Teaching Kids & Teens about Money: A Critical Review

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Overview

We have all heard the question, “When will I use this in real life?” from students regarding certain types of math, but when it comes to learning about personal finance and money, there will always be a solid answer. They will need to have those math skills for daily life as adults. It will determine everything from making sure that they get the right change at the store to running a business or having enough financial literacy to procure a mortgage with favorable terms. It is vital that children begin learning about money at an early age, and that the education continue into adulthood.

 

Preschool and Below

It is never too early to begin to introduce the basic concepts of money and help children to become familiar with currency. This can and should start in early childhood education. Through games and visual exploration, children can begin to learn to recognize and count coins and money. This is also an excellent time to introduce the concept of saving.

Concepts to teach:

  • General Money Concepts (waiting, needs versus wants, how money is used to buy things, how money is earned, etc.) – Start with the basics! The University of Minnesota Extension offers a helpful guide, Teaching Children Money Habits for Life, to get you started.
  • Identifying Money – Practical Money Skills for Life offers Pre-K through Second Grade Lessons that can help children to identify and understand money.
  • Counting Money and Basic Math – SEN Teacher has printables for assisting children in differentiating between the various coins and their values. The site includes US as well as other currencies, so choose the right currency, or select a different one and make it a part of a lesson on the wider world!
  • Games and Activities

Additional Resources:

 

Elementary School

Children can learn the math needed for basic monetary uses during these years. It is also a good time to introduce concepts related to good spending habits, the particulars of bank savings, and earning money.

Concepts to teach:

  • Earning Money and an Allowance – The Utah State University Cooperative Extension has an informative guide, Teaching Children Money Management, for parents and educators.
  • Spending Money – The Shop Around section on MoneyandStuff suggests a game to play that only requires a local newspaper to get started.
  • Saving, Interest, and Goals – The Manhattan Cooperative Extension offers a great guide called Money Wise: Helping Children to Manage Money, that really goes into the details of how children can learn about money in day to day life. The US Securities and Exchange commission also offers helpful information in its article, Tips for Teaching Students about Saving and Investing.
  • Influence of Advertising – AdMongo.gov has easy to follow Lesson Plans for students to learn about the persuasive influence of advertising.
  • Money Math – It is important for kids to learn the basics of multiplication and percentages as well as how that relates to money. Nrich offers an interactive Fractions and Coins Game for kids to play on their website. Khan Academy offers a wide variety of Online Lessons, include a large selection on division and other math necessary for the proper use of money.
  • Games and Activities

Additional Resources:

 

Middle School

At this stage, the learning from elementary school should be reinforced while incorporating higher levels of math that will allow the students to comprehend and determine concepts such as how much compound interest can be earned. They can also develop a mathematical and practical understanding regarding wise use of time, investing, and budgeting.

Concepts to teach:

  • Money Concepts (saving, compound interest, loans, fees, goal setting, budgeting, credit, investing, time value of money, living within your means, etc.) – This is a great time to really get those concepts to stick. PBS Kids is a great resource for this, and it also offers advice on learning how to create a budget in the article, Managing Money: Create a Budget.
  • Smart Spending – MyMoney.gov offers simple advice on keeping track of spending and making a budget on their Spend
  • Games and Activities

 

Additional Resources:

 

High School and Above

By high school, students should be given practical real world knowledge regarding how they can work for money, as well as how that money can work for them. This is a vital time to talk about the risks and rewards of using credit as well as the importance of financial responsibility and planning for the future.

Concepts to teach:

 

Additional Resources: