Dear Aunt Elsa,
I’ve just started at a new school and my students are poorly behaved. The school tells me that the previous teacher could only get them to participate in lessons if there were candy rewards. I don’t want to have to bribe my students to learn. What should I do? From, SugarRotsTeeth
Candy in the classroom is dilemma that many teachers find themselves facing. And there are just as many teachers who swear by it and swear that it’s a terrible idea. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using candy as a classroom reward.
Positive rewards have been proven to help.
Keeping kids on track can be a difficult task. They just want to go outside and have fun! However, when you offer them a piece of candy for their efforts, they may be more inclined to work towards a goal. This will help to teach them about the value of hard work. It can also teach them about the power of discipline. If they can stay on task, then they can have a reward, and a sweet one at that. This is going to help children develop useful life skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Promoting Proper Behaviour
By using candy as a reward, you can promote proper behaviour inside your classroom. Teaching your students goes beyond the information they must absorb. You also have to teach your students to treat one another with respect, to abide by classroom rules, and to stay safe. The promise of more candy will help influence your students to be good. Better behaved students allow teachers to focus on instructional material rather than having to discipline their students.
Motivating Effort for Classroom Tasks and Homework
You may also find that your students are unwilling or otherwise reluctant to give it their all during class time. They might not want to complete classwork, or spend time on finishing projects. However, you can provide them with a reason to engage and stay motivated throughout the lesson.
There is only so much information a student can process at once. The purpose of homework is to help reinforce the information or skills they learned that day.
For a multitude of reasons, dental health care has been unaffordable and inaccessible to large sections of the population. Coupling this with the belief of many primary caregivers (grandparents) that dental care and oral hygiene for ‘baby’ teeth is unnecessary has lead to classrooms full of students with cavities. Do you really want to be adding to this?
Short Term Motivator
Candy is an effective, short-term motivator in the classroom, which is why some teachers use them. But in the long run, it’s a terrible idea. It teaches children that sweets are a reward for doing something good, a habit that won’t serve them well throughout life. It feeds kids when they may not be hungry. It’s awful for teeth. Besides, many schools are now teaching health and wellness as part of the curriculum. Candy rewards send the complete opposite message.
Yes, you heard me correctly. If you have to resort to giving your students candy as a way of motivating them to participate in your classes then there is a bigger issue at play. You need to look at your lessons from the student point of view and work out why they aren’t engaging. Some of it will be because they have been allowed to get away with this behaviour but participation will happen quickly if you have exciting, engaging and fun lessons where they can’t resist joining in, even if there is no candy on offer.
PS. As always, I want to hear what you think. Let me know your thoughts on using candy in the classroom in the comments section below!