Motivating Children with Praise

28 11 2011

Some Basic Suggestions for Motivation

Start with where the child is to find out reasons for lack of motivation

Try to transfer motivations

Use successive successes– catch them doing something right ?

Use anticipatory praise

Recognize accomplishments and encourage attempts

Frequency in praise is more important than duration or amount

Vary the way you praise

Importance of investing in personal relationships

Though the goal is intrinsic self-motivation we usually must start

with extrinsic motivators


Giving Praise to Children

Children need positive attention in the form of subtle and overt praise. Praise comes in a variety of forms, and should be used to affirm positive intellectual, social, and physical abilities. Follow these seven guidelines on when and how to praise a child.

BE SPECIFIC When your child paints a picture, rather than offering a judgmental form of praise–“beautiful picture”–offer a more detailed description of the child’s work: “Look at all that blue paint on your picture, I love it.” Your specific comment says you took time to notice his work. This form of praise is particularly meaningful to the child.

AFFIRM REALIZED EXPECTATIONS Before you board the plane to visit Grandma, you tell your 3- and 5-year-old children that you have two expectations for the flight: (1) that they keep their seat belts buckled for safety (except when they need to go to the bathroom); and (2) that they whisper so as not to disturb the other passengers. During the flight, as the children adhere to each expectation, praise them: “You’re doing a really good job.” And once you arrive, in earshot of your children, express your pride again to Grandma.

OBSERVE NEW ACCOMPLISHMENTS Your child just learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. She runs into the house with the exciting news. In addition to giving verbal praise, “Way to go, I’m proud of you,” go outside and watch your child demonstrate her new skill. Your observing presence underscores your verbal, “good job.”

PRAISE BABY STEPS TO ACCOMPLISHMENT The first time your child writes his name, any gross approximation deserves a posting on the refrigerator. Don’t wait for perfection to deliver a dose of praise. Say, “I see you wrote your name, let’s put it on the refrigerator for everyone to see.” Notice that you’re not saying “I’m proud of you”; your child will nevertheless feel your pride from your action.

And please realize, this is not the time to point out a backwards “b” or an uncrossed “t”–that would be criticism. Wait until the next written attempt to try teaching your child the correct letters. Even though the first printing wasn’t perfect, with the parents’ recognition of the effort, the child just naturally works to improve. That’s the magic of praise.

NOTICE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR FIRST Your child is learning to dress herself; she’s completed the task except for her shoes. How do you respond? Tell her, “You’re dressed: You put on your underwear, shirt, pants, and socks. Good for you.” Pause and then say, “Don’t forget your shoes.” The parenting adage goes as follows: First notice what a child is doing that’s correct, right now; then point out what she needs to do next to complete a task.

OFFER UNCONDITIONAL PRAISE In addition to celebrating your child for the appropriate behaviors she exhibits and tasks she accomplishes, don’t forget to honor her for absolutely no reason. Out of the blue, tell her, “I’m glad you’re my kid.” And when you’ve had a tough day of parenting, close it with, “Sometimes I get angry for what you do, but I always love you.”

GIVE PRAISE THAT SERVES YOUR CHILD’S PURPOSE The most meaningful kind of praise a parent can deliver comes when a child is trying to accomplish a task that is part of her developmental repertoire: an infant banging an overhead toy, a toddler learning to stack blocks, a preschooler diligently trying to dress himself, a school-aged child mastering multiplication, a teenager managing the responsibility of driving.

Whose Class Is It, Anyway? Motivation in the Classroom

28 11 2011

From Education Illustated

As a teacher , don’t you simply LOVE staff development workshops? Some people do, and many people actually loathe such events! It is probably not because those educators do not want to learn new techniques or increase the effectiveness of their instruction. There is likely a valid educational reason why these workshops may not be enjoyed by many teachers.

For instance, think about the role of the educator from day to day. The bell rings?the door closes?and they are in charge of the room for the entire day. In fact, they must be in charge for things to run smoothly and properly facilitate learning. When you walk into an inservice, someone else is suddenly taking control of your day. That is often not a comfortable transition.

If the facilitator of the staff development were to give you some say in how things were run, you might feel more comfortable. The same is true with students in the classroom. Nobody wants to be told what to do all the time. Are there times where the teacher must decide what happens in the classroom and when? Yes, absolutely! It is worth exploring, however, how you can effectively transfer some ownership of what is happening to the students. This tip will do exactly that…it will provide you with a starter list of places and ways you can give learners some ownership in the learning environment. We hope this list will get you thinking and encourage you to experiment. You just might be surprised at the difference in classroom management difficulties as well as the increased level of participation!

Twenty ways to transfer ownership to learners:

1. Give learners a choice on the length of a break

2. Provide a bank of homework or test problems and let the learners choose which to complete

3. Occasionally allow learners to choose their groups

4. Provide a list of assignments to pick from

5. Provide a list of project or discussion topics to pick from

6. Show the planned activities for the day and let learners vote on the order they will take place

7. Freedom of choice in the seating arrangement

8. Ask learners to help plan a sequence of lessons and activities

9. Let the learners have a choice in HOW to respond to some questions, skit, paper, presentation, etc…

10. Let some learners present material with which they are comfortable

11. Give the learners a chance to “personalize” materials by doodling, drawing on, or decorating

12. Let learners present a review lesson for learners who were previously absent

13. Provide time for learners to produce and choose where to hang visual materials in the classroom

14. Let learners arrange the room

15. If the learners had been talking in groups about a list of terms, for instance, let them choose what order to discuss them

16. Provide multiple strategies to solve a problem or handle a situation and let the learners choose which to use. Better yet, encourage the learners to create their own solutions!

17. Ask learners how many evenings they think they need to complete an assignment and honor it as the due date

18. In advance, let learners help plan how an assignment will be assessed

19. Be frank and TELL the learners that you would like to provide them with some ownership, then…

20. Ask the learners how you could help provide more ownership in the classroom!

You may be surprised at the power of some of these techniques!

Some of these techniques require careful facilitation on the part of teacher but they are well worth the effort. One of our favorite quotes is:

“Don’t let your ability to CONTROL a class overcome your ability to TEACH the class!”

Making Math Fun for Students!!

28 11 2011

It is wonderful that two of my beloved colleagues (Geri Wilson and Kenney Jeffries of Shadow Hills Elementary) have expressed their views on the importance of math in the Idaho Statesman Schools section.  The title of the article was Help Kids Master Math and it was there that they offered tips to help students retain and learn number skills.


“Idaho kids”, says Bill Roberts of the Statesman, “never test better in math than they do in fourth grade, Statewide test scores show a frustrating decline in math beginning in fifth and going through 10th grade.  ?.Lots of people are looking at what can be done to reverse the trend.  But you don?t have to wait for the experts.  We talked to fourth and fifth grade Boise teachers about what parents can do at home to encourage and nurture kid?s math skills.”


Shadow Hills teachers Geri Wilson and Kenney Jeffries shared some wonderful ideas such as:

1.     Make math relevant and real

2.     Hand our some numbers and have kids create word problems

3.     Make a budget by having them decide  how to buy things

4.     Quick math quizzes in the conversation for fun

5.     Get cooking by showing math while preparing food

6.     Play with fractions by asking life questions that uses fractions

7.     Toss the dice by playing games with dice

8.     Look for patterns

9.     Have kids take measurements

10. Play math games


Here are some more Ways to Make Math Fun says Kathryn Martinez! of


Math can be one of those really challenging subjects to get the kids to see the fun in. Below are some of the fun things that I?ve done with my children to get new math principles across:


1. Why do I have to learn this anyway? — How many times have you heard this? One way to combat this is to have your child to find as many different examples as they can of how math is used in every day life. Examples could be: —balancing a checkbook —games (even professional games like football, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.) —using money —cooking —cutting a cake or pie into equal pieces —sewing —building a house —planning a vacation, road trip, budgeting, etc.


2. ?Geometry is stupid! And I?ll never get it!!? — I felt this way myself a few times. —Let your child look for geometric shapes around the house, playground, grocery store, or other areas. Make a chart or list of the findings. —Give them some graph paper and see how many different geometric creations they can create. —Watch a woodworking show or check out some wood working books at the library. How do the craftsmen use geometry?


3. ?What the heck is a ratio?!? ? Ratios were used more earlier in history when literacy wasn?t as prevalent as it is today. It was used for packing a musket gun. It was used in recipes. It was the method that pharmacists used to make their medicines up. —make up a prediction, such as ?I think that one out of every five kids at the playground between noon and one will be wearing a hat. Make up a plan to check your prediction then carry it out. Compare your prediction with the results.


4. What better way to show off your math skills than to plan a party? Decide how many people you are going to invite. How much food will you need to order or make per person? Figure out the budget for your party and how much you are going to spend on food, party supplies, etc..


5. Design a piece of playground equipment. Use geometry, symmetry and measurement. You can even make a scale model using clay, balsa wood, wire, or other construction materials.


6. Draw your house or bedroom to scale. Or, design a new house or bedroom.


7. Graphs: Keep track of the weather, the foods you eat, how you spend your time, or other activities. Plot a graph using this information.


8. Fill a container will jelly beans, m-n-m?s, cottonballs, popcorn kernels, etc. Have a contest to see who can most closely guess the number objects in the jar. The can measure the container, measure one of the kinds of objects in the container. This can teach the concept of volume.


9. Make up a secret code. Write a secret message in that code and then let someone else figure the code out ? or you can give them a key to work with.


10. Use metric measurements to measure: —your height —the length of your arm —the length of your foot —your weight —the dimensions of a room — the temperature indoors or out Now make these same measurements using standard American measurements. Compare the differences in measurements.


There are many things you can do to make math a fun part of your school day. The more you do, the more you will think of.


Here are some fun websites for parents and for kids to explore that will help kids master math……..