Recently I was talking to a mother with four children. She was looking for books and activities to help her children learn about money. I encouraged her to help them learn by doing.
• One suggestion: actually let her children practice using money – aka Spend.
• One of her children wanted to make more money; the children could do tasks outside their normal family responsibilities – making their bed, sort laundry, fold laundry and put clothes on hangers and return them to their closet. She also had her children put dishes in the dishwasher and unload it and pick up toys. Kids can Earn money in many ways – lemonade stand, sweep the sidewalk, rake leaves, weed and pick produce.
• Sharing is another skill to practice: giving toys to a charitable group or clothes to Goodwill; giving money to a cause or to church. Those experiences can have a real impact; personally, I have vivid memories of my red church purse and hanky with coins in it.
• Children need to learn to Save. Hopefully parents are good examples, but they also need to set up a system that helps children save for something they want but do not have enough money for today. Long-term goals like a car or college are great for older youth; but the piggybank is a great tool for younger youth, who will be motivated by shorter-term goals – candy, toys or electronic games.
Helping children to practice making decisions about money is great experience; the more opportunities, the better, since we all learn from our decisions. That includes making mistakes – when children have regrets about small decisions, they learn to think about consequences. That will help them avoid making bigger mistakes as young adults.
For more books and ideas on building kids’ money skills, Money on the Bookshelf from University of Nevada-Reno is a great tool: www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/moneybookshelf
Parent guide: www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/moneybookshelf/guides