4 Tips for Effective Student Rewards and Incentives
While half the battle of rewarding students is deciding what deserves incentive, the other half is creating the right incentives and promoting the right behaviors. Check out these steps for creating incentives that will work for your specific classroom.
Whether you’re celebrating a class milestone, like the 100th day of school, the end of the school year, or you simply want to offer an incentive for kids to work extra hard on a project, 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.
Seek Out Opportunities for Positive Reinforcement
Rewarding desirable behavior – positive reinforcement – is almost always a more effective method for motivating students than punishment. 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 to gain. Rewarding is a recognition of their achievement that allows students to feel proud of their effort.
Positive Reinforcement Ideas:
- Direct Reinforcement: reward for good behavior in group activities results in more invitations to participate in them.
- Social Reinforcers: rewarded socially through an expression of approval by parents, teachers, and/or peers.
- Activity Reinforcers: rewarded with opportunity to participate in a preferred activity like games with a friend.
Determine What Deserves Reward
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.
Keep Rewards & Incentive 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.
Simple Reward Ideas:
- Tangible Rewards: rewards can be snacks, toys, balloons, stickers etc.
- Token Rewards: reward is points or tokens that can be used to exchange for something they value.
Always Involve the Students
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.
How Do You Use Rewards and Incentives?
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?