I mentioned on Twitter a couple weeks ago that I was designing a chore card for my kids, and several people asked me how we use it for our kids' chores. I figured I might be able to explain the system better when I'm not limited to 140 characters, so here goes.
In this chore card system, every week each child gets a card of his own like the one below.
As you can see on the chore card, each chore has been assigned a monetary value, between 5 and 25 cents in our case. We determine the value of a chore basically by how much time and effort it takes to finish the job. For example, taking out the trash earns only 5 cents, but deep-cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the hallway, living room, and "Red" room (my music room), earns 25 cents.
Each day as a chore is done, the child will check it off his card. At the end of the day, Mom or Dad has to "sign off" on all the work done, validating that the chores were actually completed adequately. This must be done every day because if the chores aren't signed off at the end of the day, money isn't earned for that day. The child has to take the personal responsibility for getting the card signed off; forgetting isn't an excuse, just like in the real world.
At the end of the week, each child figures out his earnings for each chore, and then the total earnings for the entire week. Then when Mom or Dad pays out, the payout amount is noted on the card itself.
Sounds like an easy way for the kids to make money, right? Well, not really.
You see, the biggest rule for the whole system is that a child can't earn money for a chore unless he does it without being asked or reminded. Period. End of sentence. If we have to say, "Please take out the trash" or "Please straighten your room before bed," the chore still has to be done, but without payment.
With this chore card system, not only do our kids practice basic math skills when they figure their earnings each week, they're also learning some important life skills and principles.
1. Money must be earned. Wages are an exchange of goods: work and effort for monetary payment.
2. Small amounts over time can add up to large amounts. This is a great way to illustrate that even saving money a little at a time can add up to big rewards. If my son were to do all the chores available every day of the week, he'd earn over $7 a week, and to him that's a lot of money.
3. Be a self-starter and take the initiative; take notice of chores and other jobs that need to be done without having to be told what to do. Oh, if only all employees would learn this!
Now I'm not saying we implement this method perfectly each and every week. In fact, we're just now reinstating it after several months off. But it has worked very well in the past, and I'm hoping it will work again for us this upcoming school year. (I mean, how many other chore systems will cause your children to fight over who gets to unload the dishwasher?!)
I'd love to hear about the system of chores and allowances you use in your home. Care to share?