This time of year many report cards are getting sent home.  When students' hard work pays off in the form of good grades it's a great reason to celebrate!

Is it also a good time to reward your kids for their accomplishments?  Some experts say "yes".  Some experts say "no".

Do you reward your kids for good grades?

Helping your kids reach their full potential at school is very important.  Parents need to use whatever tools they can to help their kids.  Rewarding kids for good grades can be one of those tools.  But "experts" have varying opinions on how helpful rewards are.

Research suggests that rewards may work in the short term but have damaging effects in the long term.

One of the first such studies was published in 1971 by Edward L. Deci, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, who reported that once the incentives stopped coming, students showed less interest in the task at hand than those who received no reward.

Why does motivation seem to fall away? Some researchers theorize that even at an early age, children can sense that someone is trying to control their behavior. Their reaction is to resist.

Dr. Deci asks educators to consider the effect of monetary rewards on students with learning disabilities. When they go home with a smaller payout while seeing other students receive checks for $500, Dr. Deci said, they may feel unfairly punished and even less excited to go to school.

But, there are those who feel rewards DO work for some students:

Economists, on the other hand, argue that with students who are failing, everything should be tried, including rewards. While students may be simply attracted by financial incentives at first, couldn’t that evolve into a love of learning?

“They may work a little harder and may find that they aren’t so bad at it,” said Dr. Jackson, of Cornell. “And they may learn study methods that last over time.”

How you give rewards can have a major impact as well.  Some argue that giving money or other rewards at the start of the school year, then taking them away when grades are poor, is a more effective method.

All of the expert opinions above make sense to me.  What works and what doesn't work will be different for every student.  Some kids will be helped by rewards.  Some kids will be hurt by rewards.  It's up to the parents to decide what is best.