A Little Positive Reinforcement

I have been tutoring a 1st grade boy for a few months now, but recently, he has been forgetting his homework folder at school, not handing in assignments, and having a hard time focusing on his work. At 6, it is very easy to see that he would much rather play Wii or Pokemon than do homework...but obviously, it needs to be done and without his parents' support, I've been having a difficult time. 

My main goal at this stage in his education is to promote good study habits. I'm trying to set a schedule that allows him the flexibility to play outside, watch tv, or play Wii...but also gives us enough time to get his work done before I leave for the evening. The problem is, he takes SUCH a long time to get his tiny amount of homework done! Seriously, he gets about 10-15 minutes of homework a night plus 15 minutes of reading, but it takes us more than an hour to get the first portion done and we rarely get to the reading.

The other day, we were sitting at the table for a (ridiculously) long time when I grabbed a piece of paper and sketched out a chart that I hoped would interest him enough to get on board with my idea.

Now, it's only been 2 weeks, but so far, so good!

Here's what we did:

I went out and got a folder with characters that he likes. In this case, Toy Story 3.

I also found these awesome stickers! He loves Star Wars (like all little boys, and my husband), so I thought these might create an extra boost in his performance.

So here are the "rules" we developed. We talked about them together, decided what was fair and wrote them down in an attempt to prevent any tears in the future.

1) For each day you remember your folder and complete your assignments before I leave, you get a sticker. (Must be both)

2) Five stickers for the week qualifies you for a 6th bonus sticker. (Which I'll explain in a moment)

3) Ten stickers, not including bonus stickers, entitles you to pick out a Pokemon card online or a trip to Target to select a prize. (Apparently, picking out Pokemon cards online is a super big deal)

4) Bonus stickers can be used individually for things like staying up later on a weekend, going to get ice cream, etc., or a month's worth can be saved for something like a trip to the movies or a new game.

Each day before I leave, we determine is he has earned a sticker and if he has, he picks the one he wants and puts it in the appropriate spot.

Two weeks in, we are 12 stickers strong. Pretty sweet! It has made a world of difference and I'm so glad he was "on board!' Now, we sit down, get his homework done in a reasonable amount of time, and even have extra time to read together. Homework time is a much more pleasant experience now that I have the chart as a tool.

Any of you developed any positive reinforcement tools recently? Do share!


  1. What a good mom you are! Glad that your idea is working and you are adaptable to your son's needs. Mama, trust me, he will remember these times! My own son is 32 now and he loves looking back at what made him the man he is today. Thank you for your kind words on my blog, bless you.

  2. My son is 7 and has the same problem. pick out pokemon cards online? Explain this to me! Can you buy individual cards or do you just get to save them on your computer. Josh is obsessive about Pokemon. {Last night I told him to pick out a bed time book and he picked out the pokedex...uhhhh nice try buddy}

  3. Warms my heart to see mothers planting character in their children. This is a great idea.


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