Homework motivation

Thank you to everyone that replied to my post Back to school homework help One of the common problems that parents/carers have is to motivate their child to do their homework after school. Many found that their children complained of being too tired or just simply refused to do any at all. I know in our house, their is often evenings where my son decides that no matter what I do, he is certainly not doing his homework at all! I am going to try out some different ideas with him to get him more motivated. It is not guaranteed that all of them will work but as long as I find one or two that do, then I’ll be happy. As with a lot of things, I have discovered over the years that often an idea works but only for a limited amount of time. Changing tact ever so often is not a problem.

This week, we are going to try the ‘Points win prizes,’ idea. Basically, if my son does his homework for an evening, he wins a star to be written up on the chalk board. Alternatively, you could put stickers on a chart or piece of paper. To start with we will tolerate the odd bit of fuss as long as he does as much homework as I’ve asked him to during the evening for him to gain a star. As time goes on, we will gradually allow less and less disruption for him to gain a star. We have discussed which prizes he wants to win. We have split it up into three categories of prizes: five stars, ten stars and fifteen stars. He can collect after, for example, five stars if he likes but then his total will go back down to zero stars for him to build them up again.

Five stars: A trip to the park, a bag of sweets, £1 or a toy from the pound shop;
Ten stars: A swimming session, a trip to the local petting farm, £2 or a new book worth £2;
Fifteen stars: A full day out to the soft play area, a trip to the cinema, £4 or a day at the arcades.

We wrote each on separate pieces of coloured paper, red for five stars, blue for ten stars and yellow for fifteen stars and put them into a pot. My son also asked me to put a few ‘surprises’ in there, to make it more fun.

We are going to start slowly, with encouraging him to do the homework he enjoys the most, reading. We will give him lots of praise and put the star up where all can see it. If he earns a star, it stays there. If he misbehaves another day, we will not remove a star as punishment as I believe this will be undermining the whole idea and will de-motivate him. Once he has earned a star, it is there for him to be proud of.

We are going to try not to nag him. Ideally, we would like homework to be seen as a positive aspect and not a chore. My six year old is often exhausted after a full day at school, especially by the end of the week, so we will try to start the, ‘Points win prizes,’ star collecting at the beginning of the week. We will also remember that, after all, he is only six and he is meant to be gaining a love of learning that will last him for the rest of his life. We do not want to force him to do his homework but we do need to be supportive as well as talking to him about the importance of it all.

We will see how it all goes! I hope he gains a star tonight with his reading. If he doesn’t, we will persevere with this method by trying it again another day. It is sometimes more difficult for him to get back into the routine of doing homework after the holidays or if he’s been ill for a few days. We will try though. I’ll let you know what happens!

If you have tried this with your child/children, did you have any success with it? How could it be improved? What other methods have you tried to motivate your child/children to do their homework? I’d love to hear from you!

  • Great idea. It is difficult when they are so young isn’t it. You don’t want to force them but they have to get used to it. Luckily Ethan very rarely complains as he loves doing it!

    • Thank you. I’m glad to hear that Ethan likes doing his homework. I’m sure we’ll get settled back into the routine of it all soon. You are right though, they do have to get used to it,they’ve got many years of it ahead x.

  • Staying positive is so important and I love your idea of him earning rewards for doing his homework. Anything that gets children motivated is great. It is a shame that his homework isn’t so exciting that he wants to do it 🙁

    • dillydrops

      I know,it is a shame. You are right,staying positive is very important. Hopefully I can get him motivated as he’s got a lot of years of homework to go yet!

  • Good ideas, thanks for sharing. Instead of doing star charts now I fill up a jar with marbles, so one marble for good/kind/helpful behaviour…and as my 6 year old likes spending money he gets money when the jar is filled. Takes a while so probably not best for really young children.
    All my other children have been really good at doing their homework but this one is not so keen, we have to do it as soon as he gets in to get it out of the way.

    • dillydrops

      Using marbles is a great idea! Money seems to be a great motivator plus it gets them to think about maths/using money I real life situations :-).

  • give them plenty of break and rewards.

    • dillydrops

      My son always needs a break straight after school,a snack and a drink before he’ll even contemplate doing anything. You are right,rewards are definitely needed!

  • It’s a gripe of mine how much homework Kitty has in Year One. Currently she loves doing it, we’ve gotten into the routine and life is peachy but I can imagine it won’t be that way for long!

    • dillydrops

      Hopefully she will continue enjoying homework. Part of our problem is that we got out of the routine of doing it in December.

  • Some children respond really well to reward and sticker charts. I hope things work out well for you.

    • dillydrops

      Thank you. A sticker chart could be fun for him,he loves stickers :-).

  • I havent tried earning stars at home but I know they do it in my sons classroom at school at they all respond really well to it!

    • dillydrops

      It’s encouraging to hear that it works at school for your son. Fingers crossed that it will work well for my son at home.

  • Good luck I hope it works – I remember my parents using something similar with me when I was going through a bad time, it did motivate me a bit I have to admit. x

    • dillydrops

      Thank you. I’m glad to hear that it motivated you a bit. Hopefully it will help my son in some way.

  • we don’t have that issue really yet, my eldest has only just started school, and at the moment she loves to read. But I’m sure the day will come, and you’ve given me some great ideas.

    • dillydrops

      I’m glad to hear that I’ve given you some ideas,just incase! I’m glad to hear that she loves reading. I hope that she continues to enjoy her homework.

  • What a fantastic idea

    • dillydrops

      Thank you! Hopefully it’ll work!

  • We’ve just had to re-introduce a reward chart for my 3 year who has stopped going to bed. They seem work but I don’t like the idea of bribing my child to be good!

    • dillydrops

      I know what you mean,I feel uneasy about bribing my son too. I am at a loss as to other ideas to try at the moment though.

  • We just incorporate it into the daily routine, and cut the homework into manageable section – 5 words today, 3 maths problems tomorrow. THey are always tired after a long day at school, so positive reinforcement is always a good idea and so are prizes. Good luck!

    • dillydrops

      The tiredness is a big thing in our house too. Good idea to break it down into more manageable sections. We shall give that a try too! Thank you!

  • This points system is a great idea. Another good idea is that you as a parent will do somthing challenging for you too that is somehow related to your child’s homework. For example, when I had a hard time with reading and no motivation for it, I was expected to read a certain number of pages from an age-appropriate book each day. We are Dutch natives and I read the Dutch translation of Alice in Wonderland. To show his solidarity with me, my father read the book in English. That helped me see that he too was taking on a challenge.

    • dillydrops

      Wow! That is a brilliant idea! I will think of a challenge for myself. Thank you! I can see that working very well for us.

  • That is a very good idea. My boy is just at pre-school, but I will try and remember this for use down the years. Thanks for sharing.

    • dillydrops

      Thank you. I hope that your son is enjoying pre-school.

  • When my kids were little we used to have a routine once home from school a small healthy snack, then show and tell about everything that happened at school, time for cuddles and tv and then homework time followed by tea bath and quiet time with dad before bed.We always stuck to this routine and it became habit.

    • dillydrops

      Sounds like you had a very good routine. I think I need to think more about our routine to helps with motivation. Thank you!

  • I did star/reward charts for a long time with my kids and they worked wonders. So glad they are working as positive reinforcement in your household 🙂

    • That’s good to hear. My son is starting to get used to it now,so hopefully we’ll get better at using this method over time.

  • Love the idea of a few surprises. I hope it works

    • Thank you! My son always has the best ideas! 🙂

  • Great idea!! Hope it works for you.

    At the moment my daughter seems keen on doing her homework….doubt it will last so will keep these ideas in mind.

    • Thank you! Hopefully your daughter will keep her enthusiasm for homework and my son will regain his!