1. Parenting

Money for Good Grades?

By June 8, 2007

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One mom wonders: "I have a 13 year old son who has Juvinille Diabetes. he has been passed around to so many different schools throughout his life. The schools in our county really have a problem with dealing with kids with small diabilities such as diabetes and cystic fibrosis and such. We have had issue after issue with them. I have done the best I can in trying to keep his grades up but he always ends up skimming by. He is a really bright kid but it is hard for him to concentrate when he has high and low blood sugars so he is a little behind everyone else all the time. Well this last nine weeks of school I offered him money for good grades and constantly reminded him of it throught the nine weeks. I used to get money for good grades mostly from my grandparents but also from my parents. I offered my son $100 for an A in any academic class and $25 for a B. Well this last nine weeks report card he made an A in intensive reading and a B in Math and Science. The rest were C's except one F in Gym, he never dresses out because his insulin pump shows when he has on his gym clothes and it embarrasses him so i let him get away with it as long as he passes the school year all together. Anyhow, when my mother in law heard that I was giving him money for his report card she had some things to say about it. She says I should never do that and it teaches them improper values and such. I don't quite understand what she means because don't you get promoted and raises depending on how hard you work. Isn't that real life? I guess I am just looking for someone to back me up because my husband, although he has yet to mention it, will surely take her side he always does. I never argue with her, the woman is really a Saint. I just need the peace of mind that I am not the horrible mother that she makes me feel like I am whenever issues like this come up. Thanks in advance for any advice."

Denise's thoughts: "I give money for grades on my girls report cards. It's a personal choice, but I do and so does their grandfather. It also helps me teach saving and basic spending habits. Middle child wanted a t-shirt for a school event today, I ask her how much money she had left from the last report card and she said, 'oh, yeah!' remembering that she had her own money and could use it. I think you are doing an excellent job. I'm diabetic, it is hard to work with highs and lows. You are being empathetic and creating a goal for him at the same time... not an easy task, mom. Way to go and keep it up!

I would talk to him about dressing for gym. Facing our fears is an important life lesson that he will benefit from learning young as he will have that pump for a lifetime. Maybe role play some ideas with him. "

Asking our community: Have you paid for grades with money or some other type of reward? Do you think parents should set something up with their teens, or not? Post on the forum or leave a comment here.

June 8, 2007 at 8:34 am
(1) Odette says:

In my opinion, it’s better to give money for something good they do or did, rather than pocket money for nothing.

June 8, 2007 at 9:16 am
(2) John Stinespring says:

As an educator, I would prefer that grades reflect the intrinsic value of learning rather than being work that earns a salary. However, education is also tied to the work world, which does reward with money. Young people may not develop a love for learning right away but the habit of study can develop that over time. Money for grades can motivate but must be awarded within the actual capabilities of the child. An arbitrary standard of money only for As may be too high for an individual kid so one must know what one’s child is capable of achieving.

June 8, 2007 at 10:46 am
(3) Sandy says:

$ for grades has motivated at our house. I have 2 high school daughters, both doing great! I pay $10 for A’s $5 for B’s $3 for c’s if they get a D they pay me $5 and for an F they pay me $10. I think life pays for a good job, and while kids are in school, that is their job! You are a great Mom, and I think $ for grades in a gift!

June 8, 2007 at 11:42 am
(4) Gina says:

First of all, if you are interested in your child’s success, and trying your best to help him, you are a good mom.

Of course, the first step is managing your son’s diabetes as well as possible and taking steps to ensure he can do his best.

As for P.E., have you talked with the school counselor to see if he can get that class waived? Many schools will do that if the student does some sport or activity outside of school or if they have a note from a doctor. Exercise is very important, but so is self esteem.

About paying for grades, I have always believed in emphasizing the effort and learning rather than the grades. Paying for grades can lead to the feeling that you shouldn’t do anything unless you are paid. I feel like some things should come from within. Those are the child’s grades, they determine their future and what they want to make of it. At some point, the desire to do well needs to come from them. Only then can they truly own their success. However, I recognize that different things work for different people and in this world, grades are important. Although I personally do not believe in paying for grades, I do believe in celebrating effort and achievement. That all being said, this is what has worked for my family.

First of all, on my kids’ report cards, for many years, they received a grade in effort and another in citizenship. I made it clear to my kids from the beginning that these were the most important grades on their report cards. There isn’t any reason why any child would be unable to get stellar marks in those areas. True to my word, whenever my kids brought home a report card, those were the first grades I looked at, and I praised them for those good marks. If there wasn’t an A there, they had some explaining to do.
The second thing I look at are the teacher’s comments. We read them together and I praise them for the positive things. If there were comments that were not positive, I ask them about it and they tell their side. We discuss what they can do to improve. Next we look at the individual grades in each class. We look for areas of improvement and recognize their efforts, and again more praise. In areas where they stayed the same, that’s great too (as long as the effort grade in those subjects was good). In areas where the grade went down, we talk about why. Was it a more confusing unit? Do they need extra tutoring? Is there anything I can do to help them? Again, in each class you can compare the effort grade and comments with the letter grade and see where the problem may lie.
If they have a good report card, instead of paying for grades, I take them out to celebrate their positive efforts. We can go to lunch, bowling, drive to the beach, camping, whatever they want to do (within reason). This way, the emphasis is on the child and their efforts rather than on the letter grade, and we are celebrating their hard work and great accomplishments together which helps them to feel positive about themself and want to do well. They know that I am there to celebrate their hard work and success with them, and will help them wherever they need it. They learn that the journey is just as important, if not more so, than the physical things you have to show for it.
Whatever you decide, I wish you and your family success.

June 8, 2007 at 12:34 pm
(5) Dawn says:

I agree, it is a personal choice. I see both sides. It is important to learn that hard work earns concrete rewards.

However, I also see the problem with giving money for grades. Sometimes in real like hard work does not earn concrete rewards and we need to be ok with that as well. Our country has gotten so money hugry. We are all so worried, children too, (especially teens) about keeping up with the “Jones’s”, and we no longer do things for the sake of doing good or learning as the only reward. We all want, expect, something in return.

I teach my children that the pride of earning the A is great, there is no monetary value that can be place on the pride one feels from a job well done. And if the grades meet my expectations, and their efforts meet my expectations we celebrate as a family. And often include some of thier friends. Just for a game night, movie night, cook out, etc.

I agree it is crucial to teach children about saving and budgeting. My children do odd jobs for friends, like baby, pet or house sitting, yard work, etc. They spend about 10% right away on fun stuff and save the rest for something big.

I also wanted to address the part of the boy getting an F for not dressing for PE. I am a school social worker in Illinois. There are laws that state that schools must make accomodations for children with disabilities. This falls right in that catagorey. He should NOT be receiving an F for not dressing. He could have an Individualized Educaiton Plan that has some accomodation for him to not dress and not be penalized for that. Please look into that with your school social worker or counselor or administrator. That isn’t fair to him.

Ok, there is my 2 cents!

June 9, 2007 at 11:14 am
(6) Michele says:

I agree with the above comment (from the social worker) and want to encourage you to find out what can be done about your child’s gym grade and if accommodations can be made that will not affect his grade, as long as he’s willing to participate. (Unless your child does not want to participate for other reasons.)I work with many children who have specialized needs and it is necessary for you to step in and not accept that they will fail your child for this. Schools can be rigid, so go to the doctor if needed. Don’t let this be a reason that affects your child’s GPA…b/c it will.
I believe you are doing a great job at encouraging him to work hard on his grades. It seems to me that the amount of money for A’s is excessive ($100?), but maybe that’s a small amount of money to your family compared to mine.

I remember when I was young, my grandpa would give us $5 for A’s and $3 for B’s. My sister and I looked forward to this reward and worked hard to earn it. (Our parents couldn’t afford this, but our grandparents could.)Anyway, my daughter is finishing the third grade and I paid her for letter grades, but not with money, but a reward system we’ve set up together. I buy things I know she wants, some she knows about, others are surprises, even picking up things from the dollar store, etc. and I put these items in a box. I let her earn what we call “Mommy Dollars” and price each item according to what they cost me. She earns her “dollars” for chores, grades, and other things. She can buy or save once a week (on pay day.) Obviously this is used for younger children, but it works well for us. When she gets older I will continue to pay her for good grades and will have to switch to cash! Probably $5 per A and $3 per B would be what I would offer. I wouldn’t be too excessive with the cash, and make sure that they understand that not all accomplishments are rewarded with money and to be proud of what they’ve done just for their effort. I also try to remind my daughter that I work hard for her everyday and she doesn’t have to pay me anything! It helps to put things in perspective for her! Good luck!

June 9, 2007 at 12:22 pm
(7) Susan M. Heim says:

I think the issue of whether to pay for grades depends on the reason for the low grades in the first place. If a child is truly struggling with school or a particular subject matter due to a learning or physical problem, then I don’t think that encouraging them with cash is addressing the problem. You need to get to the root cause of the low grades and respond accordingly. However, if the issue is just a matter of motivation — if the child is intellectually and physically able to get good grades, but lacks the will — then a financial reward might be fine if your child is motivated by money (not all kids are). I do this sometimes if one of my children is, for instance, on the edge between a C and a B, and I just want to give him that little extra “push” to put forth the effort to get his grade up. Or I’ll promise a special game or toy the child has been eyeing (if it’s reasonably priced) when he puts in the additional effort. I don’t consider this paying for grades; I consider it working for a privilege or reward. But each child needs to be assessed individually as to whether this is a desirable practice for him or her.

June 10, 2007 at 2:39 am
(8) Tracy Tresidder says:

I respect your committment and dedication to your son. It can be tough when kids have these minor disbilities; not bad enough to get full recognition or assistance from the school and not able bodied enough to fit into the “normal” maintstream program. Keep up the persistnet effort with the school – I think it is the squeaky wheel that will get oiled!

In regard to paying for grades, I believe, that there should NOT be a monetary value attached. Whe you reward or bribe you are utlimately trying to “control” him. It is classified as one of William Glasser’s 7 Deadly Habits of External Control Psychology. When you try to control it causes push back or resitance from the teenager. Try giving him admiration or respect for the qualties that he must use to gain the higher grade. It is not really the grade that is important it is the quality or way of being that he has had to display or use to get there. This creates intrinsic motivation which will inspire and excite him to continue with his efforts. This far outweighs any attempt to bribe or reward to create motivation.

Monetary rewards are short lived and in the “real world” outside of school the research shows that getting a bonus or monetary reward is not the highest thing on the list of what motivates people to perform; in fact it is recognition of a job well done that comes first on the list.

So leave the bribing and rewarding out and try on telling him you respect his qualities. It will work wonders.

June 10, 2007 at 10:59 am
(9) Australian Mum says:

Like so many things in parenting, there is no one right way. If it works for you and your boy when he needs something extra, why not? I agree with everything that has been posted. We all want our kids to value achievement and learning, but it can be a long slog year in, year out and for kids who have extra burdens, a little pragmatic reward can’t be bad.

June 11, 2007 at 5:20 pm
(10) California girl says:

It really depends. For me, getting A’s in grades K-8 required no effort beyond hw completion, so I felt no sense of acomplishment when getting a 4.0, because I knew it didn’t mean I’d learned anything. Money was a good motivator there because with or without money, I got no motivation from my classes because they were mind numbingly boring, mostly because they were too easy.

I did end up getting an annual scholarship to private high school based partially on grades(also on test scores), and I was offered(but ended up turning down) a large scholarship to one college I was accepted at on the basis of grades.

Once in college, I was able to take more interesting and rigorous coursework, which helped me view grades more intrinsically. I took pride in graduating cum laude and having a math minor because it was a genuine personal accomplishment whereas I’d never taken pride in making elementary school honor roll because it didn’t require any learning or effort other than busywork. Whether my college gpa affected my employment, who knows? My major definitely did though, yet its marketability did not detract from its intrinsic value to me.

Summary: I don’t see how money would destroy any intrinsic value, though it may conceal the fact that the grades, with or without money, have no intrinsic value to the child. Money for performance though is how the world works, and that’s much fairer than most things in life.

June 11, 2007 at 7:56 pm
(11) Sue says:

I have 3 children – 21, 17, & 13. We have some school years used money for grades. This might be another year for paying for grades to teach many life skills. We paid my oldest son when he was struggling and was being tutored – he pulled his grades up to B’s. So we paid him $10.00 for each B & $20.00 for A’s. Now we have another child in graduation year and we will probably do the same for him. My daughter who is 13 is also in a situation where the money would help her. We also have them open their own savings accounts or Checking accounts(if age appropriate) and work with them teaching them for the years until they go out on their own.

June 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm
(12) Ceebee says:

I’m just wondering what will happen if the boy happens to get straight A’s? At $100 each, would Mom be able to fork over six or seven hundred dollars? (assuming an average 6 or 7 class load). I truly can’t afford to give my kids money for grades, & they do get straight A’s. My oldest has a 4.5 GPA as Junior. Both daughters sometimes complain that they are not “rewarded” but we do all that we can. Some of their friends get to go on special vacations to Mexico or Cancun as rewards for being “good” kids. But just raising them is expensive enough. Our family could never manage something like that! One of the things I’ve always struggled with is the EXPANSION of rewards. If I reward them with “X” for doing a certain thing, then they get “Y” for doing the next level better…I end up with a child that constantly wants more, & more – bigger & better things! The other problem is with multiple children & being able (or remembering) to do all the same things for each.

June 14, 2007 at 8:05 pm
(13) Anna says:

My 13 year old daughter has ADHD & Anxiety….school for her is very hard so she needed some extra motivation to work hard for better grades. Since we started giving her money this year ($10 A’s, $7 B’s, 3 Cs, nothing for D’s & F’s) she has had her best year ever. When I’ve asked why she’s done so much better, she says she needs the money (we’ve never given allowances). The only thing I will change next year is I will take away for any F’s (F in French) because she found that class too hard and gave up which wasn’t right.

I will try this for a few years until she’s old enough to get a job and then I think that her pride will take over. I believe it will become a habit of doing well and then she’ll want to do well on her own, with or without money. Time will tell. For now, I’m just grateful she’s increased all grades by at least a letter if not better. Not only does she have spending money which by the way, she’s budgeting very well, but she also is VERY proud of what she’s been able to accomplish with some hard work.

Overall, do whatever works. YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BEST!

June 25, 2007 at 7:44 am
(14) Didier says:

On top of what is being commented, there needs to be some subtle balance among the kids themselves (I have 3).

My oldest son is 13 and needs to be motiated to surpass himself and get the A’s that he is capable of. My daughter of 10 gets straight A’s through a little bit of work (mostly at last minute). My last son of 7.5 is struggling with handwriting, with effort supported by a psychologist and exercizes on a daily basis. We motivate and reward his constant effort through little (but constant) gimmick gift (he’s collecting the Pokemons’ kraks, for whoever knows them), but the others 2 now start complaining that they do not get anything for their efforts throughout the year.

I strongly believe in dialogue and explaining why everyone gets different treatment – there is no such thing as 1-size-fits-all. Non-financial recognition is crucial in this aspect, it does also get less obvious to compare, which kids so much adore doing!

August 18, 2007 at 11:17 am
(15) Maria says:

I think you’re doing a great job! (although I do agree that $100 is extravagent. I think $10/A is sufficient, but that is just me.) I enjoyed reading these comments, as I have struggled in the same area. I have 4 children (Freshman, grades 8, 3 and 2) and it raising them IS expensive. We have never really given them an allowance, as they get pretty much anything they NEED and much of what they WANT, within reason. I think $10/A, $5/B ~and $3/C if your child isn’t as capable of B’s or A’s~ is a good idea, and them paying you for a D or F is also a good idea! They need to learn how to save most of what they earn and should be allowed to spend a portion, for earning it with an effort for good grades.
Good luck (and yes, look into getting an excused absence for Phys Ed… he shouldn’t get punished for that).

June 20, 2008 at 9:21 am
(16) Cecilia says:

My problem is, out of four, one who is a great student, skipped two years, and three who don’t care at all. Nothing works: tutoring, promise for money… they don’t study as if it’s their last concern. I wonder how to motivate them. They get home from school and get on the computer or television. I intend to get rid of both next schoolyear. I’d like for them to understand that it can be fun and rewarding to learn and get good grades, but they seem to think it’s uncool. What to do? I’m a single mom (widowed) and would gladly reward them. I’m discouraged, and so are they.

July 30, 2008 at 1:23 pm
(17) Paul says:

I too have considered paying my children for getting good grades. I formerly thought that this was a wrong but then I asked myself why. It isn’t bribing as one person erroneously suggested. Bribery according to Miriam Webster is, “money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.” (For example paying a senator to give your company more business). If paying your kids for good grades is bribery then I can’t wait to pick up my bribery check this Friday. Actually paying your children for good grades is rewarding them for good behavior.

Giving someone respect or admiration for a quality they don’t possess is lying and manipulative and should never be done. As the child grows he will recognize this false admiration for what it is. For example, “You’re such a good learner”. To say this when the child hasn’t been a good learner would be reprehensible. This in no way prepares your child for the future. During school children need to discover what they excel at as well as develop all skill necessary for the future.

Quote from above => “It is not really the grade that is important it is the quality or way of being that he has had to display or use to get there.”

This is absolute nonsense. It is important the children understand that 1+1=2. It doesn’t matter how a child feels about that. When your son is older and working it will be the quality of his work that is judged and not whether he felt good about it. There are absolutes and the grades help us realize that. Grades tell us we need to work harder or we are doing well.

Your goal should be to help your child understand the importance of good grades and working hard at whatever he does. That requires inspiration and rewards. Help him to learn the future implications of what he does today. If he works hard he is rewarded.

Different people respond to different motivations. Money isn’t necessarily a bad motivation. I think you have to know what motivates your child and use that. I personally wouldn’t offer $100 for an “A” because it seems like too much.

I have heard people say before that money for grades are bad, but I have never heard a reason against it that I consider valid.

March 16, 2009 at 11:02 am
(18) Scott Boyer says:

I think this is a great discussion.

I don’t understand why anyone would carp about paying even $100 per A.
#1, there is no guarantee that you’ll have to pay $100.
#2,How much is it worth to you to have your kid self-motivated to get grades rather than you having to be constantly on their case?
#3, How much is it worth to you that your child is learning how to get organized, think proactively, and be busy and stay out of trouble in order to achieve these good grades?

Seems to me that nothing but good can come of this system.

For my 11 and 8 year olds my fiendish plan is to make an A worth an outrageous amount of money. Make the A worth the effort. They each have 6 subject areas in their report cards. I’d say making an A worth $20, and a C worth $2, and a B about $8, this will likely get their attention.

Scott Boyer

October 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm
(19) bobby says:

i wish i had parents like you when i was in high scool.. i had A”s and B”s ,, a 4.2 GPA ,, and all my family would say was: i brought thebacon today, cuz i got a job hint hint!! yeah i didnt have a jobe at that time,,, cuz i was 15…. but i had good grads and had universities sending me letters of acceptance to their school, bud did they care , chale,,

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