Letting Kids Make Financial Mistakes - TheEngineersKids
# Family Life

Letting Kids Make Financial Mistakes

Last week, I posted about our trip to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, during the trip we purchased three stuffed seals named Shiny, Arrt-Arrt, and Sealy from the gift shop. Up until this trip the kids had been amassing a large stash of birthday and Christmas money. I don’t really like shopping with the kids, so they have to really beg for me to take them to spend their money. Previous to said trip to see the seals, I made them list a few things they were thinking of buying, which did not include stuffed seals.

They all insisted on buying a stuffed seal, even after I reminded them of the cowgirls dress-up clothes and rollerblades they had on their shopping lists at home. And I try really hard not to dictate what they purchase with their money, so I said, “Hey, it’s your money,” and off we went with three over-priced seals. I should have known not to go to a gift shop…lesson learned.

A good conversation and lesson arose from the experience though. The kids seemed to be convinced that you should be able to return an item to a store at any time for a full refund. Otherwise, the store was stealing your money, because you no longer wanted the item, so you shouldn’t be obligated to pay for it. Sometimes it surprises me how they think the world works.

After a thousand “why” questions about how stores do in fact have to make a profit, buyers are giving up rights to return an item when they use it, and that stores will accept some returns if they can sell that item to a new customer, they began to understand shopping a bit more. I don’t think I persuaded them to believe in the philosophy of return policies, but I did convince them that no store was going to take back their dirty old toys five years down the road.

At least one child is already regretting her hasty seal purchase. I told her we would review her finances and come up with a plan for her to earn the money she needs to get her cowgirl dress-up clothes.

I love a lesson learned young. Better to regret buying a stuffed seal, than a fancy sports car or too-big house. For many years now, my husband has benefitted financially from a My Pal 2 he regretted buying in the 80s.

What financial lessons are you glad your kids learned while young? What did you buy as a kid that taught you a lesson?

Visit a nature park - TheEngineersKids
# Adventures

Get Your Kids Into Nature – Coastkeeper Nature Garden

In Orange County it’s a little difficult to find places in nature to go exploring. Honestly, a few school assignments to bring a rock to class have proven rather difficult. The landscapers remove all the rocks…it’s a little weird, but anyway. There are a lot of hiking trails, but sometimes I don’t want to go hiking by myself with all the kids.

On those occasions we love going to the Coastkeeper Nature Garden. It’s half drought-tolerant demonstration gardens, to teach people how to plant drought-tolerant plants in different design styles (traditional, mediteranian, craftsman); and half free-play area for the kids. I actually love the demonstration gardens, and dream of planting all drought-tolerant plants when we someday buy a house. The kids have learned a great deal about different plants and it is a great place to answer a thousand why questions.

Get Your Kids Into Nature - TheEngineersKids

The kids area is really fun too. Lately, I’ve been on toddler-following duty, while the kids run around on the tree stumps, through the tunnels, up the rocks, and all around the paths. They find new picnic spots each time we go. There’s a small adobe structure, which brought up a conversation about when I lived in a rural part of Argentina where they lived in houses like those, and how while there some friends of mine built an adobe house for a woman who had no home. I take any chance I have to give them an inkling about how others live, the needs they have, and how to show charity.

All in all, we love the nature park. It’s dusty, and sometimes hot, and lets kids get their energy out.

Get Your Kids Into Nature - TheEngineersKids

For anyone in Orange County, or for anyone planning a visit, you should check out the Fun Orange County Parks website. We find so much good information about which parks to explore from that website. Here’s their review of the Coastkeeper Garden.

Anyone care to share fun nature parks in their area? You know, in case I want to go on vacation and check them out.

Letter E for Easter & The Number 12 - TheEngineersKids.com
# Preschool

Preschool Lesson – Letter E for Easter and The Number 12

Over the years we have saved a lot of money by organizing co-op preschools with our friends. With a group of 5-8 kids, you can have a lot of fun and they love learning together. Bigger groups can lead to feeling crowded in a home (and can get loud). Smaller groups don’t seem to generate enough chaos to make it something the kids look forward to.

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve done with co-op preschool groups in the past.  They usually were based on one letter and one number that we studied that day. Note, most of these lessons were taught in my home, which has never been larger than a three-bedroom townhouse, so you need a little space, but not an auditorium for a living room. Without further ado, I give you:

The Letter E for Easter and The Number 12

  • 10 minutes, Welcome in the living room
  • 30 minutes, Easter Egg Hunt
    • hunt for eggs
    • open eggs to find the letter E (capital and lowercase)
    • show picture from Animalia book – talk about eggs and elephants
    • practice writing the letter E (capital and lowercase)
  • 30 minutes, Snack and Story – apples, Horton Hatches the Egg
  • 30 minutes, Craft
    • Craft: talk about a dozen eggs, count to 12, practice saying “dozen”
    • color Paper Mache Eggs with markers, and put stickers on them
    • Color: Horton Hatches the Egg picture
  • 20 minutes, Easter Movie
# Family Life

Don’t Plan a Lesson. Just Learn.

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I am a planner by nature, and with the advent of pinterest, I once found myself planning a year-long curriculum of preschool. Our lesson on the moon, for example, involved reading a book, talking about the dust and rocks on the moon, and bouncing on the trampoline to simulate moon gravity. We followed that plan for quite a while, but we didn’t really need it.

The kids have strong interests, and while I might like planning out a lesson on the moon minute by minute, the kids don’t like me telling them what to do. In fact they were ornery and uninterested in my lesson, I was frustrated with their lack of participation and enthusiasm (I mean, come on, I just want to educate you about this fascinating object that inhabits the night sky, just sit down and listen!), and we gave up on the whole preschool thing after a couple of months.

I’ve kind of learned my lesson. Now, I try to just ask them, “What are you interested in learning?” Then we go learn about that thing. I give them my time, and I let them fill it with ideas. The other night we played with a candle and talked about why fire needs oxygen, that it is the wax that is burning to create the fire, that you can relight a candle by touching a flame to smoke, and how wax is solid at room temperature, but liquid at higher temperatures. Just a warning: you have to be prepared to hear “why” a lot, but that’s the fun of it!

Planning was stopping me from really learning with my kids…not the lack of planning, but the planning itself.

What about you? What stops you from learning with your kids? What interests your kids?

See this post on the After School Activities Link Party:

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