Q. My son gets average grades, but I know he could do better. Some parents pay their children for good grades. Is this a good idea?
A. Yesterday, grade cards were issued to all students in the Norwalk City Schools. As parents, we all want our children to do well and we are constantly looking for ways to motivate our children. Often times, parents feel that they should pay their children for achieving good grades. Periodically, some schools do experiment by offering a financial incentive to boost motivation. As recently as this year, two schools in Georgia are participating in the "Learn & Earn" initiative which pays students an hourly wage for taking math and science classes. This initiative was the brainstorm of former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich. This latest experiment notwithstanding, most experts believe that paying for good grades is a bad idea.
Kristen J. Amundson, from The Parent Institute, explains why she is against paying for grades. First, kids don't need bribes to want to learn. Children love to learn. As they master each new skill or memorize each new fact, they gain self-confidence and self-esteem. By paying for grades, you do not allow your child the chance to gain enjoyment from the satisfaction of learning.
Next, what your child should be focusing on is doing his best. If he's tried his very hardest, neither he nor you should worry too much whether he earns an A or a B. What matters is the effort he's put in. Paying for grades doesn't recognize effort.
Paying for grades now can actually decrease motivation. Kids who are paid for doing some things expect to be paid for doing everything. Pretty soon, your child will have his hand out every time you want him to do something around the house, from mowing the grass to taking out the trash to feeding the dog.
What can you do to get your child's grades up? Experts feel that a spontaneous reward (such as dinner at a favorite restaurant) and a healthy dose of parental pride can be effective motivators. Help him focus on what he is learning. Help him keep track of the new skills and praise him for working hard and doing his best.
By the way, if your child attends the Norwalk City Schools, you can check on your child's academic progress on a daily basis by logging on to our school Web site. If you don't know your password, contact your child's school.