children’s awards

Considerations on Participation Awards For Children

by Presenta Plaque | on Aug 09, 2013 | No Comments

Participation awards have come to be expected in sports and other competitive settings, especially for grade school-aged children. Team members are rewarded regardless of their success so that everyone feels important. This begs the question: is it beneficial to give participation awards? At what point do children recognize that their achievements don’t determine their level of recognition? Will children stop pushing themselves to achieve when they realize it won’t give them additional praise? Ideally, some type of middle ground could be obtained so no one would feel left out, yet there’s still basic competition. Children with natural talent and skill should be rewarded, but so should the child who practiced the hardest and improved the most, even if s/he wasn’t one of the best participants. So where does this middle ground lie?

At such an impressionable age, children live for the moments in which they’re rewarded for their accomplishments. Participation awards encourage children to join teams and clubs, and they make children feel involved. However, participation awards are missing the main ingredient: competition. First, second, and third place awards are key to igniting the spark of challenge children need to continue to work harder and test their abilities.

Perhaps the solution is to offer participation awards and achievement awards. This way, children recognize competition exists, but they won’t feel inadequate if they don’t perform to the highest levels. The option best suited for children and adolescents seems to be giving very specific awards to children, such as Most Improved Participant or Most Valuable Participant or Team Leader. This encourages self-improvement rather than competition for recognition, which is much healthier and won’t create division between children. The goal is to teach children to be the best version of themselves, regardless of who their competition may be. Rewarding the way in which children approach competition rather than rewarding skill level leads to more amicable relationships and greater improvement for every child involved. Creating an enjoyable environment encourages much more involvement than creating a competitive atmosphere.

Depending on the school or sports league in question, there will usually be some type of awards banquet or gathering the children will attend at the end of the season. The presentation of awards is very exciting for youngsters, so emphasizing the event in the weeks beforehand will encourage extra enthusiasm.

In cases when awards are appropriate, the most important thing is to show your child that you’re proud of him/her. No matter what form the award takes, as long as s/he has an enthusiastic supporter, s/he’ll feel like the star of the team. Competition aside, participating in any group is scary the first time, and the most lasting reward is knowing you’re proud of him/her. That said, a shiny award with his/her name on it doesn’t hurt either. Overall, make the experience enjoyable so your child will be eager to remain involved in activities with others his/her age. Even if your child doesn’t win MVP, s/he’ll still be your little superstar.

Certificates of Attendance—A Better Way to Reward Children’s Dedication

by Presenta Plaque | on Jun 07, 2013 | No Comments

Every parent knows the symptoms (runny nose, fever, coughing, chills) that can keep a child feeling miserable for a day or two. But should you keep the child home or give him some Motrin and send him to school anyway? Many kids ask to go to school even if they’re not feeling well because they want to earn a Certificate of Attendance. In other words, in many schools, if kids attend school every day for the entire year, they are rewarded.

Award plaques provide students something tangible to proudly display at home. This is a good thing, right? Not always, especially if kids are going to school while contagious. Some argue that Certificates of Attendance encourage the spread of disease in schools, but that is not the real issue; it is the all-or-nothing mentality that surrounds attendance goals.

Avoiding all illness is impossible, and students shouldn’t feel like they lost a competition just because they caught pink eye.  Being at school every day, regardless of illness, is unrealistic and teaches children to make their health a low priority. The best solution is for schools to keep giving award certificates but scratch that all-or-nothing mindset. Kids should be awarded for generally high attendance or improved attendance. This way a child who is sick at the beginning of the school year will not be discouraged because he or she has no chance at winning the award.

So why is attendance such a big deal? Starting as early as kindergarten, attendance patterns have far-reaching consequences and can predict a student’s success. When students are absent frequently they fall behind in academics. Those students are more likely to cause problems in their communities and run into trouble with the law. Additionally, some schools set their budgets based on average daily attendance. When poor attendance becomes the norm, some schools lose the ability to fund essential classroom needs.

For these reasons, early intervention is important. Award plaques are positive tools to better ensure a bright future for children, but there needs to be exceptions for illness, family emergencies, and other unexpected events. Let’s keep high attendance a priority without alienating the kids who experience events out of their control. We can eliminate the all-or-nothing approach, and make Certificates of Attendance a meaningful prize every student wants to earn in a healthier manner.  Share this blog with your school’s administration and other parents to implement attendance awards the right way.