Incentives Encourage Students to Earn Good Grades


Getting good grades or doing well in school is tough for some kids. Whether it’s because they’d rather be outside or choosing not to listen, encouraging kids to do well just for the sake of doing well can be a lost argument. As adults, we know that doing well in school is vital. It sets the tone for their life, encourages them to strive and to try. It also gets them a solid education, and maybe even scholarships down the road. A good education can open the doorways to good jobs, but as kids, they can’t see the big picture. Incentives are great ways to encourage kids to earn something, and it makes the process exciting for them, as barber Mike Shelton can tell you.

The Barber

Mike Shelton is a barber at the Next Level Barbershop in North Carolina. At work one day, a young kid walked through the doors asking for a haircut used Mike as his barber. As the two chit-chatted, they became friends. Mike learned that the young customer was Kamarian Fox, also known as Kam, a local fourth grader who seemed bright and mature for his age, impressing Mike.

Taking an interest in Kam and his bright future, Mike struck up a deal with the young boy. If Kam could get good grades in school, and show the proof to Mike, the barber would cut Kam’s hair for free, for life. Mike cared about Kam, stating that he thought the 9-year old kid was a great person. By offering this incentive, Mike hoped and waited that Cam would take him up on his offer, which Kam certainly did.

Free Hair Cut

After receiving the first report card of the year, Kam marched straight in the barber shop to “Uncle Mike” as he now calls him, and gave him the card of Mike to inspect. Kam had kept up his end of the deal, earning all straight A’s in school. Mike will keep his promise, and continue to cut the boy’s hair for free as he has worked hard an earned it. Kam’s mom is thrilled with both Mike and Kam proud of her son that he was so excited about the deal and so hardworking, and appreciative of Mike who took an interest in encouraging a young life.

Encouraging Others to Follow

Mike credits his actions to past barbers that did the same for him, and urges others to take an interest in others and try to help or encourage them. For the short time you are in a barbershop, you can impact someone, just as he was, and just as he did for Kam.

Luckily, Mike Shelton isn’t the only person interested in encouraging kids to get good grades in school. Schools across the nation have begun their own incentive programs, paying cash, giving prizes, or having the students name put in a drawing for a large prize are ways they are trying to get kids hooked on learning.

Incentive Programs

At one high school in Georgia, if students attend Saturday study sessions, they can qualify for movie tickets, dinner, or even an iPod. Does this really work? At this Georgia high school only 10 students made the honor roll last year, and this year 25 students made the list. Jesse is a sophomore at this school and because she made the all A-honor roll this year, her name was put in a drawing, and she walked away with a flat screen T.V.

Reward Earned for Hard Work

Getting good grades on state tests or AP tests is also given an incentive, and many schools pay cash, some up to 100$ to push kids to study and do well on these crucial exams, and the kids are excited. Earning a flat screen T.V or cash or movie tickets is something most would have never expected, and it has the desired result; effort. Great incentives like these rewards motivate kids and teens in to working hard for something they want, and little do they know it is setting them up for success in their future.
Incentives are not bribes, as some may think.

It is a reward earned for hard work completed, and a Texas school has documented such results. Their incentive program resulted in a 30% increase in the amount of students that scored high on the ACT or SAT exams. College attendees also increased by 8%. These students gave it their all and were rewarded, not only by tangible awards, but also because some were pleasantly surprised that when they did try, they succeeded.

Fake Money

Some schools use fake money instead of the real cash, but the results are still impressive. Grade school and younger children are given incentives for behaving, being polite, good grades, being a good helper, and many more. They are given fake money if they succeed, which can then be spent at the school store. Books, stuffed animals, pens, pencils, markers, and other gifts can be purchased with the fake money. Kids really do want to do their best and this set them on a straight path to success and motivation, if they don’t put in the work, they will not reap the rewards.

Live in the Here and Now

Kam and many other kids love incentives, it motivates and excites them about school when sometimes they need a little excitement about it. Trying to explain that this will help you in the long run or that good grades will help you get into college or a decent job is language that kids don’t understand.

They are excited and live in the here and now. Mike Shelton and teachers across the nation are realizing this, and what better way to get students doing well in school than to offer rewards for all their hard work.

More have attended and applied for college, an increase in passing tests and claiming spaces on the honor roll list are nothing but positive steps forward, and the kids are having fun doing it. Incentives are a way to get quality work while encouraging students, which, unbeknownst to them, really does have a positive, long-term effect on their bright futures.


About the author

Katy Brackett

Katy Brackett

Katy has been writing for almost a decade. Her kindness, work and words can change your attitude and approach to life.