Financial education of kids
Opportunity, need or waste of time.
Letter to Parents
Please join us in a magnificent adventure with financial education. We have prepared 11 guidance texts, which can come in handy in educating an enterprising child.
But is it really necessary? Why teach finances to a kid that either cannot count at all, or can merely count to 10? There are a number of reasons.
One of the features of children of kindergarten age is natural curiosity. This is the “sensitive” period, during which children easily, sometimes effortlessly learn new information and skills. They want to learn the world and if their parent does not enable them to do it, they will explore their environment nonetheless, however then the effects may terrify their guardians ;) Children are also curious about something they are exposed to everyday - money. The core kindergarten curriculum in this respect is limited to one short goal, which reads: "can recognise coins and notes of low denominations, can arrange them, understands what money is for in the household."
That’s not enough. It is true children also learn to count, to measure etc., but this does not exhaust the wealth of financial education. Also the fact is important that for children of this age the parent is an unquestioned authority. At the age of 6 their place will be taken by the kindergarten teacher, then school teacher and classmates. It is a good idea to take advantage of the period when anything the parent says - goes. During the first few years of life the kid listens highly attentively to anything (whether we want to be heard or not) mummy says, looking at what daddy is doing. Scientists have discovered that there are neurons in our brain, which are active, not only when we perform an activity but also when we look at someone doing it. This enables learning unconsciously by imitating. If parents display some behaviour, chances are the child will also have it sooner or later.
Thus if a child is so motivated, easily learning new things and trusting parents so much - is it not a good idea to invest in the kid’s future and start to develop features in him, which characterise people who are successful in life and make their dreams come true?
This series comprises eleven texts. Each of them is valid stand-alone, so you can use them in any order and as many of them as you please. However in order that the actions we propose do work, you must remember some important rules:
- Children of kindergarten age learn through play, i.e. a voluntary and pleasant activity, which is entertaining regardless of result. If the kid does not want to play - absolutely don’t force them. If he/she gets bored, stop the activity and come back to it later.
- Kids need reinforcements in order that acquiring knowledge and new skills is effective. Because their memory is strongly related to emotions, any praise, rewards or enforcing consequences should be as soon after a particular action, as possible. Only then will the child be able to make a connection between the two events. Short memory also leads to the need to keep the kid motivated. This is why it makes sense to arrange some space in the child’s room for putting things associated with financial education. Permanent and unrestricted access to them will make it easier for the child to remember the new information and to reinforce motivation.
- Children aged 8-9 learn from specific things. They cannot imagine something. They have to touch it, taste, break it etc. This is only natural and needed in their development. Scientists have proven that even counting with fingers is necessary for the child go later successfully continue mathematical education. This is why toys or other things needed for the proposed experiments are so important. You must not forget about them.
- Children learn and develop at their own pace. This is why each of the guidance texts proposes games on various levels. Remember that something, which is entertaining for the neighbour’s kid, may be completely uninteresting for your son or daughter. And this is only natural. That is why we encourage modifying the games proposed and to submitting their effects on the Facebook website of Financial ABCs.
- If an adult is not happy doing something, his/her child will also have no fun doing it. It is not important if the parent is tired because it was a tough day; or stressed-out in expectation of tomorrow’s important interview. Children see that the parent is doing something because they have to. The neurons we wrote about earlier give the child the ability to in a way assume the parent’s mood. This it makes sense to put time for children’s financial education into the daily agenda. This should be the time when there are no excuses. Kids will also have the opportunity to see what planning is all about and will start to learn to wait - these in fact are the characteristics of a businessman.
In summary, we are offering an adventure in a period of a child’s life, which is beautiful, sometimes quite unforeseeable yet full of joyful curiosity. All those who are still having second thoughts, visit the website of the Financial ABCs programme, where you will see how easy and interesting the financial education of children can be.
Those of you who are more interested, would do well to buy two books: The Opposite Of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, And Smart About Money” by R. Lieber and “The First National Bank of Dad: A Foolproof Method for Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money” by D. Owen.
Finally it only remains for us to wish you courage to start the adventure and many joyful moments together, which you will remember for a long time and which help your children make their dreams come true.
Keeping fingers crossed!
Bank Millennium Foundation
The author of the guide series is Małgorzata Chojak Ph.D.