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I have a pre-schooler who is starting to ask for treats when we go shopping. What can I do to start teaching her that things cost money?

A good way to start teaching preschoolers about money is have them identify coins and learn their value.

Adults have a clear understanding that items in stores cost money, but put yourself in the preschooler’s shoes. To them, everything is free. All of their needs are provided. They may know what money is, but they don’t attach value to money. For example, young children will naturally think that a nickel has more value than a dime, because it’s bigger.

Dump a pile of change in the middle of the floor and count pennies. Make stacks of five and explain that a stack is equal to one nickel, or that five stacks are equal to a quarter.

Talk about things that cost money and things that are free. Ice cream costs money, but playing with a friend is free. Clothes and even gas for the car cost money, but going to the playground does not.

Finally, the next time you’re at the store, show them the price tags and discuss how much their favorite foods cost. And, let them watch as you check out. If you pay in cash, let them hand the money to the cashier and receive the change.

For more money activities for your child, visit our Money As You Grow section.

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