Financial literacy is an important component of STEAM learning and a building block of a comfortable future. Unfortunately, many schools have limited programs. But there’s good news — not only can parents impart money-smarts at home, they can make it so fun kids won’t even realize they’re learning!
“Games and toys have the power to get kids of all ages involved and passionate about any subject, leading the way to joyful, healthy relationships with different areas of learning,” says Anna Yudina, spokesperson for The Genius of Play. “Math and financial literacy are no exceptions.”
Parents agree: 67 percent believe STEAM-focused toys are the primary way to encourage development of science, technology, engineering and math in their child, according to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of The Toy Association.
To turn your child into a math and money whiz, consider these tips from The Genius of Play, a national movement to educate parents and caregivers about play’s vital role in child development.
Play Store: Playing store is easy. First, create the inventory using toy foods or pantry supplies, setting a price for each item. Alternatively, build a fashion store by hanging clothing on a rack for “customers” to browse through. This can also be played using dolls or action figures as characters, and tokens from a board game as the merchandise.
Have your child be the customer by handing them a set amount of money (real or play bills) to start with, so that they must budget accordingly to buy only what they can afford. Then, swap roles so that your child has a turn tallying the cost of items you bring to the counter. Many toy cash registers even feature functional calculators, giving kids some practice with a vital learning tool.
Get Tactile: Toys promoting hands-on exploration can strengthen numerical processing that’s necessary for financial literacy. Try games providing a fast-paced mental workout, such as Jacks, Connect 4 and Backgammon.
Have a Game Night: Board games offer the opportunity to develop a variety of fundamental skills, including arithmetic and risk management. The next time family game night rolls around, consider breaking out a money management classic, such as Monopoly, to practice counting, saving and budgeting.
Make Saving a Game: Saving may not automatically appeal to kids at first, so create challenges and games offering rewards. For example, propose a one-time doubled allowance after successfully completing a “No Spending Week Challenge.” Or, demonstrate how quickly money can add up by having kids put all the change they receive in their piggy bank (versus spending it). Then, at the end of the month, have them open the piggy bank and count up their savings!
For more games that teach real life skills, head over to TheGeniusofPlay.org.