Learning about money is an important life skill. It is a complicated one too. You have to distinguish between various 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 has meaning and value and that we are willing to use it as a medium of exchange. Counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are all required when using it. Money is a very abstract concept and can be difficult for some children to grasp, so to understand it 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 three-year-old. What I mean is you allow them to handle real coins and notes. In order to really 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 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 that have leftover etc. I find doing this around their birthday or Christmas when they have their own money, really beneficial. It’s amazing how frugal they become when it’s their own money!
Encourage children to save. They love to see it add up in their deposit book or even better when the statement comes in the post. Saving is a Life skill and starting the habit young will stand to them forever.
Get them to save loose change in a jam jar – one they can see through. Every so often, empty it out and count it. Begin by sorting the coins, then counting and then adding. Just be sure to replace it if you raid the change jar!!!
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. It’s probably best to do this in a quiet local shop rather than a busy supermarket.
Parents sometimes fret that their children’s maths skills may weaken over the summer holidays. Using money with the suggestions above, basic maths skills stay sharp.
Hummingbird Learning Centre www.hummingbirdlearning.com also run the popular Study Success Program™, a one to one study skills course for second and third-level students.