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 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. It helps with the National Curriculum for eight- and nine-year-olds.

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.”

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' 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."

Here are six other ways your children can learn about money:
  • Help them work within their budget; splashing money on sweets won’t help save for that Lego kit.
  • Tie bonus pocket money to easy household chores.
  • Have a wish-list where they prioritise their wants and needs.
  • Let them help at a car boot sale, making money from their unwanted toys. Lots of 50p sales can soon add up...
  • Keep track of their savings – getting a regular printed statement of their account shows their progress.
  • Lead by example: Tell them why you’re not buying that iPhone this month, no matter how exciting it looks.

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.

Sign up to our newsletter

We regularly send out newsletters with product information, advice on improving your finances and top tips. If you would like to receive this please sign up to our newsletter, which you can unsubscribe from at any point.