Life is all about incentives. We work hard in order to get a paycheck to live our lives. We stay fit in order to maintain our health and live longer. We recreate in order to enjoy ourselves and have something to look forward to. So many people feel that offering a monetary reward to their children will help the kids try harder and get better grades in school. But is this really the right approach to take?
Paying for Good Grades
While the internal motivation for receiving an A should be enough to study hard and to do well, it isn’t actually enough. So many people feel that paying $5 (or whatever monetary amount you feel comfortable with) should be enough to encourage that internal motivation.
This system or rewards can be effective, depending on the individual. There are a number of case studies that show no matter if the child was paid or not their grades remained the same. It is good motivation for a lot of students to do their best, but some worry that the fear of lost revenue is the true motivation; and that it is not a sustainable model.
Encouragement for Good Grades
Some studies show that when a child is struggling to get good grades, a reward system is not the best idea. Instead the child struggles to learn the concepts, and when they still are not fully grasped the child feels as though he or she is being punished for not trying hard enough (rather than rewarded for trying harder). While the intent isn’t to punish, that is how it is perceived.
Instead of punishing the child for not bringing up his or her grades, there are other ways to encourage them to try harder and incite that internal motivation. Even if you have been using a reward system until now, it may be time to remove it by telling your child that he or she is old enough to work hard and get the good grades because they try hard.
But that is not all that children need. They need some sort of inspiration to help them do well in school. It will take a little extra effort on your part, but in the end they will be striving for the A because they want it, not because they want a few extra dollars.
Privileges – Every child has privileges that he or she wants to do more than homework. It could be using their phone or iPad, or perhaps playing outside, reading a book, or anything else. By allowing those privileges only after the work is done, the child learns that work comes before play; an important life lesson.
Encourage Learning – If your child brings home a test and shows you excitedly that he or she received an A, don’t focus on the grade. Giving him or her a few dollars only reinforces that the correct mark was received on the paper. Instead, relate it back to WHY they got good grades. Remind them of all the hard work they put in, and then show that putting in extra effort brings about better grades.
Set Up an Environment – When you are at the office, you likely don’t have a TV on, music blaring, and other distractions keeping you from focusing on your work. The same should be done in your home. Homework and studying should be done in a dedicated learning environment, such as a study or a quiet corner of the living room. By minimizing distractions, the brain can focus on learning the material.
Rewarding Your Children for Good Grades
Many people feel that offering a monetary reward for good grades is the easiest way to help their child do better. And that is true, it is easy. But it isn’t sustainable. If you insist on a monetary reward, set up an UTMA or 529 plan for your child. That way you can still reward them, but that reward won’t be able to be used until they are older and (hopefully) wiser.
How do you encourage your child to earn good grades?
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