The Job Jar

I got this great idea from my good friend and fellow blogger, Homeschool Dawn, who blogs at Olive Plants.

You can read all the details about this “chore time strategy” at the above link, but here’s the idea in a nutshell:  take index cards and write a job on each one.  Assign each task an amount of money that the task is worth, if completed well.  Put all the index cards in a jar and allow the kids to draw out the cards….once they finish one task, they can draw out another card.  At the end of the allotted cleaning time, add up how much money each child earned doing their various jobs and give them their wages.

I love this idea, and it works great with my boys.  I use different colored index cards for the various jobs so that each of my boys has their own color.  This way I can make sure that no one gets a job that is too difficult for them.  I don’t want my Kindergartner getting a job meant for my high school aged son, and vice versa.

My boys know that some cards are only worth 3 cents, while others are worth 25 cents….and believe me, they want those 25 cent cards!  No one is allowed to look at the job they are drawing out until the card is in their hand; once they’ve drawn it, they must complete it before moving on to another card.

There are a couple of ways I keep the boys motivated.  They thrive on competition, and I take advantage of that whenever we do the Job Jar.  First, I set a timer so the boys know how long we will be cleaning.  The quicker they do their jobs, the more cards they can draw out of the job jar (and the more money they will be able to earn).  I do check each job, however, to make sure it is also done well; if they have done a poor job, the job must be re-done before they can draw another card.

Since I am using different colored cards for each child, they are not really competing against each other to get the highest paying jobs.  But they are competing against me!  I do not have an assigned color, but can draw cards from any color.  If I draw the card and do the job, I don’t have to pay them to do it.  I make sure to draw at least one higher-paying job from the jar sometime during the cleaning time (wink, wink), just about the time that energy is starting to flag.  The reminder that mom might get some of their higher paying jobs is enough to light a fire under the little cleaners, giving them renewed zeal for their tasks.

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