Rewarding children for their academic efforts with money is controversial. Whether you choose to trade cash for grades, here are some things to consider:

* Focus on your child's hard work, not necessarily the grade. One child will have no problem earning an A, while another will have to study like crazy for a C. Also, some achievements are difficult to quantify but still worthy of praise, such as good behavior or helping others in class.

* Give your child a treat after the fact rather than promising money ahead of time. The former is a reward, while the latter is more of a bribe.

* Cash or no cash, tell your children you're proud of them. Hugs and sincere words of encouragement often mean more than money.

* Alternatives to cash: Give your child a day off from regular chores; cook a favorite meal for dinner (or order pizza); go to the movies, bowling or out for ice cream or some other treat; call relatives to share the good news; hang the grade card on the fridge.

* Most experts agree that money works best as a motivator when it is used in small amounts over a limited period of time. The longer you do it, the less effective it is. Your goal should be to wean children from cash just as you weaned them from treats when they learned to use the potty.

SOURCES: "Dollars & Sense for Kids" by Janet Bodnar;; and Chuck Smith, family life specialist for the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service