Variation of The Gold Star Reward System for Short Term and Long Term Goals Especially for ADHD Students and Children by in-home tutor J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

This reward system is both a task-oriented and behavior management system. It’ll work for any age simply by changing the rewards. My variation of the reward system is also flexible enough to utilize both short term and long term goals. The purpose of the Gold Star Reward System is to motivate the completion of tasks, class work, or homework as well as reward positive behavior during the task, classwork, or homework.

Purpose of Rick Kirkham's variation of the Gold Star Reward System

The purpose of my variation of the Gold Star Reward System is to promote the completion of homework or chores while at the same time promoting positive behavior during the completion of homework or chores.

Equipment needed for Rick Kirkham's variation of the Gold Star Rewards Program

Some links below are affiliate links from Amazon. Knowing Amazon, I may make a whole 50 cents if you use the links below. I am grateful for your support.

Stick on stars. They don't actually have to be gold. I'm not going to complicate this simple system by assigning meanings to colors. Most people relate to the gold star as being the best, so I call it the Gold Star Program.

A calendar. One of my in-home tutoring students in Mililani Hawaii likes Spiderman. I would, therefore, get him a Spiderman calendar. If your student or child is old enough where he/she doesn't care about what the calendar looks like, then any simple calendar will do.

If it's near the end of the year, you can just make and print a calendar using Google Docs and order a new calendar for next year.

Parental support. Sorry, no Amazon link for that, it's too rare. I'm kidding, of course, but in today's society where everyone is too busy, the feeling of adding something else to your list must seem overwhelming. Trust me when I tell you it won't take up any more of your time once you get it set up, which is pretty easy. Reminds me props to my in-home tutoring student's mom in Hawaii Kai Hawaii. I refer to as a "Super Mom."

Goals of Rick Kirkham's variation of the Gold Star Rewards Program

  • Increase the speed at which your child or student does his/her chores or homework.
  • Decrease negative behaviors which increase the time it takes to do chores and homework.
  • Decrease negative behaviors in general.
  • Increase positive behaviors in general.

Procedure for Rick Kirkham's variation of the Gold Star Rewards Program

The procedure for this task and behavior management program is pretty simple.

Two stars are possible as rewards for each task.

The first star is based on the completion of the task. REGARDLESS, of any behavior issues, if the task is completed, a gold star is placed on the calendar on the date the task is completed. Make sure you leave room on the calendar for more stars. I've recently added 7 stars in a single in-home tutoring session in Mililani Hawaii.

The second star is received if there are no behavior issues. Behavior issues include but are not inclusive to:

Refusal to work

You get the idea.

Rewards are given when….

For me, I went with rewards are given when we reach four stars. My reasoning is when I'm in-home tutoring for a student on the Hawaii island of Oahu, I can usually get in two subjects. Thus the student may get a reward right after tutoring if both subjects were completed and there were no behavior issues.

Star rewards can build up

If the student only gets three stars, for example, but the student got a star yesterday from a parent for completing a chore or a homework assignment, the student can use the total of four stars to receive his/her reward.

When rewards are used cross them out on the calendar

DO NOT remove the rewards. They'll make good data as weeks and months go by, and you look back on the calendar. Furthermore…

The crossed-out stars still have value!

After a certain number of gold stars are rewarded, even if they are crossed out, the student may now receive a larger reward. This will reinforce the need to continue getting work done while practicing acceptable behavior. The number of stars for a long-term reward and the long-term reward itself should be determined by teachers, parents, and tutors or any subset of the three.

Once the long-term goal has been achieved, and the reward given use a different colored marker to cross out the stars. Now those gold stars have lost any future value other than data.

This is very important for the reward system to work

Once a gold star is rewarded IT CANNOT be removed from the calendar. Those of us with ADHD WILL act out. If we believe anything we earn will be taken away, we will stop trying.

Here are the main points from my article Goals Rewards and Consequences for ADHD Students

  • Use very short-term goals.
  • Built up short-term goals can become rewards for long-term goals.
  • Never use in a row for rewards.
  • Keep rewards and consequences separate.

Example of Rick Kirkham's variation of the Gold Star Reward System

S lives on Oahu, is 6 years old, and has ADHD. He primarily studies math and English during tutoring. When S completes his math work he receives a gold star. If S completes his math work with no negative behaviors he receives a second gold star. The same applies to his English.

S enjoys playing with his tablet. If he receives four gold stars or has a total of four gold stars he hasn't used for a reward yet, he may play with his tablet after in-home tutoring.

Here is where the reward system has home value as well as educational value

If S has some behavior issues and doesn't get four stars to play with his tablet and does not have any unused gold stars on his calendar, his parents may continue with the reward system for various tasks. They would follow the same system, giving a star for the completion of a task such as a chore or unfinished homework. Plus another star if there were no behavior issues during the task.

When S finally totals four unused gold stars, he may now play with his tablet, and the four gold stars are crossed out on the calendar since they've been used for a short-term reward.

As you can see, this variation of the gold star reward system


Rewards for completion of tasks and homework.
Reinforcing positive behavior.
Short-term rewards for the completion of tasks and homework.
Long-term rewards for extended positive behaviors
Long-term rewards for the repetitive completion of tasks and homework.

If anyone has any ideas to improve this variation of the gold star system, please send me an email to

I'd like to thank the following people for their help in developing this variation of the Gold Star Reward System

Dr. Alice Depina. I work with Dr. D, as our tutoring students call her. She's a great educator, and I learn something every time I talk with her.

Mathew Hastie. Teacher extraordinaire turned corporate trainer extraordinaire. Matt was the one who convinced me to make the variation of the gold star rewards program task-oriented and not time-oriented. I told him over the phone it had bothered me making it time-oriented since one negative behavior would cause the student to not get a star for the next 15 minutes.

Both of these great teachers influenced my life and made me a better person and teacher.

Mr. Kirkham has two openings for in-home tutoring students on Oahu

Text or call 808.224.1870

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J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. is the only in home tutor on Oahu with ADHD specializing in students with ADHD. Honolulu Hawaii and all of Oahu text or call 808.224.1870

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