Teaching Children About Money, Naturally

Learning About Money - An Everyday Story

Teaching Children About Money, Naturally: Not sure how to introduce your child to money? In this post, you will find one simple way which also encourages self confidence, responsibility and generosity. From An Everyday Story.

Tonight I wanted to tell you about something Sarah (4.5yrs) and I have been doing together for a little while. It started out with her wanting to be more involved and has evolved into the most wonderful way for her to learn about money, broaden her understanding of what real food looks like and give her an appreciation of the food our family eats.

Learning About Money - An Everyday Story Learning About Money - An Everyday StoryOn Sunday mornings, Sarah and I grab our baskets and head to our local farmers markets. We both love this time. We taste-test all the goodies, get a nice warm cup of chai, choose a few new seedlings for our kitchen garden and fill our baskets to the brim. She always has so many questions; what’s this? How much is that? Do we need this?

One morning I decided to give Sarah some money, too. I gave her twenty dollars and said she could buy what ever she wanted. I didn’t quite know what to expect; I initially thought she would spend it all on Turkish delight!

But no, she didn’t! She took the responsibility very seriously. She adored being in charge of some of our weekly grocery money.

Each weekend, Sarah speaks to the stallholders and farmers; asking them about prices and quite cheekily, whether she can have a taste first. She very earnestly chooses the bread; knowing that wheat makes Daddy sick, so making sure to choose a nice spelt loaf.

We talk about how much money she has left over after each purchase. She is learning that $6 for a bottle of apple juice is more than $4 for a punnet of strawberries, leaving her with more change to buy something else if she wants.

She is learning that food is seasonal and notices when new foods become available as the seasons change. Carrots are in season at the moment and Sarah was so thrilled last week to buy both red and white carrots. She had never seen different coloured carrots before.

It was a little difficult at first (for both of us) because the stallholders would often overlook Sarah, even though she would be waiting in line with her selection of tomatoes. It has taught Sarah though, to speak up a little more (and be more assertive with handing over her money). And the stallholders are starting to acknowledge her and take her more seriously (as opposed to a cute little girl paying for apples).

Learning About Money - An Everyday StorySarah walks around the markets confidently, basket in hand and money in her pocket. She thinks about what food we might need for the week and happily offers to buy it. And she always, always buys a little some special for Jack and Daddy.

This everyday experience is teaching Sarah about the value of money, how it works – trading it for goods, as well as allowing her to think about our family’s needs. This is serious, purposeful work. Real learning. And we do have such a lovely time at the markets together too, just me and my girl.

When you’re at the markets next, see if there is a little money out of the budget that you can give to your child to spend on food for the family. They will love the responsibility and will just learn so much from the experience.

21 Replies to “Teaching Children About Money, Naturally”

    1. Thanks Lise 🙂

  1. Beautiful post!

    1. Thank you Paula 🙂

  2. Melody Trent says:

    Oh Sarah I’m so proud!! What a great way to be learning and involved in the community. Ms Kate you are brilliant and this concept is so important for her to learn for her future. Love it!!
    Ms Melody (Nebraska USA)

    1. Thank you Miss Melody 🙂 We both really love it. I love spending that time with her each Sunday and she really loves the responsibility of choosing food for our family.

  3. Just letting you know that I read your post regularly . I am inspired by your approaches and I often use bits and pieces where I can all the way in Johannesburg South Africa. Thank you for all your ideas and thoughts that you share with us .

    1. Thank you Jennifer 🙂 I really do love hearing from people around the world – how wonderful that you are all the way over in Johannesburg! It has always been my dream (ever since I was a little girl) to visit South Africa…..one day!

  4. What a great experience! It will definitely leave lasting memories, for both of you. My heart twinged as you described how Sarah was first not acknowledged. I’m sure it was scary for her to speak up. Too often, children are looked at through a dismissive and “deficit” lens. It is rarely a compliment when someone says to an adult “you are acting like a child”…but there are many reasons why it could be 🙂

    1. I know, me too. It is hard to see the stallholders look over Sarah’s head to the next adult customer 🙁 I think it was really scary for her to speak up and lift her money higher in the air. I stand next to her though and she is gaining confidence. She can be shy sometimes and so it’s so wonderful to see her feeling more confident.

  5. I love this! What fun and responsibility for Sarah! I know my boys would love the opportunity as well, as they love to be involved in the kitchen and in grocery shopping. I just never thought to give them money to spend on the family groceries. Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Thanks Kaly 🙂 Do you guys have a farmers markets nearby? How are you and your lovely boys going these days? xx

      1. We do have local farmers markets. One in our town, and several in a town about 20 min away. Of course, they only run during the summer time. There are two Christmas markets every year – late Nov/early Dec which are nice to go to, but don’t really have produce that time of the year. The boys do love going to some of the markets. We recently bought 2 (more) Baba Tree baskets from a local market woman. The boys loved picking them out and were very serious about which ones would do. Next year I would like to get into canning and will need many more, and varied, items from the markets.

        The boys are doing well, we are just back to school today. I am glad for the routine. I often long to homeschool, and we do some activities at home for enrichment, but I know I would not be able to keep to the schedule. They are happy in their classes, and I get to volunteer with Atlas in his Pre-Kindergarten class with the teacher I used to be assistant to. We are happy in our new home and I begin teaching piano lessons again in a few weeks. Thanks for asking!! <3

  6. Each saturday we go gather our CSA basket at the farm, then after go to the market to walk around (there isnt an organic stand there) sometimes we get some eggs if they are there. We go always at the same time so everyone remembers us.(its not really hard to forget 2 mommies and i am really tattooed) Dante carries his money alone to the bakery stand, where they give him his croissant, all by himself. It is so awesome to watch. He comes back to the table and shares his croissant with his little brother.

    I think its important for kids to know where their food comes from, and to identify what it is! Its also a great social outing. He gets to see the stands, smiles or says hello to the people. Its a great sense of community.

    1. And isn’t it such a wonderful way to start the weekend!? 🙂 We have a new market starting here – today actually – which is all local, organic, seasonal food. I can’t wait to go along and check it out! The markets we go to now is great – but not all organic and not all local, so I am really excited to see what stalls will be there. It’s being held at the Botanic Gardens too (which is really beautiful) so will be a lovely place for a picnic and a stroll.

      Such a wonderful sense of community too, isn’t it? Supermarkets are quite sterile. But farmers markets are alive and buzzing. Sarah (and I) LOVE talking to the farmers. Often times they will have photos of their farms and the honey farmer often brings in a few frames from a bee hive – with bees still in it! – Sarah LOVES watching the bees work.

  7. Wonderful post.

    Teaching children about spending and saving money is a beautiful way to begin learning about money. Will children know how that money is earned?

    1. They know that Daddy goes to work and that I work from home to earn the money for our family. I don’t think they quite understand how that works though. But they do know that money just doesn’t exist; that we work to get the money.

  8. This is simply wonderful, so heartwarming. Thank you for your inspiration, I read everything you post, while looking forward to the day I’ll have children of my own.

  9. Great story Kate, thank you for sharing with us! Eiliyah (3.75y) loves our weekly trips to the local farmers market in Bondi, and is so inquisitive with what I am buying. She loves to help us cook, and try to think up recipes on the spot we could cook the produce with so she sees the whole process. I never thought of giving her some money to spend herself, I’ll try that next week. It really is the everyday experiences that carry the most powerful lessons, huh?!

  10. That’s fantastic! I get so frustrated when shop keepers overlook my kids when they want to buy something, or try to hand me the change instead of them (even though I’m standing a few metres behind!), but I think once they start to see the same kids week after week and realise that the kids can do it by themselves, they start to treat them differently.

    1. Definitely. The stallholders are starting to get to know Sarah now and so will talk to her. She is becoming more confident too which is just so lovely to watch

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