him. If he was tired, we rocked him to sleep. If he was dirty, we bathed him. He rewarded every effort with an adorable smile and delightful baby babble.

Then, overnight it seemed, that agreeable, easygoing baby turned into a stubborn, opinionated toddler. We realized that we had to add a new tool to our parenting skill set—teaching him the difference between good and bad behavior.

As parents, it can be a little intimidating to realize that we are responsible for training our children to be good citizens of the world. Toddlers, especially, are blank slates with no concept of right and wrong. The fact that they can’t communicate very well or listen to reason makes the process even more challenging.

When it comes to the subject of behavior, many parents automatically think of discipline—of making the child understand that his bad behavior has consequences. However, instilling good behavior in a child is just as important as rooting out bad behavior.

Here are some practical tips for toddler discipline (all currently being tested on my son):

  1. Be consistent. Set rules and expectations and stick to them. If you tell your toddler, “No snack” the first time she asks for something to eat between meal times, but you give in to her demands the second time, she will learn that begging will get her what she wants.
  2. Praise good behavior. A toddler wants your attention. He will do whatever it takes to get it. If you consistently praise his good behavior, he will keep practicing it. If you only pay attention to his bad behavior, he will do the same. When giving praise, be sure to specifically mention the good behavior: “Good job being gentle with the cat!”
  3. Model good behavior. Toddlers love to imitate adults, so you can turn simple actions into a fun game. Talk to your toddler about what you are doing and get her to help you: “We are done playing with blocks. Now it’s time to put them back in the toy box. Can you put this block in the box?”
  4. Give a “time out.” In a toddler’s world, one of the worst things that can happen is to be deprived of your attention. Say your toddler has developed the habit of throwing his sippy cup to the floor from his high chair. You’ve tried telling him “No,” you’ve tried leaving the cup on the floor, and he continues to do it. The next time, take the cup (and all other food and utensils) away from him, leave him in his high chair, and walk out of his sight for a minute. He will eventually learn that you won’t tolerate this behavior.
  5. Above all else—be patient! Each of the previous strategies requires a little extra time and effort on your part. Sometimes giving in to your demanding little one seems like the fastest and easiest thing to do, but it will make life harder in the long run.

Jennifer Eckert is a supervising editor at National Geographic Learning and a freelance writer. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and three cats.


Graduation Gifts on a Budget

June 9, 2014

By Judy Razo

A graduation card sits on top of a wrapped gift.

Sometimes the end of the school year can mean more than just the start of summer; it can also be the peak of graduation party season. Often, adults are expected to bring money or a gift that will help the graduate when starting school or a new job. This can be a problem when you’re on a budget or have your own child to send off to college. On the one hand you want to give an impressive gift that truly makes an impact on the recipient, and on the other, you don’t want that gift to eat up your bank account.

So how can you strike a happy medium? I suggest you set your budget for each gift at no more than $25 dollars and use some of these ideas.

If you want your gift to have an impact on the recipient, make a sentimental connection to the gift or give something the graduate will find useful in his or her new life.

  • Start by asking if the graduate is registered anywhere to remove the guesswork. If he or she is not registered, you can always give something practical such as a backpack, dorm bedding, or even a shower caddy with flip-flops for the dorms.
  • To make it more personal, give a journal or guidebook and write a dedication on the inside cover. Great guidebooks include The Freshman Survival Guide by Nora Bradbury-Haehl for college students and Effective Immediately by Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg for someone starting his or her first job.
  • Check Groupon in the city where the graduate will be living. Buy him or her a nice meal or fun experience that is out of the ordinary. You’ll end up getting a bigger bang for your buck.
  • Shop online. You can sort the items by price, which will help you stay within your budget. Order your gift with plenty of time to have it delivered to you, or browse online before going to the store to buy the gift in person.
  • If you’d like the gift to be bigger but can’t stretch your pennies, you can also pool your money together with other parents for a large item like a one-cup coffee maker or dorm refrigerator.

The end goal is that you are thoughtful in giving your gift but don’t break the bank along the way. And remember, extra points always go to the creative.

Tags :  budgetcollegehigh schoolsocialacademic

Little-Known Recycling Tips

June 5, 2014

By Jessica Vician

A graphic shows recycling arrows, a person throwing away garbage, an energy-efficient light bulb, a bicycle, an electric vehicle chord.

Today is World Environment Day (WED), which is a day established by the United Nations to encourage “worldwide awareness and action for the environment.”

At YOU Parent, we make a conscious effort to protect the environment every day through recycling, limiting printed materials, turning off lights when we leave a room, and more. But there are always opportunities to improve our efforts. Here are some of my favorite little-known recycling tips that you can share with your family to make more of a difference.

Most recycling programs, from home pick-up to dedicated drop-off locations, have some requirements for the types of plastic they can accept.
  • Most of these programs only accept #1 and #2 plastics. You can find out the type of plastic you’re holding by looking inside the image of the arrows that form a triangle. If it says “1” or “2,” then you can definitely recycle that plastic. If it says “3,” “4,” “5,” “6,” or “7,” you will need to check with your recycling company to see if they accept those forms.
  • Lids and caps to plastic bottles are usually not recyclable with the #1 and #2 plastics. They’re often made of another type of plastic, so again you will need to check with your recycling company to see if they accept that form or if it needs to be sorted separately.
  • Good news! Whole Foods will recycle your #5 plastics. They have a separate section of the store where you can drop off your #5 plastics that they then give to companies to make recycled-plastic cutting boards, mixing bowls, and other products they sell in the store.
  • Don’t recycle your plastic shopping bags with your #1 and #2 plastic bottle recycling. Those bags aren’t #1 or #2 plastic and need to be recycled separately. Most grocery stores have a place as you walk in for you to recycle your clean plastic shopping bags. Macy’s department stores also have these bins available in their stores.
Other Recyclables
Plastics aren’t the only things your family can recycle. Aluminum from canned goods and soda, glass, and cardboard can also be recycled. Check with your recycling company to see if they want you to separate your recyclables by material.
  • Any recyclable needs to be clean of food or grease in order to recycle it. Rinse the food out of the container before you recycle it. If you want to recycle your cardboard pizza box, make sure there aren’t any grease stains on it. There is usually grease on the bottom of the box, but sometimes the top is clean. In that case, cut off the top and put it with the recycling and throw away the bottom.
  • You can recycle clothes! Even though your old t-shirt with yellow underarms can’t go to Goodwill, you can drop it off at an H&M retailer and they will recycle it. They’ll even give you a coupon for 15 percent off your next purchase for each bag of clothing you bring in!

For more information on recycling clothing, visit Earth911.

These are some easy things to share with your family as you boost your recycling efforts. For more tips on protecting the Earth, see our Earth Day article on 6 Easy Tricks to Make a Big Impact.

If you want to learn more about World Environment Day activities, search this hashtag on Twitter: #WED2014.

Tags :  teachersacademicorganic
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