Adding up to Fitness: Teaching Maths through Physical Education

It is a commonly held belief that mathematics is one of the hardest subjects at school. Even fully grown adults will quickly turn pale and shaky at the mention of algebra. But to give your child the best start for a healthy financial life, a basic understanding of mathematical concepts is vital. So how can you help them overcome the belief that maths is difficult and boring?

Get them up, get them moving, and encourage them to have fun.

Learning maths through exercise may seem like a strange combination, but interdisciplinary learning has been encouraged for a while. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has published papers on the subject, pointing out that Physical Education teaches many of the same concepts as Mathematics does: dance uses the language of symmetry and shape, gymnastics teaches position and angles, and athletes learn to use data as they record their times and monitor progress. For many children, ‘learning by doing’ is by far the most fun and engaging way to learn. With this in mind, we’ve gathered together a selection of games and activities to try, either at home or in school.

Have fun, exercise their brain, and get fit all at once!

Bowling (Addition)

We’ve all been to bowling alleys where a computer adds up our scores, but improve your child’s addition by encouraging them to add up their own score. The advantage of bowling is that you can easily play at home in the garden. Even if you don’t have a bowling set, just fill empty drinks bottles with sand and use them as makeshift skittles.

River Walk (Symmetry)

Any stretch of water will do, but next time you’re near a lake or river, ask your children to examine the reflection and tell you how it relates to the land around it. Better yet, play games with your own reflections. Make a silly pose and see if your child can copy it just by looking at your reflection. Just be careful not to fall in!

Basketball (Percentages)

If you throw a ball ten times, and it goes through the hoop four times, what percentage is that? Ask these questions while playing any kind of scoring game (be it Basketball, Netball, or Football) and watch your child’s understanding of percentages rapidly increase. Better yet, expand the discussion to include fractions and decimals too.

Stick Line-up (Size and Length)

Gather together a group of children and ask them all to pick up one stick. Collect the sticks together, and ask the children to place them in order of size. Whilst this may sound simple, you should soon find that it brings up difficult questions: what if someone brings back a curved stick? Should you measure round the curve, or just go straight from one point to the other? Since many children love to collect sticks and stones, this can also be played with one person: encourage your avid collector to arrange their collection in size order, choosing their own criteria for the curvy anomalies. Be ready with a tape measure to resolve disagreements!

Darts (Mental Arithmetic)

To be a champion darts player your mental arithmetic has to be top notch. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are all honed through darts practice, whilst the concept of percentages and averages can be added once kids become more confident. Magnetic darts boards are available for those who don’t feel comfortable with their children throwing sharp objects.

The ‘Pocket Money for Chores’ Debate

http://thefinancialfairytales.com/blogIt’s an age old parenting question, but one which still causes a huge amount of debate: should you give your child pocket money or allowance for doing chores?

The best answer we can give you is, ‘sometimes’.

One obvious reason for linking the two is to encourage a work ethic. Giving pocket money for chores teaches a simple lesson: if you do the work, you get paid. If not, you don’t. Since children in the UK can only take on part time work at the age of 13 (except for certain ‘performance’ related jobs), pocket money provides a good way to teach this lesson at an early age.

But wait a moment… shouldn’t your children be helping out with the chores around the house anyway? A key part of being a family is working as a team and recognising the hard work of others. Giving money for chores runs the danger of creating a selfish attitude, and you also run the risk of hearing comments such as: ‘So you want me to take my school bag upstairs? What are you going to pay me for that?’ Also consider what happens if a child decides they aren’t bothered about getting pocket money a particular week. Does that mean they can get away with not doing their chores?

You can immediately see the pitfalls with the system. So what is the best way to overcome them?

Each family is likely to have a slightly different approach, but one of the best systems we’ve found is to pay your child a base amount of pocket money, which is unrelated to chores. This basic amount will teach them vital decisions about money and saving – whether they save their money to get something they really want, or whether they spend it straight away for instant (but often fleeting) gratification (that’s another issue entirely)

In the meantime, children should be asked to do basic chores around the house, but can be given the opportunity to earn extra ‘rewards’ by completing chores which are beyond their usual scope. Cleaning the car, for example, is a chore many parents agree they would like to reward their children for taking on. This reward can be monetary, but could also take other forms. One good option we came across is a sticker system. Every time your child goes above and beyond what is expected of them they are allowed to put a sticker on their chart, and once they’ve reached an agreed number, they’re allowed a treat. This could take a variety of forms: maybe a special purchase you both agree on, or possibly a special trip. The advantage of this system is that the rewards are flexible and can be varied depending on the individual child’s preference.

Of course, no matter what pocket money system you use, it is almost inevitable that your children will complain about their chores at some point. But if you talk the system through with them, explain why it’s fair, and, most of all, keep it consistent, you should find that these instances become far less common.

Do you agree? What are your own experiences with pocket money and chores? Share your thoughts below.

Some Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Arranging Life Insurance

life insurance image http://thefinancialfairytales.com/blogIf you need to arrange some life cover for one reason or another then it might seem easiest to put it off until you are in the mood to look into it. The problem with this approach is that you can end up putting it off over and over again.

If you need an extra incentive to sort out some cover just now then there are some good reasons to avoid holding off too long. Here are some of the top ones which might convince you to go ahead and arrange the cover you need sooner rather than later.

 

Get Peace of Mind

The main reason for arranging a life insurance policy is to give you and your family peace of mind. It would certainly be horrible to think that something could happen to you before you got the insurance policy arranged. By doing this quickly and simply online you can be sure that your loved ones are protected right away. This peace of mind is something which it is hard to put a price on and you will no doubt feel a lot better as soon as the protection is in place.

Pay Less

One of the key features of life cover is that the premiums are lower when you are young and healthy. This means that waiting too long could result in you paying more for the same level of cover. There isn’t anything we can do to stop this and the simplest and most effective solution is to arrange the cover before the rates quoted to you go up. As you are likely to pay the premium for a good number of years it makes sense to get the lowest possible premium you can. A look at a comparison site like http://www.confused.com/ should give you an idea of how much you should expect to pay.

Avoid Future Problems

It isn’t very pleasant to think that you might become ill in the future but it is a factor we need to consider here. You will find that even getting life insurance in the first place can be difficult following many types of serious illness. However, even if you are offered cover then it is likely to be at a higher premium than it would have been before you became ill. Of course, none of us can tell when illness is going to strike us and this means that we simply need to try and get our life cover in place and protecting us before anything which could affect our chances of getting it at a good price.

What Schools Should Be Teaching Kids About Money (and aren’t)

kis and moneyThe school day is relatively short, so it’s natural that some subjects will get less coverage than others. But the financial education of children has often been sorely lacking, with teachers leaving it up to parents to teach the fundamentals of how to save and spend safely. With the rocky economy we now find ourselves in, it is more important than ever that kids are taught how to be financially self-sufficient. Here are the three things we think they should be teaching about money in schools, and how you can help your kids in the meantime.

 

Not all savings are the same

ISAs, Bonds, Instant Access Savings, Notice Accounts… Even as an adult the choices can be confusing. So why are we suggesting these tricky concepts should be introduced to a child? Because when the Channel 4 programme SuperScrimpers asked people on the street, many had not even heard of ISAs, let alone knew the differences between each version. We’re not suggesting your kids should have an in-depth knowledge of each savings account, simply that they know they have options.  And if you sit down with them next time you’re thinking about changing accounts, and talk them through what you’re doing, they will quickly learn how to go about researching their different choices.

Money doesn’t just come out of the Hole in the Wall

There was once a little boy who wanted a new toy. He asked his mum but she said she couldn’t afford it right now. The little boy thought about this for a moment, and then piped up happily, ‘we can just go and get some from the hole in the wall’.

What’s the lesson from this tale? Well, firstly it shows that kids are exceptionally optimistic. But more importantly it reveals the lack of awareness often shown by children about where money comes from. And the problem is growing rapidly due to the onset of credit and debit cards: teachers have reported that those kids whose parents pay predominantly by card are less aware of the value of money than those whose parents still hand over notes and coins.

Once they’re old enough, encouraging your children to take a part time job is one of the best ways to teach them where money comes from (and they will soon see how quickly it can be spent). But to help earlier on, make sure they are introduced to physical money, and talk with them about where your earnings come from. Even playing with the fake money in board games can be educational, but as you play, please remember…

Saving all your money isn’t always the answer

Don’t get us wrong; encouraging a savings habit is hugely important. But growing up with the constant message that you can never touch your money can be just as harmful as the idea that constant spending will fix everything. Some people have been known to save and save, whilst never feeling they could actually spend any of their hard earned cash. Such an attitude can encourage stinginess and create continual dissatisfaction with what you already have. A controlled spending habit, where you set boundaries and create goals, is one of the best ways to foster a healthy attitude towards money.

Are there other key lessons you think schools should be teaching kids? Let us know below.

Not just another piggy bank…

We posted recently about the importance of teaching children about money by handing them physical cash rather than transferring it in the virtual world. And one of the best ways to encourage saving is to be able to see your savings mounting up in a trusty piggy bank. But the traditional piggy bank has been joined by hundreds of new incarnations, all promising different ways of making saving fun and educational. To save you searching through hundreds of web pages, we’ve brought together five of the best ones for you – so you can save your time as well as your money!

cat 

The cute one

The best way to encourage saving is to make it fun, which is exactly what this delightful money box does. Place a coin on Crafty Cat’s dinner plate and watch as he pops up and takes your money. Kids and adults alike will love this adorable moneybox.

Peers Hardy Crafty Cat Bank: £14.99, amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

paint piggy

 

The arty one

Here at The Financial Fairy Tales we love teaching financial responsibility through creativity. Which is why we love this paint-it-yourself piggy bank. Complete with paints and brush, your kids will love coming up with their own designs, encouraging them to take pride in their savings.

The Dream World Piggy Bank: £6.99, smythstoys.com

 

 

 

 

 

count jar

The practical one

What better way to foster a savings habit than to watch your money adding up as you go along. This coin counting jar automatically registers the value of each coin added and tots up the total on its digital display. This clever contraption helps coin recognition and also encourages regular saving as children can see how close they’re getting to their savings target.

Peers Hardy Coin Jar: £14.95, amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

safe piggy

 

The ‘secure’ one

The perfect choice for the high-tech child or those with a mind for safety, those clever people at the Science Museum have come up with this touch screen safe. Accessed with a 4 digit pin number, this is a great way to teach lessons about security, and an easy way to introduce the safe use of pin numbers.

Science Museum Touch Screen Safe: £35, sciencemuseumshop.co.uk

 

 

 

 

magic piggy

 

The magic one

Encourage your kids to save whilst sparking their curiosity with this clever optical illusion. Coins dropped through the slot in the top appear to magically disappear. Sure to be popular with all budding magicians, your child will enjoy figuring out the secret behind the box (spoiler: it’s all to do with mirrors). Whilst the mechanism for the optical illusion means there is a rather limited space for coins, this is still a fun way to spark a discussion about saving habits.

Magic Money Bank: £4.99, amazon.co.uk