Why Do Awards Matter?

Article by Ross Cochran December 19, 2019

As an elementary-age kid, I used to walk home from school every day. It was kind of a long walk, up and down a few hills, so I used to play little games as I walked. I would stop to pick up a rock or stick and then set it in the middle of the path. Then I’d keep walking, and then turn around to look for it every once in a while. As I got farther away from it, I would enjoy feeling the progress I had made. Another game I played (especially on a really hot day) was to pick an object ahead of me on the path, like a bush, and then convince myself that I needed to focus on just walking to it, instead of thinking about the whole rest of the way I needed to go. This helped me break down my walk into smaller steps. Of course, none of the things I was doing were that different and innovative, but I think we can see some helpful insights from a kid way of thinking about big tasks.

Kids, even more than adults, have a hard time gauging their progress in completing a complex task. When you ask them to clean their room, they may have trouble breaking up your request into logical parts, like seeing that cleaning their room might mean they need to start with picking up clothes on the floor and putting them in the laundry, as well as toys into a toy bin. They just look at a room and see a mess, and get discouraged. The jumbled nature of the mess may cause them to feel like our request is impossible. When we help them break it down and celebrate their progress along the way as they complete each part, they feel motivated to keep going.

When we think about how this translates to awards, consider that awards can act like a progress-tracking system for a child. They can celebrate victories along the way during their discipleship journey towards learning more about God and His Word.

When a child in an Awana program earns his or her next achievement emblem or award for completed work, it is a way for them to see that they have made progress and to feel celebrated. This doesn’t have to mean that they are doing the work for the sake of a reward, but rather that the award helps them mark the work they have done. Outwardly visible prizes, like emblems or stickers, cannot compare in value to the inwardly evident work of discipleship a child engages in, but they can help a child have a visible sense of progress.

Kids are concrete thinkers, so by giving them something tangible for the work that they have done investing in their spiritual growth, we help them see the invisible. Though we can’t expect them to make this connection every time, we can encourage them in this direction as we give awards and celebrate the invisible reality behind the visible reward.

Awana is here for you as you seek to use awards to bring about the bigger reward of discipleship through high Scripture involvement with high leader-child connection!

How do you talk about awards in your group? What unique ways do you celebrate the little and big achievements? Leave a comment and let us know!

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