Do your kids think that money grows on trees? Or does cash just magically appear from Mom's purse or Dad's wallet?
In our world of online and digital payments, children have less interaction and access to tangible money.
Introducing your child to money at an early age has proven to be an enormous asset to their spending and saving habits as adults. Research from the University of Cambridge revealed that kids' money habits are formed by the age of seven!
So how can parents teach their children about money in a practical way that will benefit them for their whole lives?
Here are some hands on, tactile activities that will get your kids clued up about money:
3 - 5 Years:
Introduce role play shopping games where they can pretend to buy and sell goods. Our grocery set with bar code scanner from Le Toy Van is fabulous for setting up a pretend shop. Use it in conjunction with the wooden cash register that comes complete with play money and you will have the perfect set up for hours of fun trading with friends and siblings! This kind of play allows kids to understand a cost associated with an item, paying for it with play money and giving or receiving change.
When your child is old enough to earn a few Rand from the tooth fairy, pocket money or birthday cash, set up three clear glass jars and label them Spend, Save and Give. Encourage your child to split the money (as they wish) into the separate jars. Discuss the reasons for the 3 jars;
The Spend Jar should be for sweets, stickers or small things they want straight away. The Save jar should be for a longer term goal and the Give jar for helping someone in need, giving to a charity or even to spend on a present for a friend.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE:
Kids learn everything about money and the use of it, by the examples us parents set. Talk to them about how you save money in day to day life and let them know that they can't have everything they want, straight away! Learning to be patient and to wait for wanted things is a big step on the road to saving when they are older. Our play money set and credit card machine are really great role play toys for children to emulate their parents' habits.
6 - 9 Years:
Save up all your unused coins in a tin or jar and when full, let the kids count it for you in R5, R10, R20, or R50.00 denominations. This is such a fun, sensory activity that will help your children become more independent in identifying coins and their value, not to mention helping with their times tables too!
Learning the value of Rands and cents is an important part of being financially literate.
Ultimately, kids need to know that money comes from 'work' and when there is no 'work' there is no money! This example can easily be set up by offering to pay pocket money for chores. Together with your child, choose a list of tasks or chores you would like to incentivise by offering a set amount of pocket money per week or per month.
Start off small, with one or two tasks for a small amount and gradually increase the responsibility as your child grows in confidence. Monitor their performance and in this way they can easily understand the concept of 'what you put in, is what you get out'.
Our small or large star charts are perfect for keeping track of tasks and chores throughout the week. Use the included magnetic activity suggestions or write your own chores on the blank pieces provided.
Playing fun role-play themed money games will develop skills in addition, money handling and imaginative play. This will also give children confidence of how to ask for something in a real store or cafe.
Money Match Cafe is the sweetest game for 5 - 8 year olds! This game encourages children to create a cafe scene using their own teddies, dolls and toys. After they have done this, they must use their role play skills to add up the coins to match the price of a meal and serve it to the correct customer. The player to serve all their meals first wins!
Children will love playing waiter in this fun game and serving tasty meals to their toys is bound to get them giggling - a great way to make maths and money fun!
One of our favourite board games to teach kids about handling money is Pop to the Shops from Orchard Toys, which includes 3D characters and play money.
Children will learn about buying items and giving change, as well as developing their imagination as they take on the roles of shop keeper and banker, playing with realistic pretend money.
We love that they will also be taught about good manners, as they must say 'please' and 'thank you' to the shopkeeper every time they buy an item! Suitable for children aged 5 - 9 years.
It's a known fact that parents have the most influence on our children's financial behaviours in later life - so it's up to us to encourage a generation of mindful consumers, savers, investors and givers.