Of Preschoolers and Pennies

Eliza Clark
February 21, 2011

Many like to think of the pre- and early school years as an age of innocence during which one ought to shield children from the tough realities of the world. Why should such young children need to know anything about money, much less all of the myriad ways in which it shapes peoples' lives?

Though it's a topic many of us would prefer to avoid with our kids, discussions of money have a way of creeping into everything. The little ones listen to everything we say, and like it or not, money is a huge topic in adult conversation.  And then, there's the simple business of everyday life that preschoolers observe with their keen, questioning eyes. They're with us as we run errands and go grocery shopping almost every day.  They watch, they listen, and they understand very quickly that money is a powerful thing. (Observe the pretend play of preschoolers only briefly, and this becomes shockingly obvious.)

So how do we talk about money with our preschoolers? What do we say when they ask us for something that's too expensive?  Or when they start wishing for their own money, and wondering how much things cost? Do you give an allowance? Does it hinge on chores? Do you teach your children the value of coins, or talk about saving? Does your preschooler have a piggy bank?

Truthfully, there is no avoiding these questions. Preschoolers are too observant and clever to let us get away with pulling down a screen over the topic. The best thing we can do is to give some careful thought to how we handle their natural curiosity about the subject. And that is exactly what we'll be doing here at Being Savvy over the next two weeks. After all, the real world is the world we've brought these children into, and they do need to understand, little by little, what makes it go around.

From the Parents

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