Why we are teaching children about money

By Frank Conway

Recently, I attended a primary school in the Dublin area to discuss the latest edition of Talking Cents, the financial education magazine for children aged 7 – 12. 

The teacher had selected a class where the children were about 10 years of age. I designed a series of discussion topics and then asked the kids to consider a range of money issues selected from the content of the latest edition. 

Before long, it became obvious that while the children had a natural interest in all things to do with the money, many were also thinking outside the box also. 

For example, one of the 10-year olds wanted to know how bank account routing numbers worked and how banks actually managed the transfer of money from one bank account to another or from a place of work to a bank account. 

Another 10-year old asked what the implications would be for someone that used a contactless debit card in a shop that did not have a contactless reader. 

Another student was curious as to why so many notes and coins only have men on them, and not women. 

The MoneyWhizz financial education programme is primarily structured around the 6 Pillars of Financial Knowledge. It provides specific financial education but it also encourages critical thinking. And the 10-year olds at the Dublin primary school simply validated what I already knew; kids want learn and they want to learn about money as long as the content is made interesting. 

Financial literacy is a key life skill. Like all life skills, it does need to be taught from an early age and leading research says this must be in primary school. And content needs to be scaled in relevance, language, examples as the target group receiving the financial education age. 

The Talking Cents programme is now available across 26 counties and over 30,000 primary school children are benefiting from access to financial education material. Thanks to the support of Bank of Ireland, the money magazines are being made available free of charge. 

The bottom line when it comes to financial education is it needs to be simple, it needs to use language that is inclusive and the content needs to be structured in a way that enables the teachers and parents to organise and deliver financial education in a fun and engaging way. 

Frank Conway is Founder of MoneyWhizz.org and author of Ireland’s Essential Guide to Personal Finance. 

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