The Bank - Learning to Sort, Save and Give Real Money
Handling money is something children see their parents do on at least a weekly basis. They watch as we buy the groceries, pay the bills, get the fuel, buy their shoes or that treat they've been asking for, gifts for others and so on. It's endless and an important fact of life.
Think about it though, how often do they watch us save money? Or what about Giving money?
Not often because it isn't a constant visual occurrence and in comparison to the outlay it is usually small, this is something I try to aware of so Dimples learns to save and not spend (especially not on unnecessary stuff) and more importantly, so he learns how to give to others who aren't as fortunate.
Yes stuff can be nice, but I do not wish for him to think money just magically appears from a box in the wall as we walk down a street (or from a plastic card that is kept in my wallet) and I certainly don't want him putting a higher value on things and stuff, rather than quality time, family fun and how fortunate we are in life.
Our children see us spend but they don't actually "see" us save.
Most of the time, savings are done by Internet transfers or a trip to the bank so you can not literally 'see' the money accumulating. This is where I have tried to change things a little. Dimples has several piggy banks that he can see and if we have some small change laying around it goes in his piggy bank to get saved up. If he finds small change at all, it gets saved. Some times if he does chores that are out of the ordinary he gets some small change to save in his piggy bank. He often finds coins when he helps me get the washing out to put on the line (whoops!).
It takes months to fill so this is a pretty special time but once the Piggy's are full we empty them into his "Bank" to actually see how much he has saved. He loves pretending to be the banker. It isn't as much as it looks because most of it is 5 and 10 cent coins but to his innocent eyes, "oh my goodness look at ALL those coins I saved!" He excitedly tells me he has saved lots & that he has so many coins. This is a huge achievement in itself and is great way for him to see the build up of saving. Then comes the fun part, the sorting.
Dimples is too young to know the real value of coins and to add them but I don't think he is too young to be introduced to them and handle the coins while mummy has to count them!
First, I photo-copied a set of coins in colour and used these as labels for 6 bowls to go with our large "bank" container. This helps Dimples visually identify between the coins.
He sequenced and sorted through them, dividing them into the correct bowls, matching them by their pictures and taking favour to fifty cent coins. (Probably because it is the most identifiable one and the largest). We discussed the concept of saving money, how much each coin represents and their order. Some of our Australian coins are pretty cool so we discussed what was on the coins; For instance our Kangaroo, Lyer bird, our Echidna and we even came across some special edition Olympic coins and so on.
After they were all sorted, I counted them up and put them into their individual bank bags. Dimples has his very own pass book, so we put all the coins in a large bag with his bank book and they then get taken to the bank teller to save into his account. He does understand the concept of saving it up for something special when he is a big boy which I think is important rather than thinking money is just spent spent spent.
For all his hard work Dimples gets to take two coins in his pocket, one coin is for him to spend on the way to the bank, usually a one dollar coin that he uses in "the claw machine" at the local supermarket to see if he can win a toy or to go on the moving car ride or buy a small treat.
Giving to Charity:
The other coin is his pocket is the important one, he takes this coin in his pocket and this one he has to give! He gets to choose which coin and he donates it to charity on our way, usually it is into a box at the supermarket or the bank that is asking for support that month (red cross or the cancer council), sometimes there is a salvation army volunteer set up or a local person asking for donations for a cause they are participating in. What ever it is, Dimples puts his coin in and we talk about how it will help someone else in need.