It’s really quite hard for kids today. Though they might not have to deal with the problems of yesteryear, like having to ride in vehicles without seat belts or frequently breathing secondhand smoke, kids today have other, newer problems. Largely these problems relate to two topics: money management and new technology. No matter how well versed a parent can be, it is very difficult to teach a child about upcoming technology, because parents can never know what new, evolved technology might appear around the corner. Basic finances, though, have by-and-large been dealt with in the same way for hundreds of years. This is why it is a great opportunity now for parents to teach their kids basic finances and money-saving techniques. Utilizing fun activities and games, parents can teach kids penny-pinching saving tips, wise spending, and budget management. These are great math skills that children can use throughout their lives.
Integrating Money Learning and Math Skills
Every child is different. Like with many other aspects of education, it is important for parents and teachers to take a child’s age, attention-span, and math skills into account when thinking about possible lessons. For example, seven-year-old Joey might be able to understand a discussion about how to figure out how much he will pay for a 30 dollar shirt that is 50% off. Whereas, five-year-old Sally might want to help write a grocery list, or pick out items in the store. Sometimes even in the same family two different children might respond differently to the same lesson. Joey might waste his allowance faster than Sally!
For children who are younger and have smaller attention spans, simple, low-cost, low-gain, decision-making activities can be employed. A piggy bank can come to mind here. A small allowance can be given. When children grow slightly older, more responsibilities can be given, and more complicated financial topics, like credit cards and large loans, can be discussed. It’s probably a good idea for these teachings to correspond with a child’s math level. For instance, if a child can figure out a complicated quadratic equation, she or he can learn about what 25% APR means.
Money Activities: Rewards and Milestones
When completing finance activities, positive reinforcement is the name of the game! If Sally chose the better product at the grocery store, congratulations are in order for that decision. If Joey saved his allowance, some other reward may be in order. For instance, like with a savings account, a quarter or dollar can be thrown into the allowance if a child didn’t spend it for a few months. Many of us adults do this to ourselves on a regular basis to help save money. Have you ever told yourself that if you don’t eat out for three weeks then you can buy that big item? Like with adults, rewards for children can be short-term, long-term, and recurring.
Money Games: Having Fun With Money
Learning about finance, and teaching finance, does not have to be a chore. These lessons can be taught by playing board games (like Monopoly® or The Game of Life®), playing numerous interactive video games, role playing big finance decisions, or doing finance worksheets as a team. Catchphrases, rules of thumb, or even silly songs from movies or shows, can encourage children to have fun with what they’re doing. Also, a parent can integrate other disciplines besides math into the lesson plans. Kids can draw their own dollar bills, or write a poem about how great it is to save money. In the end, a parent can create enjoyable, rewarding, fun lessons fairly easily with some basic techniques on a regular basis.
Below is a list of fun videos, interactive games, basic tips, and simple exercises that can be used in conjuncture with other day-to-day parent-child teachings.
Save, Spend, and Share – Making Choices – Young children can learn to make smart consumer choices, just like in this short video.
Save Perry’s Pennies – This interactive game features catching falling pennies.
The Birth of a Coin Cartoon – This cartoon talks about how coins are made.
Start Smart: Money Management For Teens – For older children and teens, this is a more cut-and-dry guide to money management, with tips, definitions, and recommendations.
Ad Decoder – Children sometimes don’t realize how advertising affects them, even though they consume a great deal of it. This ad decoder talks about “unreal” and “real” ideals.
You Are Here – Virtual Mall – This is an interactive video game which takes place in a mall. This game is meant to role-play smart consumer choices.