Now that I have a child in Primary School, one of my toughest battles is to get him motivated to do his homework. When the kids were younger, I thought that the endless feedings and sleepless nights were tough. Looking back, those were honeymoon years! Nothing could have prepared me for what I’m facing now.
I’m not sure if it’s the fault of our education system, or it’s just the way things are. After a long day in school, our boy reaches home at about 7pm. He takes his dinner, showers, rests or plays for a short 15 to 30 minutes, and has to start doing his homework.
On some good days, there is no homework being assigned, and we will all rejoice and heave a sigh of relief. On bad days, he will be doing his homework until 11pm. Now, I’m not even talking about the English and Chinese spelling words to be learnt, and the tests that he needs to be prepared to take.
I say this is my toughest battle because getting him to complete his homework or prepare for his tests brings out the worst in me as a mother.
As an educator, I’ve taught hundreds of students over the years, but teaching my own son is a totally new level. To be fair to him, he is a smart boy, and does his work conscientiously. Or at least majority of the time. But getting him MOTIVATED to even want to START doing his homework is quite another story. Well, who can blame him? After a long day being confined to his desk in school, who on earth would be motivated to sit down and complete more worksheets at home?!
Two weeks ago, after one of those battles resulting in me turning into a monster mummy, I had a stroke of genius.
I created a simple chart.
Each day, I list down all the work he has to complete. When he’s done with them, he will be rewarded with 15 minutes of iPad time. He gets to choose to use that 15 minutes and play games on the iPad to relax after his homework, or he can choose to keep the 15 minutes and accumulate them for another day, such as the weekends. The deal is, he has to complete his work with A GREAT ATTITUDE. Which means, no whining, no grouchiness, no complaining.
Works like a charm!
Our dear boy now comes to me during days when he has no homework, and asks for work.
Not only is he motivated, he’s also learning delayed gratification. He’s been accumulating his iPad time throughout the week, so that he can get to play on the iPad longer during the weekends.
Well, I know there are some theories that frown on motivating kids through external rewards. But as long as it works, I honestly don’t see any harm in it.
It is simply a mother’s basic survival instinct.
Don’t you think so?
Feel free to print out the chart for your own child!
(Simply right click to save and print.)