Contextual learning is the new buzz word for education. Children learn concepts best when taught in context. So what better time than hosting a birthday party to teach some financial literacy skills to your children.
When my daughter described how she envisioned her 8th birthday party, she told me she wanted to invite all of her friends, have a big birthday cake with a princess on it, matching plates and streamers and to go to a movie. Rather than just flatly saying “no we can’t afford it”, and creating upset, I explained to her that we had to work within a birthday budget.
So I gave her an amount to work with and we priced out everything together. I had her see the numbers and choose for herself. Instead of me saying “you can only have 6 friends” – I said it doesn’t matter to me so long as you come in with a plan for a birthday party on a budget.
She compared the cost of bowling to movie tickets to games at home and how that price was impacted by the number of people invited.
She could buy the matching plates / cups / table clothes with the Disney characters, or get plain coloured ones from the dollar store to make the place look festive at half the price.
We compared a slab cake from the grocery store with a Disney princess to the cost of making one from a box and icing it ourselves. That would free up more money to invite more people bowling. Turns out – the grocery story bakery cake was very important to her and worth the sacrifice. Her party, her choices, her values – my budget. We were both happy. Had I made the decisions unilaterally, I would have been seen as the ‘meany’. Instead, I was a hero – she learned a lot and really took ownership of her party.
You might be surprised at just how creative and amazingly co-operative kids can be when they have a budget to work within!
About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com