These days, we often use our debit cards and credit cards for fast, simple transactions. It is easy for us, but it unfortunately means that our kids aren’t getting exposed to currency. I should know--When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher used to tease me and call me “the debit card mom” because my daughter didn’t know the difference between a penny and a quarter. Oops! But her teacher was right. I used my debit card for everything, and my kids were never exposed to dollars, much less change! Money teaches our children so much about Math. It teaches addition, subtraction, place value, and SO much more.
I started carrying cash around in my wallet and made sure to have my daughter help me count out the money when it came time to pay the bill. While paying the bill, I was careful to use repetition to help her recognize the difference between a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny. She had a pretend cash register at home and I filled it with real change so that we could work on coin value while we played store. Over time, she began to more comfortable with money, and was soon able to add the currency together to complete a simple transaction. While at the store, I would allow her to purchase her own pack of gum, in her very own transaction.
Using money was a great way to teach her some valuable math skills. With my two younger children, I am better about having change around and exposing them to cash. Here are some other ways we use real money in the home:
1. My husband has a big change jar and we often let the kids play with the change and count it.
2. When they get allowance, we try to pay them in several currency forms. Instead of a $5 bill, I may give them three $1 bills, 4 quarters and 10 dimes.
3. On Easter, we fill most of their eggs with money rather than candy and for Christmas we give them each a little cash to purchase gifts for each other.
4. And as they get older, teaching your children to use cash not only helps them with valuable math lessons, but it teaches them valuable financial lessons, later. Your children will learn to use what money they actually have in their pocket--and when your money has run out, go home!
So, go ahead, and show them the money! You are teaching them valuable lessons that will last a lifetime.