Resources for 5- to 11-year-olds - Time for change?

14th June 2013 at 01:00
The amount of pocket money that parents shell out could dictate whether children become spendthrifts or savers

It is the advice that every cash-strapped parent has been waiting to hear - giving children too much pocket money is bad for them, according to economists.

A paper presented to the UK's Royal Economic Society concluded that overly generous allowances may lead children to become spendthrifts. Allowing them to do a paper round or paying them to do household chores, on the other hand, can set them up to become savers for life.

Sarah Brown and Karl Taylor, both professors of economics at the University of Sheffield in England, analysed responses to questions in the annual British Household Panel Survey. Now incorporated into a larger study, the survey has been conducted since 1991 by the Institute for Social and Economic Research to gauge opinion on matters as diverse as finance, relationships and religion.

But it was the interviews with children on their pocket money that proved particularly illuminating for the researchers. While most children saved some money for toys or new mobile phone accessories, 22 per cent said they spent all of it immediately. Those who received the largest amounts, without having to work for it, were most likely to spend without saving.

So how much pocket money do children get? Ask your students how much they expect to receive - and what they do with it. Do they think the amount is fair? Do they have to earn their pocket money? And would they view it differently, and make different spending choices, if they did?

A survey in the UK last year showed that the average weekly pocket money for 8- to 15-year-olds was #163;5.98, with the amount increasing as the child grew older. On average an eight-year-old received #163;4.20, going up to #163;5.78 by the age of 11 and #163;8.17 by the age of 15.

But columnist Sam Wolfson wrote in The Guardian newspaper this month that the figure is increasing. "The bank of mum and dad is forking (out) over #163;12.05 on average, going up to #163;22 in the school holidays," he says, going on to pose the question of whether children should receive pocket money at all.

"Pocket money used to be a token gesture," he explains, "but toys just kept getting better ... That kind of innovation costs."

His own creative suggestion is for children to make money by setting up licensing agreements for all the "cute films" their parents made of them when they were little: "30,000 views of you trying to ride your dog might have seemed like a laugh to Mum and Dad, but monetise that with a few ads and you could keep yourself in (soft drinks) for life".

What off-the-wall business ideas could your students come up with?


Ask relatives how much pocket money they received as they grew up. Did the amounts change as they aged?

Is it a good idea to give children money? Explain your answer.

Should children have to earn their pocket money? What sort of chores or tasks could they do?

How much pocket money would you have at the end of a year if you saved #163;1 every week? What would you do with it?

In what ways could someone who does not understand numbers, or the value of money, be exploited or taken advantage of?


Working for a living

It can be instructive to introduce students to the very different lives of children in other countries - particularly those who have to work for a living from a very young age.

One way of doing this is to have your class pretend they are journalists who have been sent to write about child labour. Ask them to complete a one- or two-page report on what they find at a factory, for example. Give them a list of information they should include in their story, such as the name and location of the workplace, how many people work there and facts and figures about the village or town the children live in. How important are the children's wages for their families?

Ask the students to think about how much harder life is for children growing up in a poor area or country. What impact does this have on their daily lives?

Another option would be to prompt younger students to pretend they are workers at a factory and to write a letter detailing their way of life. Or they could describe the life of a Victorian chimney sweep.


Pocket money adds up

Ask your class to work out how much pocket money they will receive each year until they are 18. How long would it take them to save for a #163;500 computer if they received #163;20 a month?

Compile a survey asking parents and grandparents how much pocket money they received when they were children. What is the difference between what they received and the average amount that children get today?

More open-ended problems can also be explored: Jake is given five coins for his pocket money. How much might he have received? What are the largest and smallest amounts he could have been given? How many different totals, combining different coins, can students come up with?

Finally, give the children a choice. They can receive #163;2 a week for 10 weeks or they can receive 5p in the first week and 10p in the second, with the amount doubling each week until week 10. Make a note of their initial choice, then challenge them to work out which is the most lucrative option.


Develop students' French skills with Teachers TV video clips about playground games and pocket money. bit.lyPlaygroundLessons

Explore banking and pocket money with Personal Finance Education Group's lesson. bit.lyPocketMoneyBanking

What chores do your students do and what pocket money do they receive for them? Ask in French with CamilleRaoul's resource. bit.lyHouseholdChores

Help children learn about profit and loss and make presentations for their own businesses using StratfordCity's project. bit.lyEnterpriseActivity


Play the money collector game to help students recognise different coins. bit.lyMoneyCollector

Add up coins in purses with a worksheet shared by nehap. bit.lyMoneyInMyPurse

Which coins could be used to make a given amount? Find out in springy's piggy bank activity. bit.lyPiggyBankMoney

Take your class back to a time of child labour with blimmers' lesson on Victorian Britain. bit.lyChildLabourLesson

Practise numeracy skills with a TESiboard activity on saving. bit.lySavingUp


The personal touch

People love owning things that reflect their personalities. Ask your students to devise a business creating bespoke personal items for their friends. Even if they have to wear a uniform their pencil case can be unique, just like them.

Start with a "style board" of the kind used by professional designers: a collage made from scraps of material, photographs, text, sweet wrappers - anything that captures something of what they want from their finished design.

For a modern foreign languages lesson, incorporate words or short phrases in the target language. These could evoke the personalities of the student's clients by describing them or naming things that matter to them.

Once the students have created a style board, offer them a range of different personal items. How about a knitted mobile phone cover or a photo frame? For the frame, you could include words that evoke unseen aspects of the scene in the picture, such as "breeze" and "laughter". Students could create a whole set of items in the same style. This way, they can make money by selling something priceless to their friends.

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