When I first thought about reaching out to children and youth with the Spend Save Share concept, I didn’t give preschoolers much thought, thinking that lessons in financial literacy and philanthropy might be beyond them. I was wrong!
Nothing brought the error of my thinking home to me more effectively than a link a friend sent me to a CNN broadcast about Sesame Street’s multifaceted and preschooler-friendly money program, “For You, For Me, For Later”. Those of you who have Sesame Street fans in your families probably know all about this very appealing, multipart project, but I didn’t, and it changed my thinking forever. Take a look at the video segments from the show at sesamestreet.org/save. Super!
In one of the For You, For Me, For Later segments, Sesame Street does a particularly nice job presenting the “for you” (share) concept with the Cookie Monster. After much consideration, he shares his cookie with a elderly woman puppet who passes by, dressed in a babushka and plain coat. Her reaction is delighted and delightful. Check it out.
That got me thinking about very simple ways parents and grandparents can develop the giving habit among the very young and I asked around. I loved hearing from my doctor at Kaiser how she does her own recycling of bottles and cans with the help of her two young children. The kids have satisfaction of caring for the environment by helping with collection and delivery and are rewarded with the money earned by recycling. They are allowed to spend or save half, but they must donate the other half to a charity of their choice. If you are inspired to do something similar, here are a few simple ideas for giving that may appeal to very young children.
1. Next time you visit the veterinarian with your pet, see if there’s a donation jar for the local humane society or animal rescue organization on the counter. I’ll bet there is. In future visits, you might invite your children to put some of their sharing “for you” money in that jar, explaining that these groups take care of animals that don’t have families and work to find good homes for them.
2. Have you noticed that right below the drive-thru window where you pay, McDonalds has a receptacle for donations to support Ronald McDonald Houses? You usually know in advance when you’re going to stop at McDonald’s with the kids, correct? Why not suggest they share some of their share money there? Be sure and explain that Ronald McDonald Houses are homes away from home, places close to hospitals where parents can stay to be near their sick children.
If you have “sharing” ideas for preschoolers, please add them here and tell us how the giving habit is growing in your family or neighborhood. Thanks!