As a parent, it’s important to celebrate your child’s academic successes and accomplishments. Being recognized for their efforts helps motivate them as learners, builds their confidence, and helps them understand the value of hard work. Additionally, it shows them how proud you are and how much you care about supporting their learning

Parents often gravitate towards a physical reward to incentivize and praise their children for their accomplishments. However, this can become problematic. Offering physical rewards may motivate your child to work hard, but this is what is known as extrinsic motivation. If their only desire to succeed comes from the promise of a reward for their efforts, it takes away from their learning process. While not inherently wrong, it’s important to celebrate your children in ways that boost their intrinsic motivation. When children are intrinsically motivated, they work hard in school for the fun or the challenge entailed, rather than a reward or grade associated. 

Let’s look at some ways you can celebrate your child’s academic success that encourages learning for the sake of learning. 

1: Words Of Encouragement And Affirmation

Speaking words of encouragement and affirmation is a great way to celebrate your child’s success and build their confidence. For example, if your child has a big presentation coming up, offer encouraging words beforehand and follow up with them afterward. No matter what the outcome, commend them for getting through it. Students should know that academic achievement doesn’t only mean scoring a stellar grade. Rather, trying their best and simply getting through a challenging test, presentation, or assignment is an accomplishment in itself. When your child does tell you about an academic achievement like getting an A on a project, try responding with, “tell me more,” “I admire…” or “how did you make that happen?” These phrases demonstrate to your child that you are interested and proud of their work. Additionally, it allows them to elaborate and reflect on the learning process involved in their success. 

2: Create New Traditions

Celebrating as a family with fun traditions is a great way to make your child feel recognized. Things like having a special dinner or doing a fun activity of their choice are great examples of traditions your family can put in place. Rather than doing these traditions every time your child receives an A or completes a big project, create traditions to commemorate the start and the end of the school year. By doing so, you celebrate their learning experience as a whole. You can use this time to either discuss their goals or reflect on their accomplishments. Not all students will want to reflect on their academic success or setbacks every day after school. Having these conversations as a part of a fun tradition frames them in a more laid-back and uplifting light, while still celebrating their learning.  

3: Celebrate the Process, Not Just the Product

One of the best ways to celebrate your student’s success is to have an active role in their education and applaud smaller accomplishments throughout the learning process. Schools will often take time at the beginning of the year for students to journal their goals and establish the steps to achieve them. Make sure you are well informed on your child’s academic goals for the year. This way, you can celebrate when they have accomplished a small step towards achieving their overall objective. Additionally, even when students have setbacks toward completing their goals, help them focus on what they can learn from this obstacle. By doing so, you highlight how the learning process that comes with working toward a goal is just as important as the goal itself. 

Celebrating your child’s success should be fun for everyone. Don’t feel like you can’t give your children physical rewards for their academic accomplishments. They work hard in school and should be celebrated for their achievements! Finding a healthy balance is key so students can define for themselves what success looks like. By shifting the focus from the final product to the process, students learn to value the work they accomplish and realize its benefits, regardless of the outcome.