Who should teach children about money?

When it comes to spending, saving and balancing the household books, it's clear that the value of money is something which has to be learned.

But when children's pocket money can be paid digitally and no coins are handed over even for bus tickets, simple skills such as checking your change are becoming ever more rare.

So how can youngsters grasp these financial life skills? Customers we asked at The Nottingham’s city centre branch, on Upper Parliament Street in Nottingham, say parents should play a major role in showing that money can run out – and that saving brings rewards.

Retired Nigel Mills, from Newark, said: “If the parents have good money skills like budgeting it can brush off on the children. If they take them to the bank when they do their banking they will soon learn what goes on.

“I used to work in retail and children would come in to buy something and hold their hand out with the cash and say 'take what you need from that'. They had no idea how much change they would need.

“Schools come into it too, because lessons can show what happens in real life.”

Ellan Hicklin, 19, from Hucknall, said: “You should learn about it at home. Mum and dad opened a savings account for me here when I was younger. I still use that now and I’m happy there’s something in it!

“Parents don’t know all the technical bits so that’s where schools would come in.”

Financial education is not specifically covered in the school curriculum but comes as part of other subject headings.

The Nottingham opened its Money Academy for children in 2016 building on the founder Samuel Fox’s work to help adult literacy and numeracy. 

We also support Young Enterprise, which bridges the gap between school and work by helping youngsters run their own companies to learn the ins and outs of finance, organisation, teamwork and problem-solving.

Karen Hill, Stapleford branch manager, said: “We help give the Money Academy children an understanding that some things are essential, like food and shelter, but other things like games and sweets are luxuries.

“The school helped them see the difference between wanting and needing.

“Young Enterprise is more about teaching them what goes into running a business, even down to coming up with the product idea.

“It covers working as a team and looking after the finances and how success is down to planning and hard work rather than get-rich-quick.”

Sarah Ghattaora, head teacher at Standhill Infants School in Carlton, Nottingham, said: "Children begin to access the concept of money in the early years – up until five years old – by becoming familiar with coins and counting in pennies.

"They begin to understand around the age of six that you need to save money to buy things. However in the modern world of plastic, they very rarely get to the spending of it in action."

Here are five ways Sarah's pupils learn about money:
  • In Reception class the children have role play areas that are shops, they use coins to pay – any denomination and never the right amount, for instance £100 for a banana a penny for a cup of tea! But they begin to handle money and understand that there are different coins. They are taken on a trip to the shops to buy things, they have a shopping list and actually see money change hands.
  • In Year 1 the children have a broader understanding and need to recognise all coins and notes. They again use role play to buy and sell. But children find it a really difficult concept, and although they could competently add 23 and 17, the moment it's 23p and 17p it takes on a whole new meaning.
  • They won't learn properly about finding change until they are about 7 or 8 as subtraction confuses them until then.
  • Teachers continue to link addition and subtraction skills throughout Year 2 to money and they become more confident. They use real life situations, ICT games and more role play.
  • In terms of saving, the children take money in weekly for the book shop. They can take 20p or 30p each week which gets logged. When they have enough money 'saved' they are allowed to choose a book form the bookshop in school. "It's a really good way to get them to understand that you need to save for what you want," said Sarah. 
Here's what young people themselves think about money, spending and saving:

Julie Kent, course leader in Childhood Studies at Nottingham Trent University, said children tended to build what they saw in the home into their play and learning.

She said: "Role play in particular is a key feature of Early Years provision and the 'home corner' role play area at pre-school and school will morph from a kitchen to a shop, to a garden centre, giving children the opportunity to handle goods and money and engage in pretend play, copying behaviours they have seen modelled in their daily lives: a key understanding within the Early Years curriculum is that parents are their children's first educators.

"The other relevant area in the Early Years Foundation Stage is 'Knowledge and Understanding of the World', which really encompasses the child's understanding of their community, what happens in their world and includes visiting different parts of the local community, including areas where some children may be very knowledgeable, such as a Chinese supermarket, local church, elders lunch club or Greek café.

"This may also include talking about their home and community experiences of money, shopping and spending."


A straightforward savings account can demonstrate how money has to be paid in before you can draw it back out again – and children can soon learn how finding good deals and paying less for things leaves more in their pocket for a chance to enjoy the fun parts of life, or save for their future.

The Nottingham's Robin Hood Young Saver encourages regular saving with the reward of a series of character money boxes, while the Young Savers’ Club is ideal for people starting their savings journey.

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