As featured in Parentdish

Monday, 15 November 2010

The junkies we won't have in this house

For various reasons Alan and I have been really proud of the four children this week. In different ways they have really excelled at school and nursery. We of course praised them, told them we were proud of them and basically left it at that. We did not buy them new bikes/hand them twenty pounds/run out to buy them each an Ipad. The reason is my dislike of star chart junkies.

Now I don’t know if many teachers call this syndrome by this name, but I do know many dislike it, whatever they want to call it.

A while back I read an article written by a secondary teacher. He despaired of parents who give their children so many rewards that the rewards soon become meaningless. He wrote of one parent who couldn’t understand why her little darling wasn’t doing well at school. “But I just bought him a new DS six months ago” she complained.

The DS had been bought as a reward for doing well in school, obviously the latest in a long line of expensive rewards given which were no longer having the desired effect.

Like star charts they have their place, but they do appear to be overused nowadays. We are always careful not to barter with the children. They may try their luck. “If I do my homework will I get a biscuit?” “No, you’ll do your homework because you have to do it”.

One of the loveliest comments I received about my daughter was when a teacher said that Avril wasn’t competitive like many of the children; she loved learning for the sake of it. That is what I want my children to do – to love learning.

For those of you who think I am talking rubbish, read this study which confirms what that secondary teacher had found, and which I totally agree with -


  1. We also had star-charts at school, but the only one I really remember was the one which was used at Primary School. Classes competed for a banner, on the basis of attendance percentage, keeping the room litter-free, and other composite events.

    The head-teacher came round on the Monday morning and awarded the banner. We were chuffed to bits if we had won.So there was an incentive for us to work together and help our classmates to participate.

    So maybe there is something to be learnt from the idea of composite made us feel good, even although there was no individual pat-on-the-head.

  2. I think like the naughty step they have their place. Everything in moderation.