For an adult, there's not much fun to be had when it comes to personal finance! But when it comes to teaching your child about money, the best thing you can do is make a game of it. Not only will this keep their attention, but it will also begin to plant the seeds of a sound financial future for them.
Learning the coins
The first step should be teaching your child what each coin is called.
Recognition - The simplest game of all, and one which teaches your child to recognise the different coins.
Lay out a selection of coins on a flat surface, and randomly say the name of each one. The children should point to the coin they think you've named.
You could play this with several children, making sure you have enough of each coin for each child. The first one to point to the correct coin keeps hold of it, and the winner is the one with the most value of coins at the end.
Treasure Hunt – Children love an excuse to go rummaging around the house!
Hide a number of coins around the home. Give each player a list of coins to find and send them on their way. The winner is the first child who arrives back with the correct amount of coins.
Allocating a color to each child and sticking the coins to that color paper will avoid confusion if there are several players.
Bingo – A nice noisy game for all the family!
Draw a 5x5 grid on a piece of paper. In each square, do 'rubbings' of different coins (don't forget to randomize the order on each grid). Give each player a grid and a marker, then place a handful of coins in a bag and pull them out one at a time, calling out the name. The players should mark off one instance of that coin on their grid. The winner is the first one to get a full house.
You could laminate the grids so the game can be played over and over.
Learning the value of coins
Next, you can begin teaching them the monetary value of each coin.
High/Low – A simple game which teaches the child relative values.
Each player starts with a handful of random coins. One player puts down a coin and says either "higher" or "lower". Each other player should then put down one of their coins which is higher or lower in value than the center one. The first child to put down a corresponding coins wins that round, and takes a turn at placing the starting coin.
You could expand the game with the use of paper money (real or Monopoly notes).
Snap – as if children needed an excuse to shout!
Give each child a handful of coins (lots of spare change will be needed here!). Prepare some pieces of paper with amounts written on them, and place these in the center of the table, one at a time. As each piece goes down, the players should find the correct combination of coins from their stash to equal the amount written on the paper, then yell snap!. The winner of each round keeps hold of the coins, and the winner of the game is the one with the most value of coins.
This game is also useful for teaching children how to add up money.
Instead of pieces of paper, you could use paper money.
Shops – a classic favorite which really needs no introduction!
Gather some empty packets, jars and tins (make sure all sharp edges are removed and everything's clean!) from around the home, and clearly label a price on each one, setting them out on tables. Then let the child's imagination run riot! This game is best played with two or more children, with one acting as shopkeeper.
You could give each child a 'shopping list', and ask them to get as many things on their list as they can with the money they have.
When shopping, tell your child what you're doing as you add up purchases, count out the money, and check your change. They'll grasp the idea that money is used to buy things much faster if they see you doing it regularly. If you usually pay with a card, try keeping loose change to pay for smaller items when your child is with you.
Let your child pick out a piggy bank and encourage them to put loose change in (perhaps their winnings from the games!). Open it periodically and count the contents, to demonstrate saving money to your child.
For every dollar or pound your child saves, add a small amount yourself, such as a dime/10p. Explain that you are paying them to save their money – the basic principle behind interest-paying savings accounts! Use a savings calculator to further demonstrate what happens to saved money when interest is added.
A big thank you goes out to Louise for helping our children learn about money in such a fun and easy way!
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