Friday, November 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Students Being Paid for Good Grades

We have heard about this controversy lately. Like with many situations, there are several sides of the story. Many can remember being rewarded for a good report card, however today it almost seems like we are paying our kids to do well – in reality, shouldn’t they want to be successful so someday they will earn their own money? Let’s not answer that – today’s society is a new generation. I am not speaking about all teens, however the sense of entitlement has reached a level that is disturbing to many parents and teachers.

Recently I read an article by Connect with Kids about “A Little Incentive” that offers tips that can help you make a decision that is best for your family. Take the time to read this. Be an educated parent and weigh both sides of the issue.

Tips for Parents

Is it a good idea to give cash in exchange for good grades? That is something each family must discuss and decide. Evaluate your teen's grades. If the grades are good, continue with the plan you are using. If the grades could use some improvement, take the opportunity to discuss the importance of good grades. Explain how good grades will help them children into the college of their choice.

If this does not work, consider a reward system. Ask them what they would like to receive for grades. If money seems to be the best motivator, but you are not comfortable handing over cash for them to "blow," you do have some options that will motivate and educate.
One option is to take the opportunity to teach your teen the value of a dollar. Family Education Network suggests the following tips:

Once a dollar amount is established, sit down with your teen and establish a money management program or financial plan.

Begin by designating 35 percent of their "grade money" as free spending money. This would be theirs to do spend as they wish. At least half, in this example 65 percent, must be saved.

Your teen can open their own savings account, or if you are stock and mutual fund savvy, try to get them investing early and on a regular basis.

Have your teen give a percentage, 10 percent for example, to charity. If you are uncomfortable with rewarding good grades, consider other options for helping them achieve academic success. One of the most important things you can do to help your teen succeed in school is to become involved. Consider the following ideas suggested by the American Federation of Teachers:

Know your child's school family. The teacher is the primary player in your child's school environment, but there are others (such as counselors and librarians) who make a valuable contribution. Attending parent-teacher conferences, open-school nights and other events are the best way to get acquainted with these important people.

Expect success at school. Children work best when they know what you expect of them. Discuss these expectations with your children -- expectations for good grades, attendance and study habits. Encourage them to take courses that will challenge them, but not overwhelm them. For example, high school students usually can choose from several English courses and several mathematics courses. Discuss these and other course options with your children. Make sure they are choosing courses that will interest and challenge them.

View unsatisfactory grades as an opportunity. All parents want their children to receive good marks and advance to the next grade, but do not expect a teacher to give your children a grade or honor that they have not deserved. Make it clear to your child that grades are not ''given'' - they are earned. If your child receives an unsatisfactory report card, use this as an opportunity to restate your own commitment to high standards. Discuss with your child (and the teacher) what he or she will need to do differently to improve the grade and advance to the next level.

Help your child keep pace. Absences, family problems and other distractions make it difficult for a student to keep up with lessons and assignments during the school day. Ask a teacher if your school district offers after-school tutoring, summer programs or other activities that can prevent your child from falling behind.

Monitor your teen's part-time job. For many teenagers, holding a part-time job is an important rite of passage into adulthood. It teaches students about the working world and how to manage money. But a part-time job can cut into study time and add to the stress of teen years. Grades can fall, and attendance can suffer
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