Children around age four can often count ten or more objects and identify everyday items in the home, including money. As your child gets close to, or meets, these cognitive milestones, there are ways you can help them learn more about money.
While you may have played store or restaurant with your toddler, you likely weren’t expecting them to count out bills and coins. Many toddlers are just learning to count, but when they’re older, the focus can shift to understanding the actual value of money and how all bills and coins are different.
The easiest way to start might be by teaching your child about coins, since they all vary in size. Use a book, make flashcards, or show them real coins to introduce your child to the value of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Help them understand how they add up – five pennies make a nickel, and so on.
If your child has a piggy bank, give them a pile of spare change and help them separate it by type of coin. Have them count how many they have of each kind as they put the coins into the bank.
As your child is learning about the different types of bills and coins, it’s a good time to teach them about the value of money. They may understand that we use money to buy things we want and need, but now you can start showing them how some things cost, or are worth, more than others.
You can do this simply by engaging your child at the store. Use items on the shelves to show them how much you can buy with $1, $5, or $10.
If your child does chores around the house to earn money, this could also be a good age to start assigning unique values to different tasks. The more difficult or time consuming a task, the higher the value should be. Make sure your child understands this and provide a visual learning tool by printing out or using real money to designate how much a chore is worth.
When they get paid for their chores, help them sort the money by bill and coin type and count how much they have earned. Then show them how to deposit it in their savings account.