Archive for Book

Making Cents (Sense) Out of Dollars

Before I get started, I want to share a story.  When I woke up Monday morning, I had some ideas for a blog in my mind but nothing in stone.  I went to the gym (as is my routine) when I noticed a magazine (maybe it was the Wall Street Journal)  There was an article that dealt with retirement myths.  It was well written and I thought writing a money article for parents may be a good idea.

Later, I was looking through some blogs. I came across a new one with an outstanding post by Joyce Wheeler titled Teaching Children About Finances. ( I highly recommend it.

Finally, I received an email from our local chapter of All Pro Dad.  It said that the next meeting will have to do with striking a balance between children saving and spending their money.  (There comes a point where I wonder whether someone is trying to tell me something)

Money is a pretty long topic to deal with so here’s what I learned at St. Joseph Children’s Home and how I applied the lesson in my home. Before I get into my stories, I promise you this.  Most schools do not teach money sense to any great degree.  I suspect one reason is that it is not covered on standardized tests to any great extent.  So here’s the question.  Who will teach your children how to handle their money if you won’t?

At St Joseph, we used fake money called Luckbucks.  They were earned based on chores and behavior.  Even our 4 year old residents received these.  If your kids are small, you don’t have to use real money.  Luckbucks were used when the children had group outings or wanted to play Nintendo.  Looking back on it, we probably underutilized them although they were still effective.

I believe children should be allowed to earn money but they should also be forced to spend it.  Usually what I see are kids who earn money but mom and dad still pay for everything.  The point of money is not only to accumulate it but to spend it wisely.  Now, if a child chooses not to spend their money after weighing their options, that’s great. It’s the discretion of the parent in determining when their children should be using their own money.

I had a child at St. Joseph I’ll call Daniel whose sole purpose with Luckbucks was to save them.  He never spent his “money” because he wanted “to be rich.”  In some small way, I hope his attitude towards Luckbucks transferred to life after St. Joseph.  If that’s the case, he could retire very early in life.

Contrarily, my oldest child saves but he has two conflicting goals.  The first is to buy all the things he likes at Toys ‘R’ Us and the second is to save until he accumulates $100.  (This is his Holy Grail of cash)  A while back, he saw a truck in an advertisement that he had to have.  I believe it cost about $25.00.  He asked me if I would get it for him and I refused. (He has over 20 trucks in his playroom)  I told him if he wanted the truck, he’d have to buy it himself.  After some deliberating, he decided to make the purchase.

The reason I decided to tell you this story is because I can’t remember the last time he actually played with the truck.  He’s also brought up the goal of saving $100.00 on multiple occasions since then.  The irony is if he didn’t buy the truck, he would already have the money!  Of course, I remind him of the truck when he brings up the savings goal.  I am not condescending but I want him to realize the financial choices he makes are a big deal.  As he gets older, I’m sure I’ll hammer this point even more.

Thanks for reading and passing this along to other parents.  It is greatly appreciated!

Also, during the month of May, (the distributor of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures)  is knocking off 15% on their production costs so I am passing the savings on to you.  When you purchase the book, please enter the code maysave305 to get your discount.  I really appreciate Lulu for doing that!  Here’s the direct link.

Have a terrific day!!!

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Why Reading Stinks!

Have you ever wondered why some kids love to read while others seem allergic to books?  Today’s post will not make every kid a reader overnight but it may give a few insights as to why kids feel as they do about reading.

When I was an elementary teacher, I had to assess kids immediately so I could know where their reading skills were compared to where they should be.  What I also informally assessed were their attitudes on reading and I came up with some common themes.

First though, let me clear some misconceptions to make sure we are on the same page.  There is a line I draw between reading and decoding and this difference is important.

Decoding is when a child pronounces words properly from whatever they are reading.  When I worked with kids though, I defined reading as decoding plus “knowing what the heck you are talking about.”  A simple example would be when a child reads a stop sign.  A child who decodes that word (like my youngest son) has no idea why the sign is there or what to do.  An older child though could decode the stop sign, know why it is there, and have a clear picture in his/her mind as to what is going on.

Now, let’s get to why reading stinks.

Cover of
Picture was found after writing my Space Shuttle point.  I couldn’t resist.

1.  Reading stinks because sometimes the material is either too hard to decode or comprehend.  It would be like giving many people a book called “How to Fly the Space Shuttle.”  I’m sure there are some adults who couldn’t decode all of the terminology (including myself).  Others may decode it but really wouldn’t have a firm grasp on how to do it.  Just like children, if your space shuttle manual was too long, complicated, or confusing, you would probably get tired of it as well.

2.  Reading stinks because there’s no one to share it with.  In a classroom, I didn’t have this issue but at home, any parent could.  If a child is forced to read at home while the adult watches TV, talks on the phone, or plays on the internet, it appears to the child that reading has taken a backseat in their life.  To make matters worse, if a child doesn’t have a nice quiet area to read and has to watch their siblings playing while they are working; their concentration would be so far gone, it would make reading nearly pointless.

3.  Finally, reading stinks because the material is boring.  When a child is forced to read material they don’t like, it can turn them off from the process all together.  While I will grant you sometimes kids have to read things in school they don’t want to, I would hate to think we make children read so many boring things that they despise reading all together.  That would be a shame.

Remember in the beginning of the post when saying that I informally assessed attitudes about reading?  Here’s why.  In the beginning of every school year, my job (as I perceived it) was to get a child’s attitude in the right direction concerning reading.  It was more important than even the subject itself.  Some kids had a negative attitude about reading or a complete lack of confidence.  I had to get these things turned around as quickly as possible because if I didn’t, teaching the subject would have been useless.   

As adults, we choose what we want to read but when working with kids, we should be mindful of our choices.  If, as adults, we pass on to our children “reading stinks” by our actions, our kids are much less likely to be good readers. It’s really important to take an active role in reading because our children are always watching us.  A parent can take an active role by reading themselves but they can also help by taking an interest in what their kids are reading.  

I found this out recently when I was sitting on a couch reading a book.  My oldest son walks up to me and says “I thought only mom read books.”  The reason my child said this is because I don’t read a lot of books.  I wasn’t aware though he was observant of this.  I explained to him I read books occasionally but I like newspapers and magazines more.  Kids are much more observant than we think so it’s important to give the best impressions possible.   

The truth is reading really stinks for some kids but it doesn’t have to.  There are things we, as parents and educators, can do to help kids if we choose.  Though reading is not a skill learned overnight, it is one that will last a lifetime.

This Wednesday, I will be back with my behavior blog.  The title will be “Competing for Mama” and I think you’ll find it pretty interesting.  All my best to you and the ones you love.  

Hear CPT's interview on the Dr. Carol Radio Show