Thursday, February 16, 2017

5 Natural Ways to Teach Your Child About Money

Play is the most natural state a child can be in.  Teaching them anything before 1st grade forcefully or unnaturally will be like herding cats.  Now, I'm not an elementary teacher, but I've taught middle school long enough to know toys are great for introducing concepts and sparking interest in the minds of students.  When I bring out toys for props in my science class, my students' eyes light up.  Many of them (mostly the boys) still like playing with toys despite not wanting to look immature.

Teaching kids about money in five easy steps -

In raising my two children, Rehani (5) and Ajani (3.5), I've used their natural curiosity and love of toys to teach them about money.  As they age, I'll be more obvious and direct in my communication and approach.  If you want to ensure your kids are exposed to money concepts as early as possible, it's best to plant items around the house that they can grab, touch, and perceive as something for grown-ups; an experience with the "forbidden" makes it that much more fun for them.

So here's what I've done:

1) I've left spare change around the house.  Note, you want to make sure your child is at an age where they're no longer putting toys or foreign objects in their mouth.  While Rehani and Ajani are playing with the coins, I'll join them and ask them to tell me what they're doing.  After saying something like, "We're playing with money," they'll get to asking me what each coin is.  Start with three coins, like pennies, nickels, and dimes.  Have them contrast the colors and sizes.  Have them make careful observations of each coin.  In due time, they'll be able to identify each coin correctly.

2)  I've left my two-gallon plastic spare change container on the floor, and have dropped spare change into it in the presence of my kids.  Yeah, there's been a few times where they've emptied it out on the floor, and I've had to supervise their putting all of the change back inside, but from this the kids have requested their own piggy banks.  They want what daddy has!  Now I had to explain to them why I put my spare change in the container (saving) and this has taught them the importance of putting money away to buy or pay for things in the future.

3)  I've paid my bills at the kitchen table while the kids ate.  They see me writing checks out, and want to do the same.  I've ripped out a few blank checks and have let them go to town doodling on theirs with pens.  I've, of course, explained to them what checks are for, and why daddy must pay his bills.  Whatever you do, don't complain while paying bills near your kids.  They may associate reading (from your statements) as a frustrating and painful act.

4.  I've bought them a toy cash register with accompanying paper money and credit card.  The card can be swiped to cause a "sale" button to pop up.  We go on make believe shopping trips and they fake buy toys they already own.  I act as the cashier and take their money as well as give them their change (plastic coins).  Sometimes I tell them they don't have enough money to make a purchase.  I suggest to them that they put certain things back so they can complete their transaction.  The lesson here: You can't just buy all of the merchandise; you have to be selective and buy things you can afford.

5.  My wife Jessica has "hired" the kids to help her clean around the house.  (I've had the kids help me clean too, but have not paid them for their services).  The kids will want to be around us when we're hard at work completing chores.  We tell them to leave and go play, but they just won't.  So this is when we put them to work with us.  We give them little tasks like wiping the table or countertops.  I have them help me take the recyclables to the bin outside, do laundry, and put folded clothes back.  By paying them a quarter to do these spontaneous tasks, they learn to work for money.  When they get older, we'll give them specific chores to do regularly for an allowance.

Having your kids experience money at an early age is important.  Talk to them as much as possible about money, and don't be afraid to tell them why they can't get a certain toy or why they can't have pizza everyday (too expensive, not in the budget, etc.).  Even if they don't fully understand each concept, you'll have at least introduced them to the vocabulary of money.  The more words they know the better they'll be when starting elementary!  Thanks for reading.  If you liked this post and want to get more like them in your mailbox, please subscribe before you leave.
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