How we pay has changed. We used to count out physical bills and coins and write cheques. Now we use debit cards, credit cards, e-transfers and even our phone’s mobile wallet apps to tap and pay. As adults, we know that we are in fact paying, but the concept of paying with a card or online is really hard for children to sort out.
Hands up if your child has ever asked for a treat or a toy and when you explained that you could not buy it, they have suggested that you just go to the ATM and get some cash out or that you use your card! After all, we do it all the time. Many parents no longer carry cash, so what does that mean for our children’s understanding of money? Do you think the tooth fairy has already started sending e-transfers?
While our ways of paying have changed rapidly, the understanding of how to build money sense or financial literacy with children has remained quite unchanged. They need many experiences with money and lots of chances to play and talk about money.
First, our young children need an opportunity to see money and learn to recognize coins and bills to develop their understanding of their value. Watch for opportunities to use physical cash and talk about it. Playing is also a great way to introduce concepts about money - playing grocery store or money board games can help with the conversation. In my family, our favourite after Hallowe’en activity was setting up a pretend candy store and talking about how much we could charge!
Secondly, it is more important than ever that we talk about all aspects of our money. Children often only see us spend it, they don’t see us deposit our pay, save, pay bills or give it to charity. Most of those activities are taking place when our children aren’t looking. We need to make chatting about money a normal part of the discussion to help pull back the curtain and reveal what this “magic money” is really all about.
Whatever money looks like in the future, it is up to us as parents to keep the conversation rolling. We need to talk about where we get money and what we do with it. We can talk about the difference between what we need vs what we want. Let’s talk about how we decide what to spend, to save or to donate. The great news is that there are tons of tips, tools and ideas for parents of children from toddlers to teens. Ready to get the conversation started? Check out these resources online:
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy - Revelstoke