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Financial literacy: will your kids make the grade?

Five-year old Lara Granata is one of the few kids in her kindergarten class who knows how to sort coins and count money. Lately, in addition to counting real coins with her mom and younger sister, she’s been hard at work on her ipad, playing money games with RBC mascot, Leo the Lion. Lara is among the millions of Canadian children who have the opportunity to learn money skills earlier in life thanks to a growing awareness of the financial literacy issue.

When should kids learn about money?

The recent economic crisis has taught us that consumers, regardless of age, would probably benefit from greater financial literacy – an understanding of credit, debt and savings. Arming kids with financial knowledge is a good way to ensure a financially savvy adult population. But despite the growing desire to teach kids about money, parents and educators are not always sure when or how to go about it. A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants found that 78% of parents have tried to teach their kids about money but the majority of them don’t feel that they have been particularly successful at it.

“A good age to approach money with young kids is around age five,” says Robin Tobin, author of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids. “That’s when they start to go to pre-school and they’re exposed to other kids and things that other children have and they may start to ask for things. So it’s a good time to explain to them that nothing comes for free.”

Experience and fun are the best teachers

An early start in financial education is good, but the concept of money can be difficult for young children to grasp. It can be a few years before they understand earning, spending, and saving, let alone investing. There are early lessons that can help them learn the basics. For example, teaching kids about different coins and bills can start at an early age. Parents can engage kids in money games such as sorting and counting coins or get them to pay for small purchases on their own when shopping. Online and electronic money games can also help.

Lara Granata’s teachers of choice are her mom and Learning Money with Leo, an RBC ipad app designed to help three- to six-year olds engage in games and activities related to money. Leo vocally encourages kids like Lara to perform tasks for rewards. “I like to match the coins,” says Lara about her favourite game. “My little sister can’t do it, she only colours.” Other games on the app include spot the difference between two similar pictures, gather the coins, and colouring pages. Kids earn reward coins which can be used to purchase virtual stickers that they can use to create unique pictures. Learning Money with Leo also boasts a read-along story book.

RBC and financial literacy

RBC is a strong advocate of financial literacy for people of all ages including clients, prospective clients and the public at large. We deliver a number of financial literacy programs of our own, and also support the efforts of not-for-profit organizations around the world to provide financial education initiatives.

Learn more about RBC and financial literacy.

Download the Learning Money with Leo app.

Want a fun way to teach your kids about money? We have an app for that. Learn More.