My boys have been wanting a Nintendo for over 8 months. My answer then was “I can’t afford it right now; if you really want it, you can work and save some money to buy it”. At first they were frustrated with the idea of having to save U$300 all by themselves and they stopped talking about it for a while. I admit it, not being very fond of screens and video games, I was hoping they grew out of the idea. But no! Little by little they started making a sales plan... They made drawings, paintings, stickers, bracelets, lemonade and homemade lip-gloss. They also saved all fairy tooth money and any gift from grandparents and uncles. As an additional incentive, their dad offered to pay a 10% interest for the money saved at the end of each month. Pretty sweet deal (for them). So they started formulating questions and learning about math independently, telling their dad how much interest was due at the end of each month. As of right now they have saved U$180. Not too shabby right?
These past 8 months they have learned so much in this process of trying to reach their goal of raising U$300 to buy the Nintendo. They started working independently, but then came to realize that if they worked as a team, they could be way more productive by consolidating each of their savings. They used divergent thinking to come up with various ideas that would help them make money. They exercised their creative thinking skills to identify a list of things they could make on their own, that will cost them little to nothing, and that they could then sell and make profit. They learned that people love detailed drawings and are willing to pay up to $20 for one of their most colorful masterpieces. They learned to make loom bracelets and seized the Soccer World Cup momentum to design them with the colors of the countries participating and then sold them to people rooting for their country of origin. They investigated about lip gloss making and came up with the best recipe to make some at home in different flavors to then sell to friends at school. They developed and exercised their math skills to receive money, give change, and identify the % of their monthly savings so their day would pay them what was promised. They put into practice their literacy skills to make signs and campaigns that would help them promote the products they were trying to sell. They learned about being accountable and responsible, they learned to negotiate, they made their own choices and decisions; they felt empowered, and even though there have been moments in which they may have wanted to give up, they persisted instead.
And the list goes on. These are just a few of the learning moments I was able to identify during these past months. More than anything I feel they have come to value the cost of things, and the fact that money does not grow out of trees and that you actually have to work to earn it and deserve it. I hope after reading this post, when you see this picture of my boys with their game face on, you come to realize this is so much more than merely cute.
It’s not an easy job as a parent to take this road. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy the freaking thing and that way you don’t have to deal with the constant nagging. But at the same time, there’s so much organic learning in these opportunities. To us, it’s important for them to know the value of things so they don’t take them for granted. Trying to raise kind boys, who are not entitled, is more challenging nowadays compared to when we were raised. So we have decided to act upon any chance we see to “teach” them a lesson; any lesson, no matter how big or how small, will always be a meaningful life lesson when you are raising little human beings.