By Nathaniel Sillin
What important lessons will you teach your child this summer? Riding a bike? Sharing with others? How about teaching them important financial skills.
Financial literacy may not immediately come to mind when parents think of essential skills for students, but what children know about money at a young age can shape the way they manage money in adulthood. In fact, a 2015 study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found that credit scores among young adults improved in states with mandatory financial education.
However, not all states implement financial education. So how do we close the gap between what American students currently know about money and what they need to know?
Edutainment – one of the key personal finance instruction tactics that Visa uses to reach people of all ages – is an innovative learning method that strikes a balance between education and entertainment.
Students can learn financial lessons without feeling like they’re studying, and edutainment can help them retain the information better. According to a 2013 study commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, students who played educational games in addition to the standard curriculum performed better on tests than students who didn’t.
Here are a few simple ways your child can learn about money this summer.
Learn together: Mymoney.gov offers activities and lessons for all ages, ranging from fun cartoons about American coins to guides on how to budget effectively. The website features World of Cents, a child-friendly game for ages 5 and up designed to help teach the value of money through the concepts of earning, saving and spending money, while incorporating basic math concepts.
Begin with the basics: Knowing the value of money is essential to financial literacy.
The sooner children learn how much everyday items are worth, the better. Visa’s Practical Money Skills initiative has developed a game, Peter Pig’s Money Counter, which helps children improve basic financial skills such as sorting and counting coins to learn their monetary value.
The free game is available online, as an Android app and from Visa’s Practical Money Skills website.
Animate it: Educational favorite Schoolhouse Rock! makes finance fun with songs about interest, savings accounts, paying bills, and more. Dynamic animation and catchy songs help children learn basic financial facts while having fun. Search for clips on YouTube or pop in a DVD to teach your children these important and practical lessons in a fun and memorable way.
Play the market: The Stock Market Game is an online simulation of the global capital markets that engages students grades 4-12 in the world of economics, investing and personal finance, and has prepared 15 million students for financially independent futures. The game is part of a program provided by the SIFMA Foundation.
Make it comical: Visa recently teamed up with Marvel Custom Solutions to create a Guardians of the Galaxy comic that promotes saving and smart spending and introduces young children to the difference between wants and needs. The comic, “Rocket’s Powerful Plan,” features an exciting storyline where saving money in an emergency fund is crucial to helping the Super Heroes. If your children are fans of Rocket, Groot and Ant-Man, they’re bound to love this comic featuring the same iconic characters.
Bring it to life: Jump$tart Clearinghouse offers a variety of games and resources that demonstrate how money skills transfer to real life.
Children are challenged to plan their budgets, stretch their money, and be financially responsible. The website also provides a range of educational materials for both parents and teachers.
Additional edutainment resources include:
MyMoney.gov Youth Resources
TreasuryDirect Kids MoneyMemory and Perry’s Pennies
The United States Mint H.I.P. Pocket Exchange games
Visa’s Financial Football and Financial Soccer
Bottom line: It’s important to teach your children about finance, and edutainment is both an effective and engaging way to do so. Use these summer months to teach your children important basic personal finance skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
Nathaniel Sillin directs Visa’s financial education programs. To follow Practical Money Skills on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.