It’s one thing for fast food joints to use junk toys to push junk food on our kids, but it’s another thing for school systems to use them as a reward system.
What do such rewards tell our kids? That getting to eat candy is aligned with being good? No wonder we have an obesity problem in America! There are healthier alternatives for student incentives that taste delicious and can be educational and fun.
If you want your child’s school to revamp its reward system, brainstorm with other parents and get the PTA involved at your next fundraising meeting. And if you need ideas for sustainable ways to raise money for your child’s school, check out these Eco-Friendly Fundraising Ideas for Schools.
Here are ideas for alternate incentives for younger and older children to get you started.
- Special seating: Sit beside a friend in class for the day
- Chat break: For one day only, the student chooses a time for up to five minutes for the class to have a chat break
- Special Helper: Student is the teacher’s special helper for the day
- Student chooses story for story time
- Fun pencils or stickers: Share the wonder of glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars
- Recess toys, such as a hula hoop or jump rope
- Family night kit: It comes complete with a Lego kit or movie and popcorn
- Books: Age and family appropriate book chosen from a pre-approved list
- Special themed coloring book and crayons
- Sketchbook to encourage free expression through drawing and writing
- Stuffed animals: Each stuffed animal could be a wild animal like a zebra, that comes with a name and information about its habitat
- Superhero t-shirts: Student gets a Batman or Wonder Woman t-shirt
- Sleeping bag: a new sleeping bag to encourage sleepovers or camping trips
- Puzzles: Pick a variety of puzzles set in different cities or with pictures of animals
- Blanket fort starter kit: Student receives a large blanket, a flashlight and other fort-building supplies to build a DIY fort
- Osmo: a learning toy to connect with an iPad
School Incentives for Older Children:
- Journal or sketchbook: The blank pages encourage free expression
- Sunglasses: Choose various styles for different face shapes in casual and bold colors
- Fitbit: A big surprise for the student
- Flower or herbs in a pot, such as basil, which grows well indoors and outdoors
- Students plant a school garden to grow veggies or to attract butterflies
- Age appropriate but fun book in a genre of choice
- Eco-friendly lunch bag with containers: I love FridgeX Silicone containers, which are safe from the freezer to the microwave
- Coloring books that are age appropriate, with colored pencils: Choose a Celtic or Zen pattern, for example
- Two movie tickets to a parent-approved film in theaters
- One guitar lesson voucher for the student to meet with a professional for a free lesson
- Students plan a potluck: They make items at home and bring them into class for a picnic. Encourage the kids to pick healthy recipes to try.
- A local writer or artist comes in to conduct a class workshop
- Age-appropriate science kit: Build a solar-powered dinosaur that walks
Incentives should measure the amount of effort and enthusiasm placed into a student’s or class’ hard work. Interactive, educational and silly challenges and fun social activities are great ways to encourage students to succeed.
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