In my last post I talked about it not being too late to start teaching your teen about money management. But I’ve been asked again and again if children in grades K-4 are too young to absorb the concepts of personal finance.

My answer is a simple: absolutely not! Very young kids love learning about money!

Very young kids love to learn about the adult world. They think that adults are God-like (or in my case, Goddess-like). They really do listen to what you say and make every effort to please you by learning what you teach them. Simply put, kids in this age group, K-4, are unconditional in their acceptance of this education.

 

Children watch adults and will model their behavior after adult actions. They have a fairly uncluttered agenda and are more than willing to spend as much time as parents or teachers are willing to give talking and learning about money. At this point in their lives, parents and educators are still in control. We can still teach concepts that the child will wholeheartedly accept because of our importance in their lives.

 

I was in the grocery store picking over the fruits and vegetables after my first classroom session when I heard one of the first graders that I had taught that day about money. She yelled out, “Hi Mrs. Money!” It took my breath away when I realized how quickly I had been assigned the role of money teacher in her life as well as given the trust that I would teach her well. After eight weeks of classroom instruction another little boy would not let me get by in the school hall without high-fiving me and shouting out “ticker symbol,” a term that I had had to drive home pretty hard to get to stick. But stick it did.

 

To help your younger children get started, here are a few of my favorite reading selections that will help to introduce simple money concepts to them.

For Pre-Schoolers – I recommend starting with that popular family, the Berenstain Bears:
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Jan and Stan Berenstain, you and your child will see what happens when Brother and Sister Bear spend all the money they get as soon as they get it.
The Berenstain Bears Get The Gimmes, also by Jan and Stan Berenstain, Mama and Papa help the cubs and themselves when they come up with a creative way to stop all of the begging Brother and Sister do each time they go to the store — by giving of the cubs each a small sum to spend.

For Elementary age children:
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst, is a great way to teach the many choices children have for the money they receive.
How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty, by Nathan Zimelman, helps children understand the work involved in earning money.
– To help your child think about others when setting goals, try another favorite, A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams.
My Rows and Piles of Coins, by Tololwa M. Mollel, tells the story of a young boy who is saving his money to buy a bicycle so he can help his mother carry food to the marketplace.

Try to make at least a weekly trip to your local library along with your child and then each night after dinner, sit down and read aloud to him or her. You’ll be amazed at what they learn and what they may teach you in return!

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Susan Beacham
Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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