Schools to Replace Candy with Video Games as Reward for Good Scores and Behavior

Teachers have long struggled with the best way to appropriately incentivize kids to work harder at school and behave better. Dozens of studies have been done in regards to what will work best to encourage children to do better on tests, including one where students were actually paid for better test scores

In the end, teachers are pretty much in a corner, as public schools will not fund these rewards so teachers are forced to find an inexpensive way to motivate the kids. “I’ve been giving kids small pieces of candy for years,” says Bill Roberts Elementary teacher John DeLay. “It is inexpensive, and the kids respond to it.” DeLay says that he is not giving the kids a large amount, just small pieces. “Literally, I will give kids one M&M,” says DeLay. “It is more about them seeing the reward and feeling proud that they did it, and the class gets to see them rewarded before they eat their 3.44 calorie treat.”

Not shockingly, this reward system has drawn the ire of some Stapleton moms. “I don’t want my child having candy at school,” says Erin Herold, mother of a Swigert Elementary student. “When I am with them, I can control this intake. I have no faith that the school is going to monitor this appropriately. We already have too many obese kids in this country.” Other moms agreed. “Why can’t they give away broccoli, or maybe let the kids run a mile or do 25 pushups every time they do well,” asks parent Becky Axtell. “To me, there is just a lot more synergy in that than rewarding good behavior with a negative item.”

The PTA and teachers decided the best way to incentivize kids at school would be to use the same incentives Stapleton kids have at home. “A lot of Stapleton parents get their kids expensive gifts for doing well in school, being nice to siblings, or just going to bed without making a fuss,” said PTA President Angela Benning. “So, we decided to put some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we raise towards video games for teachers to hand out to kids when they get a good score on a test, behave well, or help with a classroom task.”

The schools were smart about how they purchased the games, getting them used from Craig’s List and eBay, and donations from homes that are tired of the games they have. “We spent about $125,000 on used video games,” said Benning. “We will use this as a benchmark, and see if we need more games next year, or if we can allot less money to the fund.” Luckily for the PTA, there have been no studies directly connecting childhood obesity and video games (we don’t think).

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