Thursday, November 28, 2013

Go Beyond "Good Job" - Praise and Positive Reinforcement

We all know how powerful positive reinforcement can be. Everyone likes to hear a compliment, even if we sometimes aren’t very good at accepting them. Children especially crave praise. I don’t really need reminders to give praise, but I do need to mix it up a little. Often “good job” just slips out when I’m working with my students. It’s a nice thing to say, but it sort of loses something after you say/hear it a few hundred times.

 I’ve been making a conscious effort to amp up my praise. I want my students (and my own children) to be excited by the compliments I give them. I get a little silly sometimes. “Awesome sauce” is one of my current favorites. Specific praise is also important and reinforces what they did well. “Wowza, that was your best snake sound so far!”

Reinforcement doesn’t always have to be verbal. I’m a big fan of the double high five or the old “up top, down low” high five combo. I use the classic stickers and stamps, but many times my kids will pick scented hand sanitizer as a reward for hard work. (I sneak in more language work by having them request what color/scent they want). By far, my student’s favorite reinforcer is the speech claw! This is basically my fingers scurrying across the table toward them like a spider. Don’t ask me why, but it’s a crowd pleaser.

 Looking for some inspiration to jazz up your positive reinforcement?  Check out what the always adorable Kid President has to say about the power of positive words and actions.  He has some great suggestions.

We'd love to hear your creative ideas on ways to provide positive reinforcement.  Leave us a comment with your favorite verbal and non-verbal praise/reinforcers.  Let's make Kid President proud!


Sarah and her speech claw are very happy working together.

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