A few years ago, as I was working on a brochure for parents for our State Reading Association, my mother said she remembered cutting up calendars to make flashcards to help my brothers learn math skills, such as number recognition and sequencing.
When my oldest child became kindergarten age, we were faced for the first time with rigorous morning schedules. It seemed that I was always saying, "Hurry up, Emily. If you get dressed, eat breakfast, and make your bed, we can read a chapter in your favorite book before the bus arrives."
My son wanted to buy lunch at school everyday as opposed to taking a bag lunch from home. So we came up with a solution by giving him $12.50 each Monday, which would allow him to buy lunch at school for the week. It is his decision whether he wants to buy the lunch at school or take lunch from home -- and then keep the money for himself.
When my kids were little I made the rule that they can't watch TV, but they can watch a television program. Even when they couldn't read, I would read them their options in the program guide and they would choose.
There were 5 children in our family and at some point we noticed that they were watching TV much more than they should, so we came up with the idea that reading would be an incentive for watching TV.
My young son was having trouble managing his time after school. I developed a "schedule" that he likes to follow which lists what time he should stop and do homework; what time he needs to practice his instrument; a slot of "free time" and "TV time".
We have three boys of various ages, and their personalities are so different. We wanted each one to have the opportunity to have their say. And with teenagers, we've found that you have to expose the issues to the entire family so the responsible ones can be held accountable.
My son was behind in reading and writing since he was in the first grade, his teacher suggested he keep a diary or journal of sorts. When we started he would write down his thoughts or stories and I'd look at them and correct them. I found that by correcting them, it wasn't fun any longer. So he and I decided that he could write down anything he wanted in that journal.
Here's a tip to instigate a time that I called "Sarah's time". When our daughter, Sarah, who is now 32, was in grade school, she was so wonderfully behaved that it was most unusual for her to ever misbehave to get attention.
I found that the weekends were getting to be stressful in our family with both parents working it was hard to balance the needs of the family with the needs of the children. So I came up with the idea of a weekend to-do list that I made with the kids.