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Show Me The Money!

I was recently speaking with a group of children about what they felt was missing in their current educational model and something that came up time and again was the lack of tutoring in how to manage their financial affairs.

It’s easy to forget that the day to day monetary matters we adults take for granted can seem baffling for a child. Youngsters are being expected to develop responsible spending habits earlier and earlier in their lives, often without sufficient guided experiential tuition to embed understanding of how money works.

I am reminded of taking a group of post-16s from a special school to Ikea as part of a project to refurbish their classroom, which we were trying to use to accomplish elements of their maths curriculum. The formal part of the excursion involved budgeting and buying according to previously established measurements, but what struck me most of all was the purchasing of lunch.

It was extremely rare for these children to be handed responsibility for their own spending, so as part of the day’s experience, my colleagues and I were determined to give them some autonomy over buying their meals. Each child was given their own five pound note, and under supervision of a member of the team, was able to select their own food within that five pound spend, take it to the till, pay and check that the change was correct.

The sense of achievement for these youngsters was extraordinary, I think it made them feel more like a regular functioning member of society - much more than any other part of the day.

We all know how exciting it can be for a child to hand the fare to the bus driver, or to give the tip to the waitress in the café. It’s important that we make the most of these opportunities to verbally reinforce these transactions and normalise care over daily financial affairs. How will your children know exactly what is going on when you wave your card over the scanner unless you tell them, and explain to them how you account for the spending and deal with personal and household budgeting?

It might sound boring to you, but it’s a whole new world to them.

If you discuss money with your children more readily, it will cease to be such a mystery to them - they may even become more responsible when it comes to turning off the lights and TV. Of course, to be effective, it means we have to set a good example ourselves - which can often be the greater part of the challenge!

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