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Guest post by Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president of the National Center for Family Literacy.
How can parents teach children about money with real-life learning opportunities? Here are 3 ideas to try.
Money doesn’t grow on trees. We all heard that from our parents growing up. And although it’s true, that saying falls far short of preparing children to make smart financial decisions.
With financial literacy, as well as all forms of literacy, it is paramount to instill money management practices early in your children’s lives. Waiting to teach them during teenage years or when they go to college means they’ve already developed financial habits that may be difficult to break. With everything that schools are expected to teach children, financial literacy is often placed on the backburner. The good news is that teaching financial concepts is something parents can do in their daily lives in fun, easy ways. Read on to begin teaching your child the basics of managing money:
1. Take a field trip.
Learning opportunities happen everywhere and at any time. A trip to the grocery store can become a real world application of concepts learned in math class, such as addition, subtraction and units of measurement. Create a shopping list with your child and review and compare prices on products you need. Set a budget for the shopping trip and show your child the importance of avoiding impulse buys. If you’re paying with cash, allow your child to count out the amount owed.
2. Learn while shopping with A Day At Dollar General.
The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation have teamed up to create a free online interactive learning tool to teach kids the basics in money management, A Day At Dollar General.
The lessons explain income and expenses, how to create and manage a budget, how to use store advertisements and coupons to save money, and much more.
This downloadable program guide features specific financial literacy lessons and activities that parents can do with their children.
3. Plant the long-term seed.
Set up three jars for allowance – designated for saving, giving and spending. Help your child calculate how much goes in each jar and divide the weekly allowance among the three. Explain the importance of giving some money to others in need and of saving up for something your child really wants. To make saving more fun, download this piggy bank worksheet and record how much he or she has saved each month.
Remember, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. The values you establish today pave the path that your child takes tomorrow. The lessons of spending wisely will help your child make good financial decisions in the future.
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