Success – grades or effort?

Success – grades or effort?


“Loving families value effort as much as success.”

Wes Fessler

Good morning!

The debate for paying for grades rages on. One side says that everyone gets paid for doing their job, so why shouldn’t we pay our children for grades.  The other side says that children should want to get good grades just for the satisfaction of doing well.  Personally, I think both sides put too much emphasis on grades and not enough emphasis on effort.

Yes, I know that they need good grades to “succeed” in school, to get into a good placement in high school and then to get into the best college or university.  And yes, I understand that there is this great pressure out there pushing every child to “succeed” at school and by succeeding they mean getting good grades.  I know this, I lived this with my children and I know how hard the pressure can be .  It is hard to resist that pressure but it can be done.  Getting good grades was never the result that we, as a family, were most concerned about. Learning, effort and curiosity are what were focused on in our house.

I can’t say that I never paid for grades because there were two instances in which I did pay for grades, but both times the grades were failing grades.  My youngest child has always had some test anxiety issues.  One year in high school, she studied for weeks for a test in Spanish.  It was an important test to the high school because it would determine where she would be placed next year, so the pressure was intense.  She studied, I quizzed her, she studied, I quizzed her – you get the picture.  She had it down, she knew her stuff.  She took the test. She failed.  She was heartbroken.  I knew how much effort she had put into studying and I was so impressed with that effort that we went shopping for a new outfit. 🙂

The other instance had to do with my middle child and it happened in college.  She somehow got into a class for geology majors instead of geology for education majors but she decided to stay in the class. She had just torn her MCL in a soccer game and was out for the season and she wouldn’t be traveling so she thought she could handle the classwork.  There were going to be some field trips involved but the instructor told her that they were not very strenuous so she would be fine.  Well, she wasn’t fine.  Because of her injury she was not able to go on a few of the field trips and although she offered to do extra work she was turned down and she did not pass.  Again, the effort she put into that class was amazing.  I knew how hard she had tried, how much effort she had put into it, so….you guessed it.  Off shopping we went! 🙂

The grades that my children came home with were so much less important than the effort that they put into the class they were taking.   Our family measured success, not by grades, but in the effort and the knowledge that they learned from the class.

So…pay for grades or don’t pay for grades – that is your personal choice. But I do hope that somehow, someway, you can convey that success is not always about grades.  Effort, knowledge, curiosity and yes even fun, are all ways to measure “success”.

Have some fun today!



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