Teach a Child to Fish, Feed Her For Life

I splurged on the Fisher Kids Responsibility System because I needed a system to encourage all of us to keep the house clean, to teach the kids new things, and to build responsibility.

Here’s what didn’t work:

Magnetic Chore Chart

Written Chore Chart

No Chore Chart


Weekly allowance -we only sometimes remembered to give.

The Fisher Kids belief is “If I fish for a man, he eats for a day. If I teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” -Lao Tzu. Their system is $48 but I got a deal for $20 off. It was still is pricy. BUT I think, worth it.

The Fisher System (Get it, fish– er?):

So, we hung the metal pegboard with hooks where we put a magnetic weekly calendar listing the kids’ responsibilities. Also, we hung up metal buckets with chore sticks which we wrote, a paycheck notepad and 3 vinyl money bags — give, save, spend — for each child.

My husband was a bit irked that I wanted to try this system because we’ve always believed that you do chores because you’re a member of the household. And, you got allowance for just being. This works a bit differently. Kids are paid a commission for completion of all the daily responsibilities. They must fill out a paycheck notepad and turn it in on Sunday to be paid. If they forget, bummer for them, they don’t get paid. And, I must follow through on payday, none of this I’ll pay you later stuff. Everyone is responsible, even my husband and me.

We already have banks with the three compartments – give, spend and save — so that piece isn’t new. Everything else is new to us and so far the girls think it’s awesome. (We’ve started with two chores for the 9 year old per day and 1 for the 6 year old. Completion of responsibilities every day is 50 cents.)

I wrote up chores appropriate for each girl’s age and since we started, everyone has thought of more chore ideas so we’ve been adding more sticks. Some of the chores are a challenge which is great — I can teach each child how to do those chores and work along side her until she masters them. For example, stripping the linen and doing the laundry are challenges right now but won’t be for long.

I think the best part is that this is a system that helps us all stay on task and accountable.

Organization and systems are the key to my happiness as I mentioned in my post on summer organization for learning. I’m feeling very happy! And, if it doesn’t work long-term, it’s at least a great start.

UPDATE 8/2011: We started out strong and loving this system. When our schedule got a bit lax after swim team ended and we took a trip, the chart was forgotten. However, I still like this and will keep it up again now that school is back. My six-year old didn’t find this motivating, probably because she’s just learning about money and it didn’t carry any meaning for her. Stickers would be fine for her. I may change things around this fall.


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  1. says

    I love this idea! I’m always looking for org systems for my ADHD daughter who has trouble with Executive Functioning and organization. Like you, we’ve tried many approaches. I like the tactile part of this one. Can’t wait to hear how it’s working.

  2. says

    Anything that my kid will think is fun is a definite bonus! We’re going to need a system like this soon, so I’m definitely going to be checking in to see how well it works out for you long-term. I’m a bit like your hubby, in that I think some chores should just be part of being part of a family, but if they do more than expected, then payment is acceptable. Sounds good, in theory, but have no idea if it actually works in practice. So, I’m open to this! Only question left to ask is, how well does it work with husbands? 😉

  3. says

    I like the mix of choice and requirements. Plus programming in challenge chores that will make sure you keep building their chores skillsets.

  4. says

    We need a new system for sure! The house is a mess and the kids are getting away with it- time to toughen up over here in the Creative and Curious Kids! household.

  5. says

    I like your chore sticks and the 3 bags for the money… the whole system is very organized and tidy. Will you keep posting on how it’s working for you? We can’t seem to sustain any chore system for very long. I also tried iRewardChart app last summer and it didn’t really work that well due to user error.

    I think the sticks make the chores fun to choose — so that is super important.

    The money bags are exactly the concept I am trying to teach my kids but savings account is too abstract for them somehow.

    I like the whole visual thing too! Thank you for your great post and for sharing!

  6. Wendy says

    This looks promising – what age do you think you could start this? I have 4 year old twins that need motivation in this area. We’ve tried several things but fall off the bandwagon for one reason or another.

  7. Cynthia says

    What inspiration and fun all at once! I’ve always loved the concept behind the Lao Tzu quote and it’s nice to hear it in this context. Can’t wait to hear how it all goes. :)

  8. Jennifer says

    Hi there! I’m curious as to how the system worked throughout the summer! Can you give us an update? Thanks!

  9. Barbara says

    I just heard about a new website called KidsCash where I can deposit my kids’ allowance automatically via PayPal every week and then they can choose to save it, spend it on toys or videogames in the KidsCash Marketplace, or donate it to charity. Maybe check that out?


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