Getting children to learn proactively via sensitively managed rewards

(16 Posts)
LERichmond Wed 08-Jul-15 15:44:50

Encouraging children to learn a subject like maths can be a difficult task for many parents. Children can "switch off" from mathematics at a very early age if they can't see how the subject relates to the real world. The challenge then, is how to motivate kids to persevere with this core subject.

Could the answer lie with reward-based learning? Do you use rewards to encourage your children to study and learn? What rewards do you use? How can parents effectively manage rewards without children demanding them? is an innovative maths learning website for children between 7 and 14. Video tutorials, pocket money rewards, parental reports and more.

Read more about and their motivational maths philosophy here:

AbsintheAndChips Wed 08-Jul-15 22:35:48

That sounds kind of awful, tbh. Also, the copy is really really badly written.

muminlondon2 Thu 09-Jul-15 10:33:15

Primary schools in Richmond already have subscriptions to some good online Maths resources. They can earn points and virtual prizes. I've never heard of parents trying to bribe their children to do homework with money - slippery slope.

NorthSheenisNice Thu 09-Jul-15 11:38:48

Muminlondon - I've tired to bribe DS into doing extra writing pratice with money! Doesn't work - at least not on DS (9)

AlastairD Thu 09-Jul-15 12:33:27

I suppose it's how you encourage your kids to view the reward? Do we call a salary a bribe? Or a performance bonus awful?

We are thinking of introducing a more personal reward system where you as a parent can dictate what the positive consequences of diligent study are; maybe it's more family time, or a walk with the dog on Sunday, maybe a trip to see relatives?

Would that make it more human?

muminlondon2 Thu 09-Jul-15 15:34:19

A trip to see relatives might be a punishment! It's like pocket money for household chores - it has the opposite effect to that intended. Rewards and regular homework shouldn't be linked.

Sites like Mathletics are a novelty, and children like creating and dressing an avatar, for example, or getting 'rewarded' with a computer game, but they still get bored after a couple of weeks. That's the problem with online learning and the reason it's no substitute for good, well qualified teachers.

summerpuddingandclottedcream Thu 09-Jul-15 18:38:54

I'm going to go against the grain and say that my DS (8) is alarmingly well-motivated by rewards.

I'd love him to want to work hard for the satisfaction of doing a task well and take pride in presenting his homework neatly...but so far homework has been v uphill. When I suggest a treat for finishing homework gracefully (without running off mid-way or getting distracted/shouty) this works every time.

A menu of treats might work for him. It wouldn't work for me though - I really don't want to be forking out on a lego set just because he's done some homework, just as I have no intention of rewarding him for making his bed! I can see that you might struggle to sell this idea to parents.

Heathclif Fri 10-Jul-15 12:13:35

This made me flinch as well.

Sadly this will probably find a particular niche in this borough where I have known children be offered a pony or £1000 for getting to St Paul's/ A*s at GCSE / A level/ getting to Oxbridge. Sadly too often it goes hand in hand with vicarious parental ambition and making parental love feel conditional on success, not a recipe for robust self esteem and resilience.

There is no material substitute for parents getting involved with their child's learning and inspiring enthusiasm for it, or indeed as mum says good teachers.

AbsintheAndChips Fri 10-Jul-15 13:11:12

I feel cheated now. I went to St Paul's AND Oxbridge AND got quite a lot of good grades at O and A Level. Where's MY pony?!

HaydonWomble Fri 10-Jul-15 13:57:59

Not sure this is the way to go. Children should learn/work hard with their studies for the love of it not because there's some reward 'dangling carrot' looming.

It's a very slippery slope and not one to go down if you don't want to be bankrupted by the junior members of your family.

GK88 Fri 10-Jul-15 13:58:31

Doesn't all this ultimately depend on the child and their level of motivation - bearing in mind their motivation may vary wildly from subject to subject?

Children are often motivated by subjects that they are good at and get praise for, and try to avoid too much work with subjects that they don't understand or find particularly difficult.

If your child can be easily motivated and encouraged to work at subjects they don't enjoy/aren't great at without rewards then fantastic - this is of course the ideal situation. BUT if you find that the only way to motivate them is by offering rewards of some kind (I'm not sure about ponies!!) only for subjects/tasks that they find difficult then I don't think it's a huge problem.

I know lots of adults who are sloth-like unless there is a reward dangling in front of them - why else is the work place full of performance related bonuses etc.

I haven't had to use differentiation and integration since secondary school. To date I have had no real-world use for it. It did my head in at the time and I hated it. Science, history, biology etc. I loved, they were tangible.

If my parents had offered me an ipod for spending a bit more time on the areas of maths that I found tough - I might have performed a bit better!

Heathclif Fri 10-Jul-15 13:59:25

It must have been before the start of the arms race absinthe wink

GK88 Fri 10-Jul-15 14:00:10

I mean science, history, english (not biology!)

GK88 Fri 10-Jul-15 14:08:29

"Children should learn/work hard with their studies for the love of it" - in an ideal world yes, but this is not realistic.

Heathclif Fri 10-Jul-15 14:15:56

GK I am at the end of this process and I can assure you that material rewards do not correlate with success. It IS possible to get an A* in Maths GCSE even if you do not have an aptitude for the subject (indeed a SpLD) without resorting to bribery. There are other motivators apart from material rewards. Good teaching, parental encouragement and support, understanding it is a means to an end. All of these worked for us.

AbsintheAndChips Fri 10-Jul-15 15:31:30

LOL at 'arms race'. Yes, indeed.

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