I’ll just flat-out say it: I pay my kids for good grades. Literacy and high academic achievement is high on our list of priorities. And let’s face it: not all kids are self-motivated or self-directed learners. (Why do you think my head turned white after my boys began elementary school?) So with money as an incentive, we’ve come upon a working solution.
Hubby and I devised a “reasonable” pay scale to motivate them and reward their efforts. And no, it isn’t going to force us to pull out a home equity loan either. Yet, it’s the perfect amount to keep the kids striving.
The template is as follows:
For each “A” earned, the compensation is $5; each “B” receives $2. A “C” is worth nothing and if you receive a “D,” you owe us $2. If you get an “F”—and God help you—no money is exchanged; you’re simply sent off to live at a neighbor’s house.
Yesterday was report card day. Early that morning, I checked the balance in my bank account. Good, we’re covered just in case they do well, I quietly assured myself. As of now, (thankfully) only two kids qualify for the above payment structure. Both of these top-earners pulled straight “A’s.” Seventy bucks later, and I’ve got two more students who scored “1’s” in all categories. Because they still don’t receive letter grades, they’ll receive a flat-rate of $5 a piece. Thanks for playing. The protesting pre-schooler, who’s yet to bring home a progress report, will be handed $2 to just go away.
What most pleases me is that this spirit of competition inspires them to work hard as they compete with themselves. And because each child is determined to acquire so many toys, presented is another income stream to fund their purchases—‘cause God knows I ain’t paying for all that crap!
Don’t get me wrong; this doesn’t get me off the hook easy. I’ve got to keep ‘em chugging along. Each day we ritually sit down together at the kitchen table and do homework. After dinner and showers, we reconvene to lounge on the couch, and our den transforms into a library.
It’s not easy; usually the two boys, ages six and eight—those most responsible for my increasingly gray mane—must be physically dragged to the couch, consistently surprised, as if they didn’t live here and know the drill. Yet once we’re all nestled in, a calming stillness settles over the room as each kid is transported to a parallel universe (except for my eight-year-old son who requires psychological counseling to stay motivated).
I hope it’ll pay off. I know I’ll have to increase the prize money soon enough, but I’d like to consider it an investment that may pay high returns to the tune of college scholarships.
And by that time, perhaps I’ll finally get to finish a book of my own and nature will kindly reverse itself and shock my hair back golden brown.