HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every weekday around 8:15 a.m., the Antonelli kids head off to work, sort of.
As far as Hamburg mom Jackie is concerned, school is their job, and she’s more than willing to dish out a salary.
“As adults, we get paid to go to work and do our job and we always sit there and tell our kids, your job right now is to go to school, get good grades and everything,” Antonelli told News 4.
A good report card or an improvement in a subject earns a cash bonus; this is instead of a regular allowance, or paying for chores.
“I don’t get paid for cleaning my house. They’re living here. If they make the mess, they have to clean up after it. As far as schoolwork, I think it’s a completely different scenario,” she said.
But the Antonelli kids view school very differently.
Kindergartner Lyora loves it, while getting second grader Travis to do his homework is like pulling teeth.
UB Psychology Professor Larry Hawk said understanding what motivates your kids is key.
“Watch what your child does when they can do whatever they want. Watch what they eat, watch what they seem to get a kick out of. What do they choose to do in their free time?” Prof. Hawk suggested.
What works for one child, may not work for the other; so automatically reaching for your wallet, Hawk said, has downsides.
“It can have some negative consequences like increasing the likelihood of cheating, or making the behavior not so likely as soon as those consequences aren’t around, like when they go to college, or maybe even high school sometimes,” he said.
Kenmore mom Danielle Fleckenstein said her kids won’t see any green for making the grade.
She wants second grader Abel to take pride in his schoolwork, and make the decision to work hard on his own.
She doesn’t see school as a job.
“I see it more as as responsibility. It’s something they need to do for themselves in life,” she said.
And Fleckenstein gives her 6-year-old a choice.
“He’s said to me in the past, ‘I don’t want to do my homework.’ And I say ‘Well, okay, tomorrow morning you can go into school and tell your teacher that you chose not to do your homework.’ And then he thinks about it for a second, and he does his homework,” she said.
Another concern she has with making good grades a pay day? How her kids associate a dollar amount with a certain letter grade.
“I want him to try his best, and I want him to put his best effort into it. And if his best effort is a C, that’s okay,” Fleckenstein told News 4.
Professor Hawk said it’s the act of rewarding that’s effective, not the reward itself.
He’s done studies that show positive consequences like going out to a favorite restaurant, or choosing a movie, can motivate kids just as well as cash.
What parents need to keep in mind, Hawk said, are the habits they’re helping to mold.