Getting that homeschool day started promptly seems to be a constant struggle, and yet if you don’t start on time, the whole day can lag behind. Why do so many things come up in the morning? Seems there is a continual parade of interruptions and things that need to be done “right now” that can prevent even the most ardent homeschooling mom from getting homeschooling going on time!
Over the years, I tried a lot of systems and tricks to motivate myself and my kids to get going with school bright and early and promptly. Here’s one of the ideas that worked the best, just in case your homeschool could use some punctuality!
“Dime on Time”
To get ready for this motivational game, give each student a jar (baby food jar or jam jar) to decorate with stickers and his name. Mom, you decorate the “school jar”. Slots in the top make it fun, so if you are handy with a screwdriver and hammer, make some slits in each lid (remove the glass jar first!) Put 5 dimes in each of the jars, plus 10 more dimes in the School Jar. Tell the children that school is starting tomorrow at 9:00 AM (or whatever time you like). Now you’re ready to go!
Monday morning, remind everyone at breakfast that school starts at 9:00 AM and they must be dressed, hair combed, teeth brushed and in the school room (or sitting at the table, or wherever you start school) when the bell rings to win the prize. I bought a little, inexpensive alarm clock and set it to 9:00 AM so it is not me nagging the kids, but us all working to get there on time. (I have to be ready too! Half the time, it is mom, not the kids, that make school start late—sad confession!)
So, when the alarm clock in the school room rings, everyone who is present and ready (dressed, groomed and school notebook in hand) gets a dime to put in their jar. Clink-clink . . . that’s a nice sound! Every straggler who comes in after the alarm stops ringing has to surrender one of their dimes and put it into the School Jar: clink-clink . . . that is a nice sound too!
Each school day, this repeats itself. You will be amazed at how a little motivation gets them ready on time! And, Mom, you have to restrain yourself and keep yourself from reminding and nagging. Keep your mouth closed, and let the system work it’s wonder! They will learn faster from disappointment than from us reminding them.
As the week progresses, those who come to school on time are amassing wealth (okay, not necessary “wealth” but it may feel that way to a child, plus there is fun in playing the game, even if you are a teenager and dimes don’t seem like much. It worked for my teenage boys!) We all laughed at each other, to see kids racing, comb in hand, shoes untied—and Mom too!—to get to the school room before the alarm rang!
If you come to school on time every single day, then on Friday, when everyone empties their jars, you’d have $1.00 to spend as you choose! For those who did not come on time everyday, their jar will be empty, as they’ve had to give up a dime every tardy day to pay the School Jar.
When I started this game, it seemed like I was putting out a lot of money. (You could use nickels with younger children, and reduce the expense.) In the long run, though, the training it provided was worth the money. I’d pay $25 for a good book helping me motivate my kids, and $25 goes a long way in dimes, so I guess the money wasn’t so much, afterall, and it was well spent.
I tried to make it more fun by expressing exaggerated disappointment that my School Jar was getting hungry, when they all came on time. They delighted to make it starve! The whole experience was playful and motivating! And we got in a good habit of punctuality. The Pledge of Allegiance started right at 9:01 AM, so no time for anyone to complain . . .
The School Jar money did accumulate, although slowly, and I used it to buy homeschooling supplies, so the kids benefited in round-about way, but naturally, they’d rather earn it and spend it themselves as they wished. Trips to the dollar store or yard sales to allow them to spend their “Dime on Time” savings keeps motivation high, and attitudes happy!
If you are finding the morning is half gone when you start homeschool, it might be time for a “Dime on Time” game at your house.