LEARN TO EARN: Teaching Kids the Value of Hard Work and Money - Small Legacies

LEARN TO EARN: Teaching Kids the Value of Hard Work and Money

By Kendra Johnson*

One thing that's been on my mind lately is how to teach my little ones about the value of hard work and money without overwhelming them with financial worries. So, let's take a look at how we can work together to make that happen. 

Starting Early: Age-Appropriate Chores

As parents, we understand the importance of teaching responsibility from an early age. It's about instilling in our kids the understanding that being part of a family means contributing. Age-appropriate chores are the perfect starting point. For my boys, tasks like picking up their toys, making their beds (even if they're a bit lumpy), or feeding their younger brother snacks have become opportunities to learn about responsibility. But let's not forget, it's a journey filled with patience and understanding as we guide them on this path.
  • Age-appropriate chores teach kids responsibility.
  • Examples of suitable chores: picking up toys, making beds, feeding pets.
  • Patience and understanding are key in this process.

The "Learn to Earn" Approach

One approach that's been particularly effective in our household is what I call the "Learn to Earn" method. It's a simple yet powerful concept. We introduce our kids to tasks that are not only educational but also enjoyable. This approach makes learning about money and hard work feel like an adventure rather than a chore. And let me be honest, I'm learning as much as my boys are. It's a beautiful two-way street where we're all growing together.

  • "Learn to Earn" involves simple and enjoyable tasks.
  • It's a gentle way to teach kids about money and hard work.
  • Personal experiences show that learning is a two-way street.

The Three Piggies: Give-Save-Spend

When it comes to teaching kids about money, the "Give-Save-Spend" piggy bank has been a game-changer for us. Each section serves a purpose. "Give" teaches empathy and generosity as our boys choose a cause or charity to support. "Save" encourages them to set goals and practice patience as they watch their savings grow. "Spend" empowers them to make choices and understand that money has real value. But, oh boy, there have been times when the "Spend" section saw some impulsive action. It's all part of the learning journey.

  • "Give-Save-Spend" piggy banks are practical tools.
  • Each section (Give, Save, Spend) has a purpose and benefits.
  • Personal anecdotes reveal the ups and downs of using this method.

Encouraging Entrepreneurial Spirit

We're all about nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit in our boys, and let me tell you, it's an adventure filled with creativity and imagination. From lemonade stands with extra sugar to art shows where only Grandma seems to be a customer, we've seen it all. But these experiences are valuable; they teach our kids to dream big and work hard, even if the profits are meager. It's about fostering their curiosity and letting their imaginations run wild.

  • Nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset is important.
  • Examples of imaginative business ventures in kids.
  • Let kids dream big and learn through experimentation.

The Value of Mistakes and Learning

In this parenting journey, we've come to realize that teaching kids about money and hard work isn't always a smooth ride. Mistakes are bound to happen, and they're valuable too. I'm no stranger to parenting mishaps, and I'm not afraid to admit it. It's all part of the process, and it's how our kids truly learn. So, let's embrace those moments when things don't go as planned and use them as opportunities to grow together.

  • Teaching isn't always perfect; it's okay to make mistakes.
  • Share personal parenting mishaps and lessons learned.
  • Allowing kids to make mistakes and learn is valuable.

Balancing Lessons and Fun

Striking the right balance between teaching financial values and having fun is key. We've discovered creative ways to make learning about money enjoyable for our boys. Family outings and activities that involve a bit of spending here and there become practical lessons in budgeting and decision-making. It's all about making the learning experience as memorable and enjoyable as possible.

  • Striking a balance between teaching and having fun is key.
  • Creative ways to make learning about money enjoyable.
  • Family outings and activities enhance the learning experience.


Teaching kids about money and hard work is a journey filled with ups and downs. Remember, you're not alone in this adventure, and there's no such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace the learning process, cherish every imperfect moment, and watch your little ones grow into financially savvy and hardworking individuals. Share your experiences and tips in the comments; we're all in this together!



Kendra is Director of Digital Resources and Curriculum for Small Legacies. A certified elementary educator and parent, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to kids creatively.


*Some elements of this blog were generated with the help of ChatGPT

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