When it comes to money, there is a lot to learn – even for adults! Teaching children about managing money from a young age can help them develop good habits and positive attitudes towards saving and spending. The good news is that it is easy to make learning about money fun and we’ve got plenty of ideas to help you get started.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you have a responsibility to teach valuable life skills to the children you love. Making sure they know when to say “please” and “thank you”, personal safety, times tables… the list goes on. All of these lessons are key to raising a well-rounded, prepared and confident little human. Teaching the little ones in your life about money will stand them in good stead throughout various stages of their lives.
Habits to last a lifetime
While money seems like something a young child will not need to worry about for a long time, teaching them about it from an early age can help to instil good habits that could them last a lifetime.
Any parent will know that children can be like sponges; they absorb and learn things from those around them quickly. Your attitude and behaviours towards things like spending and saving are likely to influence their own. Plus, the more positive your little ones first experiences and interactions with money are, the more likely they are to retain that positive attitude throughout their life.
Yet, according to a study published by the Money Advice Service in 2017, only 40% of children aged 7-17 said they had learned about managing money at school. The same study suggested that the same percentage had made online purchases, half of which were without adult supervision.
It’s not all about the money
Learning about money and establishing money rules can help introduce other useful life skills to your little ones. For example:
- Setting goals
- Decision making
- Making plans and sticking to them
- Numeracy skills
- Problem solving
- Thinking ahead
Making learning about money fun
Even as adults, we learn better when we are engaged and enjoy the subject we are being taught. Making learning about money fun for children can capture their interest more successfully and increase the likelihood of those lessons and messages sticking in their minds.
A study of 1,600 children, carried out by Beano Studios, revealed that they would find learning about money more fun if it involved some laughs, games and real-life practice.
Here are some fun ways to teach your children about money:
Learning through play is championed by many parents and educators. So, why not apply this to teaching your little ones about money? One way to do this is to teach money skills through games. You could let your children choose a game or let them use their imaginations to make one up. Either way, they’ll be learning or having fun whilst doing it!
Don’t forget, some board games can be a useful tool for helping children learn about money. Classic games like Monopoly, Payday and The Game of Life can be great for older children. There are also plenty of games available that were created to teach younger kids about money; have a look online or check out your local toy and book shops to see what’s on offer.
Children enjoy playing pretend! Use their love of make-believe to your advantage; role playing is great for teaching children about money. Let them pretend to be in a shop or the bank, for example. You could take turns being the customer and the teller, so they can get to grips with everyday situations where money exchanges hands.
Similarly, puzzles and problem-solving activities are a great way to encourage children to start thinking about money and getting to grips with the different notes, coins and maths involved with handling money. Rather than just laying out a mathematical problem, use props, objects and real or play money to help them visualise and practice handling money.
Set up three of your children’s favourite toys and give each of the toy’s a price tag. Provide your child with some cash and teach them what each coin and note is worth. Then ask them to figure out how much they would need to buy one or more of the toys and get them to count out the money.
Many children enjoy embracing their creativity, so using art or craft projects as ways to teach them about money can be a great way to introduce the topic. Especially amongst budding artists!
Let your little ones paint or decorate their own money box or piggy bank for saving their pocket money in. Coin rubbing or tracing and drawing a variety of coins and notes will allow children to become acquainted with how money looks and the different values. Ask them to describe the differences to you to help reinforce their knowledge.
Get them involved in saving
Piggy banks or money boxes are a good place to start introducing your little ones to saving. However, it may be worth considering see-through versions of these, so your children can watch their money growing over time.
You could also consider opening a child saving account (such as a Junior ISA) for your little one. Not only will you be able to save for your child’s future but, if you involve them, it opens the conversation about saving. You could encourage them to put part of their allowance away for the future to teach them about budgeting. Again, this also gives children the opportunity to see how their money can grow.
Teaching your children about saving from a young age will help establish those good money habits you want them to have. Plus, you can use this as a starting point to get them thinking about the importance of saving and what they may want to spend their money on in the future, plus the difference between sensible spending and what is not.
Many of us learn by doing, and this applies to children, too. Don’t think that trips to the bank or shops are not of any benefit to your children. Seeing these real-life interactions in action is just another way to learn about money.
If you let them play an active role, that is even better:
- Give them a calculator and get them to keep a running total of what you’re spending in the supermarket.
- Let them count the money you withdraw from the bank or get them to help you at the ATM.
- Encourage them to count out the cash and pay the bill in a restaurant or café (including checking the change).
- Set them a budget challenge in a shop by giving them a set amount of money to spend and getting them to choose items within that amount.
The focus is to teach children ways to manage their own money. However, you could also take this opportunity to help them learn about the importance of charitable giving, too. Help them to research charities and pick one they would like to support. You could either offer to match or top up any donations they make to a charity or encourage them to save any spare pennies and take them to a charity box.
Making learning about money fun
As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can make teaching children about money fun. And most of them don’t even feel like lessons! You can incorporate as many of these as you would like into day-to-day life with your little ones without too much effort and help them to develop positive, life-long money habits.
If you’re thinking about saving for your child’s future, you can take a look at our savings plans here.