Teaching Primary School Kids to Give
15 May 2014 at 8:53 am
Teaching your kids the power of giving from a young age can help them lead meaningful and fulfilled lives, writes finance analyst Robert Bihar.
Australian children are more exposed to fundraising events than ever before. It starts with the playgroup chocolate drive and continues all the way through to high school with gold coin donations for “free dress” days.
As a father of two young children, I understand why parents often become frustrated with the constant stream of fundraisers.
With 60,000 registered charities in Australia, it’s no wonder mums and dads feel deluged by appeals. But before you say no to the next community fundraiser, I urge you to think about the valuable lessons your child is learning from giving to others.
While fundraising is encouraged at kindergartens, schools and sports clubs, the essential lessons about charity are learned at home. Parents have an important role to play in teaching their children how to give.
There has been a great deal of research about the psychological benefits for children.
Learning how to give to others is a crucial lesson in money and life. I believe teaching your kids the power of giving from a young age will help them lead meaningful and fulfilled lives.
Dr. Elizabeth Celi, psychologist and author believes the charities the school environment provides are a valuable vehicle for teaching day to day life skills.
“Engaging your kids’ attention is a challenge at the best of times but if you can do it together around charitable acts, children of all ages will learn discernment, budgeting, reciprocity and humanitarian acts with diligence. All thanks to a tasty chocolate drive!” she said.
The best way of showing your child the fun behind philanthropy is to show them the immense joy that comes from giving to others. Anyone who has shopped for a present with a child knows that children already understand this concept. Kids enjoy the process of planning and purchasing gifts, but even more than that, they enjoy helping the recipient unwrap the present.
In my experience, the easiest way to start explaining the theory behind philanthropy is to tell your children that donations fulfil other people’s needs – not their wants or wishes.
It is difficult for children to understand the difference, but you can make it simple for them by using everyday items at home. For example, their school uniforms and the food in the kitchen are all needs or must-haves. Their toys and any special gadgets such as iPads are wants, while wishes are the items they are saving for. Make sure your child understands wants and wishes are not as important as needs.
“With the help of enjoyable fundraising they can relate to, children learning early on how to give provides them a valuable foundation in prioritising budget expense lines in adulthood, a great stress management skill for life,” explains Celi.
My kids love hearing stories about my childhood and I often use these tales to start discussions about money. I have shared my memories of watching the Channel 10 Christmas Appeal telethon in Adelaide with them and have explained how those memories led me to always favour charities that support children.
To make the experience as fun and educational as possible, I believe parents should involve their children in the entire donation process. Let the kids decide how much pocket money they would like to donate and which organisation they want to give to.
By letting children make the decisions about giving, I have found they will feel more connected to the causes they are donating to. The more information I give my children about giving, the more questions they have for me. But this is a good thing because they are trying to make sense of what it means to give.
There is no magic amount your child should donate, but I think 10 per cent of their pocket money is a good starting point. My wife and I have encouraged our children to donate by matching their contributions dollar for dollar. It not only incentivises them, it gives us an opportunity to set a good example.
Giving to others doesn’t always revolve around money. In fact, I think sometimes it’s more worthy to donate your time than your cash. Many busy parents say they simply don’t have the time to volunteer. My advice is to avoid this attitude because volunteering is a fulfilling way to connect with the community.
Afterall, who knows when you’ll need the community’s help in return?
About the author: Robert Bihar has 15 years experience as a finance analyst working in multi-national corporations. Bihar’s book Don’t Eat the Marshmallow helps parents teach their children about money in a fun and easy way.