The end of school is here at last (finally!) and my kids are looking forward to endless hours of playing Wii and watching TV. The past couple of summers we’ve done a reading/screen chart and we will do so again this year. I’ve revised and updated my system a bit more and am sharing it with you here (again).
For starters, reading is not the only way kids can earn “Screen Bucks“. My husband and I talked about the things we want our kids to focus on the summer and came up with the following list to encourage these activities:
You can see we are rewarding activities like reading, playing piano, doing “work”, and writing, but also spiritual activities, like reading the Bible and memorizing Scripture verses, which we have given more weight.
Redemption of the “Screen Bucks” has also changed. It is now more costly to play Wii/Computer games than it is to just watch TV.
You may also note that little asterisk which says kids can have “free” screen time before 9am. That’s my sanity saver. I need a chunk of time in the mornings to take care of my stuff and I’m going to let them watch TV so I can get it done. Those who are motivated may get up earlier to get in more screen time, but that’s ok with me. Other children will sleep til 10 and that’s ok too.
Accounting for all the additions and debits changed my chart a little. It’s basically set-up like a checkbook ledger. Here’s what our Screen Time Balance Sheet looks like:
This chart requires a little more advanced math, but it’s good practice for my elementary kids (and I’m overseeing the process).
I know we probably won’t maintain this all the way through summer, but it is setting us off on a good start. Yesterday was the first day we implemented it, and after a library run to load up on books — my 3 kids collectively read for over 5 hours!K
I should mention, the success of this program probably depends on your kid(s).
My 9yo daughter is a total bookworm, hardly cares about Wii and totally doesn’t need this — she’d read for hours on her own.
My 8yo son LOVES the Wii and responds very well to systems like this. He is all about logging hours, for the sole purpose of maximizing screen time. It is an excellent fit for him.
My 5yo son is not a reader so he can’t do this without my help. Despite this, it is helping him spend time looking at books, or ask to work on his “learn to read” book with me. The system is perhaps overly complex in his case, but he likes mimicing the big kids and this is helping keep us focused on books more than screens.
One last thing — if you take your kids to the library, but never know what to get (happens to me all the time), I set up a pinterest board with ideas for summer reading and links to lots of good book lists. For my non-reader, I sought out a bunch of books without words that he could look at solo.
Hopefully this will help some other parents out there — if you use a different system, I’d love to hear what works for you!