This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

No More Gold Stars – Creating Real World Rewards

Sharing is caring!

What if – instead of worrying about whether we should give kids gold stars for participating or gold stars for being the best, we involve kids in real world activities where the end result of the activity itself is the reward?

What if instead of worrying about when we should give kids gold stars, we involve kids in real activities that are their own reward?
My youngest, peeling and slicing apples to load in the dehydrator.

Teach them gardening, woodworking, repair skills, fiber arts, sewing, cooking. Get them out hiking somewhere with a gorgeous view. Raise animals – have them learn to care about something other than themselves. Have them help out a grandparent or elderly neighbor.

Our society has lost sight of what's truly important in life. It's time to find it again.

Musings on Raising Kids

Some of you know that we chose to homeschool our boys. It wasn't planned. Our eldest simply started reading when he was two and school didn't want him until he was at least five, so we decided to keep doing what we were doing. His younger brother had the opposite issue, since he was a late reader due to dyslexia. Homeschooling allows us to go as fast or as slow as needed.

From the beginning, we placed a strong emphasis on hands on learning. They are required to do “book learning” as well – math, reading, writing, etc – but whenever when can use real world experience for learning, so much the better. The boys are nearing the end of their official homeschooling journey, but I believe that we've raised lifelong learners (like their parents).

Over the years, I've never handed out a gold star – but they have had the satisfaction of many jobs well done.

Making homemade cheese…

Boys making cheese

Learning basic electrical wiring from grandpa (a retired electrical engineer)…

Kids Should Learn Real World Skills

Rewiring an old Christmas tree that is a memento of an old friend.

Working with daddy to fix the tree lights.

Most recently, last year we put up a 10'x20′ greenhouse. This year, we attached a combination coop/garden shed to the greenhouse. The boys put in many hours with my husband and his friend to help get the job done. They've also planted and cared for the majority of trees and shrubs on the property – all 200+ of them.

Building an outbuilding.

They're always on call should the elderly neighbor need help (their own children are grown and live out of town). Tasks this fall included picking pears, clearing brush and making horseradish sauce.

We Need to Teach Our Kids by Example

Not everyone has the same opportunities, but the more we tackle new experiences, the more likely our kids will be to try things, too. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill, and have the kids join you. Spend more time outdoors, explore new places. The world is filled with wonderful things and experiences waiting to be shared.

What activities do you enjoy sharing with your kids? What do you think is the best way to get them interested and involved (and off the phone or computer)? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

You may also enjoy:

P.S. – I wrote the passage above back in September 2015 and posted it on my personal Facebook wall. Friends gave me so much feedback on it that I shared it on the Common Sense Home Facebook page. Then a couple of huge Facebook pages took it and put their names on it (with no credit to me, naughty folks) and it was wildly popular on their pages, too. Given all the people who seemed to approve of the concept, I decided to write a post on it.

What if instead of worrying about when we should give kids gold stars, we involve kids in real activities that are their own reward?

Similar Posts


  1. As a child I grew up next door to my father’s parents. They were farmers. I spent my childhood between our garden and theirs, canned and cooked with my mother and grandmother, and ultimately learned more skills about homemaking and homesteading then I realized at the time. The skills I use everyday are the ones I learned with them and I am ever grateful.

  2. I agree 100%. My son has never responded well to gold stars but has an amazing sense of accomplishment whenever he works hands on like building our shed, chopping wood, etc. He loves being asked to help out by our neighbours or his grandparents. It makes him feel much more valued.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *