Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does it pay?

I was reading this post on one of my favorite blogs--Goody Blog--a product of the wonderful staff at Parents Magazine. It got me thinking, about how we reward people, in general, for good work. CEO's get very cushy bonuses, hourly employees get raises and things of that nature. So, is it a bad idea to reward our children for their good work in school the same way. What I mean is, is it a good idea to pay kids for good report cards?
Parents on Goody Blog pointed out the pros and the cons. I, personally, happen to think that paying children for grades can take away from the pure joy of learning, unless that concept is somehow embedded in another way. Learning should be fun and not something that you have to bribe your children to do. But, on the flip side of the coin, I can see how money (or toys, books, what have you) can be a motivating factor, especially for older kids. And, I've had weak parenting moments where I've bribed my girls to behave on a long car ride with new Crayola Wonder books or snacks. Bribery is sometimes necessary. I can only hope that my daughters' education continues to spark and hold their natural curiosity and interest so that bribery isn't necessary.
In my household, growing up, we were expected to try our best, giving our all to every subject & every assignment. As long as my parents knew that we were doing the best that we could do and making improvement every marking period, we were not expected to get straight A's, nor were we rewarded for them, beyond my parents' love and praise. For me, that was enough. I worked hard and did well for myself, my own sense of accomplishment. I longed for positive feedback from my teacher, that was award enough for me.
It is my sincere hope that these same principles are being instilled in Caitlin as we begin the educational journey with her. She may roll her eyes when I make her re-do a line of "K"s because they are not up to par, but I know that she wants to get that sticker or smiley face of a job well done from her teacher as well as a "good job" from me. I think it is an essential of good parenting that will teach a good work ethic in our children. That it is important to do a good job, regardless of whether we can expect something, in a physical form, for our efforts. One should be proud of their work, and that alone, should be enough to encourage future work of the same, or better, caliber.
I hope that we never have to resort to paying our children for grades, but I have to say, I will most likely resort to anything that will keep my kinds motivated and loving to learn. But, I have to wonder, can you pay a child to love learning?

Anyone care to chip in their two cents?


Judy said...

Simply put, no, we cannot pay kids to love learning. They will learn to love the outcome of learning by monetary rewards, not the actual learning process.

We don't pay for grades here. Not even an option.

Now baseball is another story. Travis was feeling pretty low about his baseball abilities, so Scott started working with him and they made some "deals" - a single is a dollar, a double is two, a home run is 5, and when he struck someone out, that was a dollar. Most of the time, he forgot about the money, haha.

Anonymous said...

Cos-I have to say that in my house it was also do the best you could. I do know that if it were me (as if) I would go with what works for each child. I think the do your best attitude was the worst thing for me but worked just fine for my brother.

Mary said...

I was raised as you were, Laura, and never expected to be rewarded (beyond praise from my parents and teachers) for doing well in school. So, I raised my children the same way.
It was not a problem to do so for my children growing up. I know there are differences of opinion on this today, but I stick by my own opinion on this. I don't think you can "buy" love of learning - just grades, maybe.

After having put this down in writing, I do think it is important to love and respect each child as they are, not by how well they perform in school. I get this particular opinion by experience - because as a child my sister excelled beyond what is expected of a child in whatever grade she was in - she skipped 4th grade, still made all A's and was Valedictorian of her high school grad. class - with an all paid for 4 yr. scholarship to a prestigious university - (it was based on grades in those days) matter how hard I tried I could never achieve what she did - there was always a "B" in some report card. BUT, I learned to love reading, and almost all of my other classes - just for the sake of learning. I still do. (PHYs ED was not for me.) However, my grandfather always rewarded my sister and I for any "A"'s we got, and only "A"s.


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