Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. — Benjamin Franklin

What a fun way to teach children about money! In our spare change jar, there are probably more pennies than any other coin. We seem to always have pennies and it is a great place to begin to teach small children about money. Children counting pennies are beginning to learn about money.

When children are able to understand that money buys things, you may give them coins or dollars to buy their favorite cereal or fruit at the grocery store and actually give the cashier the money for their purchase. Another lesson may be that they do not need to buy something every time they go into a store. Sometimes, your family’s needs are more important than what your children want.

Children learn about money by watching how their parents use money. If they see parents using cash to buy things in the grocery store, they learn that the money or coins they can now identify are useful for getting things. Children as young as 3 can see money as a way to get the things they want. At this age, children can have their own money as parents or grandparents give them money to put into a clear glass jar. As the children grow, they can use three jars in which to put their money and parents can teach them to save, spend and share as they decide where to put their money.

Teach your children the value of money. Once their money is spent, you do not replace it. The only way they will have more money is that they will need to save more. They may do work or chores around the house as they get older or find some other way to make their own money, but money is not something you just hand them.

Parents can teach children to wait patiently. Something you may do is give them one nickel, but if they wait for a time, you will give them two. Teach them to wait to buy things. Sometimes, having your older children wait for a purchase helps them to think about their choice and whether it is something they really want. 

Whatever your dream is, every extra penny you have needs to be going to that. — Will Smith

The website parents.com/kids/responsibility/money-management/money-milestones-for-kids-an-age-by-age-guide/ is a great way to help you know the right age to begin to teach your children about money. There are many other sources on the internet to help you also.

Money is necessary and useful, and what you teach your children about it will determine their using it wisely in the future.

Are you reading Dr. Seuss books with your children or class? Help them write about their favorite and send it to bettemroz@gmail.com or to the Sahuarita Sun newspaper office before Feb. 26 to enter our annual “Love of Reading” contest. We will award a gift card and certificate on Friday, March 5, after Dr. Seuss’ birthday March 2. Your children might even get their picture in the paper.

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at bettemroz@gmail.com