My 4.5 year old is in a daycare/pre-K program. Her classroom is one of 2 pre-k classrooms, and is the classroom that the younger kids rise up to (the 2nd classroom is mostly older kids). My husband (he does 99% of dropoff/pickup) told me yesterday that apparently the teachers in my kid's classroom are starting a new thing where they will give stickers or "tokens" of some sort to kids who are being "super friends" and once they accumulate X number of these tokens, they can pick a small prize. There was a short handout with a song that was sent home that kids are going to sing in class when someone is observed being a "super friend" and the parents are encouraged to ask kids daily about whether they were "super friends" today. I haven't seen anything (nor did my husband hear anything) about what constitutes "super friend" behavior, but the teacher told him that they've been having some issues with kids managing daily transitions, and this is all an effort to address those issues. My guess is things like sharing at playtime, helping clean up, being calm so that others can nap, etc.
I am having a pretty negative reaction to this, and I'm wondering if I'm overreacting. I'm not a fan of rewards for good behavior to begin with, and though I understand it's hard to tackle behavior issues with a group of 15 4 year olds, it seems like addressing these things as the right things to do and encouraging is a better way than handing out prizes. I'm also concerned that this is going to shame kids who may not have matured enough to really manage some of these behaviors, and motivate others to do things for prizes rather than because that's what they should be doing anyway. Plus, they're 4, there are things they just may not be good at yet.
Would love thoughts/reactions to this. I generally tend to be deferential to educators and their expertise, but this feels icky to me and I'd love perspective.