Being an educator can be quite difficult, especially today. It can be hard to keep kids motivated, and to reward them for good behavior. In most schools, teachers and school administration are always looking to improve. Whether you’re trying to get better standardized testing scores for your students, or simply inspire a passion for learning, it may be hard to know where to start.
However, there is one tried-and-true method of engaging with students, and keeping them interested in school – and it’s the oldest one in the book! Reward-based programs have been proven to be effective at reducing misbehavior, helping students focus, and keeping them on-track for academic success.
In the past, some schools have used cash-based rewards for students, but that can be a little bit awkward. In recent days, a new alternative has become popular – gift cards!
Gift cards can be purchased in low dollar values, and used to reward students who are behaving in the classroom, and are participating in classroom discussions
Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Motivation – Is It A Good Idea To Reward Students?
This is something that has puzzled educators for a long time. Many educators believe that learning should be its own reward – and that giving physical rewards to students tends to breed entitlement, and does not foster a good attitude towards continuing education.
However, this is not the case. Extrinsic motivation, such as a gift card or another reward, can be a very powerful tool for encouraging better behavior and good habits of students. Multiple studies have shown that extrinsic rewards at school and the classroom can result in better overall performance, and the formation of healthy learning habits.
Because of this, we believe that rewarding students for good behavior is not harmful – in fact, it’s a great way to help encourage engagement, and create a better, more effective learning environment for the entire classroom.
The Advantages Of Using Gift Cards To Reward Students
Not sure if you should use gift cards to reward students in your classroom, or at your school? Here are just a few of the benefits of doing so.
- Promote good behavior – This is equally applicable to children of all ages. From kindergarteners to high school students, a reward-based program that uses gift cards encourages better classroom behavior. When students know that they will be rewarded for good performance, they will be more interested in the subject matter, more likely to apply themselves, and less likely to become bored or distracted.
- Helps keep students motivated – Motivation can be very hard for some students. They may not see the real-world benefits of doing well in school, especially if they are in a difficult home situation. But the tangible reward of a gift card can do wonders when it comes to motivation. Students will feel like they are working towards something “real” – and you may be surprised at how they apply themselves to get that reward!
- Encourage a better attitude towards other students – If you implement a system that rewards kids for good behavior – and punishes them for bad behavior – they are much more likely to get along with their classmates.
For example, if you have a board with “gold stars” and the first student to get 50 stars gets a gift card, you can reward good interactions between kids by giving them both a gold star – and if a child is mean or hurts another child’s feelings, you can take one away.
- Happier students – Students who are rewarded for their hard work are more likely to be happy and engaged with their classroom learning environment. And once other students see the rewards that they can get for behaving in class and meeting expectations, they’ll be encouraged to follow suit.
- Plenty of different kinds of gift cards are available – You can buy gift cards that are appropriate for all ages. For younger kids, you can go to a gift card kiosk that sells Target gift cards or sells GAP gift cards, and buy plenty of lower-denomination cards to give away at your school.
You probably won’t want to go anywhere that sells Nordstrom gift cards or sells Apple Store gift cards, though – gift cards that are low in value and can still be redeemed for multiple items are the best choice.
Gift cards to restaurants such as McDonalds and Chipotle are great for high school students, while Target and WalMart gift cards are usually better for kids, because they can use them to buy toys and other low-cost items.
As you can see, using gift cards to reward good behavior at your school or in your classroom has a number of great benefits. Not sure how to start using gift cards to reward students? Here are a few great ideas that can get you started!
1. Homework Reward Checklist
If you have ever had trouble getting your students to turn their homework in on time, or you have had students miss homework assignments completely, this is a great idea to use, and it’s very simple to do.
At the beginning of the school year or the semester, create a logbook with all homework assignments that will be due that year, and the name of each student in your class. Then, when school starts, tell your students about the reward program.
You will put a “check” on the box for each homework assignment, for each student. As long as they turn in their homework, and it is clear that they have put in the work required, they will get a checkmark – regardless of how the work is graded.
You will continue this throughout the entire semester or school year. Then, at the end of the year, all of the students who have turned in every assignment will be rewarded – a low-value gift card to McDonalds or Target is a good reward.
This will help encourage your students to keep up with their homework and turn in every assignment. They’ll know that – if they don’t – they may miss out on great rewards.
If you want to take things even further, you can also announce a contest to see who has the highest overall average grade on their homework. Obviously, you don’t want to announce how well each student is doing to the entire class – but you can still reward the student who has the highest overall grade on their homework.
This reward should be quite a bit higher in value than the reward for simply completing homework. That way, kids will be encouraged to work harder – and not just put in the bare minimum of work to get a passing grade and a “check” on their box.
2. Participation And “Cold Calling” Rewards
Does this situation sound familiar? You “cold call” a student to tell you something about the reading they were supposed to do yesterday, and they either refuse to answer, or just admit that they don’t know – they didn’t do the reading.
Or, you call a student up to the chalkboard to do a math equation – even simple addition or subtraction – and they are scared and unwilling to do it. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the class if they do it wrong.
Participating in class can be scary. Your students don’t want to get answers wrong, or look silly in front of their peers. That’s why giving rewards for class participation and “cold calling” is a great idea!
If you have been having trouble with proper class participation, this is a good way to help boost participation rates, and ensure that students have done the reading required for class.
The idea is simple. You create a little logbook for class participation – separate from any other participation notes that you may have. Then, make an announcement to the class. Whoever participates the most – and engages with the class the most, and in a constructive way, will be rewarded with a gift card.
You can keep a running tally of participation for all students – and don’t forget to weigh the participation of each student differently.
For example, if the best student in the class often participates in discussions, you can reward them – but you should give a larger number of points to a student who is usually shy, and is brave enough to speak up and participate in class.
Keep a running tally of who is in the lead, and announce it regularly! Just the top 2-3 names are required – this will help your students stay competitive, and encourage even more classroom participation.
3. Rewards For Teamwork, Cooperation, And Good Behavior
This is a system you can implement throughout the entire school – not just your classroom. The idea is to reward students for interacting with each other in a respectful manner, and for cooperating with one another.
You can create “tokens” that you hand out whenever you see a child at your school do something that’s truly “above and beyond” and shows that they are willing to be a good student and a good friend. For example, you could give a token to a child when:
- They include a less popular schoolmate in a playground game
- They invite a student who is eating along to sit with them
- They intervene to stop a bully, or stop a student from being harassed
- They help another student with homework or a problem they’re struggling with
- They get together for after-school studies
- They exhibit cooperation and good teamwork in games and P.E. classes
- They show good sportsmanship when competing in school athletics programs
The opportunities are truly endless. You can just use standard tokens, or create laminated cards that you hand out to children when you see them doing something extra-special.
Then, you can offer different rewards to kids when they turn in these tokens. The best thing about this system is that you don’t just have to use gift cards – you can offer a variety of different rewards that may encourage better behavior in students. An example rewards system could be:
- 10 tokens – A free pencil and eraser
- 25 tokens – A candy bar or other snack
- 50 tokens – A treat from the cafeteria
- 100 tokens – A gift card for $5 or $10
- 200 tokens – A pizza party for the entire class
If you only offer one reward, kids may be discouraged if they do not get enough tokens to collect it.But by offering rewards at different tiers, you can ensure that all of your students will be rewarded, even if they did not get enough tokens for a higher-tier reward.
It’s best to start this system at the beginning of a school year. That way, students have quite a while to gather tokens, and collect their rewards. Once students start to be rewarded for their good behavior, you’ll be surprised at how much more smoothly things go at your school!
Try These Rewards Systems At Your School Today – And See The Results!
Rewarding your students with prizes like gift cards is a fantastic way to ensure that they develop strong learning habits, are engaged with classroom activities, and get an education that will help them throughout their entire lives.
So think about how you can use extrinsic rewards in the classroom today. Whether you choose to use low-value gift cards, candy, or any other type of reward, the rewards systems we outlined above are sure to help you teach students more effectively.
And if you need to buy gift cards to give away at your school, you can buy them directly from EJ Gift Cards!
We buy and sell gift cards in all denominations from hundreds of leading brands. Visit our website now to learn more about buying and selling gift cards with EJ Gift Cards, and get started today.
Got questions about how it works? Visit our FAQs, or contact our customer service team now.