Dear Ezy Math,
I wanted to share an experience we recently went through with our 8 year old daughter, Bella. She was really struggling with math, and nothing seemed to help. We would try to sit down with her and help with homework, but it would end in tears and a fight and nothing being completed.
We were also having another issue with Bella, which was completely unrelated to her school work; it was her inability or unwillingness to help out around the house or contribute to daily chores and responsibilities. A friend of ours suggested allowing her to earn spending money, and called it a commission instead of an allowance. Our friends explained that simply giving kids money just for existing could breed entitlement, where allowing them to work for their money builds self confidence, self esteem and a strong work ethic. So we sat down as a family and came up with a list of things Bella could do around the house to earn money. She was very excited, but I was hesitant her love of chores would last.
As the week began, she woke up and eagerly fed the dog, helped me with laundry after school and helped her dad wash the car in the evening. She was adamant about working hard to earn her commission. It was her job to add up the money she earned each week and provide us with a total. She wanted to buy an Ipod and set a goal to earn enough money to buy one. She asked me to sit down and figure out how much she would have to earn each day to earn enough money for the Ipod before her cousins’ birthday in a few months. It was then that I noticed eagerness in her eyes and a shift in her attitude when it came to numbers and math. We dabbled in percentages when we agreed on how much of her money she was going to give to charity and how much she was going to put away in a savings account. We even allowed her earn “interest” on her money and agreed to add 10% of the money she saved into her account every month.
As the weeks went by and she earned more money, her self-confidence sky rocketed. She understood that she didn’t earn money for doing certain chores like keeping her room clean and clearing off the table after meals, as these are just things expected of her to do as a member of the family. To my amazement, she would come to me on the weekends asking for more responsibility and an excitement to earn more, save more and do more.
I wanted to share this story with parents who have children who are struggling with math AND who may have forgotten that they are 8, not 18 and are giving their parents a run for their money in the eye rolling and bad attitude department. Sometimes kids just need a goal, a focus, something to make them feel important and valued. This system not only allows them to sharpen their math skills, but fosters a understanding and appreciation for money and hard work.
Good luck parents, this parenting thing is not for the weak! But if we help each other, and ask tutors, teachers and other parents for advice, we’ll raise strong children who have a solid foundation, in both mathematics and in character.