Back to School Is a Good Time to Talk to Your Preschooler about Money

Gloria Nye  |  10/14/2008 9:52:50 PM


While older children are preparing to start school in the fall, younger children are eager to learn new things too.  Shopping for back to school is a good time to start teaching your preschooler about spending and saving money.  Your kids are learning about money from many sources. They see you shopping, buying things and using money, modeling money management.  If they watch TV, they are seeing commercials.

Like it or not, your children are developing attitudes about money at an early age.  As a parent, you can influence what your child learns about how money works, how your family uses money and what it can do.  When you teach your child basic lessons about money, you have the opportunity to share with your child what you value, what your family thinks is important.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has on-line resources, in English and Spanish, to help parents of preschoolers with age appropriate parent-and-child tested activities which can be used to teach children to:

  •     Wait to spend money.
  •     Not lose money.
  •     Help with shopping.
  •     Earn money.
  •     Use money to buy something.
  •     Learn that when money is spent it is gone.
  •     Have fun without spending money.
  •     Give gifts that do not cost money.

What you want your young child to learn about money depends on the personal values of your family.  There are 17 basic concepts that the CUNA’s Thrive by Five Task Force recommends teaching your preschooler:

  1. Spending, saving, and sharing are ways to use money.
  2. Buying (spending) means trading money for things.
  3. Saving allows you to buy something in the future because you don’t have enough money today.
  4. People have jobs that pay money.
  5. Money can also come from gifts.
  6. You can keep money safe at home and other places.
  7. Paper money and coins are worth different amounts.
  8. Different things have different prices.
  9. People pay for things in different ways.
  10. People have different needs and wants.
  11. People have a limited amount of money to spend.
  12. Money can be spent only once–after you buy something you need more money to buy something else.
  13. Planning helps people set goals and make choices about money.
  14. Some things do not cost any money.
  15. People do some things for each other without being paid.
  16. People give money to help others.
  17. People in a community share the cost of some work done for everyone.

Free activities and other resources to help parents who want to encourage healthy attitudes about money in young children to teach these basic concepts can be found on-line at the Credit Union Web site.

Remember that young children learn by observing, through hearing stories and playing.  Use activities that are interesting and fun.  The earlier children learn basic money management concepts, the more practice they have while growing up, the more confidence and ability they can develop in managing their own personal finances.  Parents can start teaching the basics early and give children opportunities to develop sound money management skills they’ll be able to put to good use as adults.  Don’t you wish your parents had done that for you?

Information adapted from Credit Union National Association, Thrive by Five: Teaching Your Preschooler About Spending and Saving at the Preschooler section of the Web site.

By Gloria Nye, Extension Associate, LSU AgCenter


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