The Bean Jar

The secret to using a bean jar to encourage good behavior in your children.

I have been reading a great homeschooling book called Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver DeMille. I wanted to share a great idea that was in that book that rewards your children for good behavior. It’s called the bean jar.

In the book they call it the “Bean-Counter Game”. We are just calling it the “Bean Jar”. It is simple, really. You fill a jar with dry beans, and when you want to reinforce good behavior in your children, you let them move a bean from the full jar to the empty jar.

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When the jar is full, you can decide how you want to reward your family. With everyone having opportunities to place beans in the jar, everyone is encouraged to exhibit good behaviors in order to receive a bean.

DeMille shares that in his family, when the jar is full, there is two parts to their reward. They get to go do something fun, like go swimming at the public pool, but they also go perform a community service activity such as serving lunch in a local soup kitchen.


There are many things your children can do to earn a bean. If you are homeschooling, you can use beans as incentives to complete schoolwork with a good attitude (completing work without being asked), memorizing times tables, doing well on a spelling test.

I like to reward my children for good behaviors such as preparing a snack or pouring a drink for one another without being asked. This system is working particularly well with my 5-year-old. All of the sudden he is doing things for himself that he always wanted help with before, even going back to bed at night when he gets up to go to the bathroom instead of crawling into bed with mom and dad. He is really loving earning those beans.

It is also working well with my 10-year-old twin boys. One of my boys in particular has a hard time thinking of others. It really seems to come more naturally for some children than others, and for him it definitely does not come naturally. Now that he knows he is going to earn a bean for doing something nice for one of his brothers, he is more actively looking for ways to contribute. I’m hoping that the bean jar will help get him into a habit that will last him a lifetime.

Leadership Education: The Phases of LearningLeadership Education: The Phases of Learning

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