For the first day of kindergarten, I walked in to my daughter’s classroom and at each child’s place at the table lay 3 pennies. These were fake pennies, but as our kindergarten information packet stated, they were worth something.
Every day, the children get three pennies, which they put in designated containers. Every four or five weeks the children use these pennies to buy certain things like lunch with the teacher, first at a center, etc. However, pennies can be lost for getting in trouble, so there is incentive to be good. The orientation packet described this as using positive incentives. It seems simple, but they are also learning a valuable lesson that if ingrained in them will be a building block to help them on their way to being financially responsible adults.
I thought this was a wonderful way for children to learn a bit about the basics of money while also being encouraged to behave.
They are counting. Though they are starting with just pennies and leaving out other coins for now, the students still need to count them and determine if they have enough for what they want.
They are saving. Some items cost more than others and students have to determine if they want a lower cost item now or wait until they can have a more valuable, higher cost item later.
They are experiencing cause and effect. The frequency of misbehavior affects the fine. The more they misbehave the more money they lose.
This started me thinking about how kids are becoming consumers at a very young age, and we as parents have a responsibility to see they become smart consumers. We need to teach children the value of money as soon as they are able to understand the basics, even if it is just to behave so as not to lose it.
My daughter knows what money is and becomes very excited when she receives money, whether it is holiday or birthday cards containing dollar bills, or money she finds on the ground, at which she declares, “It’s my lucky day!” Beyond this, I am not sure how much she understands, so I have decided I should take a more active role in her education on money, starting with some simple steps.
Start an allowance. From what I have read, the consensus is to give a child an allowance of $1 dollar for every year of their life. My daughter is five so she will get $5 a week.
Make saving mandatory. From that $5, she will have to save a portion of it, just like we all should. She will deposit this in her savings account in person so she will get hands-on banking and saving experience. We will also go over her bank register so she is aware of just how much money she has saved and interest earned.
Be a good role model. Children imitate their parents and money matters are no exception. With online banking, debit/credit cards, and direct deposit the concept of money is more abstract. Watching what I do with my money and sharing my financial experience and knowledge will not only help her become more money-savvy, it will help me as well.
Image courtesy of trekbody