How Do You Teach Preschoolers About Money?

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      While centre-based care is typically provided only to children from a few weeks to five years old, family day care provides care for children up to 12 years old. Ultimately, deciding on the type of care you want for your child will depend on your needs and your preferences.

      Family day care is where a child is educated in a small group in a family style atmosphere at an educator's home, seeing the same educator or educators each day. ... The educator's children must be counted in those seven children if they are under 13 years and not being cared for by another adult at the premises.

      Money is an economic unit that functions as a generally recognized medium of exchange for transactional purposes in an economy. ... Money originates in the form of a commodity, having a physical property to be adopted by market participants as a medium of exchange.

      There is a great debate among parents around when you should start talking to your kids about money.  

      Some parents believe that introducing concepts of money to children places too much strain and too much adult anxiety on their kids.  

      These parents want to wait as long as possible to talk to their kids about money, if ever.

      It’s a taboo topic, even among adults. We’re not supposed to mention incomes, debts, or how much we spend on purchases. We size each other up based on our perceived worth.

      Yet so much about money pervades our lives, from the opportunities we have and the values we shape. 

      It’s what determines whether we save for college or stay home with the kids or not.

      So when does research say you should start?  Well, as soon as a child is able to understand the basic concepts of money.  For most kids, this is around preschool age.  

      What Age Do You Teach Kids About Money?

      Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report that by the age of 3 most kids are able to understand the basic concepts of value and exchange that are central to economics.

      The best time to actively start teaching kids about money is during the preschool years, however, even toddlers will start role-playing and can “pay” for things at the store. 

      Start as early as your child is willing to engage, but never force formal learning until your child is ready.

      It can take several years before your child is really capable of working out the correct change or fully understanding the value of things. 

      Up until the third grade, simply keep exposing your child and providing opportunities to practise the skills.

      Use these number recognition games and activities to start teaching your preschooler to recognize the numbers.

      How Do You Teach Preschoolers About Money?

      Learning how to purchase something at a store is one of the basic skills a child can learn from an early age, through role-playing as well as actually purchasing and paying in cash.

      In time, children will start to learn the value of coins and notes, as well as what different items cost. 

      Don’t fixate too much on memorizing the value of different coins and notes. Just keep talking about “how much does it cost?” and “let’s see if we have enough”, etc. 

      With lots of practice, the values will sink in over time.

      The concept of money has changed so much in recent times. 

      If we only teach children about physical money in the form of coins and notes, they will find it confusing to watch us performing online transactions or paying for goods by swiping magical credit cards that pay for anything and everything!

      As complex as it is to explain concepts such as bank cards, interest, currency and instalments, these are conversations you can build into your daily interaction as you deal with money in real-time.

      Another aspect of teaching children about money is habits. By teaching kids at a young age you can develop healthy habits that will prepare them for their future. 

      They can learn to save, to budget, to prioritize needs over wants (the mortgage or rental is paid before money is spent on entertainment), etc.

      You may also want to teach your children values around money, such as donating to help the less fortunate, not being wasteful, developing a habit of gratitude, treating people of all economic backgrounds respectfully, etc.

      We often teach children an oversimplified version of how people earn a living. You work really hard and you earn an income. 

      While this may be true, don’t forget to expose your children to reality as they get older and can understand more complex ideas.

      Children can learn that different careers are paid differently and that education levels may influence how much people are paid. 

      They also need to learn that people with all kinds of backgrounds have started businesses, many of which are successful and many of which fail. 

      Explain that many people invest money or learn how to “make money work for them”

      Make Chores a Regular Activity


      Chores are a fantastic way to introduce the values of hard work, responsibility, and discipline, traits that are just as important when it comes to managing money.

      As an adult, your child will turn to these values to make hard decisions, persevere, and stand out above the rest. She might work for a company or start her own. 

      Either way, she will have had the experience of routine responsibilities that may or may not have been pleasant.

      And it’s not about paying her to do chores—in fact, I believe kids should do chores simply to contribute to the household, not to earn money. 

      Instead, it’s about drilling down the idea of discipline and doing a job well done.

      Encourage Your Child to Wait

      Have you ever stood with your child in a long line at the grocery store? 

      If you’re like most parents, you feel a wave of panic thinking how in the world she’s going to behave while waiting for your items to be rung up.

      By learning to wait, she’s less likely to give in to impulse buying or quick wins, and instead see the value in waiting for even better results down the line.

      She can put aside gift money to save up for a scooter, instead of spending $5 here or $10 there for smaller-priced items she doesn’t even truly want.

      Come adulthood, she’ll see the value in setting money aside for retirement. She can also have fantastic vacations, all because she’s already learned how to save money.

      Now, this doesn’t mean that waiting is pleasant. Far from it. She won’t stop experiencing its discomfort, but will instead learn how to cope with it.

      Through waiting, she’ll come up with creative ways to keep herself entertained. 

      She might play with her baby brother or count the items in the cart instead of whining or wishing to hurry up the process.

      Encourage Your Child to Save

      The best time to start a savings account for your child is the minute she starts receiving money for gifts.

      Take half of that money and stow it in a college savings fund, and take the other half and put it in a savings account.

      As she grows and asks for things you’d rather not buy, introduce her to her savings account. Show her that this money is hers to use on purchases she’d like to make.

      Should she ask for a big-ticket item you’d rather not buy, tell her to save up for it using her savings account. 

      The extra time needed to make this happen just might convince her that she might not want that item after all.

      Count Everything

      Understanding money starts with basic counting. After all, we can’t know how much money we have if we don’t know how to count and measure it.

      Make it a daily habit to count with your child, from simple games like counting Lego pieces to playing math games with beads. 

      And of course, you can always count money, especially if you’re sorting through her piggy bank.

      Once she understands basic counting, introduce different ways to count multiple items. For instance, you can arrange pennies in groups of tens, then count by tens to show how many dollars she has.

      Practical Ideas for Teaching Preschoolers About Money

      While you can and should talk to your children about all these ideas and concepts related to money, using the games and activities listed below is a great way to let them experience these ideas and understand them in a practical way.

      Telling your children about how a bank works is very different to opening an account, checking your balance online, swiping a debit card and reading the new balance, running out of funds, depositing or transferring money.

      Talk to them and also give them real-life experiences and they will understand the concept of money in practice.

      Make a Piggy Bank

      Making a piggy bank can be a fun art activity. Use a glass or plastic jar, cut a hole in the top that will fit coins or paper notes and decorate the outside with paint or stickers/paper.

      If you are feeling really brave – blow up a balloon, paper mache newspaper around it, make ears and draw on a face. paint it when dry and cut a hole in the top and you have a real piggy bank.

      Make three jars:

      • one for saving money – this money could be taken to the bank and deposited into a savings account
      • one for spending – this jar could be for saving money to buy a specific item, or just for general spending
      • one for donating – teach your child to help those less fortunate by saving some change to give to the needy

      Take your preschooler with you to open a real bank account so your child learns that money can be saved in multiple places. Explain how money grows in the bank and earns interest.

      Host a Restaurant Night

      Host a restaurant night for dinner one night. Plan it together with your child. 

      Choose a name for the restaurant and create a simple menu with prices. Prepare the food in advance and have as many courses as you like.

      Let the kids be the restaurant staff and the adults be the customers. Let them seat you, take your orders, bring your food to the table and look after you.

      After dinner, have your child draw all the items you ate on a “check” and ask you to pay. Ask for some change or pay with a credit card.

      Don’t forget to leave a generous tip for the waiter!

      Set up a Play Store


      Pretend play is one of the most common types of play in early childhood, and it’s how children make sense of their world by acting out what they see and hear everyday.

      Help your child set up a pretend store at home and stock the “shelves” with your household items or groceries (or plastic groceries if you have a shop set). 

      Use a play cash register or find something you can pretend to use as a cash register. Use your imagination to find a scanner.

      Make labels with prices and stick them on each item. The prices could just be the numerals 1 to 5 to start. Then make your own money or use monopoly money.

      Find a basket and go shopping in your child’s shop. For younger children, pay the exact amount in a matching coin or note. 

      For older children make up the amount in smaller coins/notes, or pay with a higher denomination and ask for change. 

      Don’t expect your child to be calculating change during preschool. Take turns being the shopkeeper and the customer.

      Go to Work

      Provide some fun dress up clothes such as scarves, shoes, hats, suits, etc. 

      Ask your child to get dressed for work and set up a pretend work environment such as an office area, a laundromat or a movie theatre.

      Your child will have lots of fun pretending to run the affairs of the day, especially if you play along.

      Bring the concept of money into play whenever you can.

      Give your child her pay check for the day’s work, ask how much the movie costs and order some popcorn and a drink, or pay for a load of laundry to be washed and dried.

      The possibilities are endless when it comes to acting out earning or spending money.

      Make a Grocery List

      Teach your child to plan and budget by making a grocery list of the items you need. 

      Then go to the shops and engage your child throughout the whole process.

      Note the price of each item and compare the prices when choosing between two or more of the same item. Ask your child to pay at the till, whether using cash or swiping a bank card.

      Fish for Coins

      Use a fishing rod from a child’s fishing game or make a rod with a string and a magnet hanging off the end.

      Place a variety of coins into a blow-up pool or large tub and fish for coins instead of fish.

      Choose one denomination and ask your child to fish out all the same coins, or fish out all the coins and make piles of them, sorting them into their denominations.

      Earn Pocket Money

      Letting kids earn money for doing chores around the house is a topic people have differing views on.

      It is probably best that children develop a healthy attitude towards helping and contributing at home, without expecting some form of reward every time. 

      In this way, children will also learn to show appreciation for what their parents, siblings and caregivers do for them on a daily basis.

      If a child has a small set of daily chores they are responsible for on a daily basis, then you could offer some extra chores for them to earn some pocket money they can save or add to one of their jars.

      Chores like helping to clear out the garage, rake the leaves or sweep the patio could be extra paid chores. 

      Turn the experience into an educational one by drawing up a list of chores together and giving each service a price. 

      You may want to set a limit on how many extra chores can be done per day or week.

      Play a Board Game

      Board games such as Monopoly or Life are a great resource for teaching children about money and how it flows. 

      It is a practical way to experience earning, spending and investing money.

      These kinds of games are also great for broadening your children’s vocabulary. 

      They will learn all kinds of words and terms related to money, such as pay, mortgage, fine, sell, buy, collect, etc.

      Choose the junior version of Monopoly or play in teams – an adult and a child – as the regular version of the game may be too complex for a preschooler. 

      Explain as you go along and make decisions together.

      Collect Currencies

      Start a collection of coins or notes from around the world and teach your child about currencies.

      Every time you or a friend/relative goes to a country with a different currency, ask for a coin to add to your collection. 

      Start a scrapbook where you paste the coins. Write the country, the currency and the denomination for each coin/note.

      You could make this a fun, educational activity by doing some research on the country and looking at photos and places of interest. 

      Print a photo or the map of each place to add to the scrapbook.

      Read Books

      Children learn about all kinds of topics when reading books. Books are a great way to learn new concepts and ideas because they are presented in a fun and engaging story.

      Read bedtime stories to your children that involve themes of money – people going shopping, buying a house, earning a living, etc.

      These are just a few basic ideas to incorporate into your child’s daily life and play.

      Make Your Child a Money Master!

      With these four basic skills, your child will be off on the right foot for a lifetime of good financial decisions.  

      By applying just a few of the ways mentioned here on teaching them about money, you will make money an open discussion for your family life.  

      A good practice for both you, and your kids!

      When it comes to teaching your youngster about money, remember to keep things simple.  

      Use concrete examples throughout your day-to-day life, use real numbers, encourage questions, and celebrate instances of your child delaying gratification for a better long-term result. 

      By starting early, you are building the strongest foundation possible for their financial lives.  Maybe they’ll thank you when they are millionaires!

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