Here’s an idea to get kids interested in doing their work. Whether you’re trying to motivate them to finish their homework or get their chores done, turning everyday activities into a game just makes the work not seem like work. I find that this is a fun way to pique a child’s interest while achieving a real goal. It breaks up the workload without taking away from the importance of doing the work. So, without further ado…
Sit your child down and make a game board together. Explain to them that this is our “Working Game.” All you will need is:
- cardboard, posterboard, or sturdy paper to serve as the game board
- construction paper
- any other crafty pieces you would like to add to the board (e.g. glitter or stickers)
Cover the game board in construction paper if you would like to change the color of the board. Cut out shapes from the construction paper to serve as the spaces for the game board. Arrange the pieces onto the board any way you would like that shows a clear start and end to the board with a clear path. put as few or as many pieces as would be helpful for the size of the tasks your child will be completing. For example, if your child is using the board to complete homework, which usually takes an hour, try putting a space for each 5-10 minute span of homework time. Remember, if your child has to complete some long tasks and some short tasks, put more spaces. You can always instruct your child to move 3 spaces for chores and 1 space for homework. A dice could also be used to shorten the number of spaces your child has to move. Add stickers, glitter, or pictures in empty spaces on the board to make it more fun.
While creating the board with your child, explain to them that the game is part of their homework. Explain that when they get to the end of the game, they get a reward. The reward can be whatever you feel would be motivating. However, be cautious not to make the game or task seem like a punishment. Try not to use threats, like “if you don’t finish the game/ task, you can’t have the reward.” Instead, try motivating phrases, like “Let’s play our game so that we can have our reward.” Good rewards could be: computer or TV time, a favorite healthy snack, or a quality time activity with mom or dad.
Once the game board is made, you can begin using it to complete whatever tasks you feel your child may need some extra motivation for. After 5 minutes of good work (less if the child is younger or the task is easier), allow the child to move ahead. Try not to cheat them out of moves. If they are working well and they go through 10 minutes without stopping, allow them to move the appropriate 2 spaces. Once you start the game with an activity, keep the rules consistent for that round. However, if the child is having difficulty, it is okay to bring down the demands. Next time you play, change the time limits or number of spaces accordingly to your child’s needs. As they become more proficient, increase the demand until the child is able to complete their tasks without use of the game board. After your child is able to build up their sustained attention to complete their tasks, they will not need the game board and instead, the idea of getting their reward or free time will be motivation enough to finish their tasks.
Another idea could be to use a marble jar. Have a set number of marbles put aside (as many as they would need to complete the task). As they meet their time requirements, allow them to put the marbles into the jar. Once they finish the marbles , they get their reward.
Be sure NOT to punish the child for bad behavior by taking away marbles they already earned or moving their game piece back on the game board. This game is a reward system and we don’t want them to have negative feelings about it. Taking away things they already earned can lead them to feel that the work isn’t worth it because their hard work can be taken away.
Change it up by adding specialty spots on the board. For example, if they reach the half way mark, they get to play with some bubbles for two minutes or take a chocolate milk break. Just be sure not to add too many because they may become distractions and break your child’s focus from completing the task.
That’s all I have for now. Hope it was helpful 🙂