Intrinsic Rewards

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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.

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