Usually, when report cards come out, my oldest daughter tells me that she has friends who get paid for good grades. I’m not sure why she points this out because she knows that my response is always the same: “I’m not going to give you money for making good grades.”
Maybe she thinks I’m going to change my tune. If I did, she could rake in big bucks because she gets all A’s. But no matter how often she brings it up, I’m not going to be swayed to offer her or her siblings financial incentives to do well in school just because other parents use this tactic.
Click through if you don’t want to pay your kids for good grades and would rather find the best apps to help teach them about money.
Paying for Grades Is Common
When the American Institute of CPAs surveyed parents several years ago, it found that nearly half of parents paid their kids for good grades. The average amount paid per A was $16.60. At that rate, both of my daughters would rake in more than $80 every quarter — my son is just entering first grade and hasn’t started getting letter grades yet.
It’s not that I’m cheap, but I have plenty of reasons why I think paying for good grades is a bad idea.
Paying for Grades Fosters Entitlement
I’ve heard some parents say that going to school is like a kid’s job and that good performance should be rewarded. I disagree. You go to school to learn.
Once you start giving kids cash for grades, they focus on the reward rather than the process. They become motivated by money rather than a desire to learn. As they get older and good grades can become even harder to earn, they’ll likely start demanding bigger payouts. “I got $5 per A in elementary school, but now that I’m in middle school and it’s harder, I should get $10 for every A,” they’ll say.
I Want to Foster a Love of Learning
My husband and I have tried to foster a love of learning in our kids, and I feel like our efforts have paid off without having to pay them to do well. In fact, my middle child said she and her classmates had to write a paper about whether or not parents should pay kids for good grades. She said that most of her classmates thought they should get paid. But she said kids should want to learn for the sake of learning, not just for money.
After all, what happens once you take the financial incentive away from your kids? If they’re not motivated on their own to learn and do well, they might stop putting effort into their school work once the cash rewards disappear.
Money Can Eventually Stop Being an Incentive
Even if you keep doling out cash to encourage your kids to do well, there might come a point when they are no longer motivated by money. This happened with one of my daughter’s classmates.
Her parents paid her for A’s, and she did incredibly well in school, often earning the highest grades in her classes. But my daughter told me this past year that her classmate said she no longer felt the need to work so hard just to get payouts from her parents. Her grades didn’t tank, but she no longer won awards at the end of the year for having the top grades in her classes. Instead, my bright, hardworking daughter won most of the awards this past school year, including highest GPA — and I didn’t have to pay her a cent to motivate her.
Money Doesn't Work in All Situations
Research has found that paying kids to do well in school doesn’t always pay off. A study by a Harvard economist found that financial incentives tend to work only when they’re tied to things students can control, such as the amount of time preparing for a test or number of books read, according to Education Week. Paying kids for good grades is less likely to work when the financial incentive is tied to outcomes, such as test scores. Plus, incentives are more likely to motivate students who only need a little improvement to earn better grades, according to Education Week.
So if you have a kid who is capable of getting good grades but is slacking, paying them to spend more time studying might get them to hit the books more often. However, that incentive doesn’t guarantee good grades.
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Grades Aren't the Only Thing That Matter
The biggest reason I don’t pay my kids to do well in school is that I don’t want them to think that grades are the only thing that matter. I don’t want them to think that they need to get A’s at all costs — possibly by cheating or lying. I don’t want them to think their worth is tied to their grades.
I tell my kids that I want them to learn and do their best in school. When they put effort into their school work and do well, I praise them. And they feel proud of their accomplishments. However, I don’t punish them if they don’t get all A’s. They’re disappointed enough just knowing that they didn’t do as well as perhaps they could have.
Click through to read more about why you also shouldn’t leave your kids money.
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