If you’re the parent of a school-age child, chances are you’ve waged a homework battle. The nightly fight to motivate your kids to work hard on their assignments can be an exhausting one, but the creators of the app Gradestar hope to get families off the struggle bus.
Gradestar, which launched in February, is a digital throwback to the old-fashioned star chart. It allows students to earn rewards for positive behaviors like studying, completing an assignment or doing chores. Student users accumulate gradestars, the app’s virtual currency, and redeem for a Gradestar reward of their choice, like a backpack or a gift card. The free app banks on two kinds of rewards: ones provided by Gradestar, and rewards determined by parents for their child (say, a movie ticket, a new toy or an extra half hour of TV time).
“What we’re trying to do is create good learning habits that will help in the long term,” Dmitriy Druk, one of Gradestar’s co-founders, explains about the app’s incentivization. The app can be used by second graders all the way up to high schooler, and the “gamification” of tasks and assignments helps students remain engaged.
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Sounds like bribery? Druk is quick to point out that the app is less about rewarding individual actions or achieving an end goal, and more about recognizing and cultivating good habits that will stick with a child throughout their scholastic development.
He also notes that “parents have the ability to completely customize this system, incentives don’t have to be monetary, or some sort of gift.” The real emphasis is on how parents use the system.
For Druk, it’s all part of technology’s potential to transform the ways that students learn. It’s also a tool to take some of the tension out of the homework complettion process.
“At the end of the day we’re trying to make parents’ lives easier,” he explains, “by having a happier, motivated student at home who’s not fighting with mom and dad.”