Daily Token Economy

A daily token economy is one that is characterized by having students earn or lose a set number of tokens each day, starting at the same point each morning. For example, a teacher could have students start with ten tokens during the day and lose them for disobeying the rules and earn more for extra special actions. In this economy students are expected to follow the rules and are charged when they break a rule.

Alternatively, a teacher could have each student start with 0 or 2 tokens and earn another token for each class period during which the student followed the rules. In this type of economy students are basically being paid to follow the rules. Typically students in this type of economy can also lose tokens for extreme behavior.

The Benefits of a Daily Token Economy

The daily token economy is very easy for a teacher to set up. The biggest decision is whether students should earn tokens for good behavior or lose tokens for bad behavior. Additionally, students start with a clean slate each day so students who have a bad day one day do not have to start on that same note the next morning.

Students can save up their tokens each day and shop at the end of the day or after a saving up for a higher price item in the store. Teachers need to have a system in place for students to save tokens if they want to save up for an item. Younger students in particular are apt to lose tokens if they are to keep them in their desk, as well as students who have ADHD or other organizational issues. One solution to this is to have a “bank” where students can make a deposit and allow the teacher to keep track of tokens for them.

The Drawbacks to a Daily Token Economy

Teachers who opt to start each day at zero, while rewarding students for positive behavior throughout the day, also run the risk of discouraging students from the very start. Additionally, if teachers choose to start each day with a set number of tokens run the risk of starting with too few tokens so that students quickly get discouraged with just a few lost tokens.

In all, a daily token economy has its positives and its negatives. What works best for one teacher may not work best for another. Thinking through each detail of the token economy will help each teacher choose the right method that works best with a specific group of students.

Here is a great example of a daily token economy behavior plan thanks to Kristin Cahalan, third grade teacher. In this economy, students start with ten tokens each morning. They have the option of saving or spending their tokens in the store each day. Ms. Cahalan’s store, pictured here, shows a simple variety of items that students can save their tokens to buy. In this particular classroom, students also receive a behavior grade. Ms. Cahalan has a sign posted for students to clearly understand how their behavior in the classroom is converted into a grade.

Behavior plan example thanks to Kristin Cahalan

Explaining the Token Economy to Students

Token Economy Store

Token Economy Store

Student behavior translated into grades

Student behavior translated into grades

This is a great example of a daily token economy. Thanks to Kristen Cahalan for sharing!

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One comment

  1. Samantha Mathews says:

    This is awesome! I’m taking behaviour management in child and youth work and these are great examples! Thanks for the inspiration!! Very resourceful!

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