07 Feb

Paying for Grades: The Good, the Bad, and the Better

It isn’t just parents who pay students for good grades anymore: A recent trend in several states shows schools, companies, and philanthropists shelling out monetary rewards to children who study more, score higher on tests, or get better grades.

A slew of programs have popped up in cities-and even entire states-nationwide. Some students as young as fourth-graders are being offered as much as $500 to improve test scores on state exams, and some states are offering students $100 for simply passing an AP test!

Paying Your Child for Grades
Some parents reward their children for good grades by offering a financial incentive, and many schools honor their best students each month, year, or graduating class.

In the long run, the success or failure of paying your own children for grades is contingent on the individual student. Some students are simply more motivated (or have an easier time in school) than others-and that can leave lower-scoring students feeling discouraged and left out when they can’t qualify for the cash carrot dangling in front of them. To help balance this out with multiple children, you might try to:

  • Reward Improvement – Rather than basing rewards on letter grades, focus on how your son or daughter has improved over the grading period. Recognize them for devoting more time to homework, doing better on tests, or even behaving better in class.
  • Share the Wealth – Involve the whole family in rewards, if possible. Celebrate the improvement that each student has made, and then do something special together, such as going out to dinner or catching a movie.

Non-Cash Rewards
While an easy $10 per “A” might motivate some students, you may actually get better results by leaving money out of the equation. For many children and teens, approval and praise are much stronger motivation factors. You may wish to test out a new tack with your grade-motivating strategies:

  • Peer Respect – As much as brothers and sisters bug and pester each other, it really means a lot when a child receives a kind word from a sibling. A simple high-five for a good test score can often give your son or daughter a huge boost. Try to foster mutual respect and support among your children. Set aside time for family members to give praise to each other (but choose a moment when they’re not bickering over who gets the remote!)
  • Individual Praise – Let your child know you’re proud of his or her achievements one-on-one-away from siblings who might tease or even feel left out after witnessing this exchange. Taking some time out to look your children in the eyes and tell them what a great job they are doing or placing a surprise note in their backpack or on their pillow before they go to bed can make them feel great.
  • Time, Time, Time – One of our most precious daily commodities is time; why not offer some to your children? Whether its individual face time with just one of your students or a big family outing, give up a little of your day to reward all the hard work they’ve put in this quarter or semester. A trip to the ice cream store with you one-on-one can go miles!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

photo: Dollar Origami 4 by bizior

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