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                                                                                                                            Esther Andrews

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Incentive Plans for Gifted, But Unmotivated Kids   

           Unmotivated kids?  It's not their fault.  They have
high potential!  The children's motivation is the parent's
responsibility.  Parents initiate and maintain that motivation, at
least until the kids are self-motivated.  Most parents understand basic
encouragement, but don't have an effective administrative system.  
Their encouragement effectiveness is diluted by inconsistent and
sporadic communication.  Motivated kids need to know clear targets and
why they are targets.  Many parents hope their child will attend
college and grow a successful career and give back to the community.  
But kids just don't know what that really means.  They have no idea of
how to go about getting into college much less winning
scholarships.       

     How do the big boys do it?  How do large
successful organizations motivate success?  With a CPA background in
designing business systems, I had previously designed successful
incentive plans for top corporate executives, sales teams and grant
program managers.  Today I will share a scholastic incentive plan for
kids.  The encouragement agreement for the kids provides consistent
monthly praise, recognition and financial rewards.  I call the
agreement the "College Prep Contract."  The Contract ignites their self-
motivation engine.  Igniting their engine is the key.         

     My daughter is now Miss Outstanding Teenager of Hawaii, Big Sister of the
Year, "A" student and has scholarships to Georgetown University,
University of Maryland and University of Southern California.  My son
is now Pacific University's Chemistry Student of the year, "A" student,
teaching assistant, Princeton Review SAT prep instructor, IBM summer
intern and plans to pursue a full medical school scholarship.  Wow, am
I proud or what?  Imagine your kids doing this and much more.  You
might be thinking, "My kids? No Way!"  But wait.  When my kids were in
middle school, they were just average kids.  Anything is possible!How
many times have I seen the kids when they were younger, spend hours and
hours, stretched out on the sofa and flipping the remote through
mindless entertainment?   What a waste of prime time?  Hey kids, you
could be training to earn that one point needed to rise from a second
place scholarship to first.  How do we help them get up and go? When
the kids were entering middle school, I wanted to encourage them to
choose the right path, be self-reliant and not follow the crowd.  Peer
pressure can be overwhelming.  With the right encouragement, our kids
have changed.  They are now self-reliant and self-driven.  I don't need
to nag.  They want to win.  They want to study.  Amazing!     

       
     Don't you love a pat on the back, especially from someone you really
admire?  If your mom or dad gave you a "high five," an "adda boy," and
some award for a "B" grade, wouldn't the "B's" start increasing.  Well
maybe not increasing right away, but after getting "adda boys" and $10
five times in a row, most kids would catch on to the program.  If your
dad doubled the award for an "A" to $20, wouldn't the "A's" start
increasing?  You know it was really amazing to see that with just a
little more effort, "B's" turned into "A's." It's really
amazing.          

      In developing a student incentive plan like
the "College Prep Contract," it's not just grades that are being
encouraged.  We also encouraged leadership and community service: We
gave $5 for being a school project participant, $25 for joining a club,
$50 for being an officer and $100 for being the president.  The
incentive plan provides easy and clear targets. Let them earn rewards
and recognitions.  Let them choose what to earn.  That right to choose
will solidify their commitment to success.  

* * *Here's an excerpt from our College Prep Contract: In pursuing recognized achievements, the
Children will be entitled to compensation as hereinafter provided.  The
Parents and Children covenant and agree as follows:

 SCOPE.  The Parents shall open college fund accounts for each of the Children to
invest their mini-scholarship awards.  The college fund will accumulate
money for each Child for college tuition, books, transportation, room
and board.  As college payments are due, money from these funds will be
used to pay college costs. The funding plan is based on developing
strong work ethics, pursuing leadership and service goals, and
providing recognition of scholastics, leadership, community service and
financial need. 

1.  Scholastics - report card grades will be compensated
$20 for each "A" and $10 for each     "B."  Any scholastic special
awards or student recognitions, such as Science awards or Math
recognitions will be compensated at $20 for the school level awards.  
If the award is community-wide or countywide, compensation will be
$75.  If the recognition is statewide or nationwide, the compensation
is $150

.2. Leadership - Each single term as president or chair of a
club or group will be compensated $100.  A term as any other officer
will be compensated $50.

3. Community Service - will be compensated as
follows:a.         School projects/clubs (e.g. band, track, science
club) $5 day, $25 semester, $50 yearb.         Community/county project
(e.g. Key club, interact, fair) $6 day, $30 semester, $60
year            c.         State/national activities (e.g. NHS, March
of Dimes, Toys for Tots) $10 day, $50 semester, $100 year

4. Finances - Work ethic is important.  Parents want the Children to learn the value
of a dollar and that hard work pays off.  This part of the plan is a
matching contribution.  Parents will match Children's deposits of their
own money into the college savings account up to the weekly limit.  The
weekly matching limits are as follows:    

a.         Grade 5-8                   $15, b.            Grade 9-12                  $30,
c.             4 year college               $60.

 * * *Here's a few incentive guidelines that are imbedded into our College Prep
Contract:

1)  The incentive must be understandable to the child.  Simple
motivates better.

2)  The incentive should be rewarded shortly after
accomplishment occurs.

3)  The incentive cost should be less than the
value to the parent. (You want every event to be a win-win.)

4)  The incentive should reward performances that exceed minimum levels.  (No
reward for mediocrity.)

5)  The incentive amount should be high enough
to motivate the child.

6)  Place no upper limit on incentive earnings to
prevent a psychological limit to excelling.

7) The incentive should be
affordable to the parent, to enable continuous payments throughout the
program. * * *Are you planning for college savings?  If you are saving
anyway, why don't you use that money as a motivation tool?  If the kids
feel they worked hard to earn it, they will appreciate the college fund
much more than an unearned gift.  All of our Contract awards went into
their college fund.  The Contract encouraged participation at community
events.  We also encouraged saving some of their own part-time
earnings.  In middle school we matched up to $15 a week of self-earned
savings.  In high school we matched $30 a week.  When our kids
graduated from high school, their individual college savings exceed
$25,000 of their own accumulated awards.  And through their accumulated
achievements, the kids also earned large scholarships and tuition
waivers. Money incentives are only a part of the College Prep Contract
motivation.  The Contract generated self-esteem as peers began praising
and recognizing growing achievements.  As peers began seeing our kids
as scholastic achievers, the peers expected them to win
again.          

   Even more important than the money incentives is the
monthly parental encouragement.  Every month, the kid's recognition
award was a type of ceremony.  The sharing of smiles between parent and
child was extraordinary.  When parental love is genuine, parental
encouragement becomes extraordinary.  It is powerful.  Passionate
genuine encouragement will become the magnet for the right choice when
peer pressure starts to kick in.  Peer pressure can be pretty
persuasive, but a genuine parent/child relationship can be even more
influential.  Kids want their mom and dad to say "good job!"  Kids will
put in a little more effort if they know a parental review and
commendation is on its way.  The "College Prep Contract" is on its
way.   

         When your child does something great, don't hold back.  
Give praise!  It's well deserved.  We want to accentuate the positive.  
Praise builds optimism and helps mature a "can do" attitude.  Parental
praise strengthens the parent/child bond.  As praise is received and
accepted by the child, respect for the parent grows.  Just like when
the boss at work says "thank you" to an employee, that employee
respects and seeks more acknowledgement and approval from that boss.    
The kids love recognition.      

        Praise builds a positive self-
image.  With praise kids feel like winners and develop an expectation
of success.  Praise builds responsibility because it links what your
child does to what happens in their life.  Praise clarifies who your
adolescent is and where your adolescent is going in life.  Praise
motivates your adolescent to discipline him or herself to accomplish
success habits.  Praise teaches your adolescent to learn to see actions
through the eyes of others.  Praise is an excellent form of
encouragement.  Our College Prep Contract is filled with praise. Your
kids have high potential!  The key to developing your child's gifts is
encouragement: consistent, regular, genuine, specific encouragement.  
The College Prep Contract is a powerful encouragement tool.  It
works!  "The $100,000 Scholarship: Middle School Prep" written by Wayne
Fujita provides more details to implement and maintain the College Prep
Contract.  More information is available on the web at
www.WayneYFujita.bravehost.com .  

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to accurately represent this information. We do not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or results of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed. Any claims of actual results and examples used are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.                         
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