Structure: Step #4 – Incentivize for Optimal Performance

Through daily observation and homeschooling experiences, I have determined that my Little Man is a true visual learner.  He thrives in learning environments where he is allowed to engage in visual and hands-on activity in order to take in knowledge and to express himself.  And this realization is not something I just happened to stumble upon one day; his visual aptitude started from day one.

In general, youth from infancy and up, are naturally visual beings.  This is why we buy revolving melodic mobiles to place in our newborns’ cribs and provide our pre-toddlers with colorful and multi-purpose exercise/activity mats, jumpers, bouncers, walkers, and swings with all the bells and whistles.  Next, our toddlers become fascinated with those fun-filled hand-held stimuli known as toys (whether educational or not).  And then our pre-teen youth (let’s say from ages 5 – 12) can’t possibly go throughout their existence without witnessing the visual arts of animation through cartoons, comics, Disney movies, and electronic games on just about any stable or mobile device imaginable.  It’s no wonder a two-year old can learn to operate a tv remote and that a seven-year old can already master all the levels of their prized PlayStation video game.

Then, one day recently, it dawned on me that visual stimuli have always been a motivating factor in a young child’s development.  So, why not take that knowledge and apply it to a process that will incentivize Little Man to strive for optimal performance in household chore and school work completion.  Hence, the reason for my present involvement in Step #4 of the structure I’m building for my household.  Check out my attempt at a do-it-yourself (DIY) visual tool for a visual learner that will hopefully encourage expectations and goals achievement and tie those items to a rewards system.

Incentives Chart

Bear in mind that this is a brand-new work-in-progress that will most likely be tweaked with changes in appearance and/or utilization.  I’ll probably share a future update with you once I get this tool functional and have a few months of implementation completed.  But, here are my initial thoughts:

  • I created a calendar-style chart that can be torn down and rebuilt each month.  This theme provides a teachable hands-on activity that Little Man can perform each time we go into a new month, rearranging the number pockets (days of the week) in their rightful places according to that particular month.  (The number pockets were made out of cut up miniature paper sacks).  He will also switch out the month’s name in the upper left-hand corner.
  • Little Man will be involved in creating the appearance of the chart to reflect his personality and to be something that he’ll want to interact with again and again.  You can probably tell that he has an interest in sharks by the border that was used.  He specifically picked out the border and will be adding some additional personal touches to spruce up the chart a little bit.
  • The colorful index cards represent a particular goal; and each time a goal has been met, the index card will be placed in the number pocket of the day in which the goal was achieved.  We really could use any item to place in or on the pocket, but I thought the index cards would be suitable because they can be easily seen poking out of the pocket and can appropriately distinguish the goals because of the different color options.  This brings me to the next point (below).
  • On the left-hand side of the chart, there is some blank space; and I’m thinking I may use this space to include a legend or chart key to show what the color-coded index cards represent.  Providing a key would make the chart child-friendly.
  • Incentives for meeting goals and expectations are yet to be determined, but they will more than likely be something such as a trip to the arcade, a toy or video game, a meal at a favorite restaurant or favorite homemade meal with desert (prepared by Mom and Toodlez), or a movie.  Incentives may be given out for achieving daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
  • The goals and incentives chart (I’ll think of a better name) and all of its variables will be explained to Little Man in detail so that he will understand the chart’s  purpose and how it functions.

I’ve never been big on giving out incentives, especially money, for those things children should be required to do as normal expectations of a family member.  However, I am a fan of rewarding children for striving to meet and meeting stretch goals that take them out of their comfort zone and lead them to a higher level of performance in an area that has been historically challenging for them.  So needless to say, I’m a little excited to see what results from my DIY experiment.  My hope is that it will provide Little Man with a visual roadmap of his progress in different arenas and will encourage him to continue to strive for excellence, even in the face of adversity.

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