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4 ways to teach children about money

Antony Koshy, Principal, Global Indian International School – Dubai  shares tips on how teachers can introduce finance to kids at an early age through fun, simple ways

As kids, most of us have been taught how to save money in a piggy bank. Curious yet excited, we’ve stuffed the piggy bank with rewards and allowances to the point it doesn’t rattle anymore. In fact, it’s the first lesson in finance for most kids. However, unless a child understands the value of money, this mere act of saving will only become a lesson in delayed gratification – save so you can spend later. 

Children are capable of understanding money matters from the age they begin to count. The key is to first make them understand the value of money and then associate it with concepts such as earning, spending, saving and investing.

However, teaching kids about money is not easy unless you make it super fun. If you want to watch the tables turn, turn finance coaching into a game they love to play with the help of some fun activities. 

Before we discuss the fun activities, remember that it all starts with setting a good example. Children may not always follow what you say but they will definitely follow what they see. Therefore, setting a healthy example is an instant tick in the books of finance coaching.  

  1.   Set up a make-believe restaurant or convenience store or bakery on the school campus

The most effective way to teach children the value of money is to show them its power. 

To enable this, set up make-believe stores or restaurants on the school campus, place small goodies in them, attach a relevant price tag against each item and ask the children to pick the ones they want with make-believe money. If they don’t have the money for it, they don’t get it. You will be amazed at how thoughtful they become with each goodie they purchase.

  1.   Use commissions as opposed to pocket money 

Teachers should extend the exercise of teaching children about money to their homes as well, through parents. A lot of parents give their children a fixed sum as pocket money every month. Instead teachers encourage them to switch to commissions. This is because children often feel entitled with the money they receive. A better way to help parents provide financial freedom to  their children is by encouraging them to ‘earn’ it. 

Giving children daily chores and roles such as cleaning their room, assisting in the kitchen, mowing the grass, etc., and assigning a fixed sum of money against each task can be a great way for parents to get started. This simple method can teach children the importance of hard work and earning their keep. Besides, with fixed money in hand, they’ll learn how to manage their personal finances  and a bit  of Math too.

  1.   Sign them up for a charity event or conduct ‘giving’ sessions

On the surface, proper money management can seem as simple as ‘earn, spend, save, budget, or invest.’ 

However, when teaching such seemingly straightforward concepts to a young mind, teachers must help them understand the emotions and motivation behind every financial decision so that they will be able to make good choices with money in their life.

You can get your school to collaborate with charitable organisations or arrange for regular ‘sessions of giving to the less fortunate’ where they need to donate a certain amount from their savings. This will naturally give them a good lesson in value for money and financial prudence.   

  1.   Maintain a gratitude ritual

A lot of teachers make the mistake of making the entire process of finance coaching a mechanical lesson in savings. Instead, you should focus more on instilling contentment and students will naturally learn to be grateful for what they already have. This way, teachers will be helping them to become excellent money managers.

Conduct a fun classroom gratitude ritual everyday before recess where different students take turns to talk about what they are most thankful for. This will allow students to think hard about their blessings (which usually won’t revolve around money) and naturally they’ll start looking at money as a means and not an end.

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