Monday, August 13, 2012

My First Guest Writer & Incentive Punch Cards

Just before we moved from Kansas City to the farm, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful fellow homeschool mom, Katy.  She is the mother of eight beautifiul children, and her husband Roy is currently serving our country overseas. (God bless our military!)  She is truly an amazing woman!  
A couple of weeks ago, she posted an idea on Facebook for creating punch cards with incentives for each child with ways to implement them in the home during the school year. I loved Katy's idea, and asked her if she would share it with you. She graciously agreed!  I am thankful to have her here as my first guest writer on the homeschool page.  I hope you enjoy her creativity as much as I do! Here's Katy!...
As a homeschool Mom, I have to hold myself accountable for my kids upbringing. Normally, I can sit down with a couple or all of the kids and talk about the difference between right and wrong and what they need to learn and practice out in the real world. As much as this is necessary, it can get monotonous. I need (we all need) some creative and fun ways to bring in the home to help guide our kids in the direction we are working on.  Sometimes, my expectations can get too high. I know, you can’t relate.  I am always looking for solutions to make life a little more fun in the area’s that my kids struggle. Quite frankly, I am looking for ways to make my parenting a bit easier! Another homeschooling Mom gave me the idea to use punch cards as an incentive to make these “weak” area’s easier, and more fun, to overcome.  The concept is quite simple. 
Step 1:
You pick a few….F-E-W (not 300)….area’s that you would like to work on to improve the upbringing of your kids such as chores, homework, manners, etc. 
Step 2:
Come up with inexpensive and do-able rewards for each one.

Step 3:
Custom make these cards on your computer. Or, ask your computer savvy husband to do it. I use Microsoft Publisher/Business Cards.
Step 4:
Buy a hole punch that is not the traditional circle. I’m sure my kids are honest and would never think of cheating BUT, just to wipe that temptation from their little minds, I paid the extra money at Office Max and bought an adorable, overpriced heart shaped punch. Believe it or not, I also carry the sticky circles with me all the time. When a card rips from the key chain, I use the stickers and place it back on. I must 
be prepared all the time. 

Step 5:
This is VERY important!! The number of great “ideas” I have had that have died a slow painful death is more than I can count. If I wanted this to work, I needed to have access to these cards at all times and have a sincere follow-through. I keep ALL of the cards with me in my purse. When anyone deserves “a punch” (yes, this will be an on-going joke all year), I am ready to yank them from my purse at that very moment! 
When the kids fill up a card, I leave it on their key chain until they get their reward, then I promptly tear it off and place it in a jar so we can keep track with how well they have been doing with this system. If I forget to take the card off and put it away, I will surely have to pay them twice because we will all forget. I always have a stash of extra cards in my purse so I can immediately replace it. 

 Let me share a couple of example’s about how we have used these 
and why they were successful. 

My favorite card is the “Pleasure to Meet You” card. I LOVE this because I have wanted my children to say these simple words to strangers for YEARS. Even though I repeatedly asked each of them to do this, I could hardly get more than a smile and a barely visible nod out of them. Don’t all homeschooled children do this??! Didn’t I read that somewhere? Well, offer to pay the kids and see what happens. Yes, I know. Paying the kids to have manners might not be the ideal way, but desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The first time we went out with this card was to visit my daughter’s old school from 13 years ago. I reminded the kids that they would all have a chance to fill up their cards if they could each meet and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you” to 10 different people. WOW!!! You should have seen the looks on the teacher’s faces as each child said those simple words!!! I know, these teachers had no idea that I was paying the kids to say this BUT, my kids got to experience another person’s reaction when those words slipped passed their lips. My kids received more than just a monetary reward. 

After school was over and the cards were put away, they continued to use those simple little words over and over again with no expectation of money or candy. That’s right! My kids' reward is in the faces and reaction of the people they meet. They just needed a jump start and these punch cards are my “jump start”! Imagine the possibilities! Now, I want to make 300 cards but then the images of my slow death ideas creep through my mind. One step at a time! 

This year, I want to focus on my kids using their vocabulary words in their daily conversations with people. Why am I paying $10 for a vocabulary book and they aren’t even using these words?! Every time the kids use a vocabulary word, not only do I give them a punch (in the card) but I write the word next to the cute heart. I learned the hard way that I could be punching hole after hole for the same word. Yeah, that ended quickly
I won’t bore you with my 300 idea’s but here are a few that we have done or will be doing in the near future….
*Self denial. Denying yourself something as a sacrifice or because you know it isn’t good for you.
*Babysitting. I can’t afford the going rate for babysitting so a big chocolate shake after a card is full should do the trick. 
*Math. Math will be the death of some of my kids!! Besides trying a new and more fun Math curriculum this year….Life of Fred…I need to have a serious incentive to get this done In a reasonable amount of time with no tears.
*Church. Behaving….quiet….volunteering, etc. 
*Spelling Words. I have one child who could care less if he missed all of his spelling words. He just needs another reason to get them right. 
*Chores. You have to go beyond the cards to get this to be pleasant, fast and fun (Fly Lady….Mothers Rule of Life) but the cards are an excellent tool. 
*Homework. Just getting it done before midnight would be nice but how about before 5:00? Or even 4:00? 
*Accepting “No” for an answer the first time. 
*Siblings. OK, I might get some ugly looks with this one because who really recommends that you pay your kids to be nice to each other?  BUT, if you have some sibling rivalry going on, the punch cards can be just the jump start they need to really see how kind words and actions can affect someone. We all know what mean words can do but what about KIND words?  Just like the “Pleasure to Meet You” experiences, doing and saying simple kind things to someone you don’t think you like can change not only how you act and speak to them but how you act and speak to the outside world that is FULL of people you won’t like! 

You can keep up with Katy and her family through her blog, Come What May.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this idea and think it has come just in the nick of time for me! I have four children (10 and under) and these will come in so handy for so many things. I am often on my own, as my husband travels for his job and I can definitely see myself using these to help my children. Also, I have a Facebook page (Meaningful Mommy Meditations) and I REALLY think many of my followers could use an idea like this. Would you mind if I shared it, I will definitely use your name and attribute everything to you and Sole Searching! Thanks!

    1. Hi Trina! I would love for you to share the idea with your readers. Thank you for linking back to my site. Best wishes!!

  2. Awesome, Awesome post! Can't wait to implement this!


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