Young children are naturally motivated to learn and all children want to be good. In my work with young students, I hope to encourage and inspire as much intrinsic reward as possible. As a Waldorf teacher, and as encouraged by my professors, I had never offered an extrinsic reward in my career.
However, In my first year working in International Education at a large American-curricular school, led by the example of my colleagues, I decided to give small rewards to my students for their efforts in school. In attempt to keep equity in the classroom, each child received a small token- either a pencil or a small ruler. While receiving rewards, students expressed comments such as: “Why did she get this but I got this?”, and “I want that instead”. Passing out tangible rewards created more problems in my classroom than any I had hoped would be resolved.
That is not to say I don’t celebrate my students’ successes. When a child tries something outside their comfort zone, when work is exemplary, when a new milestone is reached, I celebrate. Expressing pleasure and communicating praise are appropriate when it is genuine and sincere.
When students are able to self-evaluate the value of their own work, they are more able to grow into adults who are self-motivated. They can determine purpose and direction in their own lives. Learning is its own reward.
How do you reward your children? Leave a reply.