For nearly ten years I worked as an educator in a middle school while raising six kids I adopted through foster care. When they came to live with me, their ages ranged from 5 to 15 years and they were not exactly what you would call motived. When asked, they never actually “had homework.” Yet, when the report cards came out or I e-mailed their teachers, the failing grades appeared. I needed a way to help the kids discover their own motivation for doing their best. The solution came from my oldest daughter when she was just 15 years old. I tweaked it a little myself and it has worked wonders. We did this for years until the kids became more internally motivated and essentially “outgrew” the system. Now, you don’t have to be a mom of a clan of foster kiddos to benefit. If little Johnny isn’t the most motivated kid on the block, give it a shot. It just might work wonders for you too.
After school everyone sits in a common area, it doesn’t matter if they have homework or not; they are required a certain amount of time to study each day based on the grades from their last report card or progress report.
If a child has straight A’s on his/her last three-week progress report or report card, he or she is only required to do assigned homework and study for tests. Then their homework time is over. They have proven themselves responsible and are left to determine for themselves how long their study time should take.
If they have grades of B and higher, they are required to study for at least 30 minutes a day regardless of the amount of assigned homework.
If grades of C and higher, they study a minimum of one hour each day regardless.
If a child has a D or lower, he or she is required to “homework time” for a minimum of two hours each day regardless of the amount of actual homework assigned.
Don’t let the amount of time scare you. I used this system with a 5 year old who could have been the poster child for ADHD. It doesn’t have to all be traditional structured study time. Use this time to work with your kids in any areas they may be struggling academically. If you can’t personally sit down with them on a particular day, purchase educational videos and games. Read to them or have them read to you. Tweak the system to meet your family’s needs. I didn’t require homework time on Fridays or weekends. But, if the kids were in summer school there was homework time assigned for those dates based on their last report card.
Soon you’ll find with a dedicated amount of study time attached to their grades, that homework they “forgot” about will suddenly appear (after all you might as well do your math if you’re sitting at the table anyway) and those subjects that they’re struggling in will get a little more attention. The important thing is that it puts the responsibility back on the child. After all, it is their homework.