Use a Reward System

5th in a Series on Engaging Children and Motivating Them to Learn

Marrena Ralph

You’ve shown your students that you value God and His Word, now it’s time to show them that you value their time and effort.

Someone has observed that “you get what you reward.” In school, children are motivated by the desire for good grades to please parents or teachers. In your children’s ministry, you cannot expect students to do what you want without positive reinforcement or motivation. A reward system can be simple or complex and can be individual or group based, depending on your needs and goals. You should use a reward system that works for your ministry, which is not necessarily the same as the church down the road.

You can reward children for anything you want to encourage, such as,

  • attendance,
  • bringing visitors,
  • completing service projects,
  • quoting memory work, and
  • responsibility (e.g., bringing their Bibles, student books, and papers).

You can reward for excellence too. Give special incentives, points, and awards to encourage excellence, such as,

  • good study and learning habits,
  • studying when told (small group time),
  • studying at home during the week, or
  • arriving ready to recite.

These “excellence awards” can be part of your regular reward system or added to it. Small, immediate prizes, such as a piece of candy or a sticker, work well as excellence awards.

In Kids4Truth Clubs, we use patches, Kids4Truth Clubs Cash, stickers, candy, and the like. Most of these rewards can be used for individuals, an entire class, or a team.

Patches are particularly effective because they are motivational, look sharp, last (unlike candy or toys), and have value to children. Patches are “collected” and displayed on a standard (sash) or bag, which allows students to look back at and reflect on past achievements. Children benefit when they can see how they are progressing. So if you use points or something similar, be sure to include a thermometer or chart so the children can visualize how they are doing.

Marrena Ralph is the clubs program specialist at Regular Baptist Press. She is available for consultation and workshops. Contact her at 866.754.4272 or

The more we review, the better we learn. But review can become boring. Find tips on how to take the ho-hum out of review. Look for “Use Games Effectively,” the next article in the Engaging Children and Motivating Them to Learn series.

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