Motivation without sugar

The students need to be a part of creating the rules, rewards and consequences. If it is meaningful to them they are more likely to participate and they know what to expect. Children like consistency and they like to know what is going to happen when they are good and what is going to happen if they act out.

As a class discuss your class rules. Prompt the children by asking them what a safe and respectful class looks like. Ask them if Jesus was to visit what would he want to see from our class? After you have brain stormed several ideas come up with a list of no more than 3 rules for your class.

Ask the children what rewards the class should receive if these rules are followed. Ask the children what should happen if these rules are not followed. The following are ideas you could suggest to help the children decide on rewards.

Write the word that is your theme for the lesson. Erase a letter for bad behavior. If the word is complete at the end of class give 5 minutes for talking or a game.

Give star bucks for good behavior (tell the class why you are giving these out) at the end of class or after several Sundays gather them, and draw out for a prize or privileges.
Privileges could be:

  1. The line leader on a walk.
  2. The one who runs a game.
  3. The one who gets to read a part of the lesson.
  4. The one who gets a positive call or post card sent home.
  5. Free time with you outside of class.
  6. Make a sticker chart and as a class decide on a goal you want everyone to reach and the reward.
  7. Have a picture of an important part of the lesson. For good behavior, compliment the specific behavior and take off a piece of the puzzle until the picture is revealed.
  8. Have a can with the class's name, add flowers for good behavior, and take away when misbehavior is occuring.
  9. Make several circles for each child. Every time the student participates in the lesson or shows good behavior give them a wedge. Encourage them to fill their "pie" or "pizza" by the end of class. This is a
    good way to get classes talking and involved in the lesson more.
  10. If you feel like you are losing the attention of the class bring the children back with a prompt (For example: you say "their promises" they say "are sure")
  11. Give them a plastic bug and say you are bugging others, please be quieter.
  12. Tell them a specific behavior you want them to do, and every time they do it give them a stickers
  13. Give out high five
  14. Decide on a big goal and have a class party
  15. Give a picture of Jesus with a message "Thanks for being Christ like in my class!"
  16. If the class earns a goal tell them you will wear a goofy hat in sharing time. Basically anything that embarrasses yourself
  17. Give a Badge that says "I was caught being good!"
  18. Decide on a student who has been particularly good and feature them as student of the week. Have the students write on a special card all of the things they like about this person. It could even be announced in sharing time.
  19. Create a game about things from the lessons this year, prophets, and include several questions on individual students in the class. You could play this game as a reward and give a personal copy as a birthday present.
  20. Have a treasure box that is opened at the end of the class if there is good behavior. Inside have special objects relating to the lesson. Have kids guess how these objects relate.

A final thought on rewards!
Rewards change incentives away from the act to the reward itself. When we start giving rewards for expected standards of behavior, we too often hear, "What will I get if I'm good?" The giving of rewards for appropriate classroom behavior implies that such behavior is not inherently worthwhile.

Our goal is to assist students to be self-disciplined and independent problem-solvers. Yet, rewards set up students to be dependent upon external stimuli.1 My advice is that if you decide to reward your students with objects that you make it more often an exception than the rule. Often we don't put enough emphasis on positive reinforcement.