Most teachers of little ones will end their classes with a sticker or stamp, or both! for their students. It is such a good idea to have something fun for your students when they finish class. Let’s talk about that and also other ways you can use stickers or stamps to help keep your students listening and having fun!
In fact a reward doesn’t have to come at the end of a class. I knew a teacher who would start her preschool ballet classes with a stamp for each student. She would have “share time” at the beginning of each class. One at a time a student would come up in front of the class and share something fun. Then the teacher would give them a stamp.
A fun reward is a great idea for several reasons. The first and most basic reason is that receiving a little sticker or stamp is fun for preschoolers. To them, something that small is very exciting. They can’t wait to show their mom or dad after class what they received. It is just an added bonus to ballet class for the student.
We, as teachers, give them out as more than just a fun addition to class. We give them out to encourage good behavior and participation in our classes. The students, however don’t always know this. You may have to tell them why they receive a reward at the end of class. I will talk to my students briefly about this if they are having a particularly squiggly day. I ask them why we get stamps at the end of class? They might look at me blankly or say, “Because we are good dancers!” and I will say back to them, “It is for being good listeners. That means being quiet when I am talking and following me the whole class.”
Lastly, when a child receives a reward for good behavior it increases their self-esteem. They feel so proud of themselves for what they accomplished. Not only did they participate and listen in a ballet class but they have proof to confirm that they did well.
I rarely have to get to the point of withholding a stamp at the end of class. I try to be so much fun that the students can’t help but listen. I also give plenty of reminders to students who have more trouble listening and they usually come around. If I have a student or a class that does need more help listening, using rewards at other times besides the end of class can be a great way to encourage your students to listen.
Most of us have just started new classes this fall. When a preschool ballet class is mostly new students it may take some time for your students to understand the flow of class and what is expected of them. For example, I have one particular class that is very young (mostly 3 and 4 year olds) and all the students have high energy. I have one student who wants to just run around the room the whole class and I have to block her path (in a light and fun way of course) and ask her to use her dancing feet often.
When I have a class that needs something extra to help them listen I will use extra rewards. I will say to the students, “I have a special surprise sticker that I would like to give you today! When I see all of you listening I will come around and put a secret sticker on your hand. You never know when it is going to happen so everyone pay attention.”
This is a good tool to use. Now I have the students listening and excited for the special sticker. For older students around 5-8 I will make an example of a student or two that is listening really well by giving only that particular student or students a sticker for good listening. However for preschool students giving a sticker to just one student for good behavior may cause a meltdown from another student that did not receive the sticker. We want to try an avoid meltdowns of course in our preschool classes. Children this young don’t understand that if they try harder next time they will receive a sticker. They just know they didn’t get one right now and that is the worst thing that could happen!
So if you are going to use extra rewards with your preschool classes make sure everyone does receive the reward. If necessary give the reward to those students who are listening and then when the other students see what is happening wait until they are all following directions and then give the rest of the students the reward. You still achieved your goal by getting the students to listen and they are all happy.
With your squiggly classes, you may have to have extra rewards for a couple weeks until your students catch on to how they need to behave in class. They will catch on and they will think you are a super teacher!