Lessons Learned

I think often the best lessons our students and our kids learn are the ones that result from natural consequences.  In other words….they are learned in the moment.

We started my daughter on a paid allowance this month.  She has a list of chores and a dollar amount attached to each one.  If she completes all her chores in a week she could potentially earn up to $12/week.  (She figured this out by herself too, not bad for a 7 year old…..)

This week she did not complete her chores everyday.  Not even close.  She set the table two days (worth $0.50 each) and cleared the table twice (also worth $0.50).  The other times?  She was tired.  She didn’t want to.  She had other things that were more important.  She was in the middle of a game.

So as of today she had earned $2 and Saturday is pay day.

We went to the mall today where she had $3 from when he grandpa was here and $2 that she earned through her allowance.

At first we were in the toy store, where she was dismayed to find out that she didn’t have enough money to even get her remotely close to something she might want to buy.

Then we were in the bookstore where she desperately wanted a book.  It contained about six chapter books in an anthology and was priced at $9.  She begged and pleaded for us to give her the balance she needed to make up for the deficit in her funds.  As a parent this was really difficult for me.  I wanted to say yes and pull out my wallet since it was a book and I love encouraging her to read.  But I knew she wouldn’t learn anything this way so I stood my ground, with the support of her father, and said no.  She eventually put the book away and found something else to spend her money on.

The result……?

When it came to setting the table tonight I didn’t even have to ask her.  She just did it.  And she admitted that in the future if she really wanted something then she better get her work done and start saving up for it.

A tough lesson for her to learn today, but sometimes the best lessons are those that we figure out ourselves.

I recently read an excellent article that said the rate of learning is increased exponentially when associated with emotion.  The brain often forms stronger memories when tied with emotion.  That’s why it’s so easy for us to recall the big things like the birth of a child or our wedding (even though they happened so long ago) but forget things like when the clock was invented, what the formula is for area of a circle, or what the heck the word personification means.

After all…..we often say something has been “learned” if it is able to recalled and then applied to something else.  So it makes sense that the stronger the memory created within the brain equals the increased likelihood of learning.  And I don’t think my daughter will forget what she learned today for a very long time.  The emotion might be that of “disappointment” but the lesson has been learned all the same.


About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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