Whether you teach a particular subject or a complete grade, we all love extra ways to help our students shine! With hard work and extra determination, our students can go from completing a task to far above we ever expected. Here are 5 inexpensive, non-time consuming and simple, but helpful products/rewards, to help push our students a little further.
Tuesday’s Teacher’s Corner: 5 Great Ways to Help Motivate Your Students (Even Homeschoolers)
Stickers. So simple, and yet all kids enjoy them. I have to admit, I thought my kids might be too old for them. Then I realized although they did not use them as much, they loved to gift them in their cards or letters to friend or family afar. Some really cute stickers make the difference too for those teenagers!
2. Punch Cards
Punch cards were a go to for us for many reasons. I love changing up the card reward. At first it was just the perfect score got a punch or the A on the test and so on. But I found myself offering punches for random things. Like when I saw one of my children starting their work on their own ahead of our “time schedule” they received punches. Or just having a great attitude or going above what I ask them in a project. It really promotes going the extra mile. The best part is they are super cheap! So many choices, you can get 10 hole cards, 20 hole cards, etc.
And as I stated, they can use the card to cash in on the reward that I have selected. If they obtain that reward, I can change it to something that would motivate them personally. Like a day off of school, a free fishing pass (my kids’ favorite- they hand it in and we take the rest of the day off to go fishing), a park pass, a special field trip, or an ice cream with mom and dad. My eldest teens have been enjoying them as a local specialty coffee card, so much flexibility in these!
3. Candy Jar
Self explanatory. Everyone needs brain food now and then. Candy from the jar during hard work is something students of all ages look forward too, even your teens. Purchase your families favorite candy bar minis or a specialty candy online.
We do not typically have tons of junk in the house day to day so this makes the candy jar extra special too. Plus, it helps if it is a favorite treat in the jar or not an anywhere purchase. During our Asia study, we purchased specialty treats from an Asian market online that were favorites. (They are like fizzy poprocks) and they were in the jar for awhile. With Amazon you can purchase individually wrapped, specialty taffy’s, chocolates, and wedding candies. A candy jar is my go-to immediate motivation fix when there seems to be several distractions and we need to quickly focus and get the task at hand done.
4. Bank Box
Honestly, this is more of a reward for your older half students. Not that young students would not get excited, but many forget the reward is there or do not always focus on down the road several weeks or semester. Honestly, teaching mixed ages I did not use this often. It was a great addition in our time teaching money, saving and spending units. But, implementing this in Teen Sunday school class several years ago, it worked well. And would highly recommend it for a afterschool church program. The concept is similar to your punch card, but takes a bit more planning. You will have to set the guidelines and/or shopping dates.
Each student gets their pretend money to bank until a “shopping” day. Students earned their pretend money or filled their bank accounts from various things you place a value on. For youth program, we had attendance, bringing your Bible, memorizing your verses, bonus worksheets you brought back completed, a special task for the week, dressing up for the theme that night, participation, helper/leader bonuses, inviting a friend and etc. The shopping we set up was for them to spend on things they enjoy BUT also to purchase Christmas gifts for their families. So there was a wide range of gifts (which was wonderful if you are accepting donations for your youth program).
A variation of this that many homeschool moms have implemented was banking minutes instead of money for extra screen time or video game play. Your options for altering this incentive are endless. So, bank box is a great incentive for your students.
5. Time Zone
Similar to bank box, is time zone. Instead of earning money, minutes or points for completing a task; students earned a special bonus or incentive for shaving off time on their work. Now to forewarn, if not implemented properly, you could encourage poor work in shorter time. However, for the student already doing a great job with their work, but perhaps dilly dallying too; this is a great way to help develop that habit to complete the task as best as possible in the shortest amount of time as possible.
While shaving off a few minutes here or there may not seem like it should matter too much, it is the point of encouraging your student to give their absolute best, which means being a good steward of their time too! Now to simplify this you could incorporate this into the previous four “rewards” as well OR keep it separate altogether. For us home educating, this was bonus screen time. We would figure what our average day looked like and as tasks were completed, if the student was done, say 10 minutes early, they earned 20 extra minutes of screen time to use or save/accumulate.
A great variation of this is a “free area” or zone. My younger students loved this. I would have a table set up with an activity (usually a hands on learning thing) and a small corner filled with that themed activity for exploration. (busy bags, books, a puzzle, etc.) when/if they finished their work early (but excellent too) they could leave their desk and go to the Free Zone. As long as they were quiet, they could explore until our next subject. A great way to keep encouraging, engaging and pushing our students to grow at their greatest capacity with extra love and support.
So, as you are looking for more ways to encourage your students to give there all, may you also be blessed with a great week and insight how to better serve your students. Happy Teaching Friend!