They are asking for grades!!??

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  • Esby

    Alfie Kohn wrote a book called, “Punished by Rewards.” Part of the book deals with this very issue.


    Yes, Kohn’s book is good.  I’ve recently read NurtureShock, which is a book about childrearing practices that are contradicted by studies, and Drive, a book about motivation, mostly for businesses but with huge implications for parenting and education. 

    We all want to praise our kids.  But overpraising has some serious consequences–both in leading kids to perform for praise, and in convincing kids that some things are innate and not worth working on.  Effective praise is:

    1. True.  Kids know when you gush over their picture like it belongs in the Guggenheim. 

    2.  Specific.  Instead of saying “What a great picture!” compliment the use of color, or the way she drew the flower, or whatever.  Instead of saying “Great!” when you see the page of copywork, say that the second line of letters is especially neat. 

    3.  Rare enough to mean something.  If you praise every single thing they do all day long, it quickly becomes their “due” and they expect it for everything.

    4.  When possible, praise EFFORT and not results.  Constantly praising results (“You are so smart!  You are a great athlete!”) praise how hard they work.  (“You really worked hard on that page of math problems.  You stuck with it until you figured it out.”  “You are putting a lot of effort into practicing the piano.”)  Turns out many of us (and I’ve been guilty of this in the past!) tend to give our kids the idea that intelligence and talent are “set in stone”–you’ve either got it or you don’t.  So they figure, why try?  Either I’m smart, in which case it’s mostly important to show that I am by not working too hard, or I’m not smart and I can’t do anything about it.  If we praise effort and process, however, we give our kids the impression that intelligence and talent are things that can be developed if we work hard. 




    I agree.  I don’t give my kids grades, necessarily, but I certainly let them know if I saw they worked hard on something and should be proud of the effort they put in. I do ask my oldest if he feels he really did the best job he could and ask him to look over his work and give me his thoughts on the work he produced. 


    Now, my 7yo boy likes me to *grade* him and although he’s never been to ps somehow he knows something about this way of knowing how well you’ve done.  Anyhow, he likes me to check mark the problems/spelling words, etc. that he has right and x the problems/words he has wrong, so I do, then we quickly correct them.  Then he likes me to give him a *number* grade and I do based on neatness, behavior, and on how many were correct.  Then I give him number sequences that he has to read to me like: 5,000/6,000/7,000 or 550/560/570 something similar then he has to tell me what he’s counting by (5’s, 10’s, 1,000’s).  The higher the number, the more effort I feel he put into his work.  He loves it and basically has made up his own grading system for his own pleasure.  He actually did make all that up himself.  I just make up the numbers:)

    In essence, I don’t grade, but we talk about how much better you feel about yourself when you have put in honest work to produce whatever it is your producing. 

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