Tag Archives: negative numbers

Too young to be financially aware?

This evening L told a friend that he could buy himself a nerf gun modular, because he has “a hundred and something pounds in the bank”, but, he added, he won’t because he’s saving that for a car.  This was news to me as he had previously told me it was to go towards our house.  Never mind!  We chuckled at this but it did get me wondering, should he have a better idea of how much he has? Is he too young to be financially aware?  Would it be better to have money in piggy banks again so that the boys can see and count how much they have?  This of course would be a bad idea as he does have well over £100 and keeping that in the house would be far too tempting for me.

So how do we make our children financially aware?  I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering the savings accounts books we used to have; if we were lucky enough to have a few pound notes tucked into birthday cards (yes I am that old!) we could pay them into the building society and watch our savings grow.  Today, I have savings pots for the boys and they rely on me to tell them what they have.  Perhaps it’s now time they had their own accounts and can begin to learn that money in the bank earns more money, if you leave it alone.  To begin to understand about interest and lending is a valuable life lesson.  At 8 years old, the maths isn’t too difficult for C to begin to work out the interest on a savings account, so helping to research the best place to put his money would be a good start.

Now that he has picked an account I will sit down with C to help him plan.  Nadine Monks, from Evolution Forces Families discusses the importance of this for adults.  I see it as a useful process to go through from an early age.  She suggests that  you ask yourself:

‘What do you want to achieve?

Set a clear goal for yourself. What is it you want to achieve? Do you just want a regular income or are you looking for a lump sum further down the road. This will tell you how much you need to invest and in what time frame.’

This applies to children I think, too.  C constantly asks me if he can buy things from his ever depleting pot of money, so to develop a short term savings goal will really set him up well for the future.  L, with his stash, never particularly wants to buy anything!

To overcome this last issue, of not knowing how much he has, I have registered C for a Go Henry card.  If you’ve not heard of this, do check it out!  We first heard about Go Henry last year when he was still too young (you have to be 8) and so we are both pretty excited waiting for his card to arrive.  It works like a contactless bank card.  I can pay his pocket money directly onto it and we can both use the app to monitor spending and saving.  He gets to use it independently in shops and cafes which he will love, and  I love the fact that when he is older I can see how he’s using his money and help him look at his spending patterns (not that he’ll listen I’m sure, but it’s a nice idea in my head).

(note – I am not affiliated in anyway with GoHenry, and am not being compensated for mentioning them here)

Some time ago in school I was teaching a small group of Y6 children who needed lots of practical hands on learning to transfer back to the classroom.  We set up a role play bank to teach negative numbers and I supplied them with lots of bank statements to work out how much debt the customers were in.  They loved it and really got the hang of calculating in this way.  I do remember that they were rather shocked that it was even possible to buy something if you didn’t have enough money.  Let’s hope they remember that lesson and  don’t ever apply for an overdraft!  I have done something similar with C; we used Power Rangers and lent them money, only to take more back from them.  Interestingly he can get his head around this concept and is more surprised by the fact that the bank will give him money on top of his savings!

For very early money maths understanding coin values can be hard.  It can be such a frustration when a child can add quite easily until you put it into the context of money and then they get confused.  Lots of playing with money is essential.  When I first started giving the boys pocket money I laid it out in lines so they could see the equal coins.  So for the first few weeks it was only 20p.  Nice and clear to see, and cheap too!

IMG_0496
one way to lay out the pocket money each week

Gradually increasing the amount reinforces this clear visual, and visualisation as we know can really help to move from the concrete hands on learning to the more abstract, on paper.    I’m currently tutoring a few children for whom this concrete part has been skimmed over.  It means that now, towards the end of Primary, problems are occurring with the more complex maths simply because the practical bits weren’t solid enough before they were moved on.  It’s a common picture, not just with money but in all areas of number.

So the message here then is if we want our children to be financially ‘savvy’, start them young!  Play with money, play shops, give them their own pennies to spend in the gift shop and let them work out the change.  As they get old enough to understand what they have, let them make choices about what to buy.  When We went to the Harry Potter tour, C chose to buy a wand and a broom, having already bought photos,  knowing that this wiped out all his savings but he was happy with that and it gave him the opportunity to have good long think about how much he wanted to buy both.  Hopefully, I’ll be setting him up with good money habits for life.  Maybe I will improve along the way too!