Parents and caregivers may wonder when to start teaching young children about money. Although there is no “right” time, starting early makes the most sense!
Even at two or three years of age, kids can start learning about money through your everyday family activities. Going to the store and talking about buying groceries or clothes is a start.
Explain to your kids the uses of money, such as paying for food, clothes, or books. Keep it simple, but talk about needs and wants, buying and spending. When you get to the register, they are sure to test your skills when they ask to buy candy or a toy placed there to get their attention!
As your kids get older, they can play money games and activities like “store” or “restaurant”. They’ll act out their first experiences with paying for goods and services. And they’ll also start learning about careers and making money by going to work.
Telling vs. Teaching
Talking about money should become a regular part of your family’s routine. But there is a difference between talking about and teaching your kids about money and other relevant financial topics.
As parents, grandparents, and caregivers you may be too busy to create simple money lessons and the materials to go with them. Or you may not be sure what’s appropriate for kids of different ages. Creating engaging lessons and money games is challenging.
Keep in mind that all children are different and that your child’s needs will determine what works best for them. You may need to skip past a topic they already understand or go back and review the basics.
Building a strong foundation is the key to helping children understand money. Below are a few products that may make the job of teaching about money a little easier.
Money Games and Activities for Younger Children
The PBS Kids Lab is full of online resources for kids and here you’ll find free money games for children ages 6 – 8. The games are designed to teach children to add different combinations of dollars and cents while shopping, provide change, solve problems, and perform simple reasoning and analysis.
The Centsables website is a free resource to help kids learn financial skills in an entertaining fashion. Lively animation and easy-to-understand money topics and activities will help young learners become financially savvy while they earn, budget, spend, save and share their money.
Smart Money Commanders™ is an online educational interactive theater that is all about financial literacy for kids age 3-10 was just released on April 2, 2018. The program was created by Debbie (a CPA) and Phyllis (a theater creative), and they bring Ruby’s Troupe in to help your children get smart with money.
What is Ruby’s Troupe? It’s a theater troupe of over 80 puppets and other amazing helpers sharing important messages with children. After doing live shows and being asked over and over by parents and grandparents how to get this message to more kids, Smart Money Commanders was born!
Debbie described the programs as being “part Mr. Rogers, part Muppets, and part Dora the Explorer” during our Women Who Money interview. You can read more about Debbie, Phyllis, and Ruby’s Troupe at the National Financial Educators Council website.
Debbie and Phyllis bring an incredible amount of experience to Smart Money Commanders, and they have a fantastic mission with this product. A goal to “positively impact 1 million children with life-empowering skills” over the next five years. Talk about wanting to make a difference!
They are donating 90% of their net profits to charities globally, including nonprofits and foundations which promote financial literacy. That’s a mission and pledge the Women Who Money team support 100%! (We have no financial relationship with this product or its developers.)
Check out the 6 week Smart Money Commanders course here. You’ll see the weekly financial lessons are focused on Saving, Needs and Wants, Budgeting, Savvy Shopper, Chores and Work Ethic, and Giving and Charity. There is also a graduation celebration at the end of the money course. There are three free previews and handouts available to view.
You only need one course for a family because Debbie and Phyllis have included materials for children of different ages. They also provide parents with the “top secret” details for each lesson. These are guided questions to start conversations and information parents can use as talking points with their kids.
An online forum is available to parents for ongoing communication and support on family money topics. You can visit the Ruby’s Troupe website to learn more and access free materials!
Board and Card Money Games
Financial Peace Junior Kit: Teaching Kids How to Win with Money is a resource developed by money guru Dave Ramsey. It teaches young children that money comes from work and about the importance of giving, saving, and spending. Kids learn about money in a fun and exciting way, rather than by being intimidated by it. It’s a family activity set for children ages 3-12.
Money Bags Coin Value Game by Learning Resources helps school-age kids learn how to collect, count, and exchange money. Teachers and parents find that kids quickly engage with the game and forget that they are “learning” rather than playing! It can easily be added to a nighttime homework routine or into a math center rotation at school to motivate kids to learn about money!
The classic money game Payday is for kids 8 and up. Kids learn how to get from “payday” to the end of the month while taking care of all their money needs in between. Payday is a quick socially interactive game which can be played in about 15 minutes. It’s a fun way for parents to connect with kids while helping them build their financial literacy!
Monopoly Junior Board Game
The Monopoly Junior game is just like the classic Monopoly game, but it’s recommended for players aged 5-8. It’s fast, simple, and full of surprises. Kids choose their favorite Junior token and learn how to pass Go, buy properties, and collect rent. Single banknotes keep the transactions fast and easy, with classic Monopoly fun.
Lakeshore Allowance Game
In the fast-paced Allowance Game, players perform a chore to earn money but forget to do homework, and they lose a turn! This money skills-building game, designed for players aged 5-11, involves racing around the game board performing chores and collecting allowances. Players then save it or spend it on things they want while learning how to handle money, make change, understand money values, and more.
The award-winning and educational game, Exact Change will teach your children to count money while having fun. Exact Change combines an excellent teaching lesson with fast-paced action for the whole family to love. The winner discards all their card first by matching the color of the last card played, by matching the currency value (play a penny on a penny), or by making Exact Change – a way to discard multiple cards that add up to the value of the last card played. If the previous discard shows a quarter, exact change is made by playing two dimes and a nickel – allowing you to discard three cards instead of just one! For ages 6 + up
Any you love that we missed? We’d love to hear about other great money games and resources helping younger kids learn about money. Please share any you know of in the comments below.