I am often asked "how", most moms are. "How do you do this?" or "How do you complete that?" It is a good question we should all ask each other at times... one which inspires us to grow and learn and help one-another.
One of these "how" questions I get periodically requires a deeper answer than the question would indicate: "How do you delegate screen time? How do you inspire your kids to read?"
I am of the mindset that children should do because they are intrinsically motivated to. But one factor in intrinsic motivation that is often overlooked is the push that is required to set a thing in motion.
I struggled with rewarding my children for their work. We can not afford allowance (a missionary's budget requires lessons in 'making due' not 'do we make it'). I have tried to set goals like outings but the weather would fall through or the outing would require finances we didn't acquire... it was all so frustrating. I needed consistency and I needed my children to learn the value of dedication without only seeking a reward as a result.
Then God reminded me that HE rewards those who are faithful... those, who (as Paul would say) run the race:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
- James 1:12
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
-2 Timothy 4:8
Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- Revelation 2:10b
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
-1 Peter 5:4
You get the idea. There are many more crowns that God promises us as the result of our devotion and steadfastness to His glory, His kingdom here. But it is a balance. It isn't "working" for work's sake because we expect something. It is working for the Kingdom come only expecting HIS glory and HIS honor, not our own. Knowing, as a result, that we grow in faith, knowledge and understanding of our Lord through our obedience and doing what is right. Knowing that He does reward us here with blessings of all kinds, but striving regardless because we seek the blessing of peace and hope and renewal.
I could teach my children this same concept. To encourage them to renew their minds through reading good books. To show them that a goal sought after and reached comes with reward and good tidings not just physically but also spiritually. Yet, more than anything, to hope and pray as I set our goals that through the process they might find it isn't the goal that rewards them most but the journey they make to get there.
God has been faithful.
It started like this:
We use to track minute-for-minute the time my children read and rewarded it with "screen time"; gaming system or computer as well as movies that were not shared as a family.
But we quickly exhausted of this and had greater headaches then rewards. The children would read just enough to get by in order to do just what they wanted to do and no more.
We tried a similar concept daily.
Finally, after much deliberation and prayer we went with a weekly system.
From Monday morning through Friday around 3:30 pm the children each have a reading goal based on their abilities. There is NO screen time during the week which is non-school related. This rule provides ample time for reading, playing and generally using their minds and bodies for things other than vegging.
- Reading assignments in their school work
- All extra, self-initiated reading (i.e. books and magazines)
- Bible reading (though my youngest son opts not to count this and we accommodated him on that)
Again, you get the idea!
They get a slip of paper or cheep bookmark each week to keep track of their time on. (I get a package of them at the dollar store and it will lat us a year). On Friday we take everyone's minutes and tally up. To keep it fair, since they each have different requirements, we subtract out their personal goals to see how much they have gone over (rarely do they not go over!)
The "winner" gets first dibs on the computer or other opted screen. And play proceeds from there. They get 1-2 hours per day from Friday-Sunday depending on weather and schedule of other events.
We have used this system all year long and the only adjustment has been to the time required for each of my children in their daily reading.
The biggest rewards?
- My youngest daughter opts out of her computer time in order to spend more time reading because...
- they all have discovered the sheer joy of a good book and search after it more than ever before...
- they are growing in knowledge and understanding of all things, creating that intrinsic aspect I so desired from the beginning.
Proof that God rewards us here. And I am eternally grateful of this display.
To reward or not to reward, that is up to you. As for me and my household.... we aren't working for crowns but we certainly feel blessed by His presence... enjoying the journey while looking forward to the destination... and I pray you may know the same.