As a teacher, I’ve had to watch so many children struggle with money, especially coin and value identification. I try to teach them the importance of being money smart, but they don’t get the practice they need at home in order to fully understand its importance.
I remember proudly walking to the store on my own when I was little with my own money and the feeling of pure satisfaction when I walked out with something I bought on my own with my own money.
So many parents these days don’t allow their kids to pay for their own things. How can we expect them to understand the importance of saving money when they aren’t even getting the proper practice of basic money knowledge like identifying coins and dollars or receiving correct change?
There is so much push for parents to encourage early literacy through books, but an equally as important concept, financial literacy, seems to fly under the radar a bit.
Luckily for us, it’s quite easy to show kids the benefits of being money smart and there are a lot of really helpful resources out there to use.
Start them early!
Just like reading, the earlier you implement financial literacy, the more successful you’ll be at teaching them. Of course, showing an infant a quarter and telling them what it is may not be the best plan of action, but there are other ways to encourage financial literacy.
The infant/toddler stage is the time to teach kids how to sort and count objects. Basic number skills like counting to ten are the foundation for a financially literate child.
Teach them responsibility and independence through earning money.
There are few things in the world that feel as good as earning money after hard work and watching kids experience that for the first time is the most rewarding thing to see as a teacher or parent.
Financial independence can give kids a sense of freedom, but it’s also important to teach them to spend responsibly. As amazing as it can feel for kids to earn their own money, that feeling may come with a lot of temptation to spend it right away. It’s our job as teachers and caregivers to show them the importance of being responsible.
As caregivers and teachers, we are our kids’ main role models. Our behavior directly impacts their behavior, so when it comes to spending money, it’s important to set a good example. I’ve certainly been guilty of a few unhealthy spending habits, but by doing something as simple as clipping coupons or looking for sales while you’re out, you are already showing kids positive spending behavior.
Saving money and giving back to a cause
Saving money has so many obvious benefits from saving for a new bike or starting a “college fund.” As tempting as it may be for them to spend money right as they get it, it’s our responsibility to show them how cool saving their money can be. It is so rewarding to see a child’s face light up when they realize their $5.00 turned into $10.00 and so on.
With the responsibility of saving money comes the option of giving back to their community. Once they’ve saved a good amount, this a good time to introduce the concept of donations. Show them that there are others who may not have the same opportunities as them and help them find a way to give back to these organizations.
Always give them the option to either donate, spend or save. If you force them to do one, they will always feel like they HAVE to do that particular option. Whereas, if you encourage them to make the choice on their own, they will do things because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to.