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December 27, 2012


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I got 2 or 3 dollars per B and 3 to 5 dollars per A at some point in junior high or high school I think. It was a.nice reward but it wasn't the reason I tried to get good grades. I don't think I will pay for grades but I am not even seriously thinking about kids yet.

We usually got some type of end of the semester/school year reward. I think tickets to Disneyland/Knott's Berry Farm (grew up in LA) or something but honestly I don't really remember. I think mid-range rewards like that can be helpful, but honestly I don't remember them too much, I just remember the work ethic my parents instilled in me. My grandmother's employer did give us savings bonds for every semester that we had all A's from high school through college. It was nice to end college without about $2,500 in savings bonds.

My parents agreed to help me through college. Their deal was that if we had enough scholarships to cover tuition, they would help us with a car after graduation. This was a great way to help us start off post-college with no debt, and all three of us kids were able to benefit from it. But honestly, I don't remember this being a much of an incentive through high school or college. They raised us with strong financial skills, and this was simply their way of helping us off to a good start in life.

I don't intend to pay my kid for good grades. It's expected and he should have an allowance already. When I was a kid, we didn't get anything like that. We are planning to help pay for college. Anyway, we'll see what happens when he is older. We might have to change our mind if bribery works.

My parents gave me and my siblings the incentive that if we never missed honor roll, they would buy us a car for our 16th birthday. They gave us all 10+ year old cars that ran fine. We will see what I do with my kids when that time comes.

I definitely remember getting a trip to Chuck E Cheese and free gaming tokens for our grades. But I think the tockens were a promotion from chuck E Chese rather than reward from my parents... but I'm not sure.

I don't know if I'd reward / bribe my kids for good grades or not. I don't like the idea of bribing them but I think rewarding them is OK. I would definitely want to set expectations that they apply themselves and do well in school. But I don't know how I'd react if my child struggled or didn't apply themselves.

I think drilling it in a child's head that doing well is always following by a tangible reward is doing them a disservice in life. If you start, when does the grade rewarding stop? High school? College? A child should learn that working hard brings a certain satisfaction and internal accomplishment. The small-scale competition within the classroom can also be exciting in addition to the thought that your parents are proud of you.

However, parents can still be proud even if their children don't bring home As and Bs. Everyone has different talents and some children simply don't excel in a classroom environment. They may have different talents, such as sports or the arts. It is a parent's job to learn early on what their children are good at and support those talents.

I think this is a tricky topic.

I agree with the comments that imply it is dangerous to let a child think they need to get rewarded for every good thing they do.

At the same time there are a number of things we ask children to do that have very little if any tangible benefits to them in any time frame that has any meaning to them. If you consider the path of apply yourself in grade school and middle school so that you can get the foundation of learning you need to do well in high school so that you can get into a good college and apply yourself there so you can get good grades in college leading hopefully to a well paying job ..... 12 years from now which is far longer than they have been self aware which is when their world began.

In some sense I look at how we as an adult would respond to such a scenario. We get paid every couple weeks. When we apply ourselves we get a promotion and a raise in a year or two. If instead we were told that all our basic needs would be provided for us (as we do for children) and if we continue to do our best work along this path for our company for the next 12 years (or in lifetime scales you would be looking at more like 20-30 years) then the company will give us a big wad of cash at the end that will make it all worth while (which is more certain than the education promise is by the way) I don't think many of us would find that appealing.

Now to be fair I understand that these are children and not everything can be drawn as a parallel to adults. However if we want them to understand the benefits of working hard is it so wrong to allow them to reap some of those benefits as they go (like we do) rather than make them wait until the very end to receive any benefits. I know I would not go to work if I didn't get paid regularly for it. There is no future promise that could make me work without benefits now (even if I was financially independent) unless of course I loved what I was doing which isn't most people and it certainly isn't most children in school. Some are self motivated and love to excel for it's own sake. But for those that don't, a little extra motivation might be the thing that teaches them the rewards of hard work.

@Apex, great response.

I come from the perspective of only having a 1.5 year old, so I only have my experiences as a child and of those of my peers. I know growing up there were a handful of students who were rewarded for grades, but interestingly enough, they weren't the high-performing students. The excellent students were primarily Asian and were expected to exceed. Perhaps certain cultures need to entice their children to do well.

I fully understand how small children may not understand why the grades are important. I tend to draw the parallel between getting promoted and making more money in a job not to schoolwork but to doing chores. My sisters frequently skipped out on their chores and were not paid on Fridays. I was given the option to complete their chores and make their money and many times I did. I understood that if I had more money, I could save up and buy things that I wanted.

I also think that children quickly realize what subjects they are good at and which ones they dislike. I knew in 3rd grade that I didn't care for getting up in front of the class and doing presentations but I did enjoy math and science. Everyone has things that come easy to them and it it exciting, even as at a young age, to know you are "good at something".

Of course all of this is for children in a classroom environment and home-schooling is a completely different beast. I don't know if I would have operated differently if schooled at home. I'm curious to know why FMF chose home-schooling. I assume he is in a fairly good school district based on his finances.

So the son is taking Spanish but without any rewards incentives? Sorry, I didn't comprehend that part.

Great to hear daughter likes Spanish and wants to continue. She has gone from motivated by reward to motivated by an intrinsic value for learning. Exactly what we want for our children.

Luis, I understood it that FMFs son is taking Spanish but he is NOT taking the CLEP. The CLEP is the college level equivalency test and its a difficult test that can get you college credit, similar to the Advanced Placement (AP) course tests.

Luis -

Jim has it correct...

I get it now, I thought son was joking! Now only if daughter passes CLEP and starts a sibling rivalry...

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