One of the “carrots” or motivational tools that ACE recommends schools use in order to motivate students in a positive way is Privilege Status. If you use the Goal Cards from ACE, you will see a place on the card labeled “A. C. E. Privilege.” I will describe how it works in a school setting, since that is what it was originally designed for and is what I am most familiar with. It could be adapted in some form to work in a homeschool setting I’m sure.
The normal schedule and procedure for students in an ACE Learning Center is that each student must work in his office and not get up for scoring – or any other reason – without permission being granted by the monitor (after raising a flag). Mid-morning there is a 10-minute break to stretch and get a snack. At the end of the day, when all of the PACE work is finished, students must read quietly in their office, or work ahead in other subjects.
However, if a student has earned PRIVILEGE, there are things they can do that make the day go faster and be more enjoyable.
- Score without raising flag. This is probably one of the students’ favorites as it is a real time saver! Sitting in your office with your flag up waiting for the monitor to notice can really make the time drag.
- Longer break. The normal 10-minute break is extended to 20 minutes for C Privilege and 30 minutes for E Privilege.
- Flexible time in the afternoon. Students on E Privilege can do their work in other parts of the building, like the library or lunchroom (if permitted and supervised). They may also be permitted to be outdoors playing basketball or other sports for the last part of the afternoon
- Early start on lunch. In our school this is big incentive for highest privilege status – getting to the microwave ovens before all the other students get there, and then having more time for outdoor break at the end of lunch time.
- Listen to approved music with headphones. Students can bring a portable music player and headphones or earbuds and listen to music while they work ( if the music has been approved by parents and supervisor).
- Free time on the computers. In our school we have a few websites that are permitted for students to play online games or watch approved video clips. But they must be on the highest privilege to do that, and they must have all or almost all their goals done for the day.
How does a student earn privilege?
- Finishing all goals. This is the main criterion that causes students NOT to earn privilege. If a student has a homework problem (not completing a day’s goals by goal check the next morning), then they lose privilege for the next week.
- Memorizing the required verses from the monthly Scripture passage. Each morning in opening, students read aloud a set of Bible verses. By Friday of each week, students must be able to recite the needed 3-4 verses in order to qualify for privilege.
- Earning few demerits. In our school we have a set number of 4 demerits total for the week that is “permissible” – but more than that disqualifies a student from privilege the next week. These demerits are for little things like leaving a flag up or chair out, whispering, out of seat without permission, etc. ACE distinguishes between levels of privilege based on minutes of detention earned.
- Maintain academic balance. Simply put, that means being on track to have finished 12 PACES per subject per year, which breaks down to one every 3 weeks. The ACE manual specifies “2 PACES per week.”
How does a student earn higher privileges?
- “C” Privilege is earned by giving a five-minute oral report on a topic of interest.
- “E” Privilege is earned by presenting a book report and by also being involved in some type of ministry like playing an instrumental offertory at church, singing in a special music group, helping with a nursing home service, serving regularly in a bus ministry or junior church, etc.
- Privileges are awarded for each week as they are earned, and students display on their office a card showing which level of privilege they have.
Tweaks we have adopted at our school
Over the years we have tried to streamline the privileges for our school and make it easier for both students and staff to understand the requirements and rewards. Since our school mascot is Knights, we have two levels of privilege – Squires (which equates to “A” privilege) and Knights (which is a combination of “C” and “E” privilege). Both privileges get a 20-minute morning break compared to 10 minutes if not on privilege, but Knights go to lunch ten minutes early and get first crack at the microwave ovens before the rest of the students come. Students can earn Knights by turning in a written book report, serving in some way with special music or nursing home service, or giving a prepared speech on a topic.
For homeschool families, you might consider adapting some form of Privilege status as a positive reinforcement. You would have to be willing to start the year with a more austere and strict environment than you may have now – such as enforcing no snacks while working, no breaks whenever you feel like it, no music, no working wherever you want, etc. Those would become privileges that could be easily earned, though! (And lost if the conditions are not met.)
I am a big believer in creating “contracts” with teens. Talk with your child about what you are trying to accomplish, and what positive and negative consequences will take effect based on their choices and accomplishments. Then put it in writing, have them sign it (as well as mom and dad), and then post it in a visible place.
The success of a system like this hinges on holding firm to the contract and not giving in to excuses and exceptions. You are not the “meanie” if your child loses privileges – you are giving them what they asked for in the contract! Be firm!
Share in the comments below ideas you may have used that are similar to the Privilege system.