Reinforcing good behavior generally produces positive results in children. Positive reinforcement helps children feel good about their choices, which motivates them to increase the behaviors that help them learn better and be more productive in school.
My 3rd to 5th grade students are a uniquely diverse group.
They have varied disabilities that are greatly impacting their motivation for learning. Seventy-four percent of them have learning and emotional disabilities and twenty-six percent have Autism. I have three students who are non-verbal and have a lot of sensory issues too. The typical student in my class struggles with focus and attention to learning tasks averagely 65% of the time. Many of them don't have the proper motivation to learn and be in school. But lately, all of them have responded positively to a consistent reward system that is in place. Our school's PBIS theme is on Superheroes. In my pull out groups, they earn money for completing tasks as well as good behavior. They save their money and could use it to buy from the superhero store at the end of the week. When they work and show good behavior, they are rewarded and reinforced.
Positive reinforcement and reward is oftentimes the reason behind good behavior and motivation. Life's reality is that we are motivated to do or work on something when we get something in return after our hard work.
This is the same principle I use in my small groups.
When they do their work and show their best behavior, they earn money that they could use to buy from my superhero store, once every week. They earn money on a daily basis during groups, and gets to spend it for store day at the end of the week. During store day, my students are able to practice a lot of their Math skills. There are also students who choose to save their money in order to get an expensive preferred item that they really want for the next store day. Items sold in the superhero store need to be preferred for the students otherwise, they will not have the interest to earn money daily if they do not like the things or snacks sold in the store. At the beginning of the year, I did a reinforcement survey for each student for me to know what are their preferred rewards. And I try as much as possible to put those preferred rewards in my store every week. Some of the items that have been popular in the store were art and school supplies especially post it notes, coloring books and pens; snack foods like pretzels, Gold Fish, Crackers and cookies; fidgets and sensory items.
This system has tremendously helped my students with increasing their motivation to learn and has created a more successful learning environment.
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