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Now that I have adult kids and kids at home, I feel like I have come to a terrible realization: My children have been formed as much, or more, by my mistakes as they have by my wisdom. It has been humbling to hear adult kids gently recommend that I not fail the younger kids in certain ways that I failed them.
That said, I have also learned from them that my wife and I got a few things right. My wife’s S.C.O.R.E. System was one of them.
This was April’s genius way of helping our children discover a balanced life of love.
It worked like this: She gave them each a S.C.O.R.E. sheet giving them a specific goal to show virtue in each of their relationships — their relationship with God (Supernatural Spirit); brothers, sisters and friends (Courtesy); parents (Obedience); the household (Responsibility); and schoolwork (Excellence).
They would get a different colored point each day for meeting that virtue’s goals. Once they had a whole set —S.C.O.R.E. — they could turn it in for a gold point. Five gold points got a reward (movie, ice cream, special time with mom or dad, etc.).
This brilliantly incentivized them to be a whole person. The child who was good at schoolwork had to learn to be good at chore-time also. The child who was nice to parents had to learn to be nice to brothers and sisters and vice versa.
Here is the ideal in each virtue as she wrote it, with an example at the end (and I let you know at the end that I can email you with a long version of this, including more materials).
I am a Disciple of Christ!
S is for Supernatural Spirit, which is how I love God by seeing everything around me as an opportunity to praise and serve him. Therefore I am careful about how I act during prayer times. I ask myself throughout the day, “What would Jesus do now?” Then I do it.
I am a Sister/Brother and Friend!
C is for courtesy, whichis how I love my sisters and brothers by thinking of them before myself. I am gentle in word and deed. I share, play fair, and use good manners. Being kind helps me to overlook others’ rough spots so that I can learn what it takes to be a real friend. This is what being a Christian is all about.
I am a Daughter or Son!
O is for Obedience, whichis how I love my mom and dad by honoring and respecting them. I listen carefully to what they say and respond to their requests right away with a pleasant attitude. I do not talk back, whine, or complain. The more I obey my parents, the easier it will be for me to obey God, and the happier our family will be.
I am a Citizen!
R is for Responsibility, which is how I show respect for my role in society — which for me is my home — by helping to do my part in keeping family activities orderly and peaceful. I do my chores promptly and happily, I follow the rules of the house and I respect our property. By following these guidelines, I help make our home a fun and safe place in which to work and play.
I am a Scholar!
E is for Excellence, which is how I show love for learning. I complete my assignments, participate in activities, and perform all my duties with enthusiasm, creativity and diligence. I do not quit or put others down. My positive attitude helps me overcome any obstacles. By trying my best in everything I attempt, I give glory to God and please my teachers.
So those are the virtues. Each child would be given a goal in each area.
Pictured to the right is the basket we use to keep kids’ points. The glass holds the points for one child. This child has enough for three “gold” (yellow) points so we’ll take back the three complete rows and give them the gold that they can trade for prize.
If this was Ella, an 8-year-old, she would have gotten these points by completing specific goals daily, listed on her personalized SCORE card that looks like this:
Ella’s SCORE goals
S: Audibly say prayers during family Rosary.
C: Use good manners at table, especially: sit properly on chair; use utensils, not fingers; chew with mouth closed.
O: Repeat back a parent’s request so I don’t forget; then do it; then ask, “Is there anything else?”
R: Unload dishwasher and set breakfast table (without daydreaming or getting sidetracked!).
E: Review spelling words daily.
Others would be tailored by age and child. A “Supernatural Spirit” goal for a 4- or 5-year-old may simply be to only sit, stand, or kneel during Rosary. A “Courtesy” goal for a bossy 10-year-old might be to speak with a kind voice (or “rewind” and try again after slipping up). A “Responsibility” goal for an older child who needs to be more engaged might be to check the younger kids’ “Responsibility” goals.
We used this system off and on at various times and it brought much peace to our family. I can share a longer version if you’re interested — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it.