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What do you think about school merit awards?


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#1 roses7

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:40 PM

My DD is in FYOS. As far as we know, she is doing very well. In the first couple of weeks, when I was collecting her from the classroom and was able to have a quick chat with her teacher, she was full of praise for the way she was adapting, her maturity, her confidence and her academic ability. Since then, I haven't really had a chance to speak to the teacher as they just release the whole class into the playground. Parent-teacher interviews are in a couple of weeks. I do know that there is only one child in the class reading at a higher level than her, and that she has received a "good behaviour" sticker every day she has been there, meaning she has never been in trouble or warned over her behaviour.

At DD's school they have an assembly every fortnight and 2-3 kids from each class receive a merit award. DD has been commenting each fortnight that she hasn't received an award (I know in advance that she won't be getting one because they invite the parents to attend if your child is receiving one.) Tonight she was a bit upset, saying that she really thought she would get one today. She keeps asking me why she hasn't received one and I am at a bit of a loss to explain it because I don't really understand the system.

She loves going to school, is learning lots and enjoying it. But I feel her confidence is actually being undermined each time these awards are given out and she doesn't get one. I recall at school we had merit awards handed out each term, which seems a better system to me as the teacher gets to assess the whole class over a longer period.

Does your school have merit awards and how are they assessed? How do you explain to your child why they didn't receive one? I will speak to the teacher at the interview but there is one more assembly before that and I feel I need to have some answers for DD if she doesn't receive an award at the next assembly.

I know that I sound like the whining parent demanding that my child receives an award, but I just want to help DD to feel ok about not getting one.

#2 Mummy2RyanandAlex

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:45 PM

Our school only does it at the end of year.
1 x academic award
2 x merit awards per class.

#3 imamumto3

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:48 PM

every child gets a "turn" of getting a merit award, it may not be awarded to your child for being well behaved or doing great work, otherwise some kids would always get one & others would miss out.  It is all about encouraging the kids to keep up with good work etc, so a child that may have been struggling that week might get the award to boost their spirits.  Of course the kids dont know that & get excited when they receive theirs!

Can you just say to her, that XYZ child got it this week & im sure she will soon.  praise her for doing great work all the time to keep encouraging her

Edited to add: I prefer the citizen award because that is decided by classmates and has nothing to do with acedemic work, but about the childs relationships with the other kids

Edited by imamumto3, 14 March 2012 - 08:57 PM.


#4 liveworkplay

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:49 PM

Our school has merit cards. So you basically get 5 green cards and then you hand them into the office and receive a Principals Award in assembly. Green cards are given out for a wide variety of reasons, it may be the whole class for respecful behaviour in mass, for example, or individual for helping above and beyond what was asked (another example) I think they are a bit worthless really. DD1 has received one every term since starting school rolleyes.gif She loves school and is an extremely rule orientated person (except at home of course!!)

We also have a main numeracy, literacy and social justice award each term. A boy and girl from each grade receives the award. They are not the smartest or highest acheivers necessarily (numeracy and literacy), but those who have shown improvement. DD1 was a little sad she had not received a numeracy one early last year and couldnt understand how, if she was in the extension math group, she hadn't But finally did last term last year.

I think you just explain to your child that there are lots of kids in the school who work hard and their time will come. Schools do keep a track of who receives what.

Edited by liveworkplay, 14 March 2012 - 08:52 PM.


#5 **Anna**

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:50 PM

Does your school have an end of term special award? Maybe her teacher is waiting for that.

#6 girltribe4

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:51 PM

Our school does them weekly and my ''struggling'' dyslexic daughter seems to bring one home most weeks . I see them as a confidence boost and they do certainly have that effect on my DD .

#7 ~Jodama_Feral~

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:51 PM

Our school does it every assembly as your. We have 2 WEST awards which can be anyone in the whole school and each class usually has 2 or 3. I have noticed that sometimes the kids who need an extra push receive them first.

We have just told our kids that at that time someone must have been working really hard on whatever they received the award for and that if they keep trying their best, it will happen for them. We really try to push that they don't need an award to know they have done their best, they should know that be how they feel at the end of a day.

#8 *LucyE*

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:52 PM

Yes our school has them and no, I don't like them.

I prefer to encourage my children to be intrinsically motivated rather than Using a rewards based system. I can't change what the school does but I can talk to my kids about how these certificates have little value.

#9 EssentialBludger

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:56 PM

At DDs old school (fortnightly merit awards, everyone gets a turn) it was always given to the naughty/disadvantaged/uninterested kids first, as a way of trying to encourage them.

#10 Velouria

Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:56 PM

Whilst I like the idea of motivating kids who may be having trouble staying on track - something doesn't sit right with me either. It just feels like a strange competition (ours are fortnightly too) which is difficult to quantify for little ones. Even I I felt antsy in my seat wondering if my DS would get one the first assembly I attended. I wanted to congratulate my kid for being so cool at missing out frankly.

#11 Xiola

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:00 PM

Our school has them and my DS1 who is 7 often wonders why he doesn't get them being that he's the only kid in his class who has never moved his name off the smiley section for behaviour, always does his work etc, tries his hardest etc.  He did get student of the week the first week of school but he does get disheartened every week when he doesn't get an award at assembly.  I've just told him that some of the other kids need more encouragement to do their best and that his teacher notices and appreciates his good behaviour and hard work (I've mentioned this to her as well so she's aware of it and has assured me that she really does notice him and appreciate him which I've passed on to him so he knows).

It's a hard one but I've noticed that it really is the kids that need the push that get them over the ones that consistently behave and work to the best of their ability.

#12 Kay1

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:01 PM

QUOTE
Yes our school has them and no, I don't like them.

I prefer to encourage my children to be intrinsically motivated rather than Using a rewards based system. I can't change what the school does but I can talk to my kids about how these certificates have little value.


I agree. My son got one in his first week of FYOS but he worked out within a few months that they were 'shared' around and had little to do with actual merit. As such he's never bothered trying to earn another one (although he has got a couple more). Also at our school they give one to a boy and one to a girl in each class each week. Last year there were 3 times as many boys in his class as girls so naturally the girls got 3x as many awards which was just stupid. I do think it gives the teachers a chance to recognise and appreciate the less academic kids by acknowledging their 'citizenship' or kindness, co-operation etc which is nice and its good to value those things. The thing that devalues them imo at our school is that two are awarded each week from each class - one boy one girl.

Our new principal has another thing going which I prefer. If kids do really great work in class they get to take it to her to see and she gives them an 'award'. Then the next day (once a week) the whole school sings a little "Bravo" song to the award winners at morning assembly.

#13 i-candi

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:02 PM

I have a very well behaved, social, happy, smart girl. One of those students that is good but probably talks too much.

She is in her 5th year of school and so far has NEVER got a principal award from her class teacher !!!!!! they are given out twice a term. One would have thought in 4 plus years she would have got one. She has however got two from the RFF teacher for science (DD is a science buff that makes the old teacher feel young and who is totally engaged in the lesson and takes science stuff from home every week).

When in infants (K-3) she NEVER got a sport award (they give heaps of these out), once got an art award (they give heaps out, plus DD is very talented with her art work) and only once got a library award ( I think). Not sure if they give these awards in primary, I don't think so.

So far this year she hasn't got a merit award and they give either 3 to 6 per week... so most of the class has got one os them.

I think I'm going to ask at parent teacher interviews what she is doing wrong for her to get so few awards  mad.gif

Then I say MEH it's just primary..... DD notices though sad.gif

#14 Chelli

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:03 PM

I think they're great for recognising positive behavior especially in an environment where the most challenging behaviors seem to take up a lot of the teacher's time and energy.

#15 barrington

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:07 PM

I really like the way DS's school does awards.  Each child gets awarded one, only once per year.  Each award is completely personalised to the child and is three or four sentences long.  They can be for any aspect of their schooling (DS has received two for his maths skills and one for his compassion).  There are no 'good behaviour' or other random awards.

I still haven't figured out what happens at DD1's school yet.  She did tell me that one of the boys in her class received a good behaviour award at assembly because he put his lunch rubbish in the bin.  DD1, being a well behaved, compliant child, will probably receive one of those awards at the end of the year. rolleyes.gif



#16 Bella_a1

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:21 PM

My DD is in grade 1 and her school have one week they give the kids a sparkly cape, one per class and then the next week they hand out merit awards.  DD has never received an award for anything sad.gif  She is like me and seems to fly under the radar, I never received awards at school either.  They also have a class representative in class that changes every week.

#17 Expelliarmus

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:23 PM

I think the structure of awards at a school will depend on the needs of the community as a whole. While this may not fit your personal philosophy or your family situation they are designed to meet the needs of the school community.

My kids' school gives out Program Achieve Awards twice per term. there is clearly no need for each child to receive one every year and sometimes there are 8 resilience awards and 3 cooperation awards and sometimes they are more even. There is usually one per class. The Early Years, R-2 have 2 extra assemblies per term and smaller class sizes so often in these years a child will get one a year.

I've never kept track tbh. It's not something that bothered my kids I would go along and photograph when they got one yada yada yada. It's been a while since any of mine got one.

In other communities it is appropriate to acknowledge every child every year. Awards I give fortnightly are always personalised and recognise authentic learning achievement by students. Even if that achievement is something that takes me all year to think up and is for something like putting rubbish in the bin.

It will just depend on the needs of your school community.

#18 Pop-to-the-shops

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:35 PM

I ask at parent teacher midyear why dd hadn't got one yet.

She said something like, oh they all have got one by now. She checked her list in the back of her book and was surprised dd hadn't got one yet. She got one soon after.

It's been the same for her for three years in a row, as she is a quiet, capable student. Never gets into any trouble, and flies under the radar.



#19 FeralZombieMum

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:48 PM

QUOTE (EssentialBludger @ 14/03/2012, 09:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
At DDs old school (fortnightly merit awards, everyone gets a turn) it was always given to the naughty/disadvantaged/uninterested kids first, as a way of trying to encourage them.

Yes that can happen - my DD1 often got one an the very first assembly because she hadn't had much time to behave badly.
roll2.gif

Although it backfires - if kids work out they get one at least once a term - why would they bother 'trying' for the rest of the term. wink.gif laughing2.gif

I think they are good if they do spread them over to all the kids - because there are plenty of quiet achievers that might not be recognised otherwise!

OP I would work with your child and help them recognise that not every child will have received one yet - work out how many kids have got one so far, and compare it to the number of students. Also point out that there are many reasons why kids are given them.

I suspect sometimes my kids might have got one because they'd been having a 'hard' week with other things - so it's been used to help boost them a little.

Sometimes my kids will question why some kids have got one, when they are always naughty. If I am there at the assembly, I just tell them what the award was for (the teachers read out why they are giving it to the child). One child had/has constant behaviour problems, yet his teacher for the day (a relief teacher) gave him an award for that week, because he'd been good for her - and my DD thought it was unfair that he still got it when he'd been in trouble other times, yet she'd been really well behaved and finished all her work first. I just reminded her that he had been good for this one teacher...so she gave it to him. I told her that next time he had her, he might work hard for her again - and this is good for all the kids in the class because they have more fun at school when he is having a good day, so they all benefit. wink.gif


When my primary school introduced them in Gr 5, I HATED them - as it was the same small group of students getting the awards all the time! I wasn't the only student that hated them - most of us felt like we weren't 'worthy'. It kind of kicks you when one student goes up for their 6th award, and you know you've been getting better marks than them - yet the reason for their award was that they got high marks. (which wasn't really true.) In those last 2 years of primary school, I never received an award.

#20 katrina24

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:55 PM

I like to think of them(more specifically, not getting them) as a lesson in resilience.

#21 Phascogale

Posted 14 March 2012 - 09:59 PM

I've never particularly liked them.  At my kids first school they would generally give them out for all sorts of things and a different child would get one every week.  What I hated is that sometimes a kid would get one for some airy fairy reason and then next week when they did do something special they got nothing because they got an award the previous week.

With DD2 in her FYOS she got one the first week and never got another one.  And she did notice.  She was the kid that did all her work, was excelling in most things but never got another one.  She was really upset (well she was down about it).

Then at her second school they gave them to kids who deserved them depending on what they did during the week and was specific to them.  Some weeks only one child would get them, the next there might be 4 from the class.  Kids also got them a week or two later if they did something that deserved it.  I liked this much more.

Then with their new school they get points (or something) for lots of different things over the weeks.  Once they have earnt enough of these points they get a merit certificate.  I can't say I really like this system.  It does reward good behaviour but you get nothing special for extraordinary stuff.

#22 mum850

Posted 14 March 2012 - 10:19 PM

I am glad our school does not have them.
If every kid gets one and they check a list to make sure, it's pretty meaningless.
If they were truly based on academic merit, then TBH the same kid or two would be getting the award in each class each week/month/year and I am not sure how that helps anyone. Except if it were my kid, in which case I would be all for it  biggrin.gif

We had them in my first year of school. I remember being sick with anticipation each week in assembly, hoping it was my turn,  and never getting one. I was (I believe and so my report says) an extremely well behaved child, achieving years above grade level.
I left the school a little before the end of year as we moved interstate. As the last assembly of the year that I would be at finished,  I cried and cried in front of the whole school  because I knew everyone had had one or more than one except me (*who hasn't had an award yet, hands up?*) and I  had been  sure I would get one on my last day. Of course then they  realised there had been an error and quickly shuffled me off to the principal's office afterwards  for a "special" award  rolleyes.gif
I am not sure my parents ever knew about this but it was obviously quite a big and unnecessary issue for me at the age of 5.

#23 Julie3Girls

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:22 AM

Our school has them, and mostly I'm fine with it.

Assemblies are full school every fortnight, with smaller 'stage' assemblies in between - k/1/2,  3/4 and 5/6

Every week there are
2 class merit certificates handed out. Could be for anything from effort, good results, being helpful in the classroom etc.
1 or 2 "literacy wall of fame" certificates, which comes with a badge. Big push in the school to improve literacy skills, so the awards are a way of putting a focus.

K/1/2 also have reading awards in their stage assembly.
For k/1/2,  the merit awards tend to get cycled through the whole class. 10 weeks of assemblies = 20 merit awards. 17 kids in DD3's kider class original.gif  I have had a parent teacher interview, told in glowing terms how fantastic my DD3 is going, how motivated she is.  She hasn't had a class merit award.  My friend's little boy who is struggling, has. It was a much needed confidence boost for him.

The reading awards are a good way to balance out the "I haven't had a reward yet". It's entirely dependent on the child reading at home. If they really want an award, it's in their control. Kids who are bright and up near the top are the ones who are usually reading a lot at home. Parents sign off the card, the child gets an award on stage. DD3 is getting one this week original.gif The kids love it, it encourages the reluctant readers.

They also get a birthday certificate near their birthday.
End of the year, they have their own assembly a couple of days before the formal full school presentation, and everyone gets a certificate with some positive comment. So when only a couple get awards at the full school presentation, the rest have still received something anyway.

Once you hit stage 2 (yr 3 and 4), the reading awards stop. So do birthday awards. And no "everyone gets a certificate" at the end of the year. They are now expected to understand that the awards only go to a couple of people. Classes are bigger, so the weekly merit awards are not on a simple everyone gets one every term. And when you listen to the reasons for the awards, they become less airy fairy - the kids have to earn them. Although I'm pretty sure that they still try and share them fairly well.

Stage 3 (yr 5 and 6) and it's a further step. The awards still happen. But there is no  longer any guarantee of getting an award.

In general, I like the scheme. The awards do encouarge the kids, the like getting the recognition. And I've never had my girls questioning why someone else got one and they didn't.

The only one I DON'T like, is the school "Gold Award"
Every fortnight at the full school assembly, they have the Gold Award. Half the classes at one assembly, the other half at the next one (so each class gets to award it once every 4 weeks)
The kids nominate each other in class, and then they vote.  The winner gets a badge (for a fortnight) and a certificate, and an invite to an afternoon tea at the end of the semester. You can only win it once a year.
It's a popularity contest.
DD1 is a quiet child, who is a bit quirky, doesn't quite fit in. Has a few really good friends, but not really popular. She is in yr 5, has been nominated a couple of times, but has never recieved it.
DD2 is also fairly quiet, but she is the type of child who gets on well with everyone. While she also has just a few really close friends, she is also pretyt popular with most of her class. She is year 3 now, and has received once every year siince she started school.

It has taken a lot of talking to convince DD1 that this doesn't actually mean anything. Especially as she has a lot of anxiety issues, mostly focus around social situations. She seems ok with it now - was honestly happy for her sister last time she won, without any self pity.
I am wondering what will happen when DD3 gets one - she is already seeming very popular in her class, so I'm guessing she'll get it at some point.

#24 qak

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:45 AM

DS is in FYOS and they have a few merit systems going.  
1. In class they each have a sticker book & get a sticker for good work
2.  After 12 stickers they get to pick something out of the mystery box (DS has already got a mini lego figurine).
3. There is Rosie the Cow who goes home with someone every week (lucky them LOL).
4. There are certificates at the weekly assembly - a couple per class AFAIK. DS got one this week for sounding out well in writing (I *think* I know what that means).
5. There is also a visit to the Principal's office for work well done (& they get a lolly there)
6. Presumably they have something for the end of term or half year or year as well.

We were told 1-4 above are shared among everyone.  DS has already worked this out too - the first week his friend got a certificate for "settling in well" (when he clearly still isn't settling in) and DS could see that just wasn't the case.

TBH I think it is rather a lot of "rewards", the mystery box is going to be costing them some serious money! But I can see that DS is encouraged and motivated by them.  I would be wary of talking about when it is "their turn" to get an award as that is removing the incentive.

ETA: there are also birthday certificates; and sports awards (DS got a lanyard; his friend got a rubber wrist band thingy)

Edited by qak, 15 March 2012 - 09:50 AM.


#25 tothebeach

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:46 AM

Our school does them fortnightly - 3 awards per class.  They are very specific about why the children are getting them - though they end up being shared around.  I like them because it gives the sense that the school is looking for and recognising something positive and special in each child.  Our school works on positive behaviour management and this reinforces it.  Also, the children get so excited when a friend gets recognised and I think that this encourages an atmosphere of teamwork.

I'd also love my child to be intrinsically motivated, rather than rely on extrinsic but I don't think that a bit of encouragement goes astray.

Edited by tothebeach, 15 March 2012 - 09:47 AM.





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