Back to the Basics Part I: Money
Math these days can be a tricky thing, as simple addition and subtraction problems have changed quite a bit since I was in school– which wasn’t all that long ago. Again and again, I see my clients passing math classes such as algebra, but struggling to add up a quarter and nickel. You would think that if your child is participating in algebra or geometry, they understand the concept of money; but unfortunately, that’s just not the case for many kids. This is why it is so important to make sure we are going back to the basics, and making certain our kids understand the concepts of everyday math.
Much of the math I do with my more mature clients has to do with money, and learning how to implement it in everyday life. That might catch some of you off guard because it’s something so common and learned in 3rd grade, not to mention it’s not too tough of a concept. However, when you do not have to be responsible for your money or someone else is always doing the shopping and paying for you it can be a difficult skill to learn. Money skills need to be practiced often in order to be learned. These essential skills will be needed when getting a job, buying groceries, making appointments, and paying bills. Below are a few ways we help our clients learn the basics of everyday money, and which can be implemented at home for any age.
Taking a trip to the store– Not only can going to the store be a beneficial experience for your child, but it can also be a great excuse to go shopping! Even if you aren’t buying anything, you can walk around the store and discuss why things like milk and eggs are kept in the same area. This is also a great opportunity to look at the pricing of objects, and approximate how much a bag of carrots and peanut butter would cost.
Using real money— Using actual paper money and coins is one of the best ways to jump start the understanding of money values. Too often kids learn money through fake coins or pictures of coins on a paper; although this can help and the kids are not learning their true value. I had the opportunity to work with a client who when given a money worksheet could add up all the coins in a matter of 30 seconds, but given the actual coins and asked to count them couldn’t do it independently. Not only is real money helpful for learning the values, but it is helps children understand the concept: Here is your money; but when you buy something, it is gone. Using things like debit or credit cards are not giving our clients the opportunity to really grasp the idea of money and how it works.
Paying for purchases– While you’re at the store, have your child pay for their expenses. Give them the opportunity to walk up to the cashier and learn the simplicity of exchanging money in short interactions.
Figuring out change- for older children— Before checking out at the store, work with your child on figuring out how much change they should be getting back. This will take a few minutes; but it will give them the chance to work through it with your assistance, and figure out how much they should expect back.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to practice money skills on a regular basis- as with any skill, when it’s not used it is easily forgotten. As educators and parents, please remember that just because your child or student is in an advanced math class doesn’t mean it’s not important to go back to the basics and revisit the everyday math skills that will be needed in everyday life.
Written by: Salina Bisson, MSW.
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Horizons Development Resource Center serves the following areas in and around Grand Rapids,
Wyoming, Caledonia, Kentwood, Middleville, Lowell, Forest Hills, Hudsonville, Walker, Holland,
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and all surrounding areas. If you are not located in or around these cities, we still may be able to help
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