Tuesday, 5 May 2015

It's all about the Money- Or is it? Raising Money Savvy but Kind Children

Noodle (4) has been very interested in the concept of money, buying and selling lately. At the tills at the shops, she insists on paying and then counting the change. She has quirky questions like how one would pay for a bed or a car- she was concerned that the till would break when you place these items on the counter. 

Noodle had an interesting get rich plan yesterday. We would photocopy our money and amass a fortune of wealth, which would then be squandered on a mountain load of toys and sweets.

Picture courtesy of SARB
I thought this current fascination with money would present an interesting opportunity for some lessons:
  • In order to explain to Noodle why her photocopy money get-rich plan would not work (other than the obvious sheer criminal element and that there are no instant get rich fixes in real life), we turned to our dear friend Google to learn more about what makes our money unique. Even I learnt a little bit about the special paper used, the hidden watermarks (like the image of Mandela that appears if you hold the note to the light), the metallic line, the words SARB and the Rand amount which appears in this line, the raised print for the visually impaired and other security features of our South African bank notes.
  •  We used monopoly money to play 'shop' and she was required to count out the right sum of money to buy her teddy bears from my 'toy store' (we previously played a more simplistic version of this out in the garden, where leaves were used as currency- her idea). She also had to count that she is giving me the right amount of money and check whether she was getting enough change (great early maths lesson as well).
  •  We have also been showing Noodle the benefits of saving, eg. she could get a sweet today or keep her money to get an even better toy after a week, or do simple chores to 'earn' money. She knows about bank accounts and that this is where most of her savings go.
These basic lessons in economics are crucial life skills, given that Cambridge studies have shown that childrens' life spending patterns are already set for life by the age of seven.  Being surrounded by people in the debt trap, we have always been careful to teach our children the value of money, the difference between wants and needs, the importance of saving and of not wasting the earth's limited resources. 

However, as important as the above lessons are,  we are always sure to reinforce that while money can buy certain material comforts, the things most important cannot be bought and no price can be placed on these things. 

We want to strike a balance and raise children who are money wise, responsible spenders and we certainly do not want to raise children who are bratty and entitled. We want them to be conscious that there are many less privileged than us and practice sharing, kindness and being charitable. The ultimate goal is of course to raise kind and caring individuals and this is worth more than all the money in the world.