How to Talk to Your Children About Economics

It’s never too early to prepare your children for adulthood and an essential component of adulthood is mastering the art of functioning within a free market system. This may sound like an intimidating prospect, especially if your littles are really little. A parent can’t just roll out a white board and start writing out the Bellman equation and expect the young ones to transform into economically literate agents.

A new book by Art Laffer (yes that Art Laffer) and Michelle Balconi can help you teach your children about economics using elementary school level exercises with familiar scenarios to demonstrate basic economic choices.

Teaching children about economics is not as daunting as it sounds. The book explains:

The world around us is created by the choices people make and can be the subject of fun conversations with children. Have you ever discussed with your child why a pair of sneakers marked with a professional athlete’s name costs more than plain white canvas sneakers? It’s a great time to chat about economics!

I had the opportunity to talk to co-author Michelle Balconi about her children’s book “Let’s Chat About Economics.”  Balconi got the idea to write a children’s book on economics after hearing noted economist Dr. Art Laffer give a speech. Her experience in public relations and message-crafting helped to create a book with lessons and examples that integrate with experiences your family is already having.  Balconi told me that the book has been tested and reviewed by diverse groups of children–some in charter schools, some in foster care and even children in homeless shelters–to make sure the lessons were effective.

The book focuses on typical family experiences like a trip to the grocery store or a yard sale and demonstrates how those casual childhood experiences are full of economic principles and choices.

Just because economics is taught at the highest levels of academia doesn’t mean it is only useful to adults. Children can understand and apply this common-sense approach to decision-making with most opportunities in life. So whether you are discussing lunch, how to spend your time after school or even why the newest electronic gadget costs so much, sharing the basic economic principles empowers children to make well-informed choices for their own happiness.

Less than half of the states have some kind of economic curriculum in their school systems and some schools have even reached out to Balconi and Laffer to work with them to adopt the book for their state’s curriculum. But even if your school system doesn’t require it, “Let’s Chat About Economics” is a way you can take economic lessons into your own hands. You can find the book on Amazon and learn more about the book on the website Let’s Chat About Economics.

Laffer and Balconi have other children’s books in the works. Their next book is “Let’s Chat About Democracy” and a third book entitled “Let’s Chat About Immigration” will follow.