When I was a kid I used to love going to school. There were many days when I would given just about anything to not have to go home, that’s how much I loved my classes and my teachers. From recess to our school’s library, there wasn’t anything that I didn’t know about my school and this was a love that I would carry with me throughout all of my school years. Of course, there was one teensy part about school that never failed to get my down, no matter how much I loved the rest of my daily routine. Mathematics were never my strong point and for years I was in special glasses that were aimed to help me catch up to my classmates. While I eventually caught up enough to pass at grade level, to this day math is my weakest subject.
Anyone who has ever taken math classes during their school years knows that it’s a complex subject. It’s made up of dozens of different steps and formulas but although I pretty much abhorred each step in the process, there was one part of math that I loathed more than anything else and that was when the equation had anything to do with money. To this day I still hate handling money, not because I’m not longer good at it but because of all the negative memories of it I have from growing up. So much of my life revolves around dealing with money, it’s almost impossible to avoid working with it. From grocery shopping, to paying bills and even filling up at the gas pump, almost everything in our daily routine centers around money.
Given my own early struggles with money and the fact that my own little ones are only getting older, I wanted to get a head start on teaching them about money. In my mind it’s never too early to start teaching children about the basics of life and something as easy as money could only benefit them in the long run. As I thought back on my own early learning years and the games and tips I learned while working with money, I knew that now, many years later, there had to be a plethora of even better ways to teach little ones about money that would not only help them learn more effectively but that would also turn out to be fun for them also. So, I set off in search of different ways that would be helpful in teaching my little ones about using money and would love to share my findings with my readers.
- Use real money. If you want to give your children a hands on approach about money then using real money is definitely the way to go. Using cash and coins gives your little ones a realistic view of what each note and coin represents and can prepare them for using real money in day to day situations. It’s also helpful to let your little ones experiment with money by allowing them to help pay for simple things like putting money in a parking meter or gumball machine.
- Gift them with a modern piggy bank. Like me, I’m sure a lot of parents were given a traditional piggy bank when they were growing up and they looked forward to depositing their hard earned money. While this is good for saving up for something, it doesn’t really teach much about money management. Piggy banks with four slots like save, spend, donate, and invest help your child better grasp management of their money and allow them to actually see where their money is going and what they’ll be putting it towards.
- Money games. When we were children money games were a daily part of our math studies. They helped us learn about money in a way that was fun. Utilizing the internet is a great way to research modern money games. These days there are a wide variety of games and videos with children’s favorite characters talking about money; their favorite characters are a great way to engage your child and further entice them to learn about money. A great game to play is called the Coin Identification game, where your child will learn how to identify each coin and their value.
- Take your child to a local thrift store or garage sale. If you allot your children an allowance each week, garage sales or thrift stores are a great way to help them learn about and manage their money. These places are far less expensive than any of the stores in your local mall and will give your little ones more bang for their buck. They’ll learn how to budget themselves and count money during “checkout.”
- Clip coupons. Your little one will love being put in charge of the coupons on your next visit to the grocery store. Ask him/her to keep an eye out for the products on each coupon and allow them to place the items in the cart. You can use this experience to explain the value of coupons and how they actually save money on the products your family loves. This will make your little one feel like they’re actually helping and it’s a great way to open a discussion about money.
Teaching your little ones about money doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. It can actually be a fun experience for both you and your child while also being an educational experience. Whether you teach them with popular money oriented games or take a more hands on approach by letting them help pay bills, count out change, etc. there isn’t a wrong approach to take in teaching them about money.