Teach your young children more about money by taking them to the local Walmart or other grocery and variety store. There are many lessons to be learned. Make this a special trip, just for teaching – not your usual grocery run.
Here are a few suggestions on ‘lesson plans’ on your money trip to the store.
Learn About Jobs People Do
Have children point out the workers and guess what they are doing. Prepare ahead of time for extra fun by having the kids make up a few questions they want to ask workers.
Think about the vendors that stock the shelves, the employees who run the registers, the people who clean the bathrooms, the store manager, the person who makes the baked goods or cuts the meat. Point out the people giving away samples and explain what their jobs are.
Learn About Different Ways To Pay
Have the kids stand and watch at a register to see how many ways they can see people paying.
Cash, debit, credit, check.
Learn To Compare Prices
Bring a short shopping list of things the kids want or need, then have them find several different kinds and compare the prices. Point out the little shelf stickers that show how much it costs per unit and explain why a cheaper price isn’t always the best deal.
Learn About Marketing
Wander through the aisles and show the kids how the most expensive stuff might be at eye level and the stuff kids like might be on the bottom shelf and how the least expensive things may be harder to reach.
Talk about how the aisles are laid out and why the manager may have put them up that way.
Look for display ads and have the children read them (or you read them to the kids). Ponder why they are there, what the purpose is.
Look for end displays of special deals and talk to the kids about why retailers make those special displays (create excitement, provide convenience, get rid of something they overstocked on and etc).
Point out any overhead TVs that are showing store ads.
Learn About Brands
Have the kids find 5 things each that they recognize. Ask why they recognize those things – where did they hear about them, how did they know this was the thing they heard about? Show them generic store products and talk about how they might be the same as or different than product brands. Use the word brand and explain what it means. To refresh your memory, brand is defined on Wikipedia as
“the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Learn About Impulse Buying vs. Using A List
Your kids are inevitably going to find something they would like to take home with them. Probably something that is not on your list. Talk about why you make a list (to keep within your budgeted expense amount and still get what the family needs), how you use it (Do you put the items in order by where they are in the store? Do you buy only exactly what is on the list? When do you vary from the list on purpose?)
Talk about the best time to go to the store to buy groceries (when you are not hungry, when the store is not crowded and etc).
Learn About Customer Satisfaction.
Have the kids name as many things in the store as possible that they think are there for customer satisfaction. First explain what you mean by the terms customer and customer satisfaction. Talk about why it is important to keep customers happy.
Suggest these things:
- The customer service/return counter.
- Shopping carts (mention why there are always more big carts than little ones).
- Special shopping carts (kid ones, handicapped ones).
- Vending machines (talk about how these provide extra money).
- In store retailers sharing the space (as in the bank in your local super Walmart).
- Parking spaces.
- Doors that open and close automatically.
Learn About Running A Business
A store is a business. Ask the kids how they think the store owner makes money. Talk about what expenses the store might have (physical store maintenance, utilities, employees, supplies, fixtures and registers, computers, merchandise costs, advertising and etc). Then discuss what the income sources might be (sales of merchandise, vending machine sales, rental of space to other businesses, etc).
What money lessons do you teach your children at the store?
When my family visits the bookstore for some shopping, (Yes, we make trips to the bookstore not to the grocery, unless I am prepared to go over my food budget. LOL.) I give them enough allowance for their books and school supplies. Sometimes, we allow them to bring a part of their savings. Although most of the stuff on their baskets are books, crayons, and pens, we check if there are other brands that may come at a cheaper price before they pay at the cashier.
Comparison shopping is a great thing to teach!
YES!!! Doing these things with intent and mindfully is far better than just assuming your kids will somehow get it without any explaining. As a long-time educator, I know this to be an absolute fact. Great article for parents!
True. With my own boys, I did’t make the conscious effort to teach financial concepts. Luckily they seemed to have soaked them up. I’m trying to do better with the grandkids.
Marie, as a teacher, I can say that these lesson plans you suggested are top notch! WOW! I think you have a whole semester’s worth of lesson plans right there. How much would children benefit from all that you have suggested? Immensely!!! Great post!
I admire teachers. Mom was one. Teaching formally in school with a class of 20 kids is not something I personally could do! Thanks!
It should be very interesting to see how they weigh saving money (on the side of the consumer) versus making money (on the side of the business).
Good point. I doubt my grandkids are old enough yet to consider the question that thoroughly.
Nice, that is indeed a good way to teach your children about money. I’ve learned from my mom so I know extremely well how a parent influences his children.
Thanks. I’ve wished I had learned more from both of my parents!
I remember doing something very similar at the bank. My mother had a very good relationship with our banker so he gave me a insider’s tour of the bank which included the safe, piles of cash and an explanation of how a bank works. I think I was 7 years old.
This is a really good article, because there is so much that you can teach from one shopping trip. We learn so much from our parents, good and bad. By using an every day experience you are able to get your kids to understand a little better.
True, we just have to remember to take the time to try to teach. We are all so busy that sometimes just even going to the store takes it out of a person.
Great tips Marie! I don’t have kids – I do have nieces and nephews. The main things I’ve taught them is always be polite, and there’s a limit on how much I’ll spend. 🙂
Sometimes it is hard to get enough face time with nieces and nephews to have much influence.
I love teaching kids by hands on activities.
What kinds of things do you do?
These are great tips! A trip to the grocery store would be an excellent place to allow them to make observations, and learn about business in a variety of ways. As a parent, you’re always teaching kids – whether conscious of it or not. To use a trip to the store as a teaching opportunity is clever, I like it.
That is a very astute observation -you’re always teaching kids – whether conscious of it or not. By making a conscious effort to teach them, you remind yourself of things you should be demonstrating!
Awesome tips Marie! It’s not very difficult to teach children about money if we start doing it at an early age. It’s also important to show them not just tell them so setting a good example will go a long way in ensuring that our children will learn to handle their finances well.
We all seem to learn best by example….and by doing things ourselves.
I do have kids and managing them is pretty hard for me, but playing with them help me to reduce my stress. Nice tips Marie.
You can use play to teach as well. Kids can be a handful …. and a blessing.