Sugar as an incentive to read--serious vent! - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-03-2005, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, first let me say that this situation absolutely, positively infuriates me.

I work at a local, public elementary school as a Classroom Literacy Assistant. The school is a low-income, Title One school that participates in the Reading 1st program.

The students, upon reading a certain number of books at a certain level are given *rewards*, also called "motivational incentives". Ok, this I don't have a problem with, although I do think that reading/learning should be considered a reward in itself, but I do understand.

These are the *rewards* that the students (K-6th grade) can choose from:

A can of soda (Pepsi, Dr. Pepper or Root Beer)
A can of Mountain Ice (sparkling fruit beverage)
A bag of popcorn
A full-size candy bar of their choice (snickers, butterfinger, etc)
Ice cream bars
Hostess chocolate cupcakes or twinkies

Now, some kids get more than one reward and come back to their classrooms with a bag full of multiple items!!!

I am not against public schools, in fact I start my Masters in Education in the fall to become an elementary school teacher and I plan on working in the low-income schools. Teaching is my passion and I have taught ESL here in the US and abroad in both public and private schools. This is the first time I have come across using full-size candy bars, sodas, etc for *motivation* to read.

This makes me so sad and angry, but I swear it feels like I end up because I am in the minority on this issue. The 3rd grade classroom teacher I work with is in complete agreement with me, as are a few others, but the rest have this "oh, it is just a little bit of sugar" or "whatelse are you suppose to motivate them with".

How am I suppose to teach my son good, healthy eating habits when he is *rewarded* at school with candy and soda????? Granted, he is only 19.5 months old, but does that matter?

Ok, thanks for letting me vent in your forum. I so appreciate it, nobody really seems to understand and they all think I am some sort of freak.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:41 PM
 
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OOOOhhh, My son is only 6 months now, so I have a while to worry about this kind of thing, but that would make me so mad if someone else were to give my son those "treats". Is there anyone you can talk to about your concerns? Do the parents know (or even care)?
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:06 PM
 
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Ugh, how awful.

I disagree with giving kids any kind of rewards for reading, because it sets up the idea that reading is a chore. And giving out sugary drinks and snacks at school is something else I disagree with, so put the two together, and it practically makes my head explode!

I'm a teacher, and I used to use books AS a reward, not as a means to a crappy reward. I don't remember what the reward was for, actually, but I would allow the student to pick any book from the Scholastic order form and I would use my teacher bonus points to "pay" for it. Maybe if the school feels they need to motivate these kids to read, they can do it that way. I wonder if a local book chain would offer coupons or gift certificates? It would bring them business, and it would be good for the families who may not normally visit places like bookstores with their kids.
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:53 PM
 
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With so many other things out there, why offer almost exclusively food, especially sugar based food, as a reward.

Pencils, erasers, notepads, stickers, extra recess time, books, and so much more would be great incentives.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The schools, especially the Title One/Reading First schools are under SOOO much pressure from the government to show *results* and fast. But, that is still absolutely NO excuse. What ends up happening is that the classroom teachers end up with a bunch of strung out children that they can no longer teach, much less manage.

Plus, these poor classroom teachers are trying to manage classroom sizes from 29-40 sugar-high students. My third grade class has 29 students, after 6 dropped out. The fourth grade class next to us has 38 students.

Obesity in children is a HUGE concern nowadays. So, rewarding with food seems absolutely unfathomable to me. Talk about setting up a unhealthy relationship with food.

I did talk to the head of our Title One department. Her comment was, "this is what works best and the kids LOVE it". I discussed other options (books, erasers, pencils, special notepads, etc) and she just kind of said, "OK". Basically, I got the brush-off.

As for the parents, unfortunately, many of them are not living with their children, not involved with their children's lives or are just as uninformed/uneducated about the dangers of such rewards and feeding of such junk.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:56 PM
 
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Wow that is really nasty. Everytime I think my ps is not the best, I hear something like this about another one and it makes me appreciate ours more! Are you in a position to suggest alternatives--usually if you want change you have to make it happen yourself, as in , being the one to order the alternative "rewards" from a wholesale catalog, etc. I agree, though, reading in and of itself should be the reward!

 
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren
Are you in a position to suggest alternatives--usually if you want change you have to make it happen yourself, as in , being the one to order the alternative "rewards" from a wholesale catalog, etc.
Unfortunately, I am not in such a position. I just started the position about 3-4 weeks ago and I cannot afford to push my luck. I have been talking to some of the other teachers, so I might infiltrate in a slow manner. I am just so surprised and saddened about how many people do not think there is anything wrong with these sorts of rewards. :
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Old 03-04-2005, 09:55 PM
 
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What if you switch tactics a bit and express concerns about liability - what if they handed out a 'treat' that a child was allergic to and the child had a reaction? If health concerns don't speak to them, that might.
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Old 03-06-2005, 01:27 AM
 
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This is a state program? Egads! Why not books, stickers, hair clips, pencils,
fruity smelling markers, cheap cardboard puzzles from the dollar store, jump ropes, nerf'esque toys? A point system or tokens to earn a backpack or books? Or if it has to be food - healthy fruit leathers, carob raisins, freeze dried fruits veggies and call it astronaut food?? Jeez Louise!!

Yeah, play up the food allergy if you can, Say, gee in x state you
just heard to the administrators/teachers even losing their jobs for
a food allergy issue. If they don't fear for the kids (obseity) maybe they
will fear or starting thinking what if they lose their jobs or get sued.
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Old 03-14-2005, 12:24 AM
 
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It sounds like the school may have some sort of contract with a company that provides free food from certain brands. If not, who is buying these foods?

BTW - check out if the school has any policy on these sorts of junk foods in the cafeteria. If so, I'm sure that rule should be applied in this situation as well.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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