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Disagree with 1st grade "behavior modification/incentive" plan

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
What to do I do if I disagree with the 1st grade classroom "behavior modification/incentive" plan set forth by the teacher?

I don't believe in rewards for good behavior. I think it teaches the wrong values to a child. I think people ought to behave and follow the rules because it is the right thing to do. If a person needs a reward to do the right thing then there is a problem.

I've just reviewed the system the teachers plan to set forth in the classroom. Here's is how the system is described:

The teachers will implement a combination of two behavior systems. Each day a student will begin with their name clip on the green smiley face. If students are not exhibiting appropriate behavior they will be asked to move to the yellow face. If the inappropriate behavior goes on they will be asked to move to the red face and at that time a note will be sent home for the parents to sign and return.

If a student keeps their name clip on the green smiley face all day they will receive a piece of their rainbow. After getting all pieces of the rainbow students will be rewarded with a sticker. Once they collect three stickers they will receive a special prize.

I know my child will be totally stressed out if he ever has to move his face to yellow. He will feel mortified. At home we have not done rewards for following rules or good behavior. Am I totally being unrealistic with disagreeing with this system?
post #2 of 35
I can tell you that my school has the green/yellow/red bulletin board and I hate it. They don't even offer a "positive" alternative. I don't know what to tell you to do, but s because I am right there with you.
post #3 of 35
I think that's pretty standard, and I don't really know what better alternative there is. It's nice to think that all kids should do the right thing because it's right, but when you're dealing with a classroom of kids from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of families with various levels of discipline and self control..... Simply doing nothing sounds like chaos in a matter of moments.

I think you'll be surprised in your son's reaction, too. Maybe not. Certainly, you know your child and I do not. But MANY kids will get their cards turned often, and some of them will go to red frequently. Even if your son's gets turned to yellow, I think he'll realize that no one even notices or cares, except him.
post #4 of 35
You are not being unrealistic in disagreeing... However, it is unrealistic to expect a different method, if that is the case. That is one of the sacrifices we make in choosing to allow others to educate our children. Voice your concerns, absolutely, however I don't think it is reasonable to be upset if the teacher does not acquiesce.
post #5 of 35
Sure, you can disagree with it, but what exactly are you expecting to happen as a result? That your child will be exempt from the plan? That would probably be more mortifying than hitting yellow for him. Are you going to devise an alternative plan and present it to the teacher and hope that she chooses to implement your plan instead? Seems kind of unlikely...
post #6 of 35
While I agree with you to a certain extent, the reward system she has in place is actually pretty tame. It's much better than the stacks candy my DD would get in 1st grade every single day lol (back when that was legal in our state.) At least her system will take some actual time to accomplish.

I've learned that what you do at home is what really matters in this reguard. The rewards are there for the kids who need them and the more difficult cases sometimes do. To most kids who never have issues, it's exciting at first but then they sort of forget about it. Getting some stickers and earning little toys or extra recess time isn't going to ruin your child from doing what is right for the sake of what is right if that is what you are teaching at home.
post #7 of 35
I'm not a fan-it's extremely predictable. There are kids who are always on green, all day, every day (my oldest was this way). There are kids who are all over the place, depending upon the activity, or time of day, or how engaged they are (my youngest was this way). No surprise that it often broke down by gender.

I talked realistically w/my kids about this plan, and acknowledged that as a mama, there were days that I wasn't always on "green"-we all laughed, but I think that the reality is that few of us would merit such a distinction, all day, every day. I think behavior mod plans like this work for a little while, but often not long term.
post #8 of 35
Originally Posted by LightToast View Post
I think people ought to behave and follow the rules because it is the right thing to do. If a person needs a reward to do the right thing then there is a problem.
I know my child will be totally stressed out if he ever has to move his face to yellow. He will feel mortified. At home we have not done rewards for following rules or good behavior. Am I totally being unrealistic with disagreeing with this system?
My kiddo got "on yelllow" twice in Kindy, and as you described above, was mortified. We never did anything like that at home either, so it was new for him. We talked about the situations, discussed what he could do next time to avoid the yellow, and then dropped it to show it wasn't a big deal to us so he shouldn't sweat it.

I agree with others that you're not unrealistic in disagreeing with it, but I'll also point out that I was a parent who never used rewards or punishments for the first 4/6 years of my kid's lives, and now at 6 and 4 I'm finding myself using logical consequences, because they're not doing the "right" thing just because they're the right thing to do (and we discuss and explain and give options, etc. and sometimes they still don't do the thing they should)...and I don't think I've done anything wrong in teaching them, and I don't think they have any 'problems' - it's just where they are right now, figuring out their place in the world, exerting independence, etc.

Soooo anyway, multiplying my 2 kids times an entire classroom of kids that might not do what they should be doing, for whatever reason, and I can see why they need *some* kind of system in place, and also why a punishment/reward type system would likely have to be it, since it's what most kids are used to. Our school didn't give rewards for staying on green, the visual of seeing the names/havign to sit out on fun things if they were on red was enough of a system to keep the classroom from erupting into chaos as a PP mentioned above.

Is it the way I would parent my own children? Nope. Is it something I'm going to fight? Nope. It is what it is, and when sending a kid to public school you just ahve to deal with some things, it's part of the package.
post #9 of 35
I can see why you feel the way you do, but I also think you either have to make your peace with it or put your child in an alternative school. This is pretty much how things are done.

We never did punishments/rewards at home (I'm a fan of Alfie Kohn) but things being different at school wasn't a big deal for my kids. We talked about it. Both my kids are generally *good* kids (i.e. they are calm, quiet girls) so there was very seldom an issue with either of them. They understand that the teachers are doing the best they can to maintain an environment where all kids can learn, and some of the kids have a harder time with that than others.

I think that kids have a greater capacity to adjust to a different set of rules than we generally give them credit for. May be it will be a chance for your child to grow. He isn't always going to be perfect. He needs to make his peace with that. Rather than fighting the system (which is a battle you won't win) I think that helping him understand that it isn't that big of a deal would be more helpful to him. Use it as a chance to help him grow as a person.
post #10 of 35
Something that I have discussed with my kids (and you all may disagree and that is fine) is that there are somethings that happen in "establishments" (school, work etc..) that ultimately don't mean anything but you have to go along with and play the game. I waited until my older two were older (8+) before talking about this, but I had to do it last year with my youngest (he was in kindy) when he hated his home work because it was ridiculously easy for him and he felt it was pointless. They had a behavior system of smilies and letters but it came home every night. He initially was very concered because he would frequently get a T for talking (because he would finish his work and be bored.... see first gripe...lol) and he was afraid he would get in trouble at home for it. I had to let him know that unless it was extreme, I really didnt care. His teacher is responsible at school, and trusted her to handle things accordingly and I did not need to know every little wrong he committed. I told him I signed it because it made his teacher happy (playing the game) but that there would be no further consequences at home (provided it was not an extreme issue again)... He was fine with it after that. They all know that there are things that happen at school that I feel are a crock of $h!t and that we deal with simply because we must. They also know that if it is a big deal, I will take additional action but mama picks her battles to keep the school from hating her... =)
post #11 of 35
The challenge is that at home, none of are managing upwards of 20 kids at a time all day long. There has to be some level of control of the classroom to which all students adhere. I have seen the system you describe work very well. I think it's fine at home to have one set of rules, but school is different. You have already talked with your son, so that will make a big difference.
post #12 of 35
I teach 4th grade, and next week I will have 31 students in my class.

I do a flip card system, kind of like the green-yellow-red, thing. Do I like it? Not necessarily. Quite frankly, I rarely use it. I prefer to speak one-on-one to a child who is not behaving well.

However, I use this system for documentation when needed. If I have a particularly troubled student whom I refer for counseling, etc. I have to have a record of the times the student has had issues. It presents a much stronger case when I can say that I've had to talk with a student or call home X times than when the answers are more vague. I can't always write down when I've talked to a student, but I can look at the flip card chart before I go home and jot down any notes about why a student might have flipped a card.

I hope that helps a little with understanding why the teacher might have this system.
post #13 of 35
How many kids are in your sons class? How many kids do you have at home?

My daughters class has a similar system, though with stars and there is an orange thrown in (for "try again") I do not mind it one bit. I know that I couldn't do a better job with 19 5 years olds! Yellows are no big deal to me or the teacher, it's just a visual warning (also given with a verbal warning) and it takes a LOT (physical or verbal assult) to earn a red (which would equal detention if they were older.)

I understand why you don't like the system, but how do you propse the teacher go about discipline in a large class of 6-7 year olds?
post #14 of 35
I completely agree with you - I can't stand those kinds of things. But, I also think it is unrealistic to think that there is any way around it in a typical classroom. You can talk to the teacher about the stress it causes your child, and see if she has any other solutions, but I have yet to see a classroom, public or private, that doesn't have some sort of reward/discipline plan.
post #15 of 35
K-2 or 3 do the same system here.

It isn't as cut & dry as if you misbehave you go to yellow. Usually there are 1-2 requests/reminders before they'll turn to yellow. On yellow they do it again. A child has to be pretty bad to get to red. They are more strict with it at the beginning of the year than at the end until kids get used to the system.
post #16 of 35
Yeah, I hate it too. My big guy is a worrier, and he just cringes at the thought of getting a write up. It's sad. In their kindy class, they would each have a small piece of paper about half the size of a post-it note, and would have to make tick marks on it themselves when the teacher called them out about a behavior. 5 marks = 1 write up. 2 write ups = no Eagle Bucks for the week. They get to cash them in for books and games and stuff. He's in 1st this year and they have the green/yellow/red thing, and so far he seems to respond the same to both systems.

The good news is that he settled into it after a long time, and this year is a lot less worried about it, and the second half of last year it seemed to bother him less. I think for him, it was the fear that he would suddenly BAM! get 5 marks without meaning to, and get a write up. His worst days were when the whole class would get marks because of too much talking, and OH the indignation! :

Anyway, my point is that while it kinda sucks, there's really no better way to manage a classroom of really energetic, excited kiddos, and in our school, there's no shaming involved about it, so it's the best system I think they can implement at this point.
post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 
Okay, so it seems this is a common classroom management technique and I wasn’t aware of it. Darn, I was really hoping there was something better! It sounds weird to me. Kindergarten last year didn't have anything like this. I thought there would be something better going nowadays.

If it’s a huge focal point I'll find it very difficult to not be concerned about the potential ill-effects. I would definitely welcome doing without the stickers and prizes. It just seems so contrived and I don’t want to bribe my kids for doing what they should be doing anyway.

I’ve got to figure out how to downplay “the system” for my son so he doesn’t worry about it too much. He is very sensitive and worries way too much about these kinds of things.

I do sympathize with the teachers. I know that having so many kids at once is extremely challenging. However, I think it really stinks that teachers feel compelled to use this method. School hasn't started yet so I don't know exactly how this will be implemented. Hopefully, it'll be very low key. Darn those prizes! Maybe donating something to someone would be a better prize.
post #18 of 35
Beyond being mortified when he was on yellow the 2 times it happened last year, my DS was acutely sensitive to *other* kids getting on yellow or red. He is so in tune and sensitive that he hates to see other kids get in trouble, so we had to work with him on not only is it not a big deal for minor things to get on yellow and we're not upset, but that he needed to kind of breathe and let go of other kids getting in trouble, that it wasn't his responsibility to help out other kids to stay on green. By the end of the year he was pretty OK with it, though I do know it still bothers him when other people get in trouble (and truthfully, that's genetic because I am very uncomfortable when other people are in trouble or embarrassed, too.)
post #19 of 35
While the program is standard in many schools, there are others that work better without the shaming aspect.

The one our school uses is called: Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS). http://www.pbis.org/

It works really well. There are rewards, but they're OK.
post #20 of 35
My son's kindergarten classroom used the stoplights. I was unhappy about it at the beginning of the year, too, but it ended up not being a big deal for us. Since he only had to flip his stoplight to yellow once the entire year, for the most part he forgot it was there. The thing is, though, that from what I heard, a couple of the kids in the class had to routinely flip their stoplights from the beginning of the year through the end. It doesn't seem very effective for helping children modify their behavior. And with a system like the OP described, where rainbow parts are handed out on top of the stoplights - well, it just seems like a lot of busy work for the teacher!

We were talking about it in a Love and Logic class we took, and the instructors disagreed with the system. As they pointed out, giving children a few chances, then a yellow light before they get to the red light (which is where consequences actually kick in) teaches them that they have several chances to misbehave before anything happens to them. Some kids get very good at gaming the system.

DS's first grade class is using PBIS, which LynnS linked to. I'm not keen on rewarding for good behavior, either, but we'll see how it goes. Today is his first full day, and DS is already planning how he is going to spend his points.
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