Incentivized learning can be a helpful tool in re-energizing your child’s interest in a subject and helping curb the dreaded “Summer Slide.” Of course, if you don’t agree with it, you won’t like this post! And that’s ok! But for those of you whose children respond well to reward based learning, particularly in frustrating subjects like reading, these programs may inspire your child to try a little harder. There are several achievement based reward programs available throughout the summer to keep kids engaged and help them master basic educational skills. Plus, they don’t cost you anything. Just keep track of your child’s progress and redeem the offer when (s)he’s finished.
Barnes & Noble (Grades 1-6) – Have your child read any 8 books, list them in the printable Reading Journal, and bring the completed form to your local Barnes & Noble store to choose a free book from the selection on the Reading Journal list.
Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge (under 10) – Free book when your child reads 8 books from the list by July 17th. They also have in store activities like character appearances, dress-up events, and Story Time on Tuesdays from 11-11:30am. Plus, sign up for the book club and your little one will receive a passport at the first story time session. Attend five story times and your child will receive a special gift.
TD Bank (K-5th) – If you happen to live along the eastern seaboard, you’re probably familiar with TD Bank. They also have a summer reading program that’s a little bit different. As a practical saver myself, I like this incentive a LOT. Have your child read 10 books and keep track of them in the summer reading log. Then, bring the completed form to a local TD Bank by August 31, 2014 and $10 will be deposited into a Young Saver account for your child. If your child doesn’t have a Young Saver account, bring a valid form of ID to open one. Once your child has reached this goal, (s)he’s encouraged to continue earning, all the way up to $50, with a printable savings chart. There are three spots on this chart for your child to write in what’s driving her to save. I can only hope my children would say the #1 item is college and not a Minecraft accessory! Gah. 😉
Chuck E Cheese – They have reward calendars to download and print. This is an easy one. All you have to do is keep track of your child’s goal achievement on the calendar. When the month is finished (and the achievement is met), bring the calendar to Chuck E Cheese and your child will receive 10 free tokens.
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge – This is an online reading program. Have your child read and log minutes spend reading. Then, complete online challenges by reaching weekly minute milestones, and earn virtual rewards. There is also an opportunity to win books every time a weekly reading milestone is met.
Pizza Hut Book It! Summer Reading Challenge (Spark Your Greatness) – Since your child will be doing all of this reading, you may as well double down on the rewards with a possible sweepstakes win! If your child has read 5 books, enter her to win great prizes. For example, the Grand Prize for this offer includes a Tote Bag, $50 Pizza Hut Gift Card, 1 Autographed Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Book 1, 1 set of Diary/Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Books 2-8 (7 Books), 1 Diary/Wimpy Kid DIY Journal, 1 set of Your Best Ideas Notebook (3 notebooks). They also have monthly activity calendars on their Instagram Scavenger Hunt where other prizes can be won.
Sylvan Book Adventure (K-8) – Kids can search the site for books, read them, then come back to the site and take a quiz. Upon successful completion, your child can earn prizes for reading as well as comprehending and retaining the book details!
Now, these last freebies aren’t tied to academic performance, but you can use them to your advantage as your child meets his/her target educational goals or simply for exercise! That’s important, too.
Kids Skate Free – Free rollerskating is offered at select rinks that partner with kidsskatefree.com. Select and join (for free) a skating rink near you, and you’ll be able to redeem your vouchers for free skate offers on the available days and times listed. You can use this all summer long. And if a local skating rink doesn’t participate near you, print this form so they can fill it out if they’re interested. They likely don’t know this program exists.
Kids Bowl Free – Register your child and receive 2 free games of bowling DAILY (subject to local availability) at participating bowling centers near you – all summer long.
Of course, you can always create your own incentive! My son is in the middle of a 6 week intensive study of Michigan’s role in the Revolutionary War as we prepare for our trip to Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, and St. Ignace for July 4th (among other pre-Algebra and Chemistry experiments, of course). When we return, and assuming he completes his activities, I have promised to buy him Minecraft for the PC. With this target goal in mind, I don’t have to ask him to do his work each day. As I said before, though, this technique isn’t for everyone. Personally, and as I do each year, I have made it clear to my son that this is a summer incentive only. In the fall and winter, he doesn’t receive any kind of bonus except standard vacation breaks, but that is incentive enough for him!