Some time back, Aristotle took his first baby steps into the world of entrepreneurialism when he opened his own cookie stand for half a day. I encouraged him wholeheartedly when he first broached the idea of running a store to make money because I believe that financial education should be an integral part of our children’s learning experiences.
I’m not sure how much he took away from that experience, but I’m sure a few things were learned that day. The only downside to running a store like that with a 5 year old is that it is hard work – especially for Mummy who also has to mind the 2 year old and make sure he doesn’t get into trouble all the while helping the 5 year old manage his store because he’s too young to be left on his own in a city not particularly known for safety.
Since the store was not a practical option for Aristotle’s continuing financial education and our trip to Kidzania failed to spark any enthusiasm in him, I needed to find another way to teach him about money. That’s when I came across a very interesting program called PlayMoolah.
What is PlayMoolah?
PlayMoolah is an online program that helps parents to give their children financial education. By playing various games, children learn about managing money. The curriculum covers the 5 important aspects of money management:
- giving (donations to worthy causes)
Like a lot of other online educational programs, PlayMoolah allows parents to monitor their children’s progress via a parent’s dashboard. The parent’s dashboard also allows parents to get involved in their children’s financial education by bringing it into the real world.
1. Teaching Children about Earning Money
Parents can set a list of tasks for their children to complete in order to earn money and provide deadlines by which time they must complete the task. Your child will have the option of accepting or rejecting the task (as they would in the real world when deciding what they are willing to do in order to earn money). Some examples of tasks you can set for your child:
- walk the dog – $1
- wash the dishes – $2
- mow the lawn – $5
In addition to these real life tasks, children can play the games on PlayMoolah to earn “Moops”. Some of the games your child can play to earn “Moops”:
- Coin Drop – collect falling coins in a basket
- Spin&Guess – spin the wheel to determine how many “moops” you will win for answering the question correctly then select the correct multiple choice answer to the question given
- Restaurant – run a restaurant to earn money
- Hospital – run a hospital to earn money
- Hotel – run a hotel to earn money
- Carnival Shootout (Aristotle hasn’t reach the level to unlock this game yet)
- Task Monsters (Aristotle hasn’t reach the level to unlock this game yet)
For the games involving business operations, your child will learn about spending money to make money. For instance, he will have to buy ingredients to make food to serve his customers at the restaurant; and he will have to buy supplies to treat patients at the hospital.
2. Teaching Children about Saving Money
Children can set goals to save a certain amount of money in order to buy something that they want through the goal setting feature on their dashboard. Learning about saving money helps children learn delayed gratification. The PlayMoolah program allows children to break down the goal into smaller steps so they know how much money they need to save each day in order to have enough money to buy what they want by a certain time. Whenever your child saves money, he can log it into his PlayMoolah goal machine and parents can monitor this progress on the parents’ dashboard. Parents can also encourage their children by matching their children’s savings to help motivate them.
Very often, parents buy things on their children’s demand which feeds the child’s expectation for instant gratification. Additionally, when children get whatever they want easily, they don’t appreciate the money spent to buy the toy and they don’t treasure the toy as much. By encouraging our children to save money to buy the things that they want, they will learn more about the value of money.
3. Teaching Children about Giving Money
Children can learn about supporting worthy causes and donating money. They have the option to choose which charities they want to support and what kind of support they want to offer those charities – money, time, or expertise.
4. Teaching Children about Spending Money
Children can learn about spending money wisely through PlayMoolahs games. The moops that they have earned from playing the earning games can be spent at the mall. There they will learn about spending money wisely by checking the unit cost for an item and comparing the prices to see which one is cheaper.
At the goal setting machine, children are linked to Amazon so they have a rough idea for how much the items they want to purchase might be in the real world. Since there are multiple listings for the same item on Amazon, children are encouraged to search for the cheapest option for their goal so they are not spending money unnecessarily.
5. Teaching Children about Investing Money
This feature is not currently available but it will be available soon.
PlayMoolah is recommended for children age 6 and above, however, a younger child with an interest can also start playing the games. From what I’ve seen, it is a pretty comprehensive program for teaching children about financial matters from understanding the value of money to managing money. I have been looking for a fun program to teach children about money for some time now and this program looks like a terrific way to do that.
The best part of PlayMoolah is that it also encourages children to develop other important life skills, such as:
- delayed gratification
- goal setting
Probably the most important part is that Aristotle – my difficult-to-please child – has given it his thumbs up. He loves playing PlayMoolah so much that he looks at it as a reward when I let him play the game! If he likes it, I can’t imagine a child that won’t. Now it really doesn’t get any better than that. All that’s missing right now is the section on investing – I’m looking forward to see what PlayMoolah has in store for their investing lessons.