Today's schools are filled with children whose parents offer monetary incentive for their good grades. Debate about this topic rages hotly. Should you pay your child for good grades in school? While the ultimate decision is best left to the individual parent there are several things you should consider before making this decision for your family.
Parents, parenting experts, and teachers offer several reasons why paying children for good grades will have the desired effect. The ultimate goal of these parents is the grades themselves. They want kids who will dig in, work hard, and do whatever it takes for those grades--and they're seeing results from paying them.
It provides an external incentive. Sometimes, kids just need that extra push to convince them to do what it takes to succeed. Offering an external incentive can be all a child needs to see academic success. This is particularly helpful around the end of the year, when many children struggle to continue paying attention and doing their best when they know that summer is just around the corner.
It reinforces your efforts. You've told your kids that their educations are important. When you pay them for good grades, you're putting your money where your mouth is and showing them that you mean it. If academics are really their "job," as many parents remind their kids when they're struggling, shouldn't they receive the appropriate reimbursement for their efforts at the end of the term?
It increases willingness to try. When students were offered $100 for passing scores on their AP tests, the willingness to even attempt the test went up substantially. In the case of younger students, this might mean willingness to keep trying in a class that is unusually difficult for them or to put forth the effort to learn from a class that "doesn't matter."
While paying kids for good grades may increase surface results, there are many parents who choose to go a different route for their children. Their reasoning is simple: knowledge is the reward for learning, and one that can't be matched by any outside payment. Paying kids for their grades has a number of key disadvantages that have caused many parents to choose better options for their kids.
It erases internal motivation. Kids who are constantly working for only one goal--the financial reward that they know is coming--may lose the intrinsic motivation associated with learning for the sake of absorbing the material.
It ignores effort. Paying children for their grades relies on only one thing: the end result. It doesn't consider the effort that a child has put into a class. It fails to acknowledge a child who has spent an entire semester trying, and yet failing, to grasp the necessary material. This can be particularly harmful to a child who feels less intelligent than their siblings.
It decreases satisfaction in the task itself. A job well-done is a substantial reward for many individuals, but as focus on the reward takes over, students may lose their satisfaction with the job itself. A well-written paper or a stand-out project is a thing of beauty, but not for students whose primary goal is the financial incentive they've been offered.
Children should be encouraged, not trained. We live in a society that is highly focused on rewards, rather than processes. Some children have interests outside the academic world. Others simply don't do well in school, not for lack of effort, but because academia is not where their true talents lie. Instead of training children with rewards, offering them encouragement to pursue their talents and passions can offer them greater ultimate success in life.
Ultimately, the decision to offer financial incentive to your children for good grades is up to you as the parent. You know your child and what will motivate them best. Boys tend to respond to financial incentives better than girls, and performance on standardized test and end-of-the-year reviews may not increase substantially based on financial incentive alone. It's also important to be sure you understand your goal. If you simply want to see good grades, financial incentive will get the job done. Giving your child the tools they'll need to experience success in life, however, goes deeper than any financial reward ever could. Want to learn more about how to help your child succeed in school? Contact us today.