“How Should I Reward My Child?”

Over the years, I have met a lot of children (and young adults) who received money for good grades.  Some students earned something quite simple: Five dollars for every A.

Some kids received much more lucrative rewards.  In fact, several years ago, I had a college student who took my lower level English class, not because she wanted to learn anything, but because her father promised her a new car if she merely earned a “C’ in college.

And guess what?  She failed my class.  She turned in about 30% of the work.

Now, the students I’ve been discussing thus far are examples of the public school system.  Most home-schoolers don’t receive traditional grades.  And perhaps for this reason, I have not met many homeschool  families who exchange scholastic achievement for dollar bills.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  We have sometimes used little things like Pokemon cards are special activities (like going out to see a movie) as a “carrot” to help motivate the girls to read.  Every summer, our local library offers a program for kids.  The young readers earn points for each book they complete.  By the end of the summer, they can exchange the points for prizes — toys, art supplies, little trinkets.  On the one hand, the program encourages my daughters to try new books.  it makes them excited about going to the library.  And yet, call me idealistic, I wish that the joy of learning could be its own reward.

What are your thoughts?  Do you financially reward your kids for academic progress?  Do you think that prizes and rewards hinder or enhance the learning process?