The world is a big place for children and with so much to learn, see and do it can be hard for some children to remember everything that is expected of them or hard to concentrate on any one thing. Also, children are not able to see the “Big Picture” and don’t always expect or believe that their homework and schooling will affect them as adults.
For parents, it can be frustrating to encourage children to do homework when they are too young yet to see the benefits it will have on them as an adult. A good job, college education and respect mean nothing to a young child when there is a pool party going on down the street.
But, rewards can be used to encourage homework completion.
WHAT REWARDS SHOULD NOT BE
Rewards should never be in the form of food. This will only teach a child to use food as a reward for everything and this can cause eating problems. Food is something to enjoy and is for sustenance. Never deprive a child a meal in favor of homework.
Set up a calendar system that shows when homework is due, for large projects show when it should be started or even multiple dates for different phases of the project. Having this system will let a child know when things are due and not have to keep dates in their head.
INVOLVE YOUR CHILD
Speak to your child about what types of rewards they would like to see. Involving them will allow a child to feel in control and make choices. They may also have more creative ideas then a parent might. However, both parent and child have to agree on the reward.
Vary the rewards so that smaller ones are given to everyday homework assignments and larger rewards for larger assignments (science fair projects, term papers, etc.) Rewards can be done on a weekly basis; for example, if a child has homework everday then give them a star or smiley face on the calendar for that day. A full week of completed assignments merits one small reward and can be redeemed on Friday. For large projects, a reward can be given at the completion of the total project or by each phase of it.
To choose a reward, discuss with your child which method is preferred. For children that need more structure, cycle the rewards. For example, the 1st week is always the park, the 2nd week is always monetary, 3rd week is always a later bedtime, etc. They can be cycled on a 4, 6 or 8 week basis. Or, a random “grab bag” can be created; similiar to drawing a name out of hat. Create a “grab bag” out of a paper sack or an old hat and write down all the different rewards. Let a child reach in and grab one for a surprise reward. All of the rewards can also be written on paper and hung up by the calendar and the child can just read the list and choose which reward they want.
Here are some rewards that can be used, but parents and children should exercise creating their own rewards that fit for their likes, dislikes and capabilities:
1. A trip to the park
2. Extra computer, video game, or TV time
3. A play-date with friends
4. Renting movies or going to the theater
5. Extra minutes added to their bed time (for example instead of bed at 9:00 add fifteen minutes. But, since 8 hours of sleep is important for children do not extend this time more than a few minutes or let the later times occur on the weekend)
6. Student choice (they choose the reward)
7. Getting out of 1 weekly chore
8. Spend $1.00 at a dollar store
9. Extra minutes on their phone usage
10. Build points for a large prize at the end of a semester or school year (trip out of town, slumber party, bicycle, new clothes)
11. A “spa-day” in which a girl will get treated to nails, hair and makeup or boys can get treated to exercise, massage or practice martial arts
12. Game night (children get their choice of a game to play)
Rewards should be fun and feasible for both the child and parent. Rewards should have a good mix of ones that involve the parent (such as game night) and ones that are individual (extra TV time). Involvement in the child’s homework is also important so that a parent knows where a child is struggling. Always assist a child but do not give answers, instead find a way to explain to them how to find the answer. It is not fair to take away rewards if a child is trying but struggling. And, most important of all…praise a child when homework is done, when they try their best, and when they bring home grades. Praise is the best reward of all.