Food is commonly used to reward students for good behavior and academic performance. It’s an easy, inexpensive and powerful tool to bring about immediate short-term behavior change. Yet, using food as reward has many negative consequences that go far beyond the short-term benefits of good behavior or performance. Research clearly demonstrates that healthy kids learn better. To provide the best possible learning environment for children, schools must provide an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Students need to receive consistent, reliable health information and ample opportunity to use it. Finding alternatives to food rewards is an important part of providing a healthy school environment.
The consequences of using food as a reward are quite detrimental. It contributes to poor health in our children and supports poor eating habits. It compromises classroom learning. It also encourages over consumption of unhealthy foods and increases children's preference for sweets.
Schools can help promote a healthy learning environment by using nonfood rewards. The ideas below are just a beginning and can be modified for different ages. Be creative and don’t forget the simple motivation of recognizing students for good work or behavior.
Ideas for Elementary School Students:
Ideas for Middle School Students:
Ideas for High School Students:
If you are interested in partnering with us on a Nonfood Rewards in Classrooms project, we would love to hear from you. Contact Countryside SHIP.