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Classroom rewards that aren’t food

One of my readers gave me a cool resource, in response to my story about going to my son’s 6th grade teacher asking her to reconsider her policy of giving candy for good behavior and academic performance.

It’s called, How to Reward and Motivate Kids Without Using Food. Here it is.

I bet few teachers have ever seen this. But it’s a great idea and I’m supportive of anyone who tries to interrupt the easy path to good behavior and good grades. That path is a cop-out, and the results to children are harmful. With 1/3 of our kids overweight, and childhood diabetes and asthma and ADD skyrocketing, we don’t need to add calories, acidity, and disease risk to their too-sedentary school day.

Not to mention the tooth decay, depression, fatigue, vulnerability to viruses and bacterial infections, and many other consequences that come with feeding a kid sugar and salt as a reward.

When I talked to the teacher about my wish that my son not be rewarded with candy in the classroom, she said, “Can I give him pretzels instead?” I said, “Uhhh, white flour. Salt.” She laughed and said, okay.

(It’s still rewarding behavior with junk food.)

I hope parents and teachers read this report and share it with others, because it has lots of great ideas.

EVERY time I have a conversation with other parents about the junk-food-in-the-classroom thing, they express their frustration and disapproval. Even regular “Standard American Diet” families aren’t happy about their subpar diet being supplemented with an extra couple pocketfuls of candy almost every day.

But it’s like Matthew said with the Zumba class last week—WHY were we the only ones to leave, or say anything, about the music that made our ears ring long afterward? Virtually all the parents dislike it. Virtually none SAY anything.

I wish more people would speak up. I talk to the teachers in a respectful, non-threatening way. If you’re a parent, I hope you will, too.

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