Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Personal Finances and Montessori

It is never too early for a child to experience the reality of finances - indeed, the sooner they experience this very real aspect of most modern cultures, the more comfortable they are maintaining their value systems with it and the more likely they are to be creative throughout life in various economic situations.

Montessori does not specifically address "here is an album page about personal finances" - what DO we have in primary Montessori and elementary Montessori?

  • decimal fractions - with extensions to include local currency
  • language nomenclature - on monetary units
  • economic geography - studying the trades and interactions of current times (can be extended to historical and imaginative cultures as well)
  • story problems/word problems using money and goods exchanges
  • Goings Out - using real money and real exchanges in real every-day life. Planning purchases, planning errands, looking at gas prices and driving routes, reality of putting too many miles on the car needlessly, shopping around for the best balance of price and quality for services needed or desired, etc. Just living real life - and involving all family members. 

Doesn't sound like much, but it lays a strong foundation for each family to take those skills and experiences and proceed forward with their own value system in their own family unit. 

What have we incorporated into our Montessori experience to get into finances? 

Financial Peace Jr. - just the kit; we did not use the storybooks ourselves, but did borrow a couple from a friend. They are good for very young children; they did not go over very well with Legoboy at age 7 and 8. He said, "Yeah, I got that already." I felt it was pretty simplistic for Legoboy personally, because he'd been doing the envelope system of give/spend/save using upcycled parmesan cheese containers, since he was about 3. However, I do think the stories were good reinforcement of the lessons we'd been naturally experiencing his whole life. Ages 3-12 - I like it, but wish it had "more" for the 7-12 children who have had these lessons earlier on. I looked into the high school program he has, but it is more than what we need for a 10 year old boy. 

Your Business Math (Charlotte Mason style) - We wrote about the start of Legoboy's pet store here. This has been a great use of percentages, taxes, etc. We've been taking it slowly - and have a few months to go yet. Taking it slower than anticipated has actually benefited us because he can go back to his Montessori lessons, go deeper, then come back to this with new insight. He's even gone back and reviewed a couple of past months to see, "What could I have done different?" or "Oh! Now I see how that part works!"

Just living it - I have involved Legoboy on some level or another in our family finances from the beginning. Frankly, if this step is all a homeschool family does, GREAT! And it is entirely Montessori: real life, real experiences, real discussions, sharing of the family value system. Perfect! In infancy and toddlerhood, the child sees the transactions happening and the parent can verbalize what is happening - "we need $15 to give to the cashier to purchase this food" or whatever it is. In preschool, children can receive a small allowance (Legoboy started with 3 dimes each week: save, spend, give (church)). It is AMAZING how quickly he caught on. He saw a coloring book he wanted at Target. It was 99 cents plus tax. I told him he had his own money now and he could save up for it. When we got home that day, he asked me to write down how many dimes he would need to buy it. I told him "10" (I'd pay the sales tax to keep things simple for him). He TRACED 10 dimes on a piece of paper; then placed a dime on each circle as he got it (only the spend/save ones - he still gave a dime each week to church). When he had 10 filled in, he asked if we could go back. He talked about it off and on during that time of saving up, but he didn't harp on it, and he didn't ask if we could go back until he had them all. 

When we got there, that particular coloring book was gone, but he found another one at the same price that was suitable and he purchased that one instead. With his own money. I won't say he was "proud of himself" because I didn't get that impression; but he definitely seemed confident in himself, patient (he didn't stare at the chart he'd made for hours on end - just looked once in a while), and he definitely cared for that coloring book. 

At 5, he moved up to 3 quarters a week .Later, I introduced the idea of doing extra work for money. By 7, he didn't get a routine allowance, but he did have opportunities to earn money. Recently, approaching age 10, we discussed the idea that all that he does helps Mom earn money for the household, and yes he should have a share in that, in addition to having his clothing, food and educational needs met. He has always earned his own money for Legos, tae-kwon-do belt tests (I cover the uniforms since this is required "clothing") and tournaments, extra books (though it is interesting to see how much I include under "homeschooling" ;) ), and some other entertainment. Now, we have worked out a daily system with his daily chores and expectations where he doesn't get paid to DO them, but he does have to pay me from that money each day when I have to remind him or the tasks weren't accomplished (thus taking my time away from earning household income, or contributing to the amount of work I have to do to keep the household running - so he's "paying me" for my time spent). 

He really takes true appropriate pride in his work. He even said to me one evening, "I am really happy I have to work for the things I purchase. I like gifts, but if everything was given to me I wouldn't be happy - I'd be lazy and not satisfied with anything. But I know how much work I put into having the things I have. They are really mine because I worked for them." 

Our most recent addition to the personal finances education experiences: 

Act Your Wage - We purchased ours through Homeschool Buyers Co-op (a great place to be if you can control what you purchase - only buy what you would have anyway, just at a discount price!). 
This game is great for the 8+ crowd who have some solid basic financial foundation. There is not a lot of math involved - adding and subtracting - comparing greater than versus less than; doubling the emergency fund size. I have read some reviews that suggest it would be boring for adults; and maybe I see that. For our Montessori elementary and adolescent children though? I recommend it quite strongly! 

This was a slightly early birthday gift for my big 10 year old young man (ack - I did NOT just type that!!! he is getting too old!) - and of course we had to cancel our plans for a couple of hours and play the game, then discuss/critique it and now write this post. 

Indeed, as I think about the parts that others have written low reviews on - and ways to make it more satisfying for adults --- there are so many ways to utilize house rules for easier or harder (use fewer debt cards for younger children; more for older; have some choices built-in; etc.). Modify! 

As I look over the few state standards that contain information on personal finances, look over the college level courses I took in accounting, business management and personal finances.... I truly feel that we have really followed a good path. This game is an excellent step along the way; with a high school level course in basic business management or personal finances (both of which fit right in with the Montessori adolescent model!), I am truly satisfied that my son will leave his adolescent years with a solid foundation. The choices he makes will be his own, but I will have given him all that I can. 

Yay! Some satisfaction as we hit the double digits! 


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