Monday, 6 February 2012

Reward Charts: Making School Work Matter

When I sat down to decide upon my goals of 2012, one of my major aims was to ensure that I put the highest priority on the children’s schoolwork. Last year, in the crazy chaos of sports training, competition, music, appointments and play dates, schoolwork often got left to the last moment, was done in a rush, or not done at all.

I must admit that I have not always practiced the girls reading and times tables the way that I should.

I was pretty much able to convince myself that the school work didn’t matter because they are still quite young (they were in grades 1 and 2), and they would get enough practice at school.

But school work does matter. I believe that the children’s education is the most important thing in their lives. Not their sport or their social lives. I really want them to understand that even though they excel and enjoy their sports, school work is the most important thing. Even though they are still young, I think it is important to introduce good early study habits.

School resumes this Wednesday for my children so I thought this would be a great time to really make school work matter. To do this I have decided to introduce some structure into the girls routine in the form of a reward chart.

Initially I struggled a little with the concept of a reward chart because I believe that motivation to complete tasks is best coming from an internal source, intrinsic motivation. rather than coming from rewards or bribes. In reality though, we all do work with the expectation of a reward…just instead of stickers, it is a deposit into our bank accounts!

However, a good reward chart does more than just offer an incentive to complete tasks. The reward chart also sets out the expectations I have for the children, so that the kids and I are both clear on exactly what they need to do. It is also a way of giving them a sense of satisfaction for doing their set tasks. In addition, it teaches the children valuable lessons about goal setting.

I also really like the reward chart system because it lets the kids know that I have recognized they have done a good job in completing their tasks. It acts as positive reinforcement for a job well done.

I have found some really great reward charts on the site goalforit. This site enables you to construct your own reward chart with everything from the  background, right to the list of tasks. The charts are very visually appealing and the cute picture on the icons make it easy for the kids to understand.


This is an example chart from the goalforit site




Some of the many icons you can choose from




I sat with each of my children at the computer and we designed their individual reward chart. Flash chose the surfer girl, Muscles the pink panda and Buster chose aliens.

We then talked about what tasks, such as homework, packing their school bags, doing their sports training and buster doing his speech therapy, to add to the reward chart and why they were important. I let them have input into the tasks and we came to an easy agreement (heavily guided by me!). I think this process gave them some ownership and responsibility for the reward chart. The process was also a lot of fun!

The goalforit site has the option of completing the chart on line and attaching a points system to each task which earns rewards in term of ‘moolah’. For the charts designed for tweens and teenagers there is also the option to set a SMS message to be sent to the kid’s mobile phone to remind them to complete a task....like clean their room!!....imagine that!

I took the option of printing the reward chart and my children are extremely excited just to have stickers. I have told them for every 50 stickers (about 1 week) they can choose an app or song for their iPods….they are extremely excited!! ($1.99 is a small price to pay…. but they think it is’ huge’ to get a new game :) )

The kids are so enthusiastic about starting their reward charts with the commencement of school on Wednesday. Now that I have set this reward chart process up, I believe it will be much easier to keep the momentum going, so that completion of the daily tasks becomes a habit.

I am linking this post to the Me and YOU making IT matter meme at A Parenting Life. This is a great meme that encourages and supports you to choose one thing every week to really make matter. Click over to A Parenting Life to see the inspirational posts about making  things matter. You never know, you may be inspired into making something important really matter to you, and start making some positive changes in your life.


And because it is technically Tuesday (12.02am!), I am linking this post with the crazy vlogger, Jess at Diary of a SAHM for #IBOT . Come over and see what has been blogged about on Tuedsay!





21 comments:

  1. I've never really lasted long with reward charts... I think I'm too lazy! Maybe mine weren't pretty enough... The last one I did was for my son's toilet training and I just drew 10 big blue circles on a piece of paper. Once he had a sticker in each circle, he could choose a prize. But, we never got to choosing a prize. He ended up training (day only) without the chart.

    Hope yours work better!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Julie! I don't really expect that charts will hold their enthusiasm for long either.... I I hope though, that at least they will know what is expected from them and that good habits will start to form.

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    2. Thanks Julie for your comment! I'm not really sure how long the charts will hold their attention for. But I figure, because they have been involved in the process, that they will know what is expected of them and good habits will start to form.....I hope :)

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    3. Sorry, I thought my reply got eaten, but it was there all along!

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  2. Great post! Thanks for joining in

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    1. Thanks Rhianna, and thanks for hosting the Making IT Matter meme!!

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  3. I've been thinking about reward charts, but wonder if my girl is too young to start on one. I like the idea of goal setting, and she does understand the concept of "consequence" so I think I'll try it out with her soon. Especially for keeping her own toys! Haha

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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    1. Thanks Ai, Maybe if you just start out small, with one or two tasks, make sure that the process is fun..and see how it goes!

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  4. I think I will have to check out the rewards charts. We have a Routine poster, but it doesn't seem to be working, as evidence by the fact that we walked into the classroom this morning right on the bell! It took about 30 minutes just to get their shoes on this morning!

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    1. Shoes!!!...I know!! I've got to face that battle tomorrow morning!! (after 2 months of them wearing thongs, it will be a battle!!)

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  5. I tried reward stickers with MissC.. but she didn't understand the concept.. I think its more for older children then toddlers!!! But I can't wait until I can start one! :)

    I love your post!

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    1. Thanks Yvette! there is plenty of time for reward charts anyway!

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  6. You are such a caring mom, and you try so hard to do the right thing. A chore chart just brings organization into the household, plus in their eyes they are sharing one more thing with you. Good for you.

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    1. Thanks Donna! what a lovely thing to say!

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  7. I think it is great that you are instilling good school work habits while they are still young enough to make a game of it - that way, once the habit is there, it is there to stay and they will find their own way of tracking what they have to do by when and find out what works for them !

    Great read.
    Me

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! that's exactly what I hope will be the outcome for the charts....to form good school work habits and to teach them about goal setting so they will eventually be independent!

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  8. I love reward chats. We use them quite often, but theyanre usually handmade and pretty ordinary. I like the look of these OSS. Is there a charge to make them?

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    1. Thanks Jess! The charts were really easy and a lot of fun for the kids (and me) to make with just a mouse click! You need to sign-up to the goalforit website, but it is free and the reward charts are free also.

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  9. I like the fact that you sat down with your children and designed the reward chart together. Maybe this process in itself will in fact trigger some of the intrinsic motivation that you originally aspired to? Who knows. It seems like the perfect thing to focus on this week and I look forward to hearing how it pans out! Good luck!!

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    1. Thanks Misha! Sitting with them and discussing their tasks was actually the best part of the whole process.

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  10. Great idea to do those charts.
    I am one of those Mum's who was pedantic about my kids education (it meant everything to me that they had the best chances to succeed). Possibly the fact I was a teacher contributed to that. They did an enormous amount of sport too, so from a very early age, I taught them about organisation & goal setting. It paid off... they all excelled at school and on the sporting field. They all have clear direction in their lives - my eldest just completed her degree and the others are on the way to theirs.

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