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Nine fun activities to teach kids about money

 As schools have closed to help combat the spread of Covid-19, parents are taking a greater lead than ever before in teaching their children at home.

One invaluable lesson is how to manage money. Moneywise magazine has the nation’s best personal finance teachers on hand ready to help. Here, the winners of the Moneywise Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards 2019, sponsored by interactive investor, share their ideas to teach kids everyday money tasks.

With activities for primary and secondary pupils, the scope ranges from a ‘discount detectives challenge’, a  ‘bare necessities challenge’ to a ‘bank statement challenge.’ There is even a ‘create your own bank’ challenge and a ‘great savings race.’

Do you know a great personal finance teacher? Nominate them for this year’s Moneywise Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards for the chance to win a share of a £24,000 cash prize pot from interactive investor for their school? Or teachers can nominate themselves – just email editor@moneywise.co.uk

interactive investor has also launched a New Family Financial Education Award for parents/ carers who have best taught children about money matters – with a £5,000 prize pot. £250 individual cash prizes for up to 20 households are available – families need to send examples of their  financial education home learning to editorial@ii.co.uk.

Tips from the teachersteach kids about money

Primary school winner: Sian Bentley, deputy principal, Queensmead Primary Academy, Leicester.

Activity ONE – Create your own restaurant

Level: Primary and Secondary (five to 16 years)

Money skills: Budgeting, Saving

How it works: Setting up a home restaurant is a clever way to help your children learn about money.

First, get your children to think about their favourite restaurant meal out or takeaway and have a look online to calculate how much it would cost the family to order a takeaway.

Then make a list of ingredients needed to help recreate the meals at home and work out how much this would cost.

Either using ingredients that you have or topping up during your next supermarket shop, make those meals at home.

Then calculate how much you have saved by cooking, rather than eating out or ordering a takeaway.

You can do different variations of this activity – for example, creating your own cinema, café or even spa.

Activity TWO – Bare necessities challenge

Level: Primary (five to 11 years)

Money skills: Money management, Saving

How it works: Sit down with your child and write a list of all your regular costs, including bills, commuting, food, toiletries, cinema tickets, etc.

Review your child’s list first and work out what they are still receiving during the lockdown.

Then review your list and work out what you are still spending on, for example, bills, food and insurance.

Work out the items that you are no longer buying – for example, trips to the café, theatre or cinema.

Then discuss whether or not you miss those expenses and how much you are saving.

This can help children to understand the difference between essential and non-essential spending.

Activity THREE – Bank statement challenge

Level: Secondary (12 to 16)

Money skills: Banking, Money Management, Saving

How it works: Print off a copy of your bank statement from a few months ago and a copy of one from after the lockdown began.

Sit down with your child to look at the differences between the two and how your expenses have changed.

This can open up a conversation about the family’s financial wants, needs and how you can save money.

It can also help you discuss how Covid-19 may have impacted your household finances, through loss of business or loss of income.

This activity is designed to help children understand the value of money and how to survive financially during difficult times.

Judges’ Award: Tom Raffield, mathematics teacher, St David’s School, Purley

Activity FOUR – Create your own bank

Level: Primary (five to 11 years)

Money skills: Banking, Currency conversion, Saving

How it works: Get your child to identify something that they want – for example, a toy – and set its value as the target.

Then encourage your child to save money and log their progress.

Giving them the flexibility to save what they can will help them to work out how long it will take to reach that target.

To take this a step further, you could create your own household currency. Help your child to name and design the tender, and the conversion rate to pounds sterling. For example, 5 ‘Star Dollars’ could equal £1.

This new currency could be used to reward your child for helping around the house, good behaviour and doing well in home school.

At the end of the week, you can convert what they earn into pounds, which they can then choose to save or spend.

Commended: Nicola Butler, teacher of mathematics, finance and Welsh baccalaureate, Ysgol Eirias (Eirias High School), Colwyn Bay

Activity FIVE – Discount detective challenge

Level: Primary (five to 11 years)

Money skills: Bargain hunting, Saving

How it works: This challenge is designed to help children shop around and find the best deals.

For this activity, set a challenge for your child to complete. This could be anything from finding the best-value broadband deal to the pet insurance policy.

Encourage your child to note down what the different deals include – for example, what channels are included in different TV and broadband deals.

This will help distinguish which offers are better value for money rather than just being the cheapest option.

Secondary school winner: Helen Westwood, teacher of financial studies, Caroline Chisholm School

Activity SIX – Pocket money challenge

Level: Primary (five to 11 years)

Money skills: Budgeting, Saving

How it works: Teaching children the importance of having an effective budget can help them develop good money habits as they grow up.

Creating a budget for pocket money is a fun and interactive way to learn money management.

Encourage your child to set financial targets – for example, saving for a new bike – and work toward these goals by setting money aside.

To help incentivise saving, you could also offer to pay top-ups when your child hits certain milestones.

For example, if they save £20, you may wish to add an extra £10 on top as a reward for saving. This helps develop an understanding of how saving works and the benefits of putting money away.

You can also get creative and use colouring pencils, crayons and other stationery to bring the budget to life.

Activity SEVEN – Life savings challenge

Level: Secondary (12 to 16 years)

Money skills: Financial planning, Saving

How it works: Setting financial goals and planning how to achieve them is great way to help older children understand how to manage their money.

For this task, encourage your child to draw their ‘personal life cycle’, summarising the key financial  phases of their life, and ask them to name three milestones they would like to reach.

Also ask them to jot down how old they would like to be at each milestone –  for example, the age at which they want to buy their first home.

Help them calculate how much money they will need to achieve their goals by the ages they have set. With these figures in mind, ask your child to research the financial products that could help them fulfil these ambitions.

This task enables children to evaluate their financial priorities and work out how to reach their goals.

Judges’ Award: Russell Wareing, head of business and economics, Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Lancasterimage005.png

Activity EIGHT – Payslip challenge

Level:  Secondary (11 to 16 years)

Money skills: Income, National insurance, Pensions, Student loans, Tax

How it works: This activity is designed to help older children understand how salaries work.

First, you will need a payslip. Your child may have one if they have started working, or you can use one of your own or find an example online.

A payslip will show the gross pay of the employee for the time they have worked, and deductions taken including PAYE tax, national insurance, student loan and pension contribution.

Some companies may also include deductions for benefits such as health insurance.

Payslips also detail how much has been earned in the tax year so far (April to April), the amount of deductions and the tax code.

Once you have taken away all the deductions, you will be left with the net take-home pay.

Going through a payslip will give you lots of personal finance topics to talk about, for example:

• How much do you earn in a year (gross)?

• How much do you take home in a year (net)?

• What percentage of tax do you pay on your earnings overall?

• What is PAYE tax and national insurance used for?

• Do you think tax rates are fair?

• Is it a good idea to have a pension?

• Is a degree worth the level of student debt?

Runner-up: Agnelo Mendonça, business teacher, Loxford School, London

Activity NINE – Great savings race

Level:  Primary and Secondary (five to 16 years)

Money skills: Investing, Saving

How it works: This challenge can help children focus on savings and develop good money habits.

When your child receives income, such as birthday money, encourage them to split it into the following:

• 50% into long-term savings

• 30% into short-term savings

• 20% for an immediate treat

Long-term savings should be held in a savings account or Junior Isa. You and your child can monitor their savings’ progress as time goes on.

Short-term savings are for items they would like, but need to put money away for. The remainder can be used to buy something right away.

Encouraging your child to split their income helps them understand the difference between short-term and long-term savings.

You could add top-ups or additional rewards to your child’s income if they hit a particular savings target in a set period of time.    

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