School Stickers. Good, Bad & The Unusual

As we reach the end of yet another school year, I wanted to reflect on my own daughter’s school year. Self indulgent perhaps, but I have an amusing story to share, so hang on in there...

As another school year passes, we continue to beam with pride over what our children have achieved throughout the terms, be it big or small. Life is about celebrating every little victory and why not? I’m loving the cute graduation photos of my friends’ children on Facebook. When on earth did that start?

Anyway, back in the classroom and nothing makes a child prouder than running out the school gates showing off a newly acquired sticker. So what’s good about stickers? Let’s face it, we all love abit of sticker action (I wish they still had scratch and sniff ones from the eighties), and we agree that when a child gets a school sticker, it gives them a real sense of pride and accomplishment.

It’s really important for their self confidence to keep them feeling encouraged to keep working in class. Words like, "Good job", “super spelling” and “great helper” are all good ways to teach children about things like responsibility and the importance of learning and helping others.

The bad? If the teacher decided to reward a student to provide some encouragement, the others may question why they haven’t done enough and why a sticker is undeserved. I appreciate, being a teacher is not an easy job and no one wants to give out stickers for the sake of it, so how do we strike the right balance here? I’m not sure, but I wanted to share my experiences with you.

What if your child doesn’t get many stickers, or in fact, they get none? Yep. That’s was my kid. This went on for months and months. She ran out the school door at 3:25pm with no stickers to acknowledge that ‘something great’ had happened in her day. To be clear, she wasn’t too fussed about this at all, but I was thinking this seemed abit harsh. I was feeling sad for her, even though I had never approached the subject with her directly. She just plodded along like any other six-year-old would. Surely she must have done ‘something’ worth celebrating. Even if she is daydreamer of the day. Let’s just say she’s a creative and imaginative thinker. Or that’s what I like to believe anyway.

The unusual. Days and weeks passed, still without stickers or praise. Although I am not a super anxious, over dramatic mother (just a guilty one), I was close to considering having a quiet word with the teacher. I didn’t want the lack of reward or encouragement to knock my daughter’s confidence in the long term. Then something wonderful happened which changed things. This one particular sunny day, my daughter came skipping out the school door, boldly sticking out her chest with sheer pride. She was walking tall ass she came up to me. I gave her a huge smile and said ‘Wow. You got a sticker. That’s amazing. Well done you!’. Her face was full of delight and happiness. I was so pleased for her. The day had come at last and now, thankfully, I didn’t have to have an awkward word with her teacher.

As we got in the car to drive home, I excitedly asked her what her sticker was for. She started telling me a story that didn’t start well. It went something like this “well...we were at swimming. I got in the pool and then I really needed the toilet. I tried to get out the pool as quickly as I could but then it started to happen. But don’t worry mummy. I got out in a nick of time”. I paused while I tried to figure out how this story was at all related to her reward sticker. She went on the proudly confirm that her first sticker of the year was for...drum roll please...not doing a poo in the pool. Yes. Proud mother are naturally the first thoughts that come to mind. I’m not sure they exactly have a sticker for the incident, but she was so thrilled with her 'well done' sticker. In fairness, I should be relieved that we were not the family that would be remembered for having the school pool emptied and re-filled. So well done indeed to my superstar daughter. You rock. I bet no-one else will get a sticker for not doing a poo in the pool and it is unlikely they ever will.

So it’s onwards and upwards. Let the summer holidays roll and let’s see what year two brings...

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