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Dear Teacher


Dear Teacher


Does Paying for Grades Work + Skipping Kindergarten to First Grade



dear_teach
January 2012

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or ask them on the columnists' Web site at www.dearteacher.com.

Paying for Grades: Does It Work?

Question:
We now pay our smart middle-schoolers $10 for every A and $5 for every B. They used to get mostly B's, now they usually get straight A's. Is there anything wrong with this? – Paying for Grades

Answer: Of course, as you know, there are pros and cons on the issue of paying for grades; however, in your household it is working and everyone is getting the results that they are looking for so it is a win-win situation.

If children buy into getting better grades because they want a reward (money, TV time, a cell phone), one positive outcome is increasing their skill in one or more subjects. This can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and can create a genuine desire to do well in school and an appreciation of learning.

Rewarding children for grades can backfire if children already have a desire to learn. They may begin to think that they are working harder primarily to get a reward rather than to do well in school. However, if children have little or no desire to succeed in school, rewards may get them on the path to doing well in school.

One caution: If parents expect rewards to improve grades, they must offer rewards for grades that the children can reasonably be expected to achieve. A child with good basic math skills could be offered rewards for A and B grades. However, the child with weak math skills should not be expected to get more than C or possibly B grades.

Skipping from Kindergarten to First Grade

Question:
What do you think about accelerating my daughter, who is in kindergarten, to first grade, as she's doing work well past what is expected of her in kindergarten? The only negative as I see it is she's physically smaller than average. The school suggested moving her. – Move or Not?

Answer: You are not the first parent to face this decision. It's best to make this decision with the help of school personnel and even psychologists. Plus, it's very smart to learn as much as you can about acceleration. Two really good Web sites with solid information are: the National Association of Gifted Children (www.nagc.org) and the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (www.accelerationinstitute.org).

You need to realize that skipping a grade is not the only form of acceleration offered by schools, especially for older children. Another popular alternative is advancing a child for a single subject.

What works for one child may not work for others. In general, skipping a grade should create a better match between children and the level of instruction they are receiving. Compared to peers who have not been accelerated, those who have been skipped are usually more advanced academically and often have improved socialization skills. On the other hand, not all gifted children should be skipped, especially those who are not socially and emotionally ready or academically advanced across subjects.

It is good that you are being proactive. As a parent, you need to look out for your child, because educators don't always focus on the needs of the gifted. Also, students who are accelerated do have the advantage of getting through school faster and are able to obtain more advanced degrees.


Tags: Education, Kids

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