Monday, June 13, 2011

Ugly Dolls – A Powerful Summer Incentive

My son has a week off before summer school begins.

It is always challenging to have Kai at home from school for long stretches as he doesn’t play like typical kids and always needs our attention. And if we are not vigilant with him, too much of his time can be spent on unproductive activities such as watching videos on tv or looking for YouTube videos on the computer.

So, my wife got him some math and reading workbooks, as well as computer programs that build analytical thinking skills, to help occupy his time in more productive ways.

We figured that it might be difficult to get him to do these voluntarily, so each day we set up a visual schedule to show him all of his activities. Somehow, having these things in writing elicits cooperation more easily than just telling him to do it.

In addition to the schedule, however, we set up an incentive program. Kai has a pretty good collection of Ugly Dolls and has been asking for more lately. The Ugly Dolls are one of the few typical things that Kai plays with. I’m not sure why he likes them so much. But I think the fact that there are so many different ones that he can collect add to his interest.

And so, my wife created an incentive board where Kai can check off each activity as he does them. When he completes the two math workbooks, he will get one Ugly Doll. When he completes the reading one, he will also get one. And, he will get one for finishing the two computer programs.

We figured that it would likely take him the bulk of the summer to finish all of these. Some of the workbooks, especially the one for reading, will get quite challenging for his level. But, if he works on it a little at a time, he will be able to get it done.

Well, what we didn’t figure was how motivated he would be to get the Ugly Dolls.

After school on Friday, minutes after his break started, he already went right to work on one of the math workbooks. He said that he wanted to finish it that day. We told him that would be impossible and that it may take weeks of work for him to get his Ugly Doll. But, he said he couldn’t wait weeks and wanted one that day.

He went through pages of the math until we had to force him to stop when he got tired and started making careless mistakes. And then he got mad at us for making him stop.

But, he was at it again the next day. By the end of the weekend, he was more than halfway through both math workbooks. I won’t be surprised now if he finishes them in the next few days.

He hasn’t shown as much interest in the reading and the computer programs, doing only the bare minimum of what we ask him to do. So it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to finish those.

But I’ve learned not to underestimate the power of Ugly Dolls. Just look at them. Wouldn’t you want more of Wedgehead and Ox?

1 comment:

  1. My son used to love signs. Just any insignia...he used to love. We used to use them as reinforcers.

    It is a good sign when a child desires things in life.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...