When kids have a bus to catch in the morning, they become pretty motivated to get out of bed in the morning. Well, I mean typically this is quite motivating, unless they love to walk to school. When kids don’t have any outside incentives to get out of bed and stay on track, it can become a battle to keep the day moving smoothly. This is why it is so important to add incentives to your child’s day when you happen to do school at home. Here is why it’s so important and how you can get incentives started today!
Why Should I Reward The Expected?
I used to be in the camp of, “I shouldn’t have to reward behavior that is expected” camp. Then I took a look at what I was really saying. I was sort of implying that my kids should be able to find their own motivation to get their work done without any parental direction.
It’s funny how sometimes we forget what it was like to be a kid as we get older. I know that the last thing I wanted to do was my schoolwork. Actually, I would have done chores over homework any day of the week.
When kids are little, they are natural scientists. They seek out learning in every corner, cupboard and forbidden area of the house. At around age seven, this natural desire sort of disapates, and for most children, their internal motivation comes to a brisk halt. This is when we need to help our children find other means of motivation.
For most of us, we use incentives all throughout our day, and we probably don’t even realize it. For example, I know that when I finish this paragraph, I am going to take a quick water break. This little incentive helps me to remain focused enough to complete what I am currently working on.
Kids don’t have these same skills. It is up to us to help them gain these skills. One of the best ways to help kids stay focused is to help them chunk their work, and create incentives or rewards when the tasks are completed on time. Sort of like my quick water break earlier.
Would You Go To Work If There Were No Incentives?
If you answered “yes” to this question, I have a whole to-do list I would like you to complete! Seriously, none of us, if we are honest, would do much work outside our homes for no rewards. Even when I volunteer at church, I am paid in smiles and good feelings.
So, why would we expect our kids to do their work for nothing? Maybe some of you give grades, and that seems like it should be incentive enough to work hard. Or maybe you think that learning should be its own reward, and of course, it should, but…
How Do I Get Started?
Building rewards into the day really doesn’t have to be that difficult. We found a cute craft on Pinterest using a mason jar and popsicle sticks. Each time I see that my kids have competed their assigned tasks to my satisfaction and on time, they get to pick a stick. This stick has a small dollar amount (25 cents to 2 dollars) written on the bottom. At the end of each week, these are turned in for actually money.
I also encourage my kids to think of simple rewards they can use to keep focused. Maybe it is as simple as, “I will complete 5 math problems, and then I will take a 5 minute mental break.” Praise your kids when you catch them using their own incentives effectively. This will help them build confidence in their abililty to motivate themselves.
In the end, if your kids learn how to motivate themselves using their own rewards, you can take a step back. We all could use a little less to do in our day, right?