Putting it all together

Hi Rachel,

Of course, I would be happy to write out a quick summary for you. Thanks for asking!

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First, please don’t worry. It is perfectly normal to be overwhelmed.


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Here are some links you may find useful:

How to find the child’s interest

What rewards can you buy to save money?

If you can only buy one reward, what do you buy?

Here are some answers to your other questions:

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Where do you store your rewards?


I store all of my rewards in the same place I store my teaching props.

You can get one of your own here (non-affiliated link)

Number pocket chart

Main points of rewards:

  • Start with one reward, you don’t have to buy a ton of toys
  • Use rewards to teach a concept
  • Rewards can be adapted to students age, gender, English language level and interests (see this blog post for more information)
  • STREAMLINE (see this blog post for more information)
  • How and when to reward is based on timing and goals you are working on

A word on rewards not being linked to smiling and laughing…

Typically, when we think about rewards, we think YAHOO! We think of presents.

But rewards in the classroom, work a little bit different. The word becomes a jargon word. 

The reward is neutral. What has been attached the word ‘reward’ is complex.



There is an ongoing trend right now in ESL classrooms, that every 5 minutes you give a reward. By the end of 25 minutes, you have given rewards and kept their interest and have “done what you are supposed to do”. 

Additionally, there is an idea that the rewards don’t mean anything to the children. This is ONLY TRUE if you DO IT WRONG. 

There is an appeal to only give rewards at the END of a slide or task. This does not make sense, and will not keep the children ENGAGED in your reward. 

As you can see above, a reward is neutral and that is about 20% of the complex system. It does matter that it is kept neutral, but it’s as equal in value to two other portions of the system.

Timing matters

A child struggles and struggles with the concept of reading silent e words. He has the following short paragraph to read.

“We need eggs. We need to go to the store. Will you go to the store?”

When does it make the most sense to send him a star? At the end of the sentence? Your child is a struggling English language learner.

YES, you can for sure make it easy to understand (circle store, thumbs up and give a star). OR you can make it exciting!!!

We need eggs.  (sit and listen)

We need to go to the store (reads it right).

WOOOOOOOW *BING!**** give a star and celebrate with a fist bump.

(underline the next sentence. Smile with your thumbs up, showing you believe in him). He confidently finishes the paragraph. “Will you go to the store?” saying it again correctly. 

High five. Circle both the words store, and nod firmly. HE DID IT! 

Timing. Matters.

A child laughing, smiling and engaged often comes from feeling comfortable. Feeling successful. And feeling like they are succeeding. Using your reward system may not bring out a smile in him DURING the reward. But you will certainly gain more smiles and laughs DURING THE LESSON if the reward system is done well. 



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  1. Pingback: Your Classroom Set-Up Matters – Mom by Day Teacher by Night

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