Let the kiddos know you're just as excited as they are about that gold star, certificate of achievement, or good grade on the report card. But don't reach for your wallet just yet—instead of handing over monetary rewards for good grades, create a tradition the two of you can celebrate together with each new report card. Try one of the following ideas to recognize the efforts of your A+ student!

Sweet Success Activity

Work together to make dessert for the family. Let your kid pick the recipe, the main ingredient, or central theme (even if it's dinosaur food). Encourage your child to show off his school skills by using math to measure ingredients, his art class talents to decorate a cake, or his social studies knowledge to discuss the dessert's cultural significance. After dinner, have him share the sweets with the family as he delivers his good news and explains how he made the dessert. Let him soak up the attention by asking him to stand on a step stool and deliver his message like an award-winning actor, using a wooden spoon as a microphone and the dessert as the trophy.

Official Refrigerator Ceremony

Did your daughter do fabulous in every subject? Make her the star of the evening by conducting a ceremony as she posts the report card on the refrigerator. Let her wear a special princess crown, carry a magic wand, or wear something of yours. As she attaches the paper, sing a song to the tune of "Happy Birthday" that uses the words "Happy good grades to you!" Finish the ceremony by presenting her with a bright pin-on award button for her to add to her backpack, along with a few supportive words about why you're proud of her performance at school. How many award buttons can she collect by the end of the year?

A Growing Reward

To celebrate his own growth at school, present your child with a cool plant to nurture. Watering a small cactus or watching a bulb morph into a flower is something to cherish even when school's out for the summer. Make the gift extra personalized by working together to decorate a flowerpot for the new greenery. Encourage your child to adorn the vessel with his school colors or with fun facts he learned in class. For each term he gets good grades, add a new embellishment or flower to the plant's home.

Library Adventure

Why not reward education with more education? If grades go up, promise a trip to the local library for materials other than your usual books, whether it's a new comic, a niche magazine, or a movie. As you wander the aisles together, play a game. Ask your child to count the books on the shelf she's browsing, but she has to do it in multiples of 10s (or with another math skill she's recently aced). Alternatively, test her vocabulary by challenging her to come up with three synonyms for a given word. For example, if you say "smart," she can respond with "intelligent, clever, and brainy"—using her quiet bookworm voice, of course!

Rewards for good grades don't have to be expensive and elaborate. Instead, focus on praising and congratulating your child on hard work and learning. Above all: Tell your kid you're proud. Words are powerful!