I’ve been with my kids (7 and 11) alone in Paris for two weeks now. My wife didn’t join until yesterday, so it’s been just me keeping up a steady tourist monologue and trying to get the kids to pay a little attention to what they are seeing. After five days of repeating the same things without any nod of retention on their parts, I decided to make it more interesting. I told them that from now on, they would each get a point if they answered my constant quiz questions correctly. At the end of the week, I would give a prize for whoever had the most points. There could be multiple winners for each question to avoid screaming and fighting. I also gave them the option to work cooperatively and share a prize, but they immediately declined this option.
Participation and attention immediately went through the roof! Suddenly, they hung on every word and detail I said, repeating pronunciation and asking for explanation. They were asking ME the name of every church and person on a statue. They even watched a documentary on the creation of the Louvre museum with me.
Yes, they fought mercilessly over who really had one a point or not, but I was clear that there would be only one infallible, omniscient judge, ME.
Finally, and maybe most surprising, is that the grand prize was….Wait for it… A PACK OF GUM. They paid attention and actively participated the whole week because of a promise of A. Pack. Of. Gum. Which all goes to prove that to motivate kids you don’t have to give them an iPad. I suppose you do have to have a house where gum and candy bars are not given freely.
I’m always amazed at things I learn along the way about being with them, and not getting too frustrated when things don’t go as planned. But sometimes, I find a trick that makes it fun for both of them and me and we all have a good time together.