A little background.....my children go to a public Montessori school and we have LOVED it! We have been very fortunate to have great teachers, active parents, and nice kids. We just started our 3rd year and got the teacher that we had hoped for (yay!).
At the end of the first week of school, my oldest DD got in the car and was clearly upset and immediately told me (seconds after she buckled in!) that "she felt like she had worked for nothing" that week. Apparently, the teacher has a system where the kids earn tickets throughout the week for good behavior (and possibly finishing their work plans) and on Friday afternoons pulls 5 or 6 names out of the hat and those kids receive a prize (sounds like dollar store items). DD was very upset that she didn't get something even though she "earned all her tickets and had no tickets taken away that week". Sounds like it's done right before dismissal time when everybody is at circle, so all the kids who don't receive "a prize" watch while the "lucky chosen few" gets something from the treasure chest.
My first thought was: Wow, how utterly cruel and UN-Montessori!! And how is this fostering the love of learning and intrinsic rewards??? I know the teacher is Montessori trained, very kind, soft spoken, and peaceful, so this threw me for a loop. I told DD that she should be very proud of herself for doing such a great job and that if she keeps up the good work she will get her turn at a prize. I felt myself CRINGING at that, but I had to say something to her to remind her that being proud of a job well done is more important than picking a dollar store eraser out of a treasure chest. I'm not against extrinsic rewards in general (all kids want more than a pat on the back sometimes!), but in the classroom setting I just don't feel like it has a purpose.
I'm torn: As a parent I want to let my kids know that you have to EARN "the trophy". You don't just get something because everybody else does. DD mentioned that one little boy had tickets taken away for "making quacking sounds" after being asked to stop. I used that as an example and asked if it would have been fair to the children who DID listen if he had been rewarded for his bad behavior. Then reminded her again that she will have an opportunity at a prize for continuing to do her work and be a good role model. As a Montessori parent, I want my kids to continue on the path of feeling good about working hard (so far, they seem very motivated by completing their work plan for the day and knowing they did their best) and I'm really discouraged about this ticket system. I have heard from other parents that they also use rewards in upper elementary such as "couch potato" reward which allows you to sit on the couch and do your work. Isn't that just Montessori 101? As in, creating a comfortable environment for the child so that they will want to be there?
We have a back to school night coming up and I wanted to bring this up with the teacher. I hate to be "THAT" parent, so....
1. Should I do it in front of all of the other parents and ask the teachers to explain what exactly they hope to accomplish with a ticket system?
2. Should I bring up the example of what my DD said in front of all the other parents?
3. How exactly should I word this to let the teacher know that intrinsic rewards really work with my DD over "prizes"?
4. Should I even try to have this personal feedback conversation at the meeting or just bring it up afterwards?
5. Should I just ask to have the ticket system explained at back to school night and then have the conversation with the teacher about my DD afterwards in private?
6. Should I just bring this up after school when I pick DD up instead of waiting for back to school night?
7. Am I just over-reacting and should I just let this go??
Because I know that this teacher is Montessori trained, using this system already in the first week of school just sort of puzzles me. I talked to a Montessori teacher friend of mine and she said, "This sounds like a system that you might incorporate as a last ditch effort if there were some children who were very hard to motivate or getting out of hand....not something that you start out with."
I could really use some feedback!!! Thanks!