Friday, January 21, 2011

Rewards For Good Grades: Right or Wrong

It's getting to be that time of year for report cards to come out. Do you ever use money or rewards for good grades? Is it an effective way to encourage a good report card. On the flip side do you punish when grades are not where they should be?


When I was young, my mother would reward me with quarters and dollar bills depending what grade I received on my report card. It was a wonderful reward but really didn't encourage me to do better in school. A fear of punishment was a greater motivator.


It seems parents try to use any kind of motivator to get their kids to do well in school. Even the public school system in some states use a cash reward or gift reward to encourage the students to improve their grades.


Many say we are harming our children by teaching them to do things just for money. To give them money is just wrong and sends the wrong message.


Using money as an incentive can be appropriate if you give small amounts under the right circumstances. For example, rewarding your kids after the fact for behaving well at the supermarket instead of promising them money ahead of time if they don't throw a tantrum. This is not the proper use of the money reward function. Those kids just need a good spanking to encourage proper behavior. The reward comes only from work, not behavior.


Rewarding our kids with money is teaching them the work structure they soon will grow up to be in. That working at your job, producing a service or product for a boss is what you are compensated for. Work for compensation is what we all do everyday. The payment for grades, if done right, will instill in them the equation of Work=Money.


The proper execution of rewards for grades are important. Only top grades are rewarded. Money, if substantial, must be saved for later needs. If the reward money is small then they can spend it on their needs.


The message we are trying to send is that work produces reward. No work or poor work results in zip or punishment. The reward is not a bribe, it's an incentive.


What do you do if junior just refuses to work. We all have one in the house that's like this. Hopefully it's not for long while you adjust behavior with punishment. You have to find a way to promote good actions with a positive reward.


This reward for good grades has been a tool for encouraging hard work for many years. Only when it's used in an extreme way does it get a bad reputation. In moderation it works.

5 comments:

  1. Dave,
    We used to reward good grades, but we also rewarded effort. Why? Because, with four children, one might make straight A's without doing much while another would work hard to get C's and B's. Our technique was to give all a certain monetary reward for an A, a lessor reward for a B, but a fairly substantial reward for improvement. Did this really motivate our kids to do better? Not sure, but we felt like school was their job, so getting paid was logical.
    About rewards/punishments...I read somewhere that "behavior that achieves its desired result will be repeated". We NEVER gave a kid a treat to get them to behave better. They would get something painful, usually to their backside.

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  2. Joe, The reward for good grades should be done with a goal of giving positive reinforcement for good behavior. It's kind of a bribe to do better in school. Yet I don't know of anyone who's life was harmed by a little $$ encouragement.

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  3. Twenty five years in K-8 classrooms- I have never seen money effect report card grades in a positive direction. If you do incentives it has to be DAILY or at least WEEKLY. Most schools have grades on line now- that may be a way to monitor. I don't know about high school.

    I have seen money effect grades in a negative direction. Don't do well on a test? Give up. Don't understand an assignment- well lost that five bucks. We tried tying what they were doing in school with real life. If you want good grades from a child you need to show them where they will use it. If you don't know where that is- then email the teacher. Say"I am hoping to motivate my child a bit more. Could you give me some life situations where you have used__________."

    Now BEHAVIOR is easier to tie incentives to. I still wouldn't go with money- but I would privileges.

    Most of all, if a kid is struggling- there is usually a reason. Too easy, too hard, needs help but doesn't know what to ask, too much free time, too little homework time, too much sports, parents wanting to be friends. It can be a dig- but it is worth trying to find out why. Don't accept, "I don't know" for an answer since the answer tends to be embarrassing for the lowest, highest and middle students.

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  4. Thats some good advice. When I was young my experience was that money as a reward just didn't impress me. Though I wasn't a good student, I didn't receive much money either. My main incentive for getting good grades was a healthy fear of getting my butt spanked.

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  5. When I was younger my grandpa would give me $5 for each A on my report card, however an A- did not count. I wouldn't get anything if I got less than an A. If I got strait As on my report card, again no A-, I would get $100. Today I am a strait A student without receiving the cash reinforcement. I plan to attend a 4 year college for public relations and I received a 25 on my ACT but I am working my way toward a 28 I hope. My point is that monetary reinforcement helped me get good grades until I was old enough to realize that the real reward isn't money, it's getting into a good college.

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