Whether you’re celebrating a class milestone, like the 100th day of school or the end of the school year, or you simply want to offer an incentive for kids to work extra-hard on a project or show consideration for one another, there are lots of tangible and intangible ways to reward students. We’ve rounded up some of the most inspirational ideas about classroom incentives from our blog.
Rewarding desirable behavior – positive reinforcement – is almost always a more effective method for motivating students than punishment is. However, it’s important to distinguish between bribing and rewarding. Bribing is promising a student a reward in exchange for their cooperation. It can create a sense of entitlement by sending the message that a child should only behave or perform well if there’s something in it for them. Rewarding is a recognition of their achievement that makes kids feel good about their effort.
Deciding What Gets Rewarded
It’s impractical – if not impossible – to reward every instance of good behavior or extra effort in the classroom. Share clear expectations for acceptable behavior with your students. When kids go above and beyond the basics, it might be time for a reward. Click here for our quick guide to determining what does and doesn’t warrant special recognition.
Keeping It Simple
For everyday achievements, like good behavior or random acts of kindness, a reward can be as simple as stickers or candy. Even verbal praise or applause can go a long way toward making a student feel special. For bigger accomplishments, such as straight As or perfect attendance, you can take it up a notch with medals or certificates. The key is recognizing a student’s efforts and creating positive associations.
Directly involving students in the classroom reward system is an excellent hands-on learning opportunity. You could let them help select the contents of the class prize box or have them collaborate on classroom rules. You can also give them experiences that teach social skills, cooperation, and autonomy. This blog post has several fantastic suggestions for rewarding kids through empowerment.
However you choose to recognize and reward good behavior or special occasions, keep the focus on recognition of students’ efforts. What awards or incentives work especially well in your classroom?