Games can be powerful teaching tools. It's long been understood that young children learn a lot through play, whether it's with blocks, picture books or even hide and seek. The learning doesn't stop as we get older. Teens and even adults can learn while playing games, and there is a wide range of games available to teach a variety of topics, including financial literacy.
For centuries, play was considered a diversion rather than a means for education. But in the early 20th century, scholars like Swiss philosopher Jean Piaget began challenging these notions. He pioneered an educational theory that people build knowledge and meaning from their experiences. Focusing on very young children, Piaget found that the way kids play evolves as they grow older, with each stage of play corresponding to intellectual development. Over the 20th century, his work came to help transform European and American education to a more 'child-centered' approach, in which play holds a more integral role.
Much research has been done on whether online games and other interactive educational tools can teach people how to make better decisions regarding personal finances, including an exciting new study called "Improving Americans’ Financial Literacy: Educational Tools at Work," by Lisa A. Donnini, PhD, KayAnn Miller and Kitch Walker. According to Dr. Donnini, "Children have always learned through play and today, digital media has resulted in increasingly more sophisticated games that can engage youth while at the same time encouraging learning." In fact, many would suggest that the key components of good video games, including immediate feedback, rewards, motivation and goal-setting, may be a better fit for the high-technology, global world in which today's kids live than the more traditional types of learning often found in the classroom.
Practical Money Skills Games
There are several educational games that teach personal finance and money management skills to students of every age on the Practical Money Skills website, including:
Financial Football, a fast-paced, National Football League-themed video game developed by Visa. The interactive financial literacy game is available online in both English and Spanish. It is also available as a free Android and iOS app.
Peter Pig's Money Counter, in which kids ages 5 to 8 practice sorting and counting coins with the help of wise Peter Pig. The free game is also available for Android and iOS devices.
Today, most children and young adults play video games on a regular basis. For this reason, games offer an excellent opportunity to engage and motivate children in learning, from home to the classroom.