Five Money Lessons For Preschoolers – And Applying Them To My Own Child

Liz Pulliam Weston over at MSN Money wrote a brilliant article entitled 5 Money Lessons For Preschoolers. In it, she elucidated five simple lessons about money that you can introduce to your preschool children:

Money can be spent, saved, and shared
Saving should be a habit
Once money is spent, it’s gone
People have to make choices with money
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Articles like this are incredibly interesting to me as a parent of a child approaching two (and a newborn set to arrive in less than a month). I’ve been trying to already do many of the lessons above with my own child already, even though he won’t be two until November, and continually reinforcing these lessons throughout his early life. Here are the things I’m already doing to apply these lessons to my child.

Money can be spent, saved, and shared I often buy small things in cash in front of my son and try to make the exchange clear to him. I actually say, “See this money? I’m going to give it to this person and in return that person will give us this food (or whatever good we’re buying).” Usually, the person at the counter plays along very visually with this, which helps. Recently, I gave him some money in the store (three quarters) and let him select a piece of fruit – he took a banana. He wanted to eat it immediately, but I told him that it wasn’t his yet and we had to go pay for it. Then he gave the quarters to the person at the counter, got some change back, then was given the banana.

One of his favorite games is actually putting coins in a piggy bank, so I quite often give him a bit of pocket change. He’ll go put it in his piggy bank. We’re also using the change (and many other things) to teach rudimentary counting – he’s basically got counting to three down pat.

Saving should be a habit Part of the reason that I regularly give him money to put in his bank is so that this seems like a normal and regular thing. I want saving money to be a regular part of his life, not something done at special occasions, so I encourage regularly putting money into the bank.

He hasn’t quite made the connection yet to the money going into the bank and the money at the store, but I think he’s getting close. It should be interesting when he figures that out.

Once money is spent, it’s gone This is a hard one to teach at this early age. I was somewhat shooting for this when I gave him the quarters to buy a banana, but he actually seemed quite happy that he received more coins in return (pennies!) than he used for the banana. This one will have to come about with many regular buying experiences, I think.

People have to make choices with money Again, the process of choosing and buying the banana was a good example of this. As he grows, the choices will become more and more complicated, but for now he at least understood that he had options in the store, which is a great first step.

Don’t trust ads Our home is nearly television free. The only program he has watched in the last three months (DVDs included) is a couple episodes of Sesame Street. His daycare is also television free, as well. My thought is that I want him to be a bit older before seeing commercials so that it’s easier for me to teach him how to distinguish between them and the programming. Thankfully, as little as we watch television, he won’t have to face this too much until he’s substantially older.

Teaching my toddler about money – actually, teaching him about anything – is a lot of fun. It’s amazing to watch him learn and begin to apply what he’s learned.

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