When our oldest started school and brought home his first report card, as parents we had a discussion on whether we would “pay for good grades” or not. It just didn’t feel right to bribe our children to do well in school, but we wanted to encourage them. We also didn’t necessarily want them competing against each other, and we wanted to forestall any “I got all A’s and B’s and you didn’t!” comments. At that point we didn’t know what type of students our children would be; we just wanted each of them to do their individual best. We wanted to be able to work as a family team.
So, we decided that our “have a good report card” incentive would be dinner at a restaurant. (Since in those early days we never ate out as a family, this was a big deal.) I’m pretty sure we let the kids choose, but knowing that at age 6 their favorite restaurant was McDonald’s we weren’t too worried about cost. Everyone whose grades improved from their previous report card (and we looked at both academic and conduct grades) got to go with Mom and Dad. Those who didn’t stayed with the babysitter. If you had one “perfect” report card, you had to keep getting them to earn the dinner. Then, while we were eating, we’d discuss what needed to be done during the next grading period so that each could continue to strive to reach their full potential.
We’ve had some great times at those dinners over the years. Once they were teenagers, we’d invariably get the “why don’t you just buy us a new video game instead of taking us out to dinner – it would last longer” argument, but we didn’t cave. A couple of times we even had our “restaurant” dinner at home, with barbecued steak and lobster, but it was still the kids’ choice. And, yes, there were times when someone didn’t get to join us, but they made sure they could the next time.
Report card dinners worked for us. Feel free to hop on over to We are THAT Family to see what works for others.Good report cards were on my mind this morning, because yesterday the official announcement was made.
Congratulations to the Bloomingdale High School’s Class of 2011 Valedictorian!