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For many youngsters, homework is an exceedingly difficult task representing an ordeal they perceive at times to be insurmountable. For these children all the organization and planning in the world may not be enough to get them through the daily grind of homework. In this case, an incentive system may need to be put in place to make homework completion a more attractive task for them.
If this is the right approach for your child, we recommend a system whereby your child can earn points for completing tasks or for demonstrating other appropriate behaviors required for successful homework completion. The points can then be traded in for daily, weekly or long term reinforcers. Steps involved in setting up a point system include:
With your child, draw up a list of privileges or rewards your child would like to earn. daily rewards might include an extra half hour of television, a special snack, the chance to stay up an extra half hour before bed. Weekly rewards might include a trip to the mall or McDonald's or the chance to go to a video arcade or rent a video. Longer term rewards might be going to a movie with a friend, inviting a friend over for the night, or the chance to buy a small toy.
Now, again with your child, draw up a list of "jobs" for which your child can earn points. Related to homework, such jobs might include:
Writing down homework assignments
Bringing home necessary homework materials
Getting homework started on time
Completing work within the specified homework time
Finishing homework without reminders (nags) from parents
Finishing homework without constant parental supervision or assistance
Completing work with an acceptable standard of accuracy (reviewed and defined ahead of time for each assignment)
Proofreading written work/checking math problems
Handing in homework completed and on time
Successfully solving homework problems (e.g., calling friends or teacher when an assignment is not understood, knowing what to do when books or other necessary papers were left at school, discussing homework problems with the teacher or going to the teacher for extra help).
Decide how many points each of the homework "jobs" can earn and how much each of the privileges or rewards will cost. To determine how much the rewards should cost, add up the number of points you feel your child will earn each day. Be sure that your child has about one third of her points free to save up for special privileges.
Get a notebook, and set it up with five columns, one each for the date, the item, deposits, withdrawals, and the running balance.
Once a month or so, review the list of jobs and privileges and revise as necessary.