With more and more states requiring personal finance as an addition to their high school core curriculum, the focus on financial literacy is stronger than ever. However in these younger years, it’s primarily left up to the parents to teach their child about finance. Since finance can be extraordinary complicated and most adults don’t even understand it, this can be intimidating for parents. What to teach and where to start?
Luckily, the need for financial education at an earlier age has caught the attention of many, including non-profits, businesses and legislators. One company in particular, inherQuests, focuses specifically on educating young girls about finance. Founded by Dina Shoman, a banking veteran from Jordan, inherQuest’s goal is to build young women’s financial confidence and help them make smarter choices for themselves. Shoman grew up in a banking family, who encouraged her at a young age to be educated and empowered when it came to finance. Because of this upbringing, she understood the importance of learning basic financial concepts at a young age. Shoman created inherQuests, which sells Financial Fun Boxes that include experiential and play-based games and activities (Quests) done at home with parents or caregivers to teach finance. Although inherQuests focuses on young girls, she says teaching any young child about finance includes the same basic principals:
1. Keep it real: Shoman stresses that especially for younger kids in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, keeping money real is critical. While obviously at some point your child will advance to cards and digital banking, in the beginning keep it visual and tangible. For example, set up a savings piggy bank, and have a picture of what they want to save up for attached to it or somewhere visible. Make sure the ‘piggy bank’ is clear so your child can actually watch their money grow. This keeps them excited, engaged and helps them understand the concept of saving by visualizing it.
2. Experiential learning: When it comes to finance, young kids are less likely to retain information when they are being given a “lesson” or other traditional teaching styles, so Shoman encourages experiential learning. “It’s not about asking kids yes or no questions, or telling them their answer is right or wrong. It’s important to first give kids the space to explore the financial concept on their own, and then you can ask questions to help guide them to discover the answer on their own.” One example could be a discussion on needs versus wants, which is a good first step in discussing money with your child. Ask your child what they would consider a need. If they say “the beach”, rather than telling them that’s wrong, talk through why they think it’s a need. Ask them what parts of the beach are really important. From there, your child may understand that parts of the beach, like the sun, are needs, while other parts (unlimited ice cream) are wants.
3. Get involved: Since finance is not taught by schools, and because parents are the single greatest influence on their child, parents are the primary source of financial education for their children. This makes being hands on with your kids and spending quality time with them especially important when learning financial concepts. Shoman explains that she purposefully designed all the games to be used along with the parent at least at first, to encourage this type of interaction. She also recommends asking your child questions after engaging in any financial activity or game. This helps them reflect, keeps the conversation going, and helps you identify where your child may need extra help or what aspects they most enjoyed.
4. Integrate into real life: Any parent knows, the easiest way to teach a child something is to make it all about them! The above savings jar is a good example of this. You can talk to your child all day long about the importance of savings, and they may hear you…but they aren’t really getting it until they are staring at the picture of their dream toy taped to that jar, putting every penny away to get their hands on it.