Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Spelling Store



I have moments where I feel like a terrible mother. Yelling at my kids when I'm grumpy, forgetting field trip permission slips, drifting off while one of them is relaying the details of a story that they care deeply about, etc. All of those instances, plus a hundred or so more, make me slip into the "they'd be so much better without me" uniform, which, I assume, most of us mommies have loitering somewhere in the basements of our souls.

I also have moments where I think that I'm doing pretty good at this job. I had such a feeling this evening, when I set up our weekly "spelling store." Every Thursday night, in order to prepare for the traditional Friday spelling tests (we all suffered through those, didn't we?), I haul out some treasures that I've picked up during the week, and call each child, one at a time, into my "shop". They bring me their lists (or in Lily's case, who no longer has spelling, she brings me her notes for whatever exam she has coming up in the near future; Seth, who now demands to take part, gets questions like "what color is our dog Bob?"), and after reciting the words, are doled out points to spend on my inventory. The maximum points earned is twenty, with each kids' list weighted according to the number of words given them by the teacher (for example, Liam has 20 spelling words, so each word = 1 point; Benjamin only has 5 words, so each of his words = 4 points).

I'm not big on bribes. I swore such a thing would not exist in my parenting (prior to actually giving birth, of course). I'm also not one to stress academic perfection-the Sombars know that they are expected to do their best, while also knowing that this "best" is subjective, according to where they happen to be developmentally and with respect to their age (public schools' rules and expectations are not necessarily my rules and expectations, and I keep them separate at home- as long as due respect is given while they are in the care of their teachers). However, I find that I have a couple of little people in this house who get lazy about wanting to read or spell new words, and I have very little tolerance for this. I also know that if I don't build something creative into my parenting routine on Thursdays, I will not remember to help them study consistently. So, around my dining room table, tonight, I set out bags of microwave popcorn, erasers, packs of bendaroos, sticks of gum, Hershey's kisses, and a few clearance items (the remaining five hot tamales and two pieces of Dentyne Ice), all at different point levels. They add and subtract their own winnings in order to make their purchases, learning, as a result, to budget and spend wisely (dare I be so dramatic here).

Test scores have improved dramatically amongst my offspring (well, the ones in need of extra motivation), and overall, so has my belief in myself. Due to my own struggles with routine and structure, whenever I find that I'm able to bring consistency to an area of my parenting, where there might otherwise be chaos, I always feel better. Not to mention, experiencing joy with the beings that I've brought into this world is the best, even when those humans rush at me like crackheads to a street dealer, bargaining and finagling their way through my stash.

15 comments:

Br1207yantScipio1 said...

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洪筱婷 said...

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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