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Do you use rewards/prizes to get your students/kids motivated for certain activities? Have you found this to be effective in increasing their intrinsic motivation or are they just in it for the prizes?If you feel like your students/kids are motivated without prizes, do you have any tips to share about your teaching strategies that grab kids’ attention?
I sometimes use prizes or awards with my children. I would say that they are not to motivate them to do the activity but to reward them for their hard work and to reinforce good behavior. In other words, I do not use prizes as a bribe. Although I do confess to once trying to bribe my kids to eat a more diverse selection of foods, but we all lost interest in that project and the bribe (and diverse eating) never materialized.
How do I do this?
We have a treasure box in our home. Its filled with dollar store finds, sale items, and prizes out of the cereal box! Sometimes I will say, “I think today is going to be a treasure box day”. My kids have no idea what is going to get them a chance in the treasure box. But they know it will be a treasure box day.
Other times I let them earn tickets. If it is something they have previously earned tickets for (like finishing a Bob Book Series) sometimes they ask, “Will we earn tickets for this?”. Sometimes I say yes, but most often I say no. I don’t want them to associate a certain activity with a certain reward.
Like most kindergarten and first grade teachers I do give out stickers from time to time. I place them on worksheets, hands, clothing and sometimes I give out a whole sheet. I don’t think my children view this as a reward though. I think its just fun to get stickers and nice to have your page decorated with a gold star. My children enjoy showing me their work when they are done and I haven’t noticed a difference in their behavior when I attach a sticker or not.
How I make a B-I-G D-E-A-L over milestones and accomplishments:
When my twins were little they would frequently clap for themselves and say,” Yeah!” Sometimes they would clap for other children on the playground. They did this because it was so often done with them. So clapping, screaming, cheering, and doing a crazy dance are par for the course in our home and homeschool. Who doesn’t love applause?
I also tell my children how proud I am of them, tell them they should be very proud of themselves, or ask them if they are proud of themselves. As a home educator I have to do double duty. As their mother I want them to know how proud I am of them, so I must tell them, frequently. As their teacher I want them to learn to validate themselves and not look for others to validate them.
While my children enjoy receiving rewards, I don’t think they are dependent on them for motivation. My goal in homeschooling has always been to foster a love of learning.
When children have a natural love of learning, they are motivated by their own curiosity and knowledge becomes the reward.
What do you think?