Everyone seeks to own money to fulfill their individual goals and dreams. Thus, each parent holds different values towards money. Some are satisfied with what they have, others splurge, or fight over it at home. Then, there are some who lament that they do not have enough of it!
As a parent, whatever is your attitude towards money, it will surely influence your child’s value towards it. Remember, he learns by copying from you!
Yes it would be a good idea to help children value money for its own sake. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to show a balanced view towards money and demonstrate the need to plan the expenses, spend wisely and save some for future needs.
If we think of the toddler, who is just exploring the environment with his newly developed skills, we realize that money for him maybe that shiny coin he found under the table, which his mom did not allow him to taste because “it is money dear!”Yes at toddlerhood it is too much to expect the child to understand the concept of money.
Toddlerhood: (Fifteen to twenty four plus months).
As a mother, you can make a good beginning of imparting the value of money to toddlers. How do you ask?
Here are some strategies for you.
- Take him shopping with you
a.Whenever you want to take your toddler shopping, start off by verbalizing important steps of going out.
* “Ajay”, let us go shopping to the grocery store in five minutes.”
* “Look, we need money, yes you may touch it.”
* “Sorry you cannot keep it with you. It has to go in my purse.”
b.At the grocery store, let your toddler hear you converse with the cashier and see you pay for the groceries.
Tell him “Look kiddo we have paid a lot of money for a lot of groceries today.”
c.At home, he can help you put away some of the items he can carry.
Let him also see you put away your purse safely but out of his reach!
Do verbalize all your actions.
If you model these behaviors over time, when, shopping for different commodities, your child will eventually understand what some of the things money can buy are.
Your child will not need details and explanations, only verbalization of what you are doing with the money on hand. Let the child do the rest i.e. learn by observations and, ask questions whenever he is ready for it. Later, you can see him practice during his playtime, the behaviors he has learnt.
In short, let your child look at, and, also feel real paper (paper money is best as coins may create a situation of “let me keep it mama!”). Let him also observe how you use it/ look after it/ treat it.
Hint: Children learn by observation, imitation and by using his senses such as touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. Therefore use a multi-sensory approach when you want him to learn about money too.
- Tell a short and simple story (One Act/Episode only)
The story will be about how Meena was taken shopping to the grocery store after making a lot of fuss and throwing a tantrum! They bought a big cereal packet and a small candy packet, paying more for the cereal and less for the candy.
Hint: Embellish the story with emotional content to make it interesting.
Insert funny words/actions and repeat them. Have jingles on money/going out/other, also to be repeated for reiteration of that word or concept. Children also learn through repetition.
Make up any episode on money related action/s and tell that story to child.
- Make small jingles
As repeated above. You can add items that money can buy or sing about the need to keep money in a safe place.
Hint: In this way, you can introduce to your family how money is important to buy things we need from the stores. For some items we pay more and for some we pay less.
Keeping the age and maturity of the toddler, use maximum, three important items in any situation you are using for the child.
Repeat them in different ways at different times.
It is all right if your child is unable to answer any questions you ask him in above situations. Keep at it, till he learns it eventually.
Preschoolers: (Three to four plus years).
You can continue using the strategies mentioned above for the toddlers but at an advancing level, keeping in mind the child’s maturity. This is done by adding more details to the strategies meant for toddlers, to advance the level of activity for the three plus years old.
At three plus years, the children have made a lot of gains in their overall development and indulge a lot in imaginative/pretend play.
Therefore parents can now utilize opportunities, especially using “pretend play” to promote the value of money. It gives children a chance to apply and practice newly learnt concepts.
By three and a half to four years, children like to play in groups comprising three to four children.
In addition to all previous strategies and keeping the characteristics of these children in mind, the parents can use more advanced strategies as well.
More advanced strategies.
- Pretend play at home.
Occasionally, you can invite 1 or 2 children (or invite family members) to play at “pretend store”. The children can be helped /guided (especially as they can’t follow group rules) to set up:
* shop with boxes, cartons of cereals, toothpaste, crackers, etc. Or, toys and household related, plastic play materials.
*make paper money and cardboard coins each of two or three denominations.
*There can be a cashier’s counter and display of assorted materials for sale.
* Shoppers can go around the store, ask questions about prices and so on, inspect the goods before buying and then pay at the cash counter.
- Another option is to set up a restaurant and help your child and his friends set up a restaurant and play as customers and a cashier. Payment can be made after meals. Parents may use their imagination to set up the conduct of this experience.
Hint: Instead of serving empty dishes, you may use fruit, chikkies (home- made peanut candies), crackers or other suitable food for the occasion.
The coins or paper money can have pictures/symbols/ numbers as per your child’s level and or interest.
- The children (8to10) can also set up a movie theatre in front of the TV and watch a popular cartoon. Parents may help the children prepare paper money, cinema tickets to be checked and stamped at the door, and, understand the usher’s role to guide the children to their seats with numbers corresponding to those on the tickets. You can have an interval also and for that set up a tiny drinks and foods stall. Children can buy the items with paper money of different denominations for different items.
- Thus, parents can help children set up these kinds of stalls on different occasions, with or without “pretend money”.
Hint: Parents can have a lot of variations. E.g.There can be small community stalls from time to time where many parents and children participate with real money and real foods. However’ they should keep things at the child’s level and not have too many food items (2 to 4 are enough) and denominations in the currency/coins used.
Children may transact (buying and selling) the sales themselves under adult supervision.
Each child may bring the total amount to be spent in a small and easy to handle sling-purse.
Each stall can keep different types of food and drink.
Parents can help decide what the child/ all children can do, with the amount made at the sale.
- You can set aside a small jar, wherein your child (takes ownership) can save coins borrowed from your left over change. You may form your own ideas and system for gathering coins in the jar. Try not to test the child’s patience to empty the jar. Take a smaller jar if you must.Both you and your child can decide at pre or post saving, what should be done with the money. Later, when it is time let the child continue his ownership and with your help short list goals and finally hand over the money for the final purchase/use.
- Last but not the least, your child can accompany you to banks and check out the different transaction point, at his level. He can help hand over cheques or receipts to the clerk. Thus child will know where money comes from.ATM machines also can be shown to your child by explaining that it is a self-operated machine for 24/7 or day and night withdrawal.
- At home, you can help older children (4 and a ½ years upwards) know that some services have to be paid for, such as telephone, gas and electricity; and therefore need to be used wisely.
It will take time for the child to imbibe this concept.
Meanwhile, try the following strategies:
- Keep a monthly page for ticking off the 3 items mentioned above, when their bills are paid.
- Take him occasionally to the place/s where the bills are paid.
- Occasionally, have talks with your child to check if he has gained the right concepts and ideas about what you want him to learn and imbibe.In conclusion, it is safe to say that young children can learn the value of money through play way methods because they appeal to children and play is their major pastime.The transition from toddlerhood to preschool age is seamless as each child grows at his own level and pace. Therefore, find out when your child is ready to use the strategies of the next level.Though the suggested strategies are mother friendly, do use your discretion and personal touch to their planning and execution, using your daily routine activities and playtime of your child. This will make you more confident and help you to make them your own.
Last, it is imperative to maintain a balanced view of money and ways of spending and saving it, especially in front of your child. This will make it easier for you to adopt it as a joint way of your family life.