Parents' Role in Economics and Personal Finance Education
Watch this short video as 3- and 4-year-olds get a taste of personal finance education, and see what parents have to say about starting so young. Resources for teaching young children about personal finance and economic concepts are listed below the video, and more are linked to within the transcript.
This video originally appeared in the essay It's Never Too Early to Start, from our 2016 annual report.
St. Louis Fed education resources designed for teaching young children:
Kiddynomics: An Economics Curriculum for Young Learners is a set of lessons designed to introduce young children to the economic way of thinking. Informed decision-making is a critical thinking skill that students can use throughout their school, personal, and work lives. And, as citizens in a democratic society, they should understand basic principles of how the economy operates. Beginning economic education early and building on that learning throughout students’ education is the best way to ensure they develop vital decision-making skills.
Learn more about Kiddynomics »
Parent Q&A Resources
Choose from a list of children's books and print our one-page parent Q&A to go with it. You'll be able to have a conversation with your children about saving, spending, savings goals, making careful decisions, and many other personal finance and economics concepts that relate to their everyday lives. You can also view the Q&A on your hand-held device.
Learn more about the Parent Q&As »
Related: Watch a short video to learn what teachers say about our resources.
Below is a full transcript of this video. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.
Links within the transcript are to our online resources and other information as indicated. Also, explore the filter at stlouisfed.org/education to find even more resources. It may be necessary to scroll down the page slightly to view the filter results.
Narrator: Is there such a thing as starting too early to teach kids about money? Not at the preschool at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, or in the homes of many young children.
Teacher: What is money? Can someone tell me what money is? Luke, can you tell me what money is?
Narrator: This morning, the book “Bunny Money” is being read again to these kids, some of whom are only 3 years old. Let’s listen as the teacher and two parents of children in this class talk with Mary Suiter, the head of our economic education department. They are talking not only about today’s story time but, more generally, about introducing kids at a very young age to personal finance and very basic economic concepts.
Betty Porter Wallis: The whole book is about choices. Because the children set out with one purpose for their money, but they realize along the way, they realize they have spent the money, not for what they wanted as their original goal. They had not made wise choices and had to settle for something less than what they really wanted at the beginning.
Mary Suiter: It’s a wonderful, funny, engaging book, but it, again, offers parents or a classroom teacher the opportunity to talk about the choices. And it’s not just the dollars you give up, it’s the other opportunities. So you talk about opportunities for your kids. But if I choose to go this direction in some life decision, I really give up the opportunity to go the other way. We want them to recognize that there’s a cost to every decision we make.
Narrator: And what do the moms think about such money lessons for their kids?
Angela Statum: When I got the lesson plan a few weeks ago, I said to my husband, “Do you know what they’re doing in class? … They’re doing all this financial stuff. They’re setting up stores and shops.” And he’s like, “Well, good.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah. You’re right. Good.” Because, you know, we talk about financial responsibility all the time.
Lori Von Holten: I was surprised, but when I took a step back and I thought about it, it makes a lot of sense. There’s math you can learn from counting, there’s emotional skills with having the restraint to save, there’s issues with social responsibility of why some folks need some wants versus what you need, and how money plays into that.
Betty Porter Wallis: And so we’re giving a great deal of focus onto our economic literacy as we prepare our young people. As an instructor here at the university, we’ve always talked about the integration of literacy into all content areas. And so I’ve done workshops for teachers all around the state and here on campus for our teacher preparation program on integrating money, integrating math, into literacy throughout our curriculum. I’m grateful to have the resources available to us from the Federal Reserve Bank.
Mary Suiter: We have materials that parents can use as well. We have something called the parent Q and A, and we’ve written them to go with children’s books. We have 23 books, and we’ve written questions that parents can ask their students or their children as they’re reading those books. You can pull them up on your phone, or you can print them out. Just to have a discussion about the personal finance content and the decision making that’s going on in that story while you’re reading it. “Well, what was Uncle Jed saving for? Did he have a savings goal? Or was Alexander making good spending choices?”
Narrator: So, is any of this sinking in with the kids?
Angela Statum: Andrew’s not really talking about money at this point. He just turned three… Every day, I say, “Hey, how was school today?” He says, “I didn’t go to school. I went to work. And I said, OK, well what did you do? He said he did business, so I think he’s on the right track.”
Mary Suiter: That’s wonderful that Andrew is coming home and saying that, because one of the misconceptions kids often have about their economic world is the connection between work and earning income.
Betty Porter Wallis: It’s so important for children here to consider this as the beginning of life and the beginning of work, and that work will provide for us the opportunity to live the kind of lives that we want to live.
Lori Von Holten: I think with Ellie, it comes in spurts with her personality. So she’ll talk a little bit about quarters and quarters look like this, and she can recognize some of the dollar bills and what they look like. She talks about saving money for more Barbies, because 12 isn’t enough. So we spar some conversations about how to save money and what sort of things that she wants.
Mary Suiter: That’s really valuable. I think we need parents talking about it at home. I do think it’s important that kids get instruction and information but have the opportunity to observe. And they are observing what you do, so that’s important for parents to recognize too. They’re observing your behavior.
Narrator: So, did the kids ever mention Bunny Money to their parents?
Lori Von Holt: It was very quickly at dinner, I asked her how her day was, and she said, “Good.” And then she started eating mac and cheese, and so I asked her, you know, “What did you talk about?” And she said, “Bunnies and money.” So, okay. “Anything else?” She goes, “No, mom. I want to eat my mac and cheese.” And now I know where that came from.
Narrator: To explore the hundreds resources that the St. Louis Fed has for teaching basic economics and personal finance to children of every age, as well as to adults, go to www.stlouisfed.og/education.