Money is important in everyday life, and kids need to learn how to handle money. This includes being able to explain what money is, the values of different coins and notes, and how to count money. Luckily, there are lots of fun ways for teaching kids to count money, as well as ways to make sure that they get a great grounding for their financial education.
Here are some of our favorite ways to explain money to kids and get them comfortable handling coins. Of course, you can also find a great range of money games and money apps to help your kids learn more about cash and finances.
Related: Teaching kids about money
At what age should a child be able to count money?
It's always important to remember that kids develop at different rates, and you'll know best when to teach your child to count money. However, as a rough guideline, children can start learning to count money shortly after they start learning to count in general. This could be around age 4. You can start introducing the idea of money to your child at around this age in simple terms.
How do you explain money to a child?
The Money Advice Service shows that children begin to understand that money can be exchanged for goods around the age of 7. They also highlight that children’s potential for learning is extraordinary, meaning that teaching financial literacy at this age can be highly beneficial.
As with anything, start with small ideas and the basics:
- Talk about how money is exchanged for items, maybe with the help of a grocery store playset or some fake money and items around the house.
- Explain where the money comes from, and that you have to work to get money. This teaches them the basics that they will need to know, and it shows them how important it is to earn money.
- Take your child food shopping with you and explain what all the prices on the shelves mean, and explain that you're giving the money to the cashier to buy the items.
- Once your child has their own GoHenry prepaid kids' debit card, you can also explain to them how their balance works. You can encourage them to check their balance before buying anything to check that they have enough money, and they can see the balance go down when they buy something.
Related: Explaining where money comes from
Examples of how to teach a child to count money
- Identify and define different coins - The first step to teaching your child about money is to explain what different coins are. You can test your child by asking them to tell you the values a little while later.
- Add visual reminders - The shape of coins is important for children to identify them. A great way to help with this is to draw out bigger versions of coins and label them as a visual reminder. This can also help them sort coins into the right piles.
- Giving change from $1 - Using a play shop scenario, you can help your child work out what the change would be from different purchases. If your child is not yet confident counting to 100, you can do this with round numbers. For example, help them work out how much change there would be from a 50 cents purchase before moving on to other multiples of ten and then multiples of five.
- Different ways to make $1 - Give your child different coins and ask how they would make $1 from an assortment of smaller coins. Depending on the age of your child, you might want to stick to 50-cents, 20-cent, and 10-cent coins at first, but you can include 5-cent, 2-cent, and 1-cent coins later.
Fun ways to teach children how to count money
- Watching how each cent adds up with a GoHenry account - You can use the GoHenry app to help your kids learn how to count by watching how their balance increases every time they complete a paid task or receive an allowance. This is a great way to learn because it affects them directly.
- Building a dollar tower with cents - This is a fun challenge for kids, helping them count cents onto the tower as they build it. Of course, if they knock it over too quickly, you could also count with 2-cent or 5-cent coins instead - or give them a mix to use to build their tower.
- Replace Monopoly money with coins - Once your child is old enough to play board games, there are a lot of games where you can include money. Replacing monopoly money with coins is an obvious one, but you can also use coins to track progress in almost any game and have them count up how much they have at the end.
- Practice skip counting with songs - Money uses skip counting a lot. That is, missing out on some numbers when you count, for example, when counting 20-cent pieces. You can help your child practice this with songs, rhymes, and visual aids, all of which will help them add up coins in their head more quickly.
- Coin bingo - This is a great way to help your child recognize coin shapes and values quickly, and it's good fun. Plus you can play it with all your kids, having older children help younger children if they struggle.
How can GoHenry help boost your child’s financial education?
Whether you want the basics of how to teach your child to count money or a way to help with their general financial education, GoHenry can help. Our in-app Money Missions are fun, bite-sized lessons and quizzes tailored to your child's age, with more complex lessons for older children. These cover everything from money basics to budgets & plans, spending wisely, saving habits, plus lots more. The app also allows your kids to check their balance and practice counting, adding, and subtracting.
From age 6, your child can have their own GoHenry prepaid debit card. With most people using cards for their purchases, this is a great way to help your child learn all about money and finances, with their balance displayed clearly on their GoHenry app.