Learning about money is an important life skill. It is a complicated one too. You have to distinguish between coins and notes and understand what gives one value compared to a similar piece of metal or paper which is worthless. We all have to agree that this metal or paper has meaning and value and we are willing to use it as a medium of exchange.
Counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are all required when using money. It is an abstract concept and so to understand money we need to connect it to tangible things.
Now before you have apoplexy, this does not mean that you start handing over the €50 notes to the five-year-old. What I mean is you allow them to handle real coins and notes. To know something abstract, it is important to anchor it to something real. Touching and feeling notes will make them real to the child. Every coin & note is different and by identifying with those shapes, the child can get to know them easily – much easier than simply looking at them in a book. Toy money can be useful, but the weight and sizes are usually not remotely similar to the real thing. Use real money.
It might seem strange, but sites such as Done Deal, Amazon and Smyths Toys are great for teaching the value of money. If your child wants you to buy something for them, get them to look up the cost of it on the internet. Have them compare prices and then ask them what notes & coins they would need to buy it. You can create all kinds of scenarios, like how much more do they need, how much money would they have leftover etc. I find doing this around their birthday or Christmas when they have gotten a present of money, really beneficial. It’s amazing how frugal they become when it’s their own money!
Encourage children to save. They love seeing the amount get bigger in their account and feel so grown-up when the statement comes in the post.
Get them to save loose change in a big jam jar – one they can see through. Every so often, empty it and count the money. Begin by sorting the coins, then counting and then adding.
Bring your children shopping with you and use cash to pay every so often. Allow them to count out the money and take the change from the cashier. It’s probably best to do this in a quiet local shop rather than a busy supermarket.
And because come September the present sixth-year students will be taking more responsibility for their own money as they leave school behind them, I want to wish those that are sitting their Leaving Cert every success in their exams. Remember – you’ve got this!!
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