Spinning The Wheel on The Game of Life

“Mom, how much does someone working in Starbucks earn?” whispered M the other day. We were having a rare Mommy and M afternoon while T was at a birthday party and Z worked on the garden. We’d stopped at Starbucks for a treat before heading to the library.

“About $8 per hour but they have to pay taxes on that too,” I whispered back. M looked appraisingly at the guys working behind the counter. You could see him assessing how hard the work was. When you get $6 per week in allowance, $8 per hour can sound pretty good. I could almost see the thought “Wonder if they get free cookies too?’ trailing across his forehead.

What makes a six year old ask these kinds of questions? It’s all due to playing the family board game: Game of Life

Z and I have been delighted at the conversations which have come out of playing this game and we highly recommend it to other families.

Talking about potential jobs no longer just focuses on the excitement or interest of the work involved (“I want to be an astronaut! No, an explorer! Wait, I want to be an inventor!”) but now moves to include the salary benefits. We talk about how some work is much harder physically than other careers.

At the same time, it can be a bit of a juggle. While we want the boys to understand that some jobs do not pay as well as others, we also want them to respect and value the different roles that people play in the world. We talk about how we need mechanics and garbage collectors just as much as we need CEOs and brain surgeons.

Both boys are also super conscious of the difference a college education makes on your future life earnings. Through The Game of Life, they’ve experienced the repercussions of the decision to skip college and go straight to earning a paycheck. Seeing other players with college degrees get bigger paychecks and pay raises really knocked that lesson home.

We bought out the game today as we had some of the boys’ friends over for a playdate. At first, we thought it might be too complicated for a bunch of six to nine year olds (it’s recommended for 9+), but they helped each other out and wrangled their way through.

The power of the game for introducing concepts was brought home to me once again. “What’s a college?” said one six year old. “What’s salary?” asked a nine year old.

This is not the language of the world they live in so it’s wonderful to introduce these ideas in a way that’s fun for them and allows them to absorb lessons without risk. Better to hear “Oh no, I’m broke!” now than when they are adults.

T meanwhile is still keeping his career options open. The other day, he announced from the back of the car, “Mom, when grow up, I want to be a mythologist, an inventor or a rocket scientist.”

“What’s a mythologist do?” I asked.

“Study myths,” he replied nonchalantly. “But I only want to study Greek myths, not Roman ones as they are boring. I only like Greek myths.” He then proceeded to test me on my knowledge of why Hera was so mad at Zeus and just who was Echo. Sadly, I was quite lacking so will need to study hard for the next exam.

Which family games have helped you with introducing financial literacy topics? And who’s your favorite Greek myth?!

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