Tips for Educators

How To Motivate Children With A Classroom Reward System

  • Nov 22, 2021
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 How To Motivate Children With A Classroom Reward System

All of us remember those little stars that our teachers would draw on our test papers if we get a good grade, right? It’s incredible how that one small symbol motivated us to study even harder for the next test, just so we’d get it again. This is the power of a reward system in action. 

As Larry Winget wisely said, "Reward the behaviour you want repeated." Tutors can often find it difficult to get their students to pay attention or take responsibilities in class. Classroom reward systems are a perfect way around this. 

Let's dig into the evidence -

Advantages of a Reward System

  • Increased Motivation: A reward system is the perfect tool to foster motivation and drive among students. By giving them the right incentives, you can encourage them to contribute more actively during classes. 
  • Boosts Self-Esteem: When children are appreciated for their achievements, they begin to take pride in their work, which ultimately boosts self-esteem. This inspires them to go above and beyond in their learning journey.  
  • Improved Results: Children love goodies; there’s no getting around it. So it isn’t surprising to see them work harder in class, if you’ve promised them some candy at the end of it. You’re going to see great results with reward systems, but do remember that they aren’t a long-term solution. The end goal is to make the switch from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. 

When Should You Consider Implementing A Classroom Reward Rystem?

Do your students seem disinterested in class? If your answer is a yes, then introducing a reward system might actually help. The following issues may also be good indicators on whether you need to start motivating your students with rewards -

  • Students aren’t handing in assignments on time
  • Stuents lack attention and focus
  • Students display behavioural issues
  • Students show low performance in exams and tests

There are myriad reward systems to choose from, and there is no ‘right way’ of setting one up. You can customise your system according to your students’ needs. Let's explore three guidelines to help you along the way.

1. Set SMART Goals

Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. For example, you could set a goal like, "if you get over 80% in all your tests over the term, you will get a reward."

2. Decide on Rewards

This one can be a tough nut to crack. So, why not leave it up to the kids? Ask them what they would like as a reward for a certain type of behaviour. They can have a brainstorming session, and even put it to a vote. 

3. Lessen the Rewards Over Time

Try not to inculcate an overt dependency on the reward system among students. This could have an adverse impact on their learning journey. As the year progresses, increase the amount of work they need to do for a particular reward. Doing this can help you phase out the reward system completely, so that students can begin to rely on intrinsic motivation - this is much healthier. 

To reward or not to reward; that is the question. Although there is plenty of evidence that is in favour of reward systems, try not to depend on it too much. There is always a chance that your students will gain a sense of entitlement, meaning that they will be less likely to perform well unless they are given a reward. That doesn’t mean you should rule out the concept of reward completely; just remember to phase it out gradually and focus on building a positive learning environment instead.

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