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Using the clicker theory on kids....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

At my daughters summer camp we give out little pearls. On the first day each kid was given a little snap-hook with a thread to save their pearl on. They were told that we would give out pearls for behaviour we approved of and the earned pearls could be used for shopping at the camp store - there are juggling balls, diabolos, wizard tricks and other stuff that kids love in that store.

the first day we were very generous with the pearls, any little effort to be helpful or generous or social was rewarded. Some kids hooked on very quickly and there was almost struggles to get to the dishtowel and clean the tables after each meal. It still seems hard for them to grasp the idea of being inventive - they could find ways to be nice and helpful instead of imitating what they see other kids get rewarded for. One kid came up with the idea of taking weeds out of the herb garden - soon there was not a single weed left... it took them three days to realize that they could clean the bathroom or sweep the floor...

It is interesting since it is supposed to create initiative an motivation - and t seems to work.

What I discover about myself is that I am really into the negative way - it is much easier to say "donĀ“t do that" instead of ignoring bad behaviours and looking for good ones to reward. There is no punishment in this system - we just ignore and get busy rewarding something else... it seems to work, after four days we have very active kids and they are shopping... my daughter has earned pearl enough to buy a diabolo and she is getting clever with it.

Another thing - I read to the kids each night - an old german folk saga who is really terrifying, black magic and death and the language is oldfashioned. I would never have thought that twelve kids could listen for longer than maybe five-ten minutes - but they do. I read for 30-45 minutes and you could hear a needle fall to the floor, it is really silent. They are rehearsing a play based on this story I read and it is obvious that they listen because they can tell what happened in the last episode...

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love the idea of the story. I'm off to a folk festival with daughter and grandkids in a couple of weeks. We are camping for four days. You have inspired me to look out a book to read to them. Beowulf, perhaps or some other oral trad story.

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    3428 days ago
    What fun!

    I LOVE going to camp, just got back myself. Maha and I had a great time!
    3429 days ago
    wow sounds like you and the kids are having a good time.
    My favourite stories as a kid was the ghoulish and scarry ones too.
    Still loves a good Steven King book. emoticon
    3429 days ago
    Kids are surprising .... grabbing towels to dry the dishes and listening for 45 minutes!?
    3430 days ago
    You are doing an amazing job at that camp. It sounds a wonderful idea, to reward good behaviour rather than focusing on changing the not so good behaviour. I only wish my girls were lucky enough to have been to such a well thought out camp when they were at school. The store where they can spend their reward pearl is such a fantastic idea!

    You really must have the gift of being able to bring a story to life,to have those kids sit spellbound and silent for all that time! I know your daughter will have many wonderful memories of you and all you helped with while you were there to tell her own children some time in the future, and until that time she will know how lucky she is to have such a wonderful mother who cares enough about her to volunteer to spend time helping at the camp.

    You have every right to feel proud of what you've done during the camp, not every parent is willing or able to spend time doing what you did, and to have the kids rehearsing a play based on the story you've been reading to them shows just how good a job you did in bringing it to life for them.
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    3430 days ago
    What you are doing sounds interesting and worthwhile - giving the children pleasure and teaching them about life is great. Your daughter is so lucky to have a mother like you.

    Rewards and no punishments huh? We could all take a leaf out of that book.

    Hope you are all enjoying . . .

    Also hope you you are feeling a bit better today.
    3430 days ago
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