In the previous post I mentioned our “school store”. Would you like to know more? It was a great motivational force for our elementary age children. Here’s more about it:
1) The school store was a large bulletin board with a banner that said “School Store”. Attached to the bulletin board were objects or coupons of things that could be purchased. Small zip-lock bags were stapled onto the board which held things like pencil erasers, miniature cars and trucks, trading cards, pocket knives, flash lights, compasses, combs, Legos, hand-held games, flashcards, and other small games or objects. Obviously our school store was geared to boys, but girls items would be easy to add. Also attached were coupons for fun things to do, like going to get an ice cream cone with dad, or tickets to go roller skating or to the water-slide park. Each item or coupon had a value attached to it. But the value assigned was not for money. The items in the school store could only be purchased with stickers. Stickers were given for work completed that was above and beyond the “core” curriculum that was taught each day. Stickers given were attached onto sticker sheets that had spaces for 25 stickers.
2) Our core curriculum was what was considered the essential for each school day. It consisted of opening exercises (devotions, prayer, story time/character development, Bible class, daily language arts/reading instruction, and math instruction). Things could be added to the core each day, depending on teacher-mom. Stickers were not given for school “core”.
3) Each sticker earned was worth one unit towards purchase of an item in the school store. Stickers were earned by doing extra-curricular activities like completing drills creating things, doing extra work in a subject, chores, or other activities that teacher-mom had printed up each week and put into a notebook. Each activity completed was worth one sticker. Remember, stickers were not given for “core” schoolwork.
4) Items were not easy to earn. They were worth as much in effort as they would if you were to earn actual money and go to town to buy them.
5) Items in the store were marked or labeled with a sticker price. There were many one-of-a-kind items. An item could not be reserved for any specific person. Whoever had the stickers necessary to purchase an item was allowed to purchase it. An item would not be saved for a specific individual simply because they really liked it and wanted it. This helped give incentive to the children. If they really wanted something badly, they had to work hard to get it.
6) The school store was only open on school days. It would not open until all chores and all school work were completed by all the students for that specific day.
7) The school store would stay open for 15 minutes per day. Then it was closed until the next school day. No exceptions.
8 ) All purchases were final. Students could not exchange items purchased for something else simply because the purchaser changed their mind or got tired of their purchase.
9) The teacher-parent reserved the right to take store privileges away due to lack of work or poor attitudes or behavior.
10) Students were reminded that they may not be able to purchase something from the store every day. There might be inexpensive items available that the student could spend their stickers on daily, but they were encouraged to save their stickers for higher sticker priced items, like a small Lego set or coupon for doing something fun.
There were several reasons for developing our school store. First, the children enjoyed the motivation. It helped them to develop self-discipline and take some of the responsibility of learning upon themselves. Some days (most days, perhaps), the teacher-parent can be very busy taking care of the household, the children, and the their education. On really busy days, the children might be short-changed because their teacher-parent may not have enough time to sit down with them and do as much as they would like. The school store was a supplemental plan which allowed for enriched learning experiences for the children. The school store provided the opportunity for children to spend their own time exploring learning experiences. They could select their own projects according to their interests and abilities. Occasionally the teacher-parent might select activities for the child, but generally the idea was to be open-ended and to allow the child freedom to be self-motivated and self-directed in their learning.
The next post will give ideas for the learning activities children can complete to earn stickers. Please come back again to see what ideas will be shared.