More Than a Hat

I couldn’t help but notice the Elsa baseball cap sitting on top of her little kindergarten head in a sea of school uniforms.  Why was she wearing it, and why did I seem to be the only one with a confused look on my face?

Before I could ask, she was off to her next destination, and I no longer saw her or the hat.  I could not “Let It Go.”  Fortunate for my curiosity, I did see her mom and asked, “What’s with the hat?”  

I learned that Mrs. Kathlene Wilkinson, one of our awesome kindergarten teachers, was to blame.

So, I sought out Mrs. Wilkinson and asked, “What’s with Eileen’s hat?”  

Mrs. Wilkinson shared with me that she found the Holy Grail of kindergarten positive motivators.  The hat was Eileen’s reward for five great days in class. When a student has five total great days, they get to pick a coupon and cash it in at any time they choose.  Some examples of the rewards are “switch seats with a friend for a day,” “no shoes in the classroom,” “no homework pass” (that would be the favorite of any mother), and “bring a stuffed friend to class” to name just a few.

Back in the day (let’s just say a few years ago) when my daughter (who just started high school) was in Mrs. Wilkinson’s class, we had the treasure box.  You could reach in and select a treasure for having a good week.  Gone is the treasure box.  Mrs. Wilkinson found something better.

As Mrs. Wilkinson said, “This has changed my life. The kids love the coupon system.”

So, in the end, it really was more than a hat… 


Mrs. Kathlene Wilkinson, awesome kindergarten teacher, has been teaching for 17 years at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School.  Her most favorite thing about teaching is “watching my kids 'get it’ when that light bulb goes on as they accomplish something they have been struggling with or working on!”