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When points mean prizes

Written by Paul Dix


The parents are muttering again. The children have been in open revolt for some time. As Easter approaches the wall chart shows the token economy of the classroom has its winners and losers. Despite your best efforts to even out points /stickers/smileys the children out in the lead are not those who work hardest. In fact of the top 10 is dominated with the trickiest children who are being showered with rewards every time they take a 5-minute break from their busy schedule to glance at the work. They are joined by the most attention-seeking children who are academically gifted yet seem to need constant reassurance. The hardest working children who do everything that is asked of them without fuss are being forgotten. You begin to wish that the wall chart you spent most of a weekend glittering and laminating wasn’t so prominent. Parents who have long experience with ‘rewards races’ peer through the window and mutter their disapproval. If you don’t take some action the mutters about fairness will develop into chat, which is a short hop from a baying mob waiting outside with lighted torches! Besides, most of the children became disinterested in the points system when they realised they were not going to win.


1. Bite the Bullet

Scrap the current system entirely. Apologise to the children and especially those who have amassed the most points. Replace the points system with positive notes and positive phone calls. Only reward children whose behaviour is above and beyond what is expected.

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© Paul Dix


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