Working=Earning Money

Guest blogger: Thanh Ngoc Shanahan

posted by Thanh Shanahan

I am a mom who likes to be on the go! Staying home only happens if it’s absolutely freezing or pouring rain, or if someone is contagious. One of our favorite places to visit is the zoo! There are a few “luxuries” that are not included in our membership. However, it doesn’t stop my children from asking for them! As much as I would love to, I can’t justify getting them every Mold-A-Rama or a $2 stick for them to feed the parakeets each time. But I don’t mind taking an opportunity to teach my daughter a life lesson: In order to get the things you want, you will need money. And we need to work to earn money.

Even as infants and toddlers, my children were expected to do their share to help with cleaning up their toys and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. But by 3, my daughter was understanding how important her help was to me. We discussed the chores I expected from her daily (clearing dishes, cleaning toys, etc.). We tried out a couple chore charts that listed in words and pictures what job was expected. We finally settled on a magnetic one to encourage my two-year-old son to “work” as well. My children were expected to do all (there were only 5) their chores everyday.

“Everybody helps.” That was our chant to help them understand the importance of doing their part in the work. The work in the house needs everyone’s participation because we are all on the same team. It’s not just Mom and/or Dad’s job to do the work that the children are capable of doing themselves. And I believe that this will lay the foundation for my two children to continue to be responsible as they grow older – to have good work ethic. Eventually, they will become adults who contribute to their world.


For a day’s work, my daughter earned twenty-five cents. After she earned them, she would trade in 8 quarters for two dollars. And if she didn’t spend it all right away, she would even exchange for five and ten dollar bills. In the beginning, she didn’t trade for many big bills – she was so proud to spend the money she earned, $2 at a time! Eventually, she would earn enough money to buy a feeding stick for her brother as well. Knowing that she needed to work to earn her money helped her not ask for me to buy her something with every visit. She would patiently wait until she earned enough money. I was so proud of her!

After the novelty of earning and spending wore off and she was saving enough money, we started talking about how it is kind to give money away. It started out with some of the donation boxes we can find around the zoo – definitely a great cause. My daughter would ask me to take some money out of her zoo money (that’s what we called it since that’s where she used her earnings) to donate.

Not only am I proud of my daughter’s character and where her heart is, but I am encouraged by the potential of where her knowledge is going on this skill.  I feel like she will know the value and importance of money, how it shouldn’t be wasted or taken lightly.  I feel like she can evolve with both her chores to earn and her personal giving to causes that inspire her.  It becomes my job to find those new opportunities that balance earning and giving, and I look forward to that challenge.

Thanh Ngoc Shanahan

Thanh Ngoc Shanahan, M.A., spent 13 years teaching young children in preschool, kindergarten and elementary school settings. She began her career in early learning at the Concordia Early Childhood Education Center, where she worked as a preschool teacher, developed and implemented early learning curricula and helped transition the growing program from four classrooms to 12 classrooms in a state-of-the-art early education facility. At the Chicago International Charter School, she taught a rigorous, data-driven curriculum to kindergarteners while incorporating technology into the classroom experience and mentoring student teachers. After serving as a second-grade teacher at the Daystar School in Chicago, Shanahan launched a family child care program in 2013. She earned her B.A. in early childhood education with a specialization in music from Concordia University in 2000 and her M.A. in early childhood education with a special education emphasis from Concordia in 2006. Shanahan has appeared on Town Square, an online network that connects family child care professionals in Illinois to professional development resources curated by the Erikson Institute. The creator of a Town Square series on the benefits of excursions for young children, she was also a featured presenter on a Town Square module on developmentally appropriate technology use. Conversant in Chinese and Vietnamese, Shanahan is passionate about teaching because she loves to help young children engage in exploration and discovery.

Read more posts by Thanh Ngoc Shanahan

4 Replies to “Working=Earning Money”

  1. Awesome way of teaching your daughter important math and life skills! Definitely going to implement a similar routine with my kids once one day!

  2. I’m not sold on teaching children to do housework for money. I feel they need to help around to house to learn responsibility of a family

  3. I feel that children should not earn money for chores for every day chore. Doing everyday chores show the children a sense of responsibility and being in a family. Find extra chore for the children to earn money!

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