3 ways to teach your child to count money for Primary 1

April 26, 2017
  • 1 / 4

    Your six-year-old is starting primary school next year, and that means she’ll need to buy food from the canteen, as well as pick up items from the school bookshop from time to time. That’s why now is a good time to teach her money matters using everyday situations.

    She already understands the nature of monetary transactions; namely, that she hands over a certain amount of coins to a shopkeeper in exchange for items.

    Your kindergartener has seen these transactions many times in shops and supermarkets. But now you need to get her more involved, and the first stage is coin recognition.

    Related: How much pocket money should you give?

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  • Coin Recognition
    2 / 4 Coin Recognition

    Even if you think she knows the denominations from 5 cents up to $1, go over them with her again and again until she can tell you the name and value of each coin the moment she sees it. Mix up the order in which you show her the coins, as that will add a further test of her knowledge.

    A common mistake at this age is to confuse the 10-cent, 20-cent and 50-cent coins because they are all silver – your child is less likely to confuse the 5-cent and $1 coins because although they are the same colour, their shapes are easily distinguishable. You don’t need to teach her about currency notes at the moment, as she will usually handle only coins.

    Related: Why you should teach your child the value of money


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  • Practise makes perfect
    3 / 4 Practise makes perfect

    Then start role-playing small money transactions at home. For example, pick out a few items from your kitchen cupboard or fridge, such as a banana, a biscuit, a bar of chocolate or a carton of juice.

    Put a price sticker on each of them, and give her a handful of real coins, making sure that she has more than enough to make purchases in this pretend-play situation. Be patient and give her plenty of time to think through the transaction.

    Keep practising this for a few minutes each day, until she is confident and comfortable buying these items.

    You can also explain that if she is not sure how much change she should hand over when paying, she can simply show the coins in her hand to the shopkeeper, who would then take the appropriate amount.

    Of course, it’s much better if your young one takes full responsibility for money matters herself, but it’s helpful for her to have a back-up plan if she gets stuck.

    Related: This family set up a bank to teach their kids about money

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  • Make it real
    4 / 4 Make it real

    When you think this pretend-play at home has taught her the basics, take her into the real world so that she can spend in everyday situations. Ask her to identify something small that she’d like to buy from the neighbourhood shops, such as a drink or a toy. Then give her enough coins to pay the exact amount for the item, with a few extra coins added in as well, and go together.

    Let her ask for the item herself, and let her sort out the coins needed to make the payment. Don’t rush your child. Reassure her that she should take her time.

    If she struggles, help her out. Then try again tomorrow, either buying the same item if she didn’t get the transaction right the first time, or buying a different item. The more she practises money matters in a real-life context, the more confident she’ll become.

    Once she starts primary school next year, calculations like this will be part of the curriculum, so giving her a good understanding beforehand will provide her with a head start in the classroom, as well as improve her independence skills and boost her self-confidence.

    She’ll also use this knowledge to start planning more carefully how to spend her weekly pocket money.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: Pocket money: teach your child to manage it well

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