Awards are a positive part of the Kids 4 Truth clubs program. Because of our intentional "It's all about God!" emphasis, we have often been asked why we would focus attention on children by rewarding them in front of their peers and their parents. We have thought long and hard about this, and we believe that awards, in moderation, can be a very good thing.
We are not interested in fortifying young egos with self-consumed confidence. We are interested in fortifying young hearts and minds with teaching that rightly reflects the character and work of God.
We want to honor God-focused hard work. We want to honor learning truth above all else. Kids 4 Truth is all about God, and we are all about helping kids learn to channel their time and energy into the most rewarding of all disciplines: Theology. Believing that, if kept in perspective, awards can be a help rather than a hindrance, we have developed a general system that can be adapted to suit the needs and preferences of your own club.
For most of the levels, the children can earn up to five award patches per doctrinal theme that they are studying. These award patches are applied to a standard. A child's standard signifies the progress he or she has made through the curriculum. These standards are color-coded by level, so each is in use for about two years.
We could have chosen another name for this – "band," "sash," "award-patch container," "cloth thing you drape over your shoulder," etc. However, we like that the word standard carries the idea of a sign, flag, signal, or banner. We think the biblical usage of the word has positive implications, as well, of public testimony, and markable achievement is an encouraging incentive for the children as they progress through the curriculum. Standards can serve as a great conversation piece, an instant bridge for ministry workers and parents to strike up a discussion with boys and girls:
- “How did you earn that patch there?”
- “What are you learning now?”
Click on the standards to see them enlarged.
At the end of each unit in the TruthBooks, there are "coupons" that can be exchanged for award patches. Ideally, one adult worker should be designated to iron on the patches. Applying the Kids 4 Truth patch awards is simple. Each patch is backed by industrial-strength, iron-on glue. Any iron or heat press can be used to affix patches to standards both easily and permanently.
We encourage club leaders to arrange that the patches be affixed to the standards during the lesson time (following recitation/small-group time), or somehow the same day the children earn those patches, if at all possible. And we would recommend distributing the standards publicly before the end of the club meeting, inviting the children to come forward and receive their standards with the newly-applied patches. Timely and public acknowledgment for the award won is appropriate.
Awards need not be the focus of your meeting in order to serve their purposes. An awards system can help to provide benchmarks for measurable progress, to encourage the disheartened, and to spark enthusiasm. On average, boys and girls earn two or three awards per month, and this may flux, depending on your particular club's operational decisions. The possibility of earning another award helps children stay focused and motivated to keep memorizing.
The awards system is what you choose to make of it. If the attitude of the adults is that awards are about competition, bribery, ego-boosting, and so forth, that is an abuse of our original intentions for the system. If, however, the adults view and promote awards as a positive reinforcement – means to an end, and not the end in themselves – that will help the children keep the proper perspective.