How to reward good grades

  • By Mari-Jane Williams The Washington Post
  • Saturday, November 24, 2012 5:15pm
  • Life

As report cards are almost due and I await my children’s grades, I’ve been thinking about how to praise or reward their efforts.

I had friends who got paid for their grades: a certain amount for an A, a B and so on.

As a child and then a teenager, I thought that was brilliant.

My parents? Forget it, they said. Your good grades are the reward. Learning and doing your best are more valuable than a couple of dollars, they told me over and over.

With my own children, I’m trying to do the same thing. Particularly with my child who has learning disabilities, I don’t want to emphasize the actual grades too much.

I want both of them to work hard because that is what they are supposed to do, not because they want to pad their piggy banks.

Much has changed about parenting, though, since I was a child. Babies sleep on their backs, we all strap our children into car seats and kids wear helmets when they ride bikes.

So maybe the thought process behind rewarding academic performance has evolved, too?

It turns out my parents were on the right track, according to Scholastic.com. Their experts have several tips for rewarding a good report card:

First, be spontaneous when rewarding good grades. Go out for a family dinner or special activity after report cards, so it’s a nice occasional surprise instead of a planned incentive or an automatic reward every time.

De-emphasize the actual grades; praise effort and concentration more. If your child does his best and earns a C or works really hard and improves his math grade from a C to a B, that is often more noteworthy than a child who easily gets all A’s every quarter.

Finally, teach your children that the harder they work and the more they learn, the stronger their brains will be. Their minds need exercise, just like their bodies.

For my children, I’m thinking a surprise night out for pizza or bowling this weekend might be in order to celebrate a job well done.

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