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The Intangible Reward: A Novelty

Yesterday morning, I received a call from the math teacher: "This is Mrs. Williams calling about your daughter."  I wasn't certain what would come next.  She went on to explain that the students participated in an intense math competition all last week, with team groups solving multi-step problems.  Our daughter's team won.  The prize: calls to the teammates' parents to recognize their efforts, accomplishments, and abilities in collaboration.

A sweet gesture.

I have been recently immersed with promoting carpooling, walking, taking transit to school.  To do so, our school has employed heavy incentive tactics.  Smoothies for kids that walk to school.  Coffee for parents who carpool (i.e., drop off 2 or more students in the school lot).  Pencils, stickers, iTunes gift cards, small toys, tokens for the arcade: the whole lot.

In our object-heavy lives, it is a breath of fresh air to receive that intangible reward.  So: Thank you, Mrs. Williams, for that reminder and for the recognition.


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Yes! As a fellow bike-walk coordinator I get fatigued of trying to make it new with the material incentives...gestures in words are so nice, and usually more meaningful than any number of things!

Re. the bike-walk motivators, maybe we should just presume that the intangible reward of having fun getting there is enough?

Re: bike-walk motivators, I think they like prizes. Not sure how much "fun" is had on the journey. For the intangible for the middle school set (where I have been spending most time): LOUD pop music (with pedal-powered speakers, if possible, to keep with active lifestyle theme).

I was a bike-walk coordinator. I found the prizes to be challenging. At my kid's school, I got flack from the other parents for the prizes. Nobody wanted more junk. At the same time, it's not like I was personally buying the stuff. It was free from the city and what could I do? Landfill it and give each kid a high five instead? I gave the organization some feedback about the prizes but was told that other schools liked it. If enough people speak up, maybe it will go away?

As a parent I love the hot drink (cider or hot chocolate) on bike walk day! And so does my kindergartener. Other than the drink (which is in a reusable cup) he gets a sticker & sometimes a cliff bar or dried fruit rope (which we save for after school). One time he won a reflector clip in a drawing and was very excited about that, although he is happy enough with the treats and sticker. I agree about not wanting more junk. But as far as junk goes a reflector clip did seem like it had some potential use.

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