Column published in NT Suns in April 2017. Note rthat publisged columns are sometimes edited for the sake of space. Posting of Suns columns on my blog are unedited.
MONEY SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD
Over time, there have been many changes in education. Some have been brought about through the growth of technology. A prime example is the replacement of handwriting with computer and iPad keyboards.
In spite of ongoing change there are things that should be retained and reinforced. One of these is teaching children about the value and importance of money. This experience ought not to be deferred until students reach the middle and upper primary grades. Research at the University of Cambridge was commissioned by the United Kingdom Money Advice Service. The research revealed that children’s habits and attitudes about money are formed by the time they turn seven years of age.
Many children have little chance to learn about and understand money. Household living costs are looked after by the adults. When shopping with parents, many children will not see notes or coins being used to settle accounts. Credit cards, PayWay and mobile phone applications are used to pay for goods. This makes money an illusion rather than a reality for many children.
There are ways at both home and school that can help children when it comes to handling and understanding money.
• A weekly or fortnightly payment of pocket money can aid young people in understanding currency. Encouraging children to spend and save from this allowance helps them understand and apply the principle ‘save it, you have it, spend it, its gone’.
• Encouraging children to handle coins, appreciating their size, weight and value encourages familiarisation with currency. Extending this to include appreciation of the value of notes is wise.
• Talking with children and answering their questions about money is part of their home and school education.
• School banking programs encourage children to establish the saving habit. This is important because so much advertising focus encourages people to spend everything and save nothing.
• Allowing students to shop at the school canteen can help with understanding money including item costs and change given on purchases.
• Understanding the use and purpose of money can be supported by classroom activities. Having a classroom shop with shopkeepers and purchasers learning about buying and selling through drama is one approach. Another is understanding through maths problems that are about money matters.
As young people grow up, learning about credit, credit traps and the ease with which debt can be incurred need to be included.
Money is a part and parcel of everyday life. It’s understanding and use should not be foreign to young people.