It truly helps children (and adults for that matter) to have reinforcement for their efforts. Even when it appears that a child has mastered a task, intermittent reinforcement provides the incentive to keep doing your best work. To see your children return to an acceptable level of hard work, set about to create a plan for improvement completed with short and long term goals. Work with your children to develop a game plan that encourages and rewards their effort.
Developing goals together will ensure that you and your child are clear on the expectations and the agreed upon incentives. Set small reasonable goals that will be easy to achieve along the way to reaching a bigger prize.
Measure your child's efforts. For example, post a handmade chart on a cabinet or on the refridgerator that will allow your child to mark through the days that he/she puts in the required amount of study time. When your child hits three days in a row, he or she can earn a sticker for decoration and to add variety.
At the end of the week, if he or she has achieved the study time goal for Monday through Friday you might fix a special snack, allow your child to pick a favorite one hour long television show or allow him/her to stay up one hour later on the weekend night of his/her choice.
Many parents offer material rewards but, in fact, it is much simpler to provide the type of recongnition that you currently have at your finger tips anyway. For example, rather than offering your child money or a new toy, offer to allow him/her to invite a friend over for dinner or a sleepover if there is improvement on the monthly test result.
Remember to make learning and goal setting fun. If your child sees that you are interested in motivating him/her and cheering achievement along the way, you will build a much stronger relationship. With this type of approach, eventually, your child will learn to work harder simply to please himself by doing his best.
If you would like to talk to a parenting coach in greater detail, don't hesitate to contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Trained counselors are available to help you work through situations just like the one you are currently experiencing.
Wishing you all the best.
Boys Town National Hotline
I had the same problem with my two boys. What worked for me was to focus on the habits rather than the grades. My theory was if the habits were there, the grades would come. I found that most habit things were small, but so necessary. For example, checking agendas (instead of relying on memory), asking them to show me what they did in each class rather than just talking about it, and making sure the homework space was uncluttered and that all media is out of reach.
Bigger things that really helped were using a family calendar to transfer assignments and tests from the agenda to the calendar. This helped me stay on top of them and made topic of homework easier to include in discussions and therefore manage. For example, when test is on the calendar for all to see, the proof that studying needs to take place is hard to ignore.
Also, I got smart and realized my kids thought homework and studying were the same thing. So, I explained that, in our house, HOMEWORK is the stuff that is due the next day or so. STUDYWORK is the work we have to do maintain our grades. Things like take notes, reread, make flash cards ... study! Now, my kids know that even if they have no HOMEWORK, they always have STUDYWORK. Free time comes after homework and study work is done. And, I offer to help with the STUDYWORK as much as I can. It makes them accountable and keeps me in the loop!
Take a good look at the habits going on in your house, readjust them so that they support success, and don't take their word for it when they say they are done! Ask to see evidence and praise when it is there!!