Sesame Street Program Teaches Kids About Money

We’re all kids at heart, which is why I was excited to learn about the new Sesame Streetfinancial literacy program, For Me, For You, For Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing, and Saving. The Sesame Street staff worked with PNC’s Grow Up Great to create the program, which is a bilingual multimedia initiative designed to help develop a child’s knowledge of the financial basics. Instead of the traditional curriculum, which often begins by establishing the relationship between coins and paper money, this program takes a more creative and entertaining approach.  If you’ve been searching for a fun and engaging way to educate your child about money, a visit to sesamestreet.org/save will give you access to a variety of free activities and videos to help your youngster build a strong financial foundation.

For Me, For You, For Later focuses on three financial concepts – Choices; Value; and Spending, Saving, and Sharing.  One thing you’ll like about the curriculum is that it uses everyday concepts that 3- to 5-year-olds can easily understand to help build the decision-making skills they’ll need later on. For instance, children make a variety of choices every day, generally without a thought about the consequences. For Me, For You, For Later encourages parents and educators to discuss some of these choices with children so they can understand how and why they arrived at their conclusions.  These discussions are intended to lead to conversations about some of the specific choices families make when it comes to spending and saving, ultimately laying the groundwork for the child’s financial value system.

The “Value” component of the program is also grounded in teachable moments.  This section helps children determine the relative importance of things in their lives. Granted, “value” can be a difficult concept, but Sesame Street’s approach really does help children understand the things they cherish.  For instance, when I was a child I valued my Detective Dog stuffed animal.  What I valued most were the “cases” we worked during my summer vacations.  Detective Dog and I solved mysteries like “Who ate the ice cream?” “Where is my other blue sock?” and the Detective was a regular participant in our neighborhood games of tag. Although I could never have placed a dollar-value on Detective Dog, I can tell you my world was shaken when we faced our last case together.  Today, using the For Me, For You, For Later lessons, I can say that the high value I would have assigned to Detective Dog was the result of two factors: the friendship I believed we shared, and the imaginative abilities he helped me develop. That’s another reason you’ll enjoy this unique program – it reminds children that some of the most valuable things in life don’t cost much at all.

For Me, For You, For Later does a beautiful job of associating Choices and Values when making decisions about how to use money, and the Spending, Saving, and Sharing lessons help kids grasp these larger concepts through some fun activities.  I enjoyed the Grocery Store challenge, in which you provide your child with play money, available on the site, and let them make choices about what they would buy for a picnic.   Perhaps my favorite lesson, however, was the “Three Jars” segment, which featured Elmo and Beth Kobliner, personal finance author and New York Times contributor.  Elmo learns how to divide his money among the core concepts of the curriculum – Spending, Saving, and Sharing – by making choices based on his values.  The sharing lessons are also very powerful, as they educate kids about the need to share their time, money or talents.  It’s unusual for a program designed for very young children to attempt to teach such seemingly abstract concepts, but you’ll find that For Me, For You, For Later carries it off in impressive fashion.

These days, it’s common for adults to complain about society’s need for instant gratification, so a program designed to help the next generation master basic financial concepts and develop a deeper appreciation of the value of money is worth our attention. Not only that, it could put our economy in better hands in the years to come. That’s another reason I’m recommending that you take a few moments to look at For Me, For You, For Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing, and Saving. To access the many resources available to parents, caregivers, and educators, including activity books, entertaining videos, and other resources, please visit sesamestreet.org/save.

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