How to structure a rewards programme
This brief guide isn’t supposed to be exhaustive nor is it innovative but in our opinion it is what tends to work for most people.
Don’t focus on results too much
- Firstly we suggest that the focus isn’t on results. Some families have been tempted to say things like – If you get such and such a mark we’ll give you this really big reward-
- When a promise like that is delivered a child’s eyes will light up, but gradually as the monotony of work sinks in or they become tired or annoyed – the promise , made several weeks earlier, no longer has any pulling power.
- In short big rewards by themselves do not work very well for most families.
Recognise that your involvement is key so rewards are going to have reflect that
- For children to succeed adults need to be disciplined, they need to set a plan and stick to it, make themselves available to help, have a smile on their face and mark work promptly after it has been done.
- Without this effort being sustained from the adult, working at home fails.
- Of course if adults find they have a struggle to get children to sit down and work then all the energy goes out of the session and failure looms.
- Because of the above we recommend that the first element of any rewards must focus on the child sitting down ready unprompted, on time and with a smile on their face ready to work.
- How this could work in practice would be something like a reward of X (TBC family to family) for sitting down every day properly, a further reward of Y (TBC family to family) for each week completed fully with no bad days and a reward of Z (TBC family to family ) for each month of success.
- We recommend using forms to mark off success day by day, week by week and month by month.
- There is a simple fact which is if children sit down with their mother or father to work without fuss and just get on with it every day then learning happens well. If it’s a struggle then whatever intentions there are, the work schedule will eventually fade.
Rewards should also reflect effort not achievement
- Once children have sat down to work and a work schedule has been established (it doesn’t have to be rigid – just something you can stick with and which works) the next challenge is to ensure enough work goes into learning.
- Of course this is a judgement call for parents but we’d strongly suggest rewards are given for how hard children work not for results. Some children will work hard and get full marks; others will work hard and will struggle – which is where they need your help.
- If you reward effort then achievement will follow.
- We’d suggest a simple reward every day for working hard (TBC by family – it could be screen time, it could be a special cake at tea time, it could be being allowed to stay up late on the weekend, it could be money, it could be sweeties, it could be a star which builds to a larger reward – whatever you like, whatever works for your family).
Final Reward at the end
- We’d suggest that some reward at the end is often useful, but we’d strongly suggest this is for achieving the whole schedule of work, giving of their best and sticking with it rather than for the actual result.
- Whatever ‘result’ was achieved if your child sat down for a sustained period and worked hard then they would have improved their educational foundations and their prospects enormously and it is that which should be recognised.
- We have produced a couple of simple sheets which you can use to tick of successful days – what is rewarded is entirely your decision,- daily, weekly, monthly it’s your choice . Often a mix of small regular rewards for regular effort and the larger rewards (e.g. a cinema trip or something like that) for sustained effort over a longer period work well.
What to work on
We do of course provide preparation guides and resource lists for your work. These will help you follow a structured process: