Children’s awareness of money develops slowly. By the age of three or four they’re usually aware that money changes hand and is involved to obtain food or other goods, and is something you carry in your purse or wallet, but they probably won’t understand the value or full use of money. If you’d like to equip your pre-school child with a basic understanding of money, here are some useful tips and ideas for doing so.
Getting to grips with money takes time for a child to learn. Although it’s something that will be tackled once they get to school, it’s definitely helpful if parents can begin a child’s early education experience of money before they reach school age. There are many ways in which you can introduce children to the concept of money and plenty of fun games you can play too.
Playing With Pretend Money
Pretend money aimed at young children is widely available and consists of plastic coin-like pieces of money in the same shapes and sizes as the real stuff. It’s a good introduction to the different types of money available (although you could always use proper coinage if you have lots of loose change) and enables you to have a go at playing money games with your child.
An old favourite is to play shop. Children can take it in turns at being either the shopkeeper who has to say how much items in the shop cost and take the relevant money from the customer, or be the customer and try and give the correct money to the shopkeeper. At the basic stage, they’ll be best just coping with handing over some coins, but as children get older and their maths skills improve, you can play at giving the correct change too.
Going To The Shops
As well as playing shop at home, it’s helpful for children to see money being used in a real life shop situation. Going to the shops lets children see that food and all items in a shop have prices next to them, which correspond to a monetary value. Children learn by being involved as well as by witnessing what’s going on around them, so you could get them involved by letting them find items with a certain price tag or by letting them hand over the money to the cashier once you reach the till.
On shopping trips, you could also let them put the relevant coins into the parking metre when you buy a parking ticket. As they get older, they could be responsible for counting out the correct amount of money to put into the parking metre machine.
Starting A Savings Account
For a full introduction to money, it’s good for children to learn that’s it not all about having money and spending it, but also about saving it too. One great way of helping them get to grips with this is to either start saving money at home in a piggybank or by opening a bank savings account.
For younger children, the piggybank version is easier to understand in the first instance, as they’re able to see their pile of money growing each time they add more to it.
Books And Reading
If you need a bit of extra help with explaining the concept of money, then there are some good children’s picture books available for under fives which deal with what money is, why it’s importance and how we obtain it.
A trip to your local library or bookshop should be able to unearth some relevant books, which you can read to your child. Getting them involved in looking at the pictures and talking about what’s going on will help reinforce the money concepts being discussed.