Different Ways To Teach Children Financial Literacy At Home ~ Ideas for how to make learning financial literacy a fun and valuable learning experience.
If you have been following me for awhile or have read my About The Author page you will know that I was an elementary school teacher for many years. I share in my bio that I wear different hats including my organizing, beautifying, inspiring hat as my tagline says and sometimes I also wear my parenting or teacher hat when I create a post. This is one of my posts where I am wearing both a teacher and a parent hat talking about the important topic of different ways to teach children financial literacy at home.
What is financial literacy? It is having the understanding of how money and currency works in the world. It is having the ability to earn, budget, save, invest and donate a portion of an income. I also see it as knowing the difference between needs and wants and being able to make balanced and sensible choices about how to spend money in order to meet what we need to have in order to live comfortably and what we want in order to live life enjoyably.
As you can see there is a lot that goes into understanding and practicing lifelong financial literacy. It is a lot better to start learning at a young age rather than a few days before the child heads off to college to live and make financial decisions on their own. I watched my parents work hard for their money the whole time I was growing up. They immigrated to Canada from Europe in the fifties with very little money. Yet they built a comfortable life, home and solid investments over time. My father went to work everyday and my mother was a stay at home mom. She handled the weekly budget and made a limited amount of money go a long way. We were not an affluent family but we were never poor. Our basic needs were always met with food on the table and nice clothes to wear and our wants were satisfied with dinners out, excursions and camping trips to the lake and having new toys, lessons and sports equipment when we were growing up.
It is a different time for young children today. When I grew up most things were paid with cash or a cheque. There was no such thing as a debit machine, online banking and shopping sites such as Amazon and EBay. This present cashless society gives young children an interesting perspective of how money works. I remember several times when my two daughters were growing up and saying to them that I could not buy something because I had no money. There solution was just go to the machine and get some more. If only it was that simple.
It is also a difficult time for young children today. They are exposed to much more marketing and advertising compared to when I was growing up. All we had at home was a small black and white television with two channels and limited programming and access to a few radios in the car and the house. Now children are exposed to perpetual messages telling them what to buy while viewing potentially hundreds of channels on big screen TVs, their favourite websites on the computer and even while using free version of apps they are using on their mobile devices. Companies are very smart because they create animated television shows based on a toy. I remember my children saying they needed the same toy so they could play with it while they watched the same TV program.
It is also frustrating for children to learn financial literacy. I know my own children and the students I taught would share their frustration when they thought they had saved enough money for the new toy they wanted only to find out they did not have enough because a sales tax still had to be added. Trying to teach how to figure out what the sales tax will be and explaining to them that it is going to the government made for some very interesting conversations.
Schools teach the concept of needs and wants and how to count money in the early grades but that is about how far as it goes. It really is at home on a daily basis that parents and even grandparents are the better teachers and coaches. The job does not have to be difficult because it is something we as adults practice everyday. We just have to include children in the conversations, provide practice times and real working with money experiences for them so they can develop lifelong financial literacy too!
Learning how to manage money from an early age is an essential lifelong skill. Here are ideas for how to make it a fun and valuable learning experience.
Different Ways To Teach Children Financial Literacy At Home
Talk About Financial Literacy
Have conversations using financial literacy language with your children so they learn how to use the language and understand what the terms mean. I even recommend using the term financial literacy with young children. My teaching experience taught me that young children are curious about big words and quite enjoy using them in their vocabulary. If they can learn the names of all the dinosaurs, they can learn to use words that will help them be future successful adults. Other financial literacy words to teach can also include…
Click the image to get a printable PDF of the Financial Literacy Key Terms For Children
Read About Financial Literacy
I love to teach difficult concepts and skills through literature because first of all they love being read to and secondly it really helps with their learning and understanding. There are a number of really great children’s books that cover financial literacy in a story format.
I am quite excited about a new series that is available in Canada and is very reasonably priced. The M is for Money book series is a Kid’s Guide to Financial Literacy. It is created and written by Teresa Cascioli. There are nine books in total and each book follows the main characters Tessa and Benji who are twins learn basic information about money. Book One in the series teaches children what money is, Book Two teaches children how to count coins and Book Three teaches children how to save money. The next six books in the ‘M is For Money’ series continue to cover a variety of topics. I love how the reader can follow Tessa and Benji experience real life scenarios while they learn about financial literacy.
When I read the books I read them from the perspective as a teacher who has read hundreds of different children’s literature stories and books. I can honestly say I loved them. I was right away drawn into the main characters and the story lines that are very age appropriate for 5-9 year olds. I also loved how clearly the basic money concepts were covered making it easy for young children to follow along and build their understanding. I also love how the author Teresa Cascioli wrote each book with a predictable pattern so it is easy for the young reader to develop their reading skills while building their financial literacy at the same time.
Each book is perfect for providing opportunities for conversations and to have a lot of fun at the same time. At the back of the book Teresa Cascioli has provided activity pages connected to each story. My favourite is the “Look & Find Game” that has children look for different images that the illustrator Rachel Zavarella added to her illustrations throughout the book. For more information you can visit the website www.MisForMoney.ca and view the You Tube Video: M is For Money – A Kid’s Guide To Financial Literacy.
I also came across an excellent list of free literature and children’s stories that teach financial literacy from the University of Minnesota that you will want to check out too. Another personal favourite of mine is the poem ‘Smart’ by Shel Silverstein about a boy who clearly has no idea about the value of coins and his reasoning for why he is so money smart is hilarious.
Practice Financial Literacy
Learning how to count money is very tricky and can be very confusing for young children. Spending time together practicing counting real coins is a lot of fun. For example, figuring out how many different ways you can make fifty cents or a dollar can be a great problem solving activity that can be practiced until your child has mastered this lifelong skill.
Experience Financial Literacy
Providing children with regular real life earning, purchasing and saving opportunities from a young age is essential. It gives them real life practice that will help them develop their lifelong literacy skills.
Organize Financial Literacy
There are two ways we can teach children to organize for financial literacy. The first way is to teach them how to handle and store coins and bills. It takes practice organizing a wallet and storing the wallet in a safe location. Later on they will be learning how to handle debit, credit, gift cards, point cards and receipts so they do not get lost. It is important right away to practice this financial literacy skill with a limited amount of financial literacy items.
The second way to organize for financial literacy is to practice setting financial goals with the money that they earn or receive. Have the conversation together about how much to save, how much to spend and if it is appropriate how much to donate. I suggest to even right the goals down in a notebook, on a bulletin board or a memo board. I love how Tessa and Benji model this beautifully in Book 3 “The Little Trip to the Bank”.
Explore Financial Literacy
Since financial literacy entails a wide range of topics have fun with your children exploring and researching topics that they are curious about. Some suggestions are:
- Explore how and where money is made. Where are the mints located in your country?
- Explore the different currencies around the world. How much is a loonie, pound, peso worth compared to the coins you use in the country you live in?
- Explore the history of money. What did people do and use before coins and bills were created?
- A Google search or a trip to the library will help answer their questions.
Model Financial Literacy
I think this is the most important thing we can do as adults and that is to model knowledgeable and responsible financial literacy. As adults we are earning, budgeting and making choices about how best spend, save, invest and donate money on a daily basis.
Final Comments: There is one more way and that is to keep it fun for children to learn, practice and experience. Hopefully these different ways to teach children financial literacy at home will make the task a lot easier and doable and will help you give your children the gift of lifelong financial literacy.
I bought this adorable piggy bank at the thrift store! I call that a ‘SCORE’!
Your Turn: What are your different ways to teach children financial literacy at home? Do you have any ideas or suggestions?
Disclosure: I was compensated by M is for Money for this post. I love the books and I wish I had these available to share with my children when they were young and with my students when I was teaching. The opinions expressed are my own.
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