My 7 year old once came home from school with sheets of paper with gems on them. Not real ones but large drawing of gems that you could cut out and colour in. There was a note attached saying, ‘Please cut out the gems and write on the back of each one something your child has done for another person that is helpful, considerate etc.’
The task was two weeks long and I had to remember the things he had done to help me or another person. No matter how small the ‘good deed’ was I had to see or hear it, register it, remember it and put it on a gem when we got home (the good deeds mainly happened outside of the house, don’t ask me why).
The project tested my memory but also made me more aware of what he was doing when he was with me. The first couple of days he was really trying to get gems – picking something off the floor that someone had dropped, putting money in a charity tin, etc. Then he forgot about the project so he got less gems. He got some though – he laid the table for me and tidied his toys away when I asked him to.
I think the project was good for me, as well as him, as I got to really tune in to how responsive he is to me and how thoughtful he is. I think this idea can make children really think about what they are doing for others. We often use stickers and rewards charts for children to behave in the way we want them to but I don’t think we place much emphasis on children doing something for another person, with or without prompt.
I think the gems are a lovely motivational idea. What do you think?