Carrie has four daughters and runs Write On! Workshops--a summer writing camp for children.

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Summer Chores: A New Way to Play the Game

I’ve had a ——- time the past six weeks playing the Game On! Diet with some friends. It’s tough to choose the adjective to describe this Game because it was fun, hard, intense and seriously good for me all at the same time.

What’s good for me, just might be good for my kids too.  I decided to play a family version of the Game with my girls over the summer. The focus of our Game isn’t eating, but making good use of time. I want my children to have a fun summer,  but I also have expectations. With the right motivation, these expectations can feel like a game, right?

Here’s how I set it up. I’ve chosen an incentive activity for each month. If you earn enough Game points, you earn the activity.

June is a day at Lagoon.

July is Beezus and Ramona at the Drive Inn.

August is Tarzan at Tuacahn Theatre.

These are activities that we would have scheduled into our summer anyway, but (I hope) they’ll take on a whole new significance when they are the much anticipated Game Prize.

Our scoring schedule looks like this:

Jobs done by noon– 15 points: I hate it when jobs drag on all day long. I also don’t like summer playdates that start at nine in the morning. The noon deadline prevents both.

Exercise–10 points: You’re giving points for jumping on the trampoline?  Or riding a bike?  Or playing freeze tag?  Yep.  Sometimes my girls need a little nudge to remember how much fun it is to play outside.

Learning time–10 points: Each summer the girls choose a summer topic they want to become an expert in. We call it their “major” like a major in college.  True story: they love this. The key:  don’t tell them what to choose.  This year the majors range from turtles, to Shakespeare, to learning Morse Code.

New good habit–10 points: This is straight from the Game On! Diet.  The girls chose things like flossing and writing in their journal.  My hope is to have them work on a new habit each month.

Breaking a bad habit–10 points: My ten year old is going to stop leaving her bedroom light on and my teen is going to stop biting her nails.  I am going to stop eating food off of my kids’ plates.

Writing down your score for the day–5 points: I’ve made a weekly score sheet for them to record their points on each day.

Bonus and penalty points: As the president of this game, I hold all the points in the whole world.  Today I gave away 30 points for helping paint a chair, push my baby in the swing, and sort socks.  I also took away 10 points for a put down.  The beauty of this system is no matter how many points I give away–I will never run out.

This Game is not a tried and true summer strategy. It is, at this writing, 24 hours old. One early sign of success is that my teenager liked it. Normally she refuses to participate in turning the cards on her job chart (whether she has done the job or not.) But she filled out her score sheet tonight. Hmmm. I guess she doesn’t want to stay home while everyone else is at Lagoon.

It could be crazy keeping track of all these points–or, it just might work.  I guess we’ll find out.  The game is on!

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Comments (3)

  1. Jenn Crozier 06/10/2010 at 6:38 am

    sounds like a great plan to me! fun activities for you summer too….

  2. Pingback: While We Were Waiting– A Great Resource for Mom’s « Utah Mama

  3. raejean 07/08/2010 at 1:41 pm

    I love the Game On idea. I'll keep that in mind for next summer!