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Saturday, 20 January 2018

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Raising unconventional kids

Welcome! Forums Family Governance Raising unconventional kids

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  CHRISTIAN S. 4 years, 10 months ago.

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    I think raising unconventional kids can start very early. We have a five year old daughter and send her to a special nursery school called “kindergarten in the forest” or “kindegarten in nature”. Like in a normal nursery school children learn everything that prepares them for school – but it is not taught in a room or building, but outside in nature. As Will points out, we need something to push against to make us stronger. Children in such a kindergarten have not only to cope with differnt weather conditions – think of rain all day or cold days in the winter, but also with different grounds they play on, etc. All these are little stressors, that will make them stronger later. They get trained to walk on uneven ground and maybe in the beginning, they will fall more often – but this may help avoiding a “big downfall” later. They learn that they have to do something to feel comfortable. Think of cold days – they need to stay in movement, otherwise the will feel cold. They learn to cope with uncomfortable situations and hopefully will better endure them in their later life. Children there learn also to be “producers”. They don’t have the abundance of artifical toys in this type of kindergarten (that doesn’t mean they don’t have them at all – but less). They need to use their imagination to make a sausage out of a fir cone or a car out of a piece of wood. And best of all: they have to communicate their ideas among them – otherwise they cannot play with each other if they don’t have a consensus about the meaning of such a piece of natural material. If they want to build a hut out of boughs, they will need teamwork efforts to move the bigger ones.
    There are a lot more advantages of such a kindergarten and I hope you get the point by these few examples. Please don’t get me wrong – I think it is also necessary that they learn about our modern way of life. But this is already done at home. So in my opinion the kindergarten in nature is a good complement to our children’s daily life in a modern environment. In the last years, there has been some research work that shows that children who visited such a kindergarten are not less prepared for school than others in “standard” nursery schools. And you guess it – our daughter and the other kids really love their kindergarten in nature.
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions to this concept.


    DOUG T.

    My wife and I started 529 plans for our two children the day they were born, and contributed $100/mo to each account. Three years ago, we converted half of the savings to a prepaid tuition when the plan opened back up in Texas, leaving the other half for room and board. If they are lucky to get a scholarship, those savings are completely refundable.

    In addition, I started a savings account for each child when they were old enough to understand. The savings account is simply an account I have made in Quicken that documents their contributions, yearly interest, etc. We call it the Bank of Dad. As you have done, the savings account cannot be withdrawn from until they are 18 years old, at which time I will actually have to disperse cash or write them a check from the Bank of Dad whenever they want to use some of the savings. They each understand that the savings is theirs, just under my control until they are 18. To encourage savings instead of consumption, I added a kicker. For every dollar they deposit into the Bank of Dad, I match it one for one. So when they kids get a cash gift for their birthday or allowance for their chores, for example, they can choose how much they want to keep and spend immediately vs how much they want to delay gratification and deposit into the Bank of Dad. I also make an annual contribution for earned interest in each account. In addition, I also allow them to use the account to purchase precious metals from the “family vault” (ie documented transactions at the spot price at the time of purchase). This was to teach them the value of “real money” vs paper money. With my guidance, they have each purchased some “gold” from the “family vault” several years ago. Needless to say, they were shocked when they compared the earnings from interest on cash balances vs “capital gains” from precious metals balances. When they turn 18, I will have to make good on any cash withdrawals or physical precious metals they want actual possession of. So far, the plan has worked well. We will see how it does when they turn 18.

    In addition, when the kids were entered middle school, we implemented a “pay for performance” plan. We pay them $10 for each A on their report card, and subtract $10 for anything else. We also pay weekly allowance for specific chores assigned to each (trash, dishes, feeding the pets, cleaning their rooms, laundry, etc). However, it is zero tolerance for their chores, trying to simulate an environment for employment later on. If they miss any chore that week, they get zero allowance for that week. It has helped tremendously to teach them dependability. We also pay extra for special academic awards and for specific athletic and musical performances.

    It may not be conventional, but our kids have excelled in many areas, and hopefully have learned something about saving, real money, dependability, work ethic, and continual effort to excel.


    Emma Walsh

    Response from Bonner & Partners member:
    Your comments and ideas are great. It is so nice to pick up ideas others have created. Thank you for sharing them.

    When our children were ready for preschool, we did something that horrified a number of our friends. (Sometimes one finds out who the true friends are in the oddest ways.) We are both working professionals and enjoy many different kinds of people. We enrolled our two little ones in a preschool in the back of an old Baptist church close to downtown. (Gasp!) The caretakers as well as the attendees were of a wide variety of races and socioeconomic groups. Our children would describe, for example, that Janice is the one with the peach skin and yellow hair. Joey has the really curly dark hair and brown skin and he always had to be at the front of the line. They learned some of the alphabet and songs and games and, most important, how to relate to one another. And when they were old enough to attend the “real” schools, everyone was a potential friend — unless they proved not to be one. Within three months each was caught up with children who had been in more formal programs for several years.

    I would like to bring up a gentle thought on paying a child for each A on their report card and deducting $10 for each other grade. My parents were quite wise and well ahead of their time when it came to child rearing, at least from my very prejudiced point of view. Both were Ivy League/Seven Sisters All Americans, but those facts were something we learned much later in life, not something that was flaunted. Without question our accomplishments were recognized and we were encouraged to think and speak our mind as soon as we could participate in family discussions at dinner each night. We were also asked about our opinions, which often made a good argument but rarely swayed a major decision. We also knew where the lines were that we would cross at our own peril. (Going inside a friend’s home to play without telling Mom!)

    My father, an engineer, was in management with a very large national firm, and was transferred sometimes as often as every 18 months. [ My mother, who had been working on the polio vaccine, left Merck to marry him.] I believe tall this moving while we were young was a good influence on my siblings and me (four girls close in age) because we quickly learned what was important and could be trusted in life, as opposed to those places, people, and things that were transient. I have great memories of classmates and neighbors from every place we lived, but it was our family and our bond along with faith that we depended on. The rest would come and go. These would be with us for a long time.

    Both parents attended private schools all the way through, but put us in public schools. They did, however, their due diligence in finding the best school districts in an area and always bought a house there, and we received fine educations.

    One time at a new school we learned something unheard of from our classmates. Their parents paid for A’s on their report cards. Thinking I would be rich, I took my card in to Dad the night I’d gotten mine. He looked at it, gave me a hug, and said, “Yes, you’ve got good genes, kid!” Then he laughed. He was taking credit for it! We were expected to do our best in whatever the situation, whether we were paid for it or not. So I think there is much thought to be given as to how and why we are paying our kids. And I do not believe there is only one right answer.

    One other example: One of our children has an extremely high emotional intelligence. S is both right and left brained, so he oes well in detail as well as creativity. Had we followed this practice of $10 for an A with him, we might have discouraged and maybe even hurt him psychologically. His sister brought the grades home. She would have been “rich”. He was interested in so many different things that he sometimes he had difficulties deciding what took precedence. These issues about priorities were discussed, but that was it. He blossomed in areas that were not even recognized in schools at his age. He put his first computer together with his dad when he was six. He won the State Science Competition as a sixth grader with a multimedia (computer included) program on the growth of the space program. At age 10, he asked for the manuals on C+ computer language for Christmas. And when he reached high school, the teachers learned quickly who to turn to for help when the computer system in their area went down. This young man had his career well set before him before leaving high school.

    On our way home from Kindergarten one day, E asked me if I knew I was not a normal mother! I laughed and said that yes, I was aware of that. Did she mind? Her answer, “Oh no, I love it!” Then I leaned over and told her that my mother had not been a normal mother either.

    Our daughter repeatedly complained as she grew older about the rules of the family, which were brightly posted in a number of places in the house. They included: Do Mom and or Dad know the answer to the following questions: Where are you going? Who are you….? Who are you meeting? What are you planning…? etc. These were followed by a reminder of arrival times home for each, then a statement at the bottom of the rules of the family.

    Since she was the oldest, E tested the waters first and found out right away that, true to our word, if she called to say she would not make it home in time, we were quite happy to pick her up. Somehow that never ended up happening. Two times like that and she was always home on time. She went to a small highly academic college in another state. On her first visit home, she verified that the family rules had saved her from some of the things her friends in college had gone through. She just did not realize we were trying to give her some boundaries for protection until she had more experience and wisdom.

    I think my point is well made. I was one of two identical twins – rare in those days. We looked very much alike for years. Thankfully, our parents treated us as two of the four girls, not dressing us alike once we cold pull out our own clothes, not “the twins” but all four “the girls”. We were compared enough at school. Each child is blessed with different gifts and they bloom at different rates.

    I truly believe money management should be taught at a young age, and our two, now young adults, are fiscally responsible. But they grew up with that model and those discussions at the dinner table just as I had. When they were in high school, VISA made cards available that were under parenteral control. The kids loved them. Their allowance was deposited on schedule, and it they wanted something that was beyond the means of one allowance, or more, they practiced delayed gratification. They could call up their balances on the computer and see where every exact penny was — whether in savings or otherwise. Having not had a need for the cards recently, I do not know if they are still available. But it was a great experience for all of us.

    The greatest wealth in our family was and is in love, and we all knew it. We were /are not rich, although two of my sisters are very well off now. But we believed our richness came from the legacy of love from our parents before anything else. And their expectation was that we do the same.

    Oh, and yes, my husband and I had trust funds for each child’s education so it would not become a problem later and so it would not be taxed at our rate. There was also a wedding trust although the name of that trust gave no hint as to its purpose! But it was a delightful surprise to my husband when the engagement was announced and he learned of this fund, too.

    May each of you enjoy the love and memories your families continue to make together as much as we do ours.



    I couldn’t agree more with the thought that boundaries are for protection. We told our daughter when she was very young, if there was ever any time she felt peer pressure to do something she was uncomfortable with she could always say Mom and Dad wouldn’t let her do whatever. Only when she had finished college did I learn she had used “Mom won’t allow it” more than once during high school!


    DOUG T.

    Good thoughts on paying for good report cards. We have been doing it for several years and the kids think of it as a bonus instead of a motivator. We acknowledge all if their accomplishments verbally.

    I am also an identical twin. Unfortunately, my parents dressed us alike until we were old enough to refuse it any longer. We were often thought of as the “twins”, even by non-immediate members of the family. That really didnt change until we left college and took separate career paths.

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