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Will Work for Fireworks

Boys and Explosives. What is the attraction? I don’t get it. Fireworks seem like a giant waste of money to me. After each detonation, I calculate the amount of cash that exploded in 2.5 seconds. My men don’t share my convictions. They will do anything for fireworks. Including math.

He wanted money. My husband and I buy the kids a reasonable amount of fireworks, but they wanted more! In anticipation of Independence Day, my oldest had saved his chore money. Although my 8yo had tried to save his allowance, the temptation of sugary treats consumed every dollar in his possession. Suddenly, as we drove past the fireworks tents, his desire for work (and money) increased! In our home, the kids ALWAYS have one stand-by for making money…….doing extra math sheets. I don’t pay well- 25 cents per side of each math page. But, with determination, a boy always has the chance to earn money for his longings.

 

After many hours of perseverance, he did 24 pages of math!! (Equaling $6 worth of fireworks!) Wow! Look at that pile of quarters! (Let the record show……I never told him he had to do any of this math. He chose to do it because he wanted more fireworks!)

 

The proud owner of four packages of firecrackers!

What did he learn? Hopefully, he learned that it might be wise to save his money instead of spending it all on food! Also, he learned that he can do great things…..when he puts his mind to it! Thankfully…he learned some math, also!

 

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Teaching Perseverance to an Unmotivated Learner

“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.” Galatians 6:9 (Message)

My preseverant, diligent, hard-working son…..with all of his math done by 8:15 am!

As I grabbed my morning coffee, I did a double-take! Was I dreaming? I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear the sleep from my eyelids. No way! My middle son was sitting at our school table doing his math! Everyone else was asleep, yet he was diligently working away….computing. A few minutes later….at exactly 8:15 am, he had completed all three pages of math, corrected his missed problems, and finished all of his Flashmaster fact practice. It was 8:15am! I was still drinking my coffee!

In order for you to grasp the importance of this moment, allow me to show you a glimpse of yesterday’s school day…….

8:00am: Son mumbles that he hates school as I explain his math assignment.

8:30am: Son begins his math. When I say begin, I mean I hand him his independent math and he lists all of the reasons why math is terrible, I am mean, and life is not fair.

9:00am: One problem has been completed, but all of his pencils are very sharp.

10:00am: He has drawn a huge X all over his papers and declared that he is finished!

11:00 am: He is still sitting at the table….contemplating the injustices of life, while meticulously examining our classroom ceiling….with five problems finished.

12:00pm: We let him take a break to eat lunch. While chewing, he informs us that he might be ready to do his math now.

1:00pm: After a lunch break and read-aloud, Son returns to battle with his math paper.

2:00 pm: Apparently his resolve to finish it has vanished because he has accomplished one page out of three.

2:30 pm: His brothers are done with school, so they are released into the Great Outdoors. Suddenly, completing math is urgent. He chooses to work.

3:00 pm: Math is finished. It took thirty minutes. Son is sad to find that while his math is complete, all of his other subjects are still waiting for him.

7:00 pm: School is complete……Mama needs coffee…..

Why the change? How can one day be so different from another?

Yesterday morning, our bad day, I made a decision. I needed to make his schoolwork his problem, not mine. His decision, not mine. Here was my plan…..

  1. Before setting him free with his math, I would explain it and ask him if he understood it. I would give him everything he needed to succeed.
  2. After proper explanations took place, I would set him free to do his work.
  3. I explained the rule. (Only one….we have to keep it simple.)
    1. He was to stay in his chair until he had made a solid effort at every math problem. He was free to ask questions, but “I can’t do this” is not a question.
  4. I allowed him to choose. Staying in the chair all day is a bad option, but it is an option, nonetheless. (At this point, you may be thinking that I am extremely harsh. But, might I remind you that his work should take him about 30-45 minutes to complete and I have already explained the lesson. I am not forcing him to stay in the chair. I am allowing him to get up once his work is complete.)
  5. While he was making his choices, I continued schooling his siblings. I did not tell him to get to work. I did not beg him to finish. I did not get upset. I went about my day. Pereseverance is a choice.
  6. I was willing to let him school all day, if necessary.
 

The Calm After the Storm

Yesterday was our storm. Today was our calm. The storm, though it was painful for everyone, helped him understand that he was in control. Yes, I can’t make him do it. Believe me, I have tried! Yet, I can set boundaries that will motivate him to want to finish. Honestly, I can’t believe that it worked so quickly! Yes, we might need to have a reminder day. But, for today, we will celebrate! I will speak words of encouragement and blessing over my newly converted hard worker…..my diligent young man that chooses the path to success! The Lord said that He has given every believer “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL.” (Galatians 5:22)

My son has self-control. He just needed the motivation to tap into it.

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