Now you and I know that learning is its own reward. It is fun to learn. Exciting even. The whole premise behind unschooling is that kids have a natural desire to learn, and that a schoolish mentality can simply suck the desire right out of them.
But occasionally you and I also know that our kids need a little extra incentive to get them going in the right direction. Some kids, in fact, seem to thrive on praise and reward for a job well done.
One of my boys could care less about educational incentives; the other will go beserk for the chance to win even the most virtual of prizes. Today’s Friday’s HHH is for kids like him, who enjoy the challenge and potential reward of reaching a specific educational goal.
Book Adventure – this is a top-notch reading incentive program for kids in grades K-8. Kids read their favorite books, and then take quizzes on the book. There are plenty of prizes offered within the site, but I also love that you can create your own. Back when my boys were in third and fourth grade, I used prizes like: breakfast out with mom or dad, a free video game rental, or a cotton candy at the corner 7-11. (If you need more suggestions, click here) Let me tell you, there was a lot of reading going on in my house while Book Adventure was around!
SmartyCard – I only discovered this program a few weeks ago. It is aimed at grades 3-6, and used educational games and activities to help kids earn all kinds of prizes, including subscriptions to the virtual world associated with the site. Although I haven’t checked it out thoroughly, I love the interface. If anyone takes advantage of the free trial, let me know how you like it!
For preteens, virtual rewards are often sufficient. Whyville is an interesting multiplayer online game that integrates math and science education with interactive gameplay. The rewards are virtual “clams” which can be used as currency throughout the site. H-T tried took this site for a spin, and thought it was a bit girl-oriented, but otherwise cool.
You don’t have to subscribe to any particular program to create incentives or rewards for your kids, though. Giving them an educational “high-five” can be as easy as printing out a personalized award for them. I have two favorite Award Creation programs online. The Lakeshore Award Maker is incredibly easy and customizable. You pick the design you like, customize it, and voila – – instant certificate. My Award Maker is slightly more in-depth, and includes templates for almost every conceivable occasion and accomplishment.
You may or may not agree with educational incentives, but occasionally we all need a little extra inducement to get to where we are going. The programs above are all a fun and harmless way to get kids excited about learning.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to search for one that will reward me for folding the laundry.