I recently completed the online survey about education reform. This included a section regarding financial literacy expectations for students. Namely, what skills should schools be teaching? While I agree there are some technical aspects which can be taught in school – for example, how to calculate interest on a loan – there are life skills and a morality attached to the use of money that could and perhaps should be taught at home.
Teaching about money
There are toys appropriate for young children which can be used to introduce money. There are cash registers that allow children to imagine shopping at a grocery store. There are games that can be played that involve money – Monopoly (which has a Junior version), Payday, Life, and so on. All of these can be fun ways to explore money choices and options.
Giving children an allowance
The government of Canada provides an outline to help parents reflect upon the extent to which giving a child an allowance can be a tool for teaching financial literacy. Having access to their own money can be an important way to encourage children to save, share and spend wisely. With their own money, children get to decide what purchases are priorities and develop an understanding of making choices about what, when and how to buy what they want or need.
Inherent in our use of money is a morality. We make choices about our priorities including where, how and what to spend our money on. These choices can influence our children’s priorities. Consider, for example, those who choose organic and fair trade products or shop locally. These options are often chosen intentionally and it becomes easy to share these priorities with our children, letting them know that there are consequences to what we choose to buy and the companies we choose to support.
Our relationship to money can also be reflected in our actions. If all our children see is us spending in hap hazard ways, they may come to believe that this is appropriate thus developing a hap hazard approach to their own finances. If we never show our children our bills, they may not realise the expenses that come with renting or home ownership. If we never show our children what we do to save money, they may struggle to understand the importance and ways to save.
What do you think?
Do you believe that financial literacy in its entirety is something that should be left to schools? In what ways do you think parents could and perhaps should teach about financial literacy? What priorities do you hope to pass on to your children? We would love to hear from you.
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