|When you're trying to get your kids' attention, competing with video games, television shows, and their friends can be difficult, to say the least. As if that challenge weren't enough, try teaching kids about money management, the basics of investing, and other financial planning skills; you may find yourself going in circles. Worse yet, your kids may end up dreading the "quality time" they spend with you -- definitely not the result you intended. |
How can you teach kids the essentials of the financial world without boring them to death? Try making a game of it. Easier said than done, right? Maybe not. As it turns out, the work has already been done for you. Many large corporations have spent the necessary bucks and done the research to engage the attention of your children and teach them about investing -- on the Internet, of course. These days, kids can make friends on the Net, play their favorite games on the Net, and virtually access the world without leaving the comfort of their bedrooms. It's no surprise you can use the Net to teach them the basics of finance, or at least lead them to it. The end result? Your kids will have fun learning about interest rates, supply and demand, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, taxes, and much more -- and all you have to do is point them in the right direction.
Several financial websites focus on educating children, but you probably don't want to spend hours trying to find one that's right for your child. To make it easier, I did some browsing on my own and found four I think are worth some exploration. You will find some of these sites are tailored for teenagers, which is probably the age when kids should start thinking about financial issues. Younger children who can grasp the concepts of the financial world may also benefit from these sites.
I had the most fun at this site. It's run by FleetBoston Financial Corp. and focuses on teaching children to set goals, save, and budget, all while using mathematics and financial and social concepts. Several quizzes test kids' money skills, increase their knowledge of the stock market, improve their math skills, and teach them how to manage a business, as well as how to price certain items that the game provides. The games are vibrant and entertaining. Most allow kids to make monetary decisions in order to gain a profit. A list of high scores for each game is available, giving your children the opportunity to compare their scores against others, just like a video game. Kids could spend hours here and come away with a basic knowledge of financial concepts.
Moneyopolis.org is a public service from Ernst & Young, LLP. This site is designed for grades six through eight. The game is intended to enhance skills in math, financial planning, decision-making (logic), reading, computer usage, and other topics. The participants live in a "virtual city" where they move through various financial planning centers, managing their money and working toward a predefined goal. The site challenges math skills as they apply to the financial world and encourages saving. Other tools include setting financial goals, determining net worth, and keeping track of spending. In addition to the game, there are resources for teachers; a virtual library includes articles, a glossary, and additional links.
Who would have thought that learning about taxes could be fun for kids? The American Bar Association Section of Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service have done a good job with their joint site, TAXinteractive. Their goal is to educate teenagers about the US tax system, the effects of taxes on their everyday lives, and new ways to file tax returns. And this they accomplish -- with simple, entertaining articles that cover the history of taxes and address important issues such as how taxes affect take-home pay, as well as where tax dollars end up. Anyone who reads the content on this site will increase his or her knowledge of the tax system, child and adult alike.
The Young Investor website, established by Liberty Financial, features several sections tailored to educating the young investor. It contains games, surveys, discussion groups, and a nice library where you can find information about everything from the basics of opening a savings account to investing in stocks. The young investor trivia game is fun and educates children about money and investing. There is a section where kids can communicate with their peers (Kid Comm) and another where parents can communicate with their peers (Parent to Parent). You can also submit questions to experts and find out where you stand when it comes to understanding money and investing.
Han Kim can be reached at HKim@Traders.com.
Current and past articles from Working Money, The Investors' Magazine, can be found at Working-Money.com.
For more kid-friendly websites, go to: http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Finance_and_Investment/Reference_and_Guides/Youth_Resources/
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