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Resources for Preschoolers

Children are born ready to learn new things. Seeing money being used, especially in an era of frequent plastic card use can be confusing to children. Here are some tips for teaching preschoolers about money.

Ages 3-5

By age five children have learned a lot about themselves and the world from observing others. They see people buy things using cash, checks and plastic cards. This can all be confusing to a young child. Below you will find some suggestions for ways to help young children understand the concepts of managing money.

Tips for Teaching Preschoolers About Money

  • Reassure your child. Tell your child that you will provide food, clothing and shelter

  • Look for the teachable moment. A teachable moment is any time that your child is ready for new ideas. For example, getting cash form an ATM is a good time to explain that you put money into the credit union earlier and the machine gives you your money back when you need it.

  • Know when the teachable moment is over. Preschoolers do not pay attention for very long. Stop as soon as your child's mind wanders, you can teach more when you get another chance.

  • Keep it simple. Do not try to explain too much at a time, short lessons are better.

  • Try new things. Look for ways to change lessons to fit your child's interests and abilities.

  • Build on past learning. Whenever your child shows an interest in an idea, connect it with other ideas that you have already talked about. There is no precise age to teach a lesson.

  • Let children make mistakes. Losing money and being unhappy with poor spending decisions are more effective lessons than a lecture.

  • Appeal to all the senses. The more senses that children use in learning, the more they will remember. Try to teach using sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

  • Read together. Books help explain the adult world. Read to your child and visit the public library often.

  • Play together. Children learn by playing. Make learning about money fun. Joining your child in play can lead to many teachable moments.

  • Watch TV together. Preschoolers may not understand the difference between TV programs and commercials. Choose TV shows to watch with your child. Talk about the ads and what they are selling. Explain that choosing what to buy is like choosing what TV shows to watch.

  • Stick to your rules. To lower the chance that your child will misbehave in stores, set some shopping rules. Describe the actions you expect and what will happen if your child breaks a rule. Ask your child to repeat the most important rules before each shopping trip. Enforce the rules calmly, no matter what.

  • Set a good example. Let your child see you using money wisely. For example, model how to make a shopping list. Show how you decide which items to buy and how you set spending limits for yourself.

  • Consider an allowance. Allowances are a good way for children to learn to make their own money decisions and live with them. As your child grows and becomes more responsible, increase the allowance amount as a reward.

Activities to Help Teach About Saving and Spending

How can I teach my preschooler...

to wait to spend money?

to not lose money?

to help with shopping?

about earning money?

about using money to buy something?

that when money is spent, it is gone?

that having fun does not have to cost money?

that gifts do not have to cost money?

To learn more about teaching your preschooler about Spending and Saving, visit Thrive By Five.

Information made available by Credit Union National Association Thrive By Five