Piggy banks might fly

MORNINGS at mine are always the same. I start out Mary Poppins, but by 8.20 I've turned into a shrill and repetitive harpy.

"Find your own shoes. Where's your home reader? I can TELL when your teeth aren't brushed. What excursion? The naked Fairy Glam Barbie isn't appropriate for the preschool Teddy Bear's Picnic. Where ARE your shoes?"

I have decided to take control of this madness, and like many a desperate parent, I thought about implementing the tried and true Star Chart to boost my children's independence and control my inner harpy.

But if I'm honest, I foresee that I'll drop $50 on glitter-glue, star stickers and neon cardboard and by week three we'll be back to lost shoes, wayward permission slips and tooth-brushing fibs.

There is now an option, however.

Ballina working mum Teresa Barnes has taken the star chart principle and made it work for a generation of Angry Birds addicts. In order to bring calm and cleanliness to her household with a five, seven and a nine-year-old, Teresa developed her own iPhone app called Money4Jobs.

The app provides users with a platform to create job lists and allocate financial reward. The jobs can be re-occurring, such as making the bed, or weekly, like washing the car. Either way the jobs can be assigned a reward so that once completed the child can see their money account grow.

Teresa says that the app works with her kids, who use it with their own iPod Touch devices, because they take ownership of their own jobs and money.

Teresa believes in starting small with picking up toys, setting tables and unpacking school bags to create good routines.

"It also has prevented me from nagging," she says. "I don't have to nag my youngest to clean his teeth and they love seeing their money grow on the screen and showing me at the end of the week."

Less than the cost of a packet of star stickers, the app is only $1.99

Now if my kids could just give me back my phone, stop playing Angry Birds and find their shoes, I might have a chance of implementing this sure-fire hi-tech pocket money system.

Making pocket money work

How much? According to some, an appropriate level of weekly pocket money for routine jobs is $1 for every birthday: Eight-year-olds get $8. Others maintain that the going rate is $1 at kindergarten and $1 more for every year at school. Check with other parents.

Most experts believe an appropriate age for the introduction of pocket money is kindergarten, when they begin to establish numeracy skills.

Make some rules about what the pocket money should be used for. Teaching your children to save for a big-ticket item is better than a serious canteen habit.

Younger children may not distinguish between different coin values, so chucking 20 cents in a special jar, is more effective than an iPhone app.

Make sure the chores suit the age of your kids, like making beds, picking up toys and putting dirty clothes in the laundry. Kids will have to do other chores to earn a little extra pocket money.

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