We are all familiar with using stickers on a skills or activities chart. Made your bed? Brushed your teeth? Place the star on the chart under that category! And that works for many students. We’ve also used stickers on a repetition chart, where every correct repetition earns a sticker on the grid.
But if you have a child that is not interested in a chart, that just means your stickers need a different platform. I may be writing this selfishly, as I am one of those adults that have not grown out of my love of stickers, and I even have a monthly sticker subscription that supplies me with new and unique stickers to use as motivation (primarily for studio use, I swear). If you are interested in livening up your stickers, I highly recommend Pipsticks, as they have subscriptions for kid and adults! But I will move on, as I will try to spread my love of using stickers as motivation throughout the year.
How do you use stickers out of the norm, you ask? Make a collage! This can help a student focus on tackling the issue at hand while allowing them to be creative as a result of their hard work.
I have done this as a group in my studio; each student can earn a bonus sticker each week by 1. Accomplishing all of their practice goals for the week and 2. doing so with a good attitude. I was looking for a way to ensure both students and parents knew the specific things they needed to come to their next lesson ready to show me to progress and earn new material, as well as to help both students and parents stay on a positive attitude path even when things get challenging. Both the student and parent have to agree on if they accomplished their goals with a good attitude, and if so, sticker city! If not, we talk about how to be sure we earn it next week. (I truly have seen a wonderful increase in everyone’s attitudes - fewer disagreements all around. Oh, and plenty of progress too!)
Last semester I posted two laminated 8x11 papers on the back of my studio door, and the kids were allowed to go wild with how their stickers interacted with each other. We have pandas sitting on a mountain while reading a book and holding an umbrella, bears angry about spaceships, and cats attached to hot air balloons. I love that they get to do this as a team - seeing the collage grow shows that other students are accomplishing their goals to participate.
What are the 1-2 skills you want your student to work on? What are the skills you want to work on? Bow holds and posture make it possible for us to make music, but I would challenge you to also think about the big picture thinks you want for each of you. Maybe it is playing a song with a bent thumb that earns you a sticker on the collage, and as they get older, maybe it is the entire practice with a bent thumb to earn it. Perhaps you want them to work on focus; a sticker could equal 1 or 5 pieces they play while looking at their bow the entire time. I know I have a few students struggling with striving for perfection and are frustrated when things don’t go perfectly – what if they earn a sticker for each practice or piece they play/work on that they don’t lose their cool?
Stickers aren’t just for kids – choose a goal with your child you are aiming for! Maybe you are working on keeping a positive attitude this year, too. Or are trying to say the word “no” less. Showing your child that you have big life goals that you work on helps them to feel like they aren’t alone in their struggles.
However you want to improve, I challenge you to try to use more creativity to make the process more enjoyable! This semester I made two “scenes” to begin our studio collages for a bit more structure, so if you want to start there, you can download them here: Castle or Underwater
I can’t wait to see what you create!