How old were you when you learned the value of a hard-earned dollar?
Maybe your parent(s) developed a chore chart and you had specific tasks to accomplish? Maybe your entrepreneurial spirit motivated you to mow your neighbor’s lawn, and you spent the money you earned on something you really wanted? Maybe it didn’t sink in until you got a real job and used your salary to pay for your first car, or house, or child care needs?
I don’t recall money being a big deal when I was young. I was not raised in an extravagant household, but all my basic needs were met and I was happy.
I recently stumbled upon an intriguing article while blog-surfing on a site called Moment Matters that discussed the academic outcomes of children who were paid to attend school. The article, Pay the school + Pay the child, summarizes a study by Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr., in which he paid $6.3 million to 18,000 students to go to school. His findings? Students who are paid to merely attend school, like a day job, significantly fared better in their academics, as measured by standardized tests.
Proponents of this study would state that it’s better to teach kids at an early age that school time is not play time, much like the working world demands focused attention. If you put in the time and stay the course, you will reap the benefits of higher-level education and the freedom to spend your hard-earned income on stuff that makes you happy.
Critics would counter that education is a privilege, and students who are rewarded for merely attending school don’t truly appreciate learning for the sake of learning. I believe past generations can use this study as one more example of how “kids today” are overly coddled.
I didn’t earn money for getting straight A’s, nor did I expect to. I garnered the respect of my parents for working hard at my studies. That determination to succeed academically, in turn, helped to partially pay for my college.
Looking back now, I can see how many doors were opened because I attended the college I did, learned from the professors I had, and followed the lessons they instilled in me.
None of my life today would be the same had I not succeeded academically. So will I consider rewarding my children for achieving good grades (especially if they start to struggle)? Possibly. Would I pay them to simply go to school? No.
Would I judge another mom who does that for her own children? Absolutely not. And you know why I answer that way? Because I realize that some people are in drastically different situations than I am, yet we all have the same goal for our children. Graduating college = opening doors of opportunity.
Heidi Woodard is married with three children. Read her Thursdays on momaha.com
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What is your take? Would you pay your child to go to school?
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