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When I was a teacher, I learned about a classroom management philosophy that really changed the way I worked with kids. It was written in 2000 so some people think the ideas are outdated, but when it comes to recognition…I have found this philosophy to be incredibly helpful. Dr. Fred Jones wrote a book called Tools for Teaching and I use it in all of my classroom management trainings. In regards to recognition and incentive, Fred Jones claims that, “incentives answer the question, why should I?” I will go way deeper into this in my post about Incentives but for today, I just want you to keep this short phrase in mind.

I know, I know…even as I am writing this, I am thinking…if my mom asked me to do something and I asked or even thought why should I? I would get a whoopin and a strict talkin’ to! But, the truth is times are changing and kids often want to understand what they will get out of doing something before doing it. And as professionals who work with kids, I think it is important to adapt. So I have come up with 10 simple ways to recognize kids that aren’t candy related. Here ya go…

Member of the Week/Member of the Month

A lot of Clubs already do recognition programs like this. It is really great to recognize kids in front of others. Not only does it allow for honorees to feel special, but it also motivates other members to strive for the same recognition. Feel free to use this template for a certificate! I just wrote Boys & Girls Club so it can be universal, but if you would like a custom one, just shoot me an email…I would be happy to help!

Leader of the Hour

This kind of recognition is great because area staff can constantly be choosing superstar members throughout the day. Write the name of a member on the board in the Leader of the Hour section you have created. Or write the name of a member on a recognition form and post it!

Prize Pit

I have a prize pit in my office and it regularly incentivizes members. When I have disciplinary meetings, kids eyes automatically go to the prize pit. “Can I have a prize?” Yes Michelle, you hit another member in the groin, spit on a staff, cussed out the entire art room…that’s exactly what I am looking for when seeking members who should get a prize.

Anyway, it is a great tool for teachable discipline moments. Go over what can earn a prize: respect, following expectations, having fun, being appropriate, etc. On the other hand, you can recognize members who are excelling and being role models for others by letting them choose a prize!

*cost note: we don’t have the luxury of going to Target and buying all the latest trends in toys, but the way I get items for prize pits include: asking for donations, sales around holidays, etc.

Member Recognition Form

This idea came from fellow Springfield Director, Mr. Tony. He mentioned that we all too often notify parents about behavior issues regarding members. These simple forms are used to notify parents when kiddos are doing wonderful things. I had a member come into my office a couple weeks ago. This member has trouble functioning at the Club, but has recently been showing some progress. He received a note from school for his mom that said, "He only had to be redirected two times today. He had a great day!"

You should have seen how happy he was to show me and my program director, Amber. I told him if he had a good day at the Club too, I would let him choose a piece of candy from my collection. I then asked if he would prefer the candy or if he would like me to send another note home to mom saying he did a good job at the Club. His eyes grew big and without missing a beat, he said, “I want the note!” Love is not candy! Click here for a Member recognition Form Template!


This is a great way to recognize members without interrupting the flow of programming. Pass out tickets to members who are following directions, on task, etc. Members can collect tickets and cash them in at the end of the hour, day, unit, etc. Whatever works best for the staff.

Completion Parties

I love this idea for national programs. If members complete SMART Moves, they get to have a graduation party! Hand out certificates, host a trail mix bar, give out fun awards (most dedicated member, funniest member, etc.) Just look at this super fun SMART Girls graduation party we had!

Club Bucks

This idea was first shared with me by Ms. Niki at the Henderson Unit in Springfield. I know several Clubs use it, but others don’t even know it exists. Print off Club bucks and use them to recognize members. Walking in the hall? Here is 5 Club bucks. You won Member of the Week? Here is 10 Club bucks? You didn’t beat a kid up today? Here is a Club Buck! Members can cash in their Club Bucks for prizes. You can even have Junior Staff run a bank where members have to deposit their Club Bucks! Click here for a sample template. Also, if you would like help with another design, shoot me an email and I can work on it with you!

Class Dojo

This is used in classrooms all over. It is incredible. You load kids into a virtual classroom, give points for positive behavior or actions or take away points for inappropriate behavior, etc. It provides a fantastic visual for members and motivates them to achieve goals. Check it out at

Also, these videos are great guides for getting started!

To get started go here: To set up go here:

Chain or Lanyard Charms

Mr. Jeff is a Club guru. He is easily one of the most passionate Club warriors I have met. He is so kind, helpful, and runs an amazing Club. His Club uses charms that members can earn to place around their Club lanyards or separate chains. Kids love it! Jeff says, "During BGC Week, we used these incentive charms. We have also used them this summer during our Amazing Race Challenges, in which each week a different program area has a challenge. Members love earning the different colors of charms. Each different color represents a different challenge"

Physical Recognition

While maintaining appropriate boundaries, physical recognition can be incredible powerful! If you see a kid doing something good or making a good choice, a simple pat on the back goes a long way! I have also found that coming up with a fun handshake with a member makes him or her feel like gold. I have the Baymax Big Hero 6 Ba-la-la handshake with members and it makes them laugh every time! Also, high fives mean more to members than you could imagine. You know, especially when you put your hand out and a kid tries to hit it as hard as he or she can...yeah that is not super fun for you, but it's fun for them. Just think, maybe Johnny has zero recognition in any other aspect of his life, but when he is at the Club and a staff gives him a high five…it shows him that someone cares and someone took note of his life and his importance.

Verbal Recognition

A very simple way to recognize kids is through verbal recognition. A quick shout-out, a good job, a wahoo! This takes no additional work or resources and can brighten a kids day while recognizing them for something good!

Next month, we will look at 5 more Power Hour Challenges and Solutions! Don't forget to subscribe!

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