Teaching young children the basics of money and value

As our little learners begin to get school-ready we are undoubtedly helping them to practise all the school-ready skills we can think of!

Our pre-schoolers are practising their letters and alphabet, how to spell their names, how to recognise numbers, and even simple sums…but it is easy to forget that young children need to learn financial literacy, too.

As with all of the other vital school-ready subjects, the basics of finances and money, can and should, be taught from a very young age.

This is not to suggest that you should start sitting your four-year-old at the breakfast table with the Financial Times. There are lots of far more fun, child-friendly ways to begin familiarising your little learner with cost, value and the basics of money.

Set a good example

By setting a good example, and keeping your own basic finances in order, your child should naturally grow up with a positive outlook on money matters, but it is also helpful to bring simple financial lessons into day-to-day experiences. Let your little learner help you count out your change, pay the cashier at the till, add up simple receipts, or read the price labels of things you are buying. All of these simple tasks will help to familiarise your child with money and things associated with buying and spending.

You have to work for things in life

Even young children can learn the value of time and hard work, and also that things have value. By completing simple tasks and chores for a small reward of some kind children can learn a sense of achievement and the value of their own time and hard work. Rewards can be pocket money, time doing a favourite activity, or some extra quality family time. If children are paid in pocket money, keep things fair, clear and simple, and provide a piggy bank or similar savings option.

It is also vital for children to know that everything has a value, and not necessarily just a monetary one. Remind your little learner that other people’s belongings are of great value to them, and that every item they own themselves had to be made by someone; someone worked to make it, and someone worked to buy it.

Needs and wants

Teach the differences between things that your child ‘needs’ or ‘wants’, and that ‘needs’ must always come first. You can have fun with this by picking up items, even as you tidy the house. You might want your sticker book, but you need your shoes, for going out to play! You can also play shop using loose change or play money… do a list of all the things you need, and you can get something you want with whatever is left over.

Money isn’t everything

As parents, we must always instil that ultimate and all important message that the amount of money someone has, does not in any way indicate their value as a person. Money is simply a tool that we use to purchase things, and no matter how much or how little of it a person has, it is those things in life which can’t be paid for that hold the real value.


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