Star Jar Reinforcement

January 31, 2018
  • Last year I had the excitement, joy, and panic of being called to serve as my ward’s sunbeam teacher. I had 8 darling and energetic 3-year-olds in my class that I was eager to win over. These preschool-age children needed some convincing that sitting in a room of chairs with a chalkboard was going to be more fun than a nursery room full of toys.

    I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement to encourage desired behavior. In an effort to help the sunbeams successfully listen to a short lesson and take turns participating, I created a Star Jar.

    When I saw children sitting safely on their chairs, raising their hands to speak, waiting politely for their turn, or being kind to one another, I would add some stars to fill up a small jar. When children that would normally try to run away stayed happily in class, we added more stars. When a child who liked to yell used an indoor voice, we added more stars. When a quiet child bravely shared an idea, we added more stars.

    The sunbeams were eager to please and all wanted a turn to place stars in the jar all by themselves. They soon learned what behaviors would earn the privilege of placing stars in the jar. They encouraged one another and cheered as a team when the stars filled to the top.

    Our goal was to get the jar filled by the end of our class so we could all enjoy a reward to celebrate. The reward may have been a handout related to the lesson, a small treat, bubbles to blow at the end of class, or stickers to put on their hands. It was a successful tool to encourage positive behavior.

    The simple Star Jar can easily be adapted to use during a preschool lesson with your child or a co-op of children.

    I simply cleaned a small empty, clear, plastic jar. One that I would have normally recycled when my family finished its contents such as a jelly jar or mandarin orange jar. Then I purchased stars that would fit inside. Foam star stickers or star shaped plastic beads are fun choices.

    I would love to hear what tips you have used to encourage your young learner! Comment below.

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