Would you have done better at school if your parents had paid you? ? This topic can be a controversial one that is hotly debated by parents – should I pay for my children’s grades? Here at RoosterMoney we wanted to look at both sides of the issue and help you make a decision based on what fits your family best. In this post we analyse the pros and cons as well as give you some tips on how to pay your children if you choose to do so.

1. Should you pay for grades?

First of all, should you pay your child for good grades? The truth is, it really depends on what you value. Are good grades from your children important to you? Or is it more about the learning process itself?

It also depends on your end goal – why do you want your kids to earn good grades? Is it so they graduate with good exam scores, get into a good university and then a good job? Or is it because you think that by aiming high you’re pushing them at the right level. And of course, it depends on your child’s goals – do they already have an ambition? A vision of what they would like to do in the future and see good grades as a route to get there? We don’t believe that one size fits all, but it’s helpful to weigh up both sides.

2. Arguments for paying for grades

The main argument for paying for grades is that it incentivises kids to maintain high grades. Like a carrot dangling before them. Just like a real job, you are paid for high performing work, so why not start sooner? It also reinforces financial values and shows kids how important education is.

Paying for grades also teaches them the basics of money management and why they have choices on what to spend their money on. This in turn creates better consciousness about financial decisions and encourages them to spend money on things they truly care about.

From a personal perspective, paying for grades also makes life easier for the parent: less stress, fewer phone calls from the school and more university choices.

At the end of the day, the argument is that paying for grades means children learn that working hard and making good choices does have rewards.

3. Arguments against paying for grades

The main argument against is that children need to learn that there is some other fuel than their parents’ cash to get things done. Research shows that external rewards reduce childrens’ internal interest in learning, meaning that once the Bank of Mum and Dad doesn’t provide anymore, the children study less and the grades fall.

A monetary reward also doesn’t exactly instil responsibility for learning or help the child gain knowledge in itself. It can also be a demotivator if they put in a lot of effort to reach a grade, but don’t make it.

Finally, grades don’t always reflect competence. Even a child with perfect grades always has room for advance in other areas of life, and studying for grades isn’t what life is about. The argument against emphasises that what’s more important is a positive attitude to life long learning.

4. How much and when should I pay for grades?

Grades start mattering in secondary school, around the time of GCSEs, so if you are to pay for grades we recommend getting them started one year earlier. This would mean around Year 9. However, if you want to get them started earlier then it’s totally up to you.

Incentivising in itself can be hard. If you sit down and agree with your child what they want to achieve (e.g. a specific university or class next year) you can work with them and then reward them when they hit their objective grade. And if they don’t, acknowledging the effort put in is important to let them know you appreciate what they’re doing.

We also recommend challenging your child with specific short-term goals first. This means not saying: ‘Here’s £100 if you get an A’ – your child probably won’t know where to start. The key is to take baby steps and then a bonus if they get the required grade at the end. You can pay them £0.50 for every homework assignment completed, or £2 for a good essay. You can also replace the end bonus with a fun experience such as going to your favourite restaurant or taking a day trip – this shows them how experiences are sometimes more rewarding than just money.

At Rooster we’ve done an analysis of what Rooster families pay their children for academic work. The results show that on average, families pay £6.65 for good grades and £1.37 for doing homework. This is a good starting point if you’re not sure what to pay your child.

5. How do I pay for grades?

Part of setting up these milestones is to put together a homework routine. On certain days your child does the homework, and you can then decide to pay them by hour or by task completed. Both work well, although it really depends what kind of homework they’re working on. After the hour or the task is up, you can sit down with them and revise the work completed – was there enough effort? What is missing? How can then improve on the next task? Encourage them to pay attention to the final result.

Creating a schedule with milestones teaches your kid how hard work pays off as well as the importance of baby steps. It also allows them to feel like they’re working alongside you, and not for you. Paying for small milestones helps your child understand the system and instills good study habits. You can easily do this with our Rooster app by ‘Boosting’ or ‘Removing’ money.

We hope the advice on paying your kids has been useful – remember, the most important is to simply do what you are comfortable with.

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