Dunannie children enjoy an introduction to Economics

Last term, I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Nursery and Reception as part of my focus on “Money Week”, a nationally recognised week in June when schools across the country place a stronger emphasis on education relating to money than they would normally. Sharon and Julia may have thought I was slightly bonkers aiming to teach some economic concepts to such young children, who are far removed in age and life experience from my usual cohort of Sixth Formers at Bedales, armed with little more than a teddy bear, a story book, some picture cards and an emergency link to a Youtube video of Charlie and Lola just in case it all went horribly wrong!

However, the hours spent down at Dunannie were a great learning opportunity both for the children and for me. I never cease to be amazed by the ability of small children to grasp issues that many adults find tricky. For example, Tom (Nursery) pointed out that we didn’t really need to spend all of our birthday money in one go and that we could, in fact, save some of it for later, perhaps to buy a cool dinosaur toy. He is unlikely to realise, at his age, that failure to understand that simple concept of delaying spending and smoothing consumption over a lifetime has caused a whole host of economic problems and is likely responsible for the dire economic situation of slow growth and rising unemployment. Reception class children were keen to point out that you can’t get money for nothing, and they suggested lots of useful chores that they could do around the house in order to earn a little pocket money. Henry’s parents, therefore, should be seeing him doing some hoovering, and Zabelle’s parents might like to take her up on the offer of washing the dishes. Scaling this up to the national economic situation, there is growing backlash against some of the recipients of benefits, who are perceived by some as ‘getting money for nothing’.

With both Nursery and Reception, we talked about safe places that we can keep our money until we need it. I was impressed with the number of children who suggested, without prompting, that a bank is the best place, and was particularly pleased, as mum to two boys in the Nursery and Reception classes myself, that “letting mum look after it” was also suggested. Nursery children held a lovely debate in Circle Time about whether keeping money in a pocket and in a bag were sensible choices, and it was decided that keeping money safe from pirates and dragons was especially important. Inigo and Jamie quickly spotted the problem with the money box that I’d brought in (the hole in the bottom).

Reception class also spent a little time designing their own secure money boxes. The Beefeaters guarding the Crown Jewels should probably take note of these highly creative designers! Hector S came up with a fantastic idea in which his money box contained a maze, so that the money didn’t accidentally fall out. Amy decided that having a number of keys for her treasure chest would be sensible. Hari designed his money box such that the owner needed to know a secret code that would have to be typed in before the money would be released. Isaac designed his so that the owner would need to know the special mechanism for removing the lid of his money jar.

If you would like to spend a little time with your child at home talking about the importance of looking after money and saving, then there are some fantastic resources that you can use on the Personal Finance Education Group website (www.pfeg.org). You could also sit and watch Charlie and Lola’s “Please may I have some of yours?” which is available on Youtube. Lovely books that you can share together include You Choose (Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart), Master Money the Millionaire (Allan Ahlberg and Andre Amstutz), Please May I Have Some of Yours (Lauren Child), One Hen (Kate Smith Milway), Millions (Frank Cottrell Boyce), Kensuke’s Kingdom (Michael Morpugo) and On the Money (a set of short stories, available through http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/onthemoney/about.asp).

By Ruth Tarrant, Head of Economics, Bedales

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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