Instill the love of learning

Published 10:25 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

Since Knox Elementary and Valley Grande Elementary passed the state Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) report for the 2009-2010 school year principals decided to reward students with prizes and a celebration.

Knox students who made a four in both reading and math sections of the Alabama Math and Reading Test or Stanford Achievement Test 10 received bicycles. Students with a three in one section and a four in the other received a scooter.

Valley Grande paused classes Thursday morning so students could have an outdoor fun day because the school passed AYP.

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Although it is important to celebrate when a child does well, the purpose of both of these celebrations was to motivate students to pay attention in class so each student can score a high proficiency level when tested this spring.

Some parents also choose to reward children for high grades on report cards with fun activities or money. My parents were not of this mindset.

It wasn’t until I was in high school when they took me out for ice cream or to dinner to celebrate my grades. For me, the excitement of an “A” on a report card was supposed to be enough of a reward.

I was always jealous of my friends who received money for each “A” or “B” on their report card. In my mind, it seemed unfair, but now I respect my parents for their decision.

It taught me to appreciate studying, attending class and paying attention while in school because I wanted that “A” to prove to myself I could make an “A.”

Rewarding children with fun days or prizes for high grades is a wonderful motivator, but I urge parents and teacher to instill a love of learning for no reason other than learning.

Achieving AYP is a worthy milestone, but this is just a first step. AYP standards are the minimum the state requires — the minimum.

If celebrations will help students focus more during testing in the spring, then this is worth it. But let’s not settle for the minimum.

Laura Fenton is the education and general assignment reporter for the Times-Journal. She can be reached at 410-1744 or