Our children are spoilt. There is no getting away from it. It doesn't matter how many times we try and remind them how lucky they are, they are still spoilt.
I worry about the value, or lack of value, they place on things.
I also worry about how it's possible to teach them the value of money and the relative size of different numbers, when actual physical real money hardly exists any more.
Virtual money vs actual money
My daughters have a shop set up in the playroom. (It's huge, and I blame my mother.) They also have a till. On numerous occasions we have started playing shops only to get to the payment point when, after happily asking me to enter my plastic play credit card into the machine, and happily asking me to put my code in, they confusingly try and give me, the customer, some cash. I think they get confused having witnessed the phenomena that is "cash back".
So how do you explain that usually it's up to the customer to pay the shop? And even more confusingly, how do you explain that the card machine actually mysteriously transfers mummy's money to the shop?
The bank of piggy banks
I have tried to explain that mummy and daddy save their money and give it to the bank to look after. I describe it in such a way that they imagine a big room in the bank fully of everyones own piggy bank.
Then, when we use our card in the machine at the shop, the card machine sends a message to the bank to tell them to move the money from our piggy bank to the shops piggy bank at the bank.
I can imagine a scuttling bank employee running between enormous piggy banks with money bags, climbing up ladders and dropping it in the correct shop's slot!
What about coins?
We use play coins when we play shops. And having these are by far the best way to demonstrate the value of something.
I try and start by paying for everything in pence, in much the same way I learnt in the 1970s. Once the children can see how much bigger 10p is to 1p, we start to talk about sticking the coins together to make one 10p coin so it's easier to carry.
A great experiment that the kids love (there's chocolate involved)
The best way to demonstrate how one 10p can represent the same as ten 1ps, is as follows:
- Take 10 chocolate buttons (pretend 1ps) and place them in a saucepan.
- Slowly melt the chocolate on a gentle heat.
- Meanwhile line one round mould of a Yorkshire pudding tray, or a muffin tray, with baking parchment.
- Pour the melted chocolate into the one mould.
- Allow the chocolate to solidify in the mould, either at room temperature, or in the fridge.
- Push out the large chocolate button you have just created out of 10 smaller ones.
This is a nice way of enabling children to understand how a coin can actually represent more than just 1p. Obviously it only helps with the concept of one thing representing another. If anyone actually complains that it doesn't exactly work quite like that, and that a £1 should therefore be enormous, I will actually hold my head in my hands. You, dear readers, are all intelligent, sophisticated, discerning readers, and will, I am in no doubt, understand what concept I am trying to represent in this bit of fun.
So, have you got any other tricks that help to teach young children about money in this online world?