A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to try out HighScore House – an online system for tracking and rewarding kids (and parents I guess) for household tasks. We’re still tweaking the system – and it’s taking a little while as the kids are with us one week and then their dad the next – but I’ve already noted a couple of things of interest.
We started out by identifying the best outcomes from using this – the win state I guess you’d say. Primarily cutting down on arguments about doing homework, eating vegies, having showers and going to bed on time – those kinds of things.
From this we devised a list of tasks that we assigned points values to – this is definitely something that needs to be evolved but we knew that at the time which is why we decided to start by allocating 5 points to everything except homework (10 pts) and fighting (-5 pts).
They’ve both already started asking what the points value of a task (unloading the dishwasher) is before committing to do it – or not, as was the case one time.
The task management/creation interface in HighScore House is still a little clunky but not too bad. My main request has been that tasks can be created independently rather than having to be generated for each child – the developer was kind enough to respond to this and tell me that it’s high on their list for an upcoming upgrade.
Tracking and recording tasks can be done through the website or on their iPhone app (with PIN access to the Parent Dashboard) which then syncs to the child’s “room” in HighScore House. Points appear as each Achievement style task is displayed on the screen – and I know this is a small thing but I was a little disappointed that there was no sound playing during these little animations; it rather took away from the sense of Fiero.
Overall however, I have to concede that the online nature of this tool is perhaps its greatest problem in our situation. The boys don’t yet spend much if any time online – they prefer games – and so there is no constant reminder of their status. No feedback, another vital game element. Apparently their dad runs a similar similar system for chores but just writes the points directly onto a board on the fridge. (Now I finally see a use for those ridiculous Internet enabled fridges) I’m thinking that we might want to do something similar.
If you’re curious, the chore breakdown is currently as follows:
Loading dishwasher (5)
Unloading dishwasher (5)
Helping with laundry (5)
Hanging clothes out (5)
Homework – 3o mins (10)
Going to bed when asked (5)
Getting up when asked (5)
Cleaning teeth when asked (5)
Having a shower when asked (5)
Getting dressed when asked (5)
Chilling out when asked (5)
Keeping bedroom tidy (5)
Bringing in shopping (5)
Doing exercises (5)
Taking out rubbish (5)
Raking leaves (5)
The reward scheme for this is:
Up to 1 hr of technology (games) per day: 200 pts
Up to 2 hr of technology (games) per day: 250 pts
$5 pocket money: 300 pts
$8 pocket money: 400 pts
We worked out that the boys could potentially earn 415 pts in a good week and as technology time is a far stronger motivator for them than money, these were the main rewards. Next week will be the first time that the rewards have come into play and they’ve both managed to earn 1 hr of tech per day. (They’ve previously been allowed up to 2 hours per day however that was heavily dependent on getting other things done so it’s never been a given).