When it comes to keeping the little ones entertained and motivated in the classroom it’s all about changing things up. Kids, as we know, get bored easily at times and sometimes getting them to stay interested in classroom material can be challenging. Many teachers use reward systems in the classroom to keep kids excited to contribute and eager to learn. There are many different systems that have been used by teachers, both original and passed down. It all depends on the dynamic of the classroom and the age of students you are trying to engage.
Kindergarten-First Grade: At this age it’s fairly easy to keep kids motivated. School is a new environment for kids and the new people and new rules are usually enough to keep them on their toes. One of the key things kids should be getting comfortable with at this age is participation:
- Make a chart with everyone’s names on it. Have them tally the amount of times they’ve contributed in class and reward the five kids (or whatever number you think is fair) who’ve participated the most at the end of the week. Remember to watch out for the repeat kids. You want to encourage the quiet ones too!
Second Grade-Fourth Grade: Improvement is always important, but right around this age, kids might get comfortable with school. Often the novelty of a new environment and new friends may no longer be enough to keep them eager to continue to improve. This is a good time to remind them their improvement is still being monitored:
- Record the improvement of kids’ test scores. Let them know you’re monitoring this and encourage them to raise their test scores. At the end of the year, buy plaques for the most improved kids. They’ll love the special recognition and be motivated to continue getting better.
Fifth Grade-Eighth Grade: Right around this age, kids are beginning to value social relationships more and more. They may value hanging out with their friends more than they would recognition or treats. This is the perfect time to incorporate social rewards to encourage them keep up the good work.
- Decide what your classroom needs to improve on, whether that’s test scores, chattiness, overall behavior or attendance. Every Friday, select one student with the best performance and allow them to sit next to a friend for the day.
High School Age: This is the time when kids want to be rewarded with things they don’t have to do. Whereas in earlier years, you could reward them with candy and stickers for the things they did do, now is the time to allow them to skip some of the more unpleasant things such as homework and dreaded assignments.
- Make coupons for the kids who consistently turn in assignments. Reward them at random with a “free assignment” pass and let them skip it for that day.
As kids get older, they begin to have different motivations. Make sure to really take a look at your class and think about what particular rewards would motivate them. Remember, every classroom is different!