At Building Cathedrals Mary Alice writes about implementing a plan to teach children to clean up after themselves and linking it to a reward system she already had in place:
In the past, we have been using pennies for the church collection as an incentive for small chores (buckling your own car seat belt, hanging up your towel and coat), unfortunately, I tend to forget to follow through with the system. Perhaps the kids can see this list and earn a penny for their bag each day?
Bearing (who wrote the original list that broke down “cleaning up after yourself” into a manageable plan of attack) responds:
Come on! Isn’t that a great idea? I know my little ones are always clamoring for coins to put in the collection basket (we are boring old fuddy duddies who do all our donating in a lump sum once a year, no fun for kids). Why not earn them through good works and obedience? What do you think?
I love the idea. While Dom and I have been tossing around various ideas about allowances, compensation for chores, rewarding kids for obedience, we still haven’t settled on a plan. (We’ve still got a bit of time.) Though we do both like the idea of splitting the allowance into three parts: give, save, spend.
This idea seems like a great pre-allowance step, a way of familiarizing children with money and satisfying their pleasure at playing with coins. It also begins to inculcate the idea of giving back to God. Moreover, it makes concrete the idea that obedience and good works are gifts that the children give to God. Each deed is given a physical representation in the form of a coin and that coin is in turn given to God at Mass. It’s sort of like the ideas I’ve seen parents implement for Advent and Lent of making sacrifices into straws to line the manger or turning beans in a sacrifice jar into candy on Easter Sunday; but this is a year-round system of reward and offering.
Really, I think more adults could use this kind of reminder that the offertory does not merely consist of the monetary gifts we toss into the basket (or donate through an automatic withdrawal from our bank account) and of the bread and wine carried to the altar, but should be a gift of our very selves, and especially a representation of our struggle to make of ourselves a perfect offering to him, learning to make sacrifices great and small of time, obedience and acts of service to others. I’ve been trying to use the offertory time as a period of recollection and meditation about the sacrifices I make each week, as a time to offer up both my successes and failures to God; but I am very often distracted by so many things. I like this little concrete reminder. Watching Isabella drop in her pennies would be a way to remind myself of all that I intend to offer up as well.