A few years ago, when my children were small, I invested in a toy till and food. I filled the till with money and gave them a wallet, only to see them swiping a plastic card at the ‘check out’! It struck me that my pre-school children had already picked up what the modern exchange of money looked like – contactless till payments and getting money from holes in the wall.
Real life situations make learning meaningful for children, however, we are living in an increasingly digital age – so how do we develop an understanding of money and healthy money habits in our children when there are fewer opportunities for them to see the real and physical exchange of cash?
1. Use a marble jar
With young children, a good way to lay the foundation for understanding the value of money and the principle of saving is to introduce a marble jar (or a reward chart). When a child is rewarded for something, a marble is added to the jar. When the jar is full, the marbles are exchanged for a treat or reward.
2. Challenge: What can you buy with a pound?
Log into an online retailer with your child, and look for items that they are interested in. Could you buy any with £1? What does £1 buy? How many pounds will they need to buy something that they want? Are things more expensive than they thought?
3. Manage pocket money
Giving your child pocket money allows them to start making decisions about their own money. There are a number of pocket money apps on the market, complete with contactless cards, designed to support children in developing an understanding of the four key pillars of money management: spend, save, earn and give. All of them help children to develop an awareness of the value of money whilst giving parents control over spending.
4. Go shopping online
Online shopping is a globally increasing trend. Whilst we cannot physically collect and weigh items online, we can replicate many of the tasks we would do in the supermarket digitally.
Ask your child to put a given number of apples in the virtual basket. If they are older, ask them to look at how much are the apples cost. Look at offers and compare – which one is better value? Check by adding to the basket.
Write a list together and estimate the cost. Draw your child’s attention to the cost going up as items are added to the basket. See who was closest when the shopping is complete.
Set a budget for the shopping. Can everything be bought? What do we take out if we exceed the budget? What treats can be added if there is any money spare? Explain to your child that the money is taken from your bank account when you check out.
5. Learn ‘when it is gone, it is gone’
This is an important principle for children to understand and it becomes relevant when children gain some independence and a mobile phone, for example. Pay as you go and top up accounts provide an important lesson about budgeting and making things last. Discussing data, text and call usage and mobile phone tariffs with children makes the idea of budgeting real.
Remember that children learn about money from what they see you doing. So draw their attention to and explain hidden transactions like ATM use and chip and pin transactions too.
This activity book will help to develop your child’s understanding of time and money. Each of our Progress with Oxford workbooks is focused on the skills your child will need at each stage of the school curriculum and is precisely matched to your child’s age, ensuring they are aligned with school expectations.