A Rewarding Education

My stepson finished Grade 7 on the honour roll!  HOLY CRAP!


He came home 2 nights ago and told us that a kid in his class saw the certificates being printed in the office and saw one with my stepson’s name on it.  He was totally excited.  We were speechless.

Not because we don’t think he’s capable.  He’s a very smart kid.  Sometimes too smart.


But despite the fact that he is in a gifted program at school, attainment of grades that reflect his intelligence has been a struggle for him.  Some of the struggles are within his control, some are not.  Nonetheless, his mid-year report card this past year was disappointing, to say the least.

So when he told us he had made the honour roll, we had a hard time believing this was possible, based on his previous report card and the general lack of homework-doing and studying we saw around our house for the past 4 months.

But he did it!  His average just barely exceeded the 80% minimum required for Honour Roll status, but he did it.

And we are SO proud!  Incredibly surprised, but in a fantastic way.

He is finally performing academically at the level we know he is capable of!

Does that sound familiar to you?  I’m sure many parents feel their children are not performing up to their potential at school.

So now Huzbo wants to reward him.  And this is where I struggle.

I do want him to know how proud of him we are.  I told him a hundred times yesterday.  I hugged him, I kissed him.  I cried when I saw his certificate.

I want to give him some sort of token to remember his job well done.

So where do we draw the line?   Huzbo wanted to take him to a movie of his choice tonight.  Just the 2 of them.  I felt that excluded Baby Girl and I.  We are proud of him too!

Huzbo wanted to take him out for a fancy dinner.  Or give him a present.  Or give him cash.  Or all of the above.  Huzbo is pretty pumped about this, as Huzbo never made the honour roll.

I’ve read a number of blogs and comments to these blogs about each of these ideas.  I’m not sold.   I want him to feel that there IS a reward for working hard.  But isn’t feeling proud of your accomplishment a reward?  Isn’t getting the good grade the reward?

I also struggle with the concept of rewarding him for fulfilling our expectations of him.  Our job is to take care of him, to feed him, to clothe him, to nurture him, support him, love him.  HIS job is to go to school, study hard and do well.  Don’t worry, it isn’t an exchange program – we would still do our job even if he isn’t doing his.  He has chores in our home – making his bed, dusting, keeping his room tidy.  We don’t throw a party or reward him for doing those chores.  Why should we reward him for doing what we expect of him at school?


I suggested to Huzbo that we offer him a choice of one reward.  Perhaps we could offer him the choice of a fancy dinner at a restaurant of his choice, a gift of his choice (within a pre-set budget), or cash payment for A’s and B’s.  The latter is my favorite, as I like to offer more money for A’s than B’s.  To me, this gives him the clear message that the reward for his BEST efforts is a bigger payoff.  Just like in real life.  If you do your best at your job, you generally are eligible for the highest rewards.  I know he is capable of straight A’s, he’s that brilliant, so why not try to encourage him to excel to his best possible efforts?

Now I have to go count up his A’s and B’s to see if we can afford to offer this reward…

What do you do for your children when they do well at school?  Would love to hear from you!



If anything about this post appealed to you, please swing over to the right side of your screen and follow my blog so you get my new posts directly in your email inbox.  While you’re there, why not click the “Like” button right there for my Facebook fan page and hit the “Follow @papayajambalaya” button to follow me on Twitter?  Yeah, that’s right – go ahead – stalk me.  It’s all good.  If you’re already stalking me or are going to -Thanks! 



14 thoughts on “A Rewarding Education

  1. We do the cash…more for A’s than B’s as you suggested. It got expensive with our oldest in middle school when we started this and they have 184 classes or so it seems! LOL It worked out well. Our oldest got accepted to a special program in high school —international business and technology in Brampton. The kids in this program are all pretty academic, which inspired him to work really hard. He saw the potential around him and decided he wanted to go for it. It paid off with an acceptance to U of T for computer science co-op—-90% in his last semester. I am a proud mama!

    You should be proud –and more of these moments will come up in the future,. Good to see you are planning on how you want to handle them as a parenting team!

    Yah you!

    • Yay! Another parent who doesn’t think cash for A’s is evil! Thanks so much for your comment and you SHOULD be proud of your smart cookie also! Congrats! Now I am really motivated to pay for grades, based on your story! The only problem is that we have offered this once in the past, and it did ZERO to motivate my stepson. Maybe now that he’s older and finds money of more value it will work!

  2. We take the kids out for ice cream. I realize that rewarding with food is not a good idea, but we make it a fun experience as well. I didn’t want to use money (but I never say never). I do think that celebrating accomplishments is really important. Thanks for this post!

      • Ice cream is FAB! Sadly, we eat ice cream on such a regular basis that neither of our kids would consider it a reward or recognition! I think your “fun family experience” is the key – spending time together, celebrating somebody’s accomplishment but not necessarily in a monetary or material manner, is probably our best option! Thanks for your comments!

  3. How about a “end of year celebration”? Honestly, the marks are secondary. How was his learning skills? Praise him, not for getting on the honour roll but for doing his best, for working hard. A, B, or C if a kid honestly did their best, reward that with praise. Let his heart swell with pride. That way he is intrinsically motivated instead of externally (money). You want him to want to do his best because he feels proud.

    But celebrate it is summer!!!!

    • To be honest – he made big improvements in his academic performance, but we still don’t feel he is “doing his best”. Plus, marks do count. If he WAS doing his best and only getting C’s, we would be totally fine with that – not every child’s talent lies in academics. However, we do feel that his marks would be even better if he worked on a few specific areas of his study/organization skills. He wants to go to university, so he does need good grades to get there and we want to encourage him to work for his goals. I like your statement about external motivation! It’s not what we prefer, but I guess we are searching for a way to cover all of our bases – self-esteem, internal motivation and tangible recognition! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I say let huzbo take him to the movie. That way boy is happy to have one on one time. Huzbo is happy cause his idea was accepted. And you and daughter can have something special waiting for them when they come home. Maybe a cake or congrat sign and water balloons!!

    • There’s a fine line. Is it reward or recognition? Recognition is a form of nurturing which is vital in the development of confidence. Take it from me who wasn’t ‘rewarded’ for much in life!! I have many talents but little confidence.

      • We do movies often with both kids, so not sure that would even be interpreted as a “reward”! I like your fun family time idea, though! Recognition is a much better word for what we want to do! All kids need it, as they all have their own unique talents! It’s unfortunate you didn’t get that growing up, but it’s awesome that you see that mistake and realize it shouldn’t be repeated. Thanks so much for your comments!

  5. My kids aren’t old enough for that yet but as a teacher I don’t like when the kids tell me they’ve gotten cash for A’s and B’s. Some kids work just as hard to get a C as someone else did to get an A. Some kids will never be A students no matter how hard they try! Some teachers give out A’s more freely than others. It’s bit different with your son. He’s gifted. You know he’s capable. But I’m with you. Should we be rewarding kids for doing what is expected of them?

    • Totally agree, Kelly. If he was completely incapable of getting A’s, we would never offer a reward for them – that’s mean! The thing is, he IS capable of getting pretty close to straight A’s. We want to keep encouraging him to improve his academic performance to its highest level, not have him settle for mediocrity. It’s a tough call!

  6. HA!

    Coop came home with A’s and B’s as well ….. and off to my mom’s we go where she pays him. Lol

    I am especially proud of Coop this year because of my ex’s and mine separation – I know it has taken a toll on him but he has done well in school. Soooo – he got a new pair of shoes last night – $85! And hopefully he’ll remember, with every step he takes, that doing well in school does have its advantages.

    Love to read your posts – hope all is well with you and fam!


    • That’s great for Coop! Congrats! It has been a tough year for him, so I know it means a bit more when our kids still do well in school when they have other big stress factors. I love your shoes idea and the every step he takes reminder – totally cool! Hope all is well with you guys also!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s