How Parents Use Student Reward Systems in Virtual School
It takes time for young students to become self-motivated learners with independent study skills. If your goal is to teach your child to perform well in virtual school and work toward his or her goals, then it helps to implement a student reward system. Reward systems improve behavior and spur motivation. Plus, they can be a lot of fun for students, parents, and Learning Coaches!
Start by reviewing the helpful guidelines we shared in a previous blog post, “10 Ways to Make Effective Reward Systems for Kids in Virtual School.” Next, you can move on to the most creative part of the process: choosing the rewards.
Below is a list of ways Connections Academy parents and Learning Coaches reward their students for good behavior, success in school, and more.
- Give recognition. Recognizing your child is a simple reward that you should use often, especially in combination with other types of rewards. Our parents hang their students’ work on the refrigerator or give out “Way to Go” certificates for their students to display on the wall.
- Create a treat jar. Fill a jar or bucket with small toys or treats from which your child can draw when he or she does well on a test or assignment. You can let your child choose the treat or draw without looking, which adds an extra sense of mystery and anticipation! This technique works well for younger students who are motivated by immediate rewards.One family from Ohio lets their daughter choose the rewards that will go in the jar. “We keep a jar (which our daughter decorated) on her desk, with little pieces of paper in it. She is encouraged to add to these whenever she comes up with a great idea. The jar itself contains things she gets to do or receive if she does a job well. She is then allowed to pick one out of the jar as her reward.”
- Have a special snack or meal. Depending on what motivates your child, you can offer him or her an afternoon treat or the choice of what to have for dinner. For special occasions, take your child out to eat at a favorite restaurant.
- Award extra computer or video game time. Letting your child spend more time doing fun activities is a great, cost-free motivator. You could schedule this time during breaks between lessons, but if it’s too much of a digital distraction for your child, then schedule the game time for after school.
- Let your child choose a fun activity. This could be anything from a day at the roller rink to a movie night. If you already have an activity planned, you can let your child determine the specifics, such as at which restaurant to have dinner on Friday.
- Save up for a goal. One Connections Academy parent from Wisconsin awards her children with poker chips when they reach their goals. They save up these chips and then exchange them for a special reward. “I have three elementary students currently attending. When they collect ten poker chips each, they get to choose an event, like a movie, dinner out, a trip to the toy store or bookstore, or whatever else they choose. It’s neat because they help each other and work together to reach their goals,” she says. Encouraging students to save throughout the week, month, or school year to get a larger reward is an effective tactic for older students who are mature enough to understand delayed gratification.
- Support a specific interest. Knowing what motivates your child the most can strengthen your reward system. For example, two parents in Pennsylvania give their son rewards focused on his model car collection. “The cars he likes have many options and accessories that can be added. At the beginning of the school year, he picks a model car or truck. We purchase the base car for him. Throughout the year, as he gets good grades, is added to the honor roll, or receives favorable comments from teachers, we add ‘points,’ which we convert to accessories that he can add throughout the school year.”
- Take a day off of lessons. If your child finishes his or her lessons early and gets ahead in school, you can reward him or him with a free day. Let your child sleep in and spend the day learning about the topics he or she chooses. Or, use the time to take an educational field trip.
- Spend time as a parent vs. as a Learning Coach. Rewarding your child with a day with Mom and Dad can make your child feel special. Plus, it gives your whole family some quality bonding time. Plan some fun family activities to do, letting your child make some of the decisions.
- Take a trip. Connections Academy parents have taken their children on field trips and brief vacations to Hershey Park, Atlantic City, and Bay Beach Amusement Park, Green Bay. If you schedule a fun trip after school ends, then your child will have something to look forward to (and work toward) all year.
- Surprise your child! Sometimes, the best reward is a small surprise. “On most days, my daughter can’t wait for snack time. One day after lunch, she was scheduled for a LiveLesson®—and I left her a surprise at the workstation,” says one parent from Minnesota. “I just wish I could have gotten a picture of her face. She just lit up.” Another parent uses a creative method for giving rewards. “I used a cracker box and made a mailbox out of it, with a color-coded flag on each side for each of my two kids. They are 9 and 14 and love watching for their flag to indicate that they have ‘mail.’”When you offer a child a typical reward, he or she has to take specific steps to earn it. Surprising your child, on the other hand, shows that you recognize the overall effort he or she is making, which can give your child a different sense of pride and satisfaction.
How do you reward your child? We want to hear your unique ideas, so please share them with us!