How to Introduce Your Preschooler to Money and Banking

9 Aug 2017

Should kids who are still learning how to count be introduced to the grown-up world of money management? Absolutely! It’s never too early to start teaching your children about money and the importance of financial responsibility.

"It's actually easy to teach kids about money," according to Kids and Money: Giving Them the Savvy to Succeed Financially author Jayne A. Pearl. "Turn your day-to-day activities into learning experiences."

Parents.com caught up with Pearl and other experts to develop an age-by-age guide for parents, outlining fun simple ways to introduce even the youngest learners to financial education.

“Trips to the bank, store or the ATM, for instance, can be a perfect opening for a discussion about your values and how you use money,” suggested Parents.com writer Anna Attkisson. “When children are very young, you can work money concepts into your child's imaginary games, like playing pretend store or restaurant.”

Financial education for preschoolers is a great way to bring in math, social studies, art, language arts and science lessons. Here’s a roundup of ideas from contributors to Parents.com:

Count coins with them.

They’ll learn how to recognize pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters by playing coin identification games. Yale University senior research scientist Dorothy Singer pointed out many two to three-year-olds will think a nickel is worth more than a dime because of its size, so you can take the opportunity to talk about the value of coins.

Play store.

Young learners have vivid imaginations and setting up a pretend grocery store in your home is an interactive way to begin to teach them about the basics of commerce. Let your kids shop for grocery items from your pantry and pay for them using real currency or play money. You can serve as the cashier to help out with money-counting.

• Clip coupons.

Older preschoolers will be ready to talk about ways to save money. Neale S. Godfrey, chairwoman and founder of the Children's Financial Network, recommended having your kids help clip coupons before you go shopping together.

In an interview with Beth Kobliner, author of The New York Times best-seller Get a Financial Life, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, Forbes contributor Laura Shin enumerated the most-important financial lessons for kids of every age.

And what’s the chief lesson for kids ages three to five, according to Kobliner? You may have to wait to buy something you want.

“This is a hard concept for people to learn of all ages,” says Kobliner. "However, the ability to delay gratification can also predict how successful one will be as a grown-up. Kids at this age need to learn that if they really want something, they should wait and save to buy it.”

You can reinforce this message by practicing the lost art of piggy bank savings with your kids. By teaching them to save, they’ll learn the value of money and how to distinguish between wants and needs. Plus, you’ll be able teach kids to give first by talking about the importance of giving as Jesus teaches.

Start early teaching your child the place of money in our lives and how to use it responsibly. We have mentioned several ways to discuss and teach about money, and there are many more. Look for ways in your daily life, and you will be off to a good start.

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