A cup of tea after an hour of work. A biscuit after putting the baby down for a nap. A run when your partner returns home for the day. Rewards! They come in all shapes and sizes, but why are they essential for our children during isolation?
In my last post, I reduced classroom motivators to three. Our children are currently learning in a virtual classroom, so their motives are compromised.
- Relationships – with both peers and teachers now have less contact time.
- Emotion – towards learning has shifted. Change evokes emotion.
- Challenge – for children and teachers is cloudy as ‘in the moment’ feedback and task tweaking has been reduced.
Intrinsic motivation isn’t built overnight. It takes a system to shift conscious drivers to an unconscious habit. So here goes.
So how do we do it?
Some will object. Hear me out.
Rewards increase feedback.
Humans like feedback. Children LOVE feedback. They thrive on feedback.
In my Feedback research I analysed how teacher feedback is delivered. The resounding response from the children (900 of them!) was that they want feedback. They want to be noticed. Do you blame them?
Through educational coaching, I lead student engagement in learning. Often educators wanted to support disruptive students. What did we find? Disruptive children aren’t motivated to learn. They FEEL they aren’t noticed.
So how does this translate to home?
If you don’t have a ‘rewards’ system, now is your time to jump on the bandwagon. If you already do, well done super parent educator, but is it time for a little revamp?
Keep it simple.
Have your child write their name and draw 10 boxes next to it, under it, around it, wherever they choose. These are your check boxes; we tick them when giving feedback. This makes it concrete and visible, verbal and visual, e.g. saying the positive behaviour you noticed and then showing them with a tick.
Okay, now for the juicy part. A real negotiation #lifeskill! What are you working towards?
- 10 minutes free choice iPad time
- 15 minutes basketball with Dad
- Dinner on the couch
The children will guide the way here, mould the reward together, you will be surprised what you find out about them!
Lastly, create 2-3 expectations of how to get to the goal. Why are they getting the ticks? Be careful, just like with KSI or SMART goals, these need to be specific to the behaviours that you are trying to build:
- Taking a responsible risk by challenging yourself to add onto learning
- Focussing by moving spots independently when your attention fades
- Jotting down questions before asking to see if I can discover my own answer
Once these are written down (preferably by the child) and put with their name/check boxes, keep them visible at all times, think; above their desk, on the fridge, etc. Get it in their heads and stay there!
And here comes your commitment. You may choose to reward everyday. You may choose to reward every week. Honestly, I had one Prep class where I gave out rewards to those with ten ticks every HOUR! But it worked. The next time I took that class, I gave out rewards after 2 hours. By the end of that term, I gave out reward after a whole day.
So pick YOUR level of commitment. A week is feasible here. Five (remote learning) school days.
And then…catch them being good.
Your role now is to ‘feedback.’ Try to stick to the 2-3 criteria that’s set, but also stray based on the day.
- “I can see red pencil here, is this what you added on to challenge yourself? Give yourself a tick!”
- “I can see your eyes straying to the window, but you have been focussed for 15 minutes. Give yourself a tick to reset your focus!”
- “I love that you answered your brothers question, just like a teacher. Give yourself a tick for teamwork.”
It may start out haphazard. That’s okay. Be gentle.
Never take away ticks. Only add them. Start a fresh each week.
As our cases are climbing here in Australia, let’s give our children something to strive for.