As fascinating as I personally think finance is, I get that maybe the average eight year old isn’t begging their parents for more financial education. And when most parents think about teaching finance to their kids, they may imagine a structured, sit down lesson on budgeting – which sounds like torture to all involved. Not only will your child be bored to death, but they won’t retain this type of information because it doesn’t mean anything to them at this point. Whether it’s finance, science or history – kids learn best when they are engaged and having fun. Creative methods of teaching make the information more interesting and relevant to kids, leading to better focus and retention of information in the long term. Shara Nadler, founder of iPiggiBank, an organization dedicated to teaching financial literacy to kids, created her company based on this approach to education. “Everyone learns in a unique way. When teaching finance to kids, it’s important that you reach all learners, and it’s not taught in a cookie cutter way.” Nadler explains. iPiggiBank provides financial literacy workshops that focus on keeping kids engaged, on-track and motivated. She gives four examples of unique and creative activities the teachers use during their workshops that can be easily implemented at home by parents.
- Literary Connection: They read a book together that ties the financial lessons together, then engage in conversation after about why the characters made specific decisions and whether the students agree with those decisions. A favorite book of the students is A Penny for Piggy, by Trish Wilson, which teaches the concepts of saving, spending and sharing. Using books when teaching kids about money makes it more relevant to them, because it’s entertaining and they can identify with the characters.
- Partner Activities: Students pair up and engage in active conversations about times they’ve earned money, or examples of things they want to save for. This shows the kids that each person has their own unique fingerprint, and what works for one may not work for someone else. A discussion with the group after provides the opportunity to introduce values, by explaining that each person may want to save for something different because we all have different values and beliefs. These kind of conversations help children develop healthy financial attitudes and learn not to judge each others differences.
- Art Activities: Each child gets a workbook filled with multiple activities and games. While the focus of an activity may not be centered specifically around art, Nadler explains that some kids may not be comfortable writing about their savings goals or other financial concepts, so they provide ample opportunity for the kids to express themselves through art. The kids are provided with pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, magazines and glue sticks to allow the students to learn and communicate in the way they are most comfortable.
- Experiential Play: Once the kids have learned all about saving, spending, budgeting and goals, they get to put all of that knowledge to use by shopping in the iPiggiBank store. Each child gets $0.30 to spend, and before shopping they review the list of items for sale so they can plan what they want to buy. Everything in the store is less than $0.30 so kids can buy multiple items, which encourages them to put their new budgeting skills to work, and make smart spending decisions. During the discussion afterwards, teachers talk about how similar this activity is to real world. Adults can’t just go into a store and buy whatever they want. They have to make a plan, create their list, determine their budget and prioritize needs versus wants. Whether it’s playing store, restaurant or house, role playing activities are a great way to bring financial concepts to life for kids, making it relevant and fun.