Age-Based Resources

to Plan and Save for Your Child’s Future

Children pick up the financial behavior of their parents. Modeling responsible financial behavior throughout your child’s development will help them make responsible financial decisions as adults.

And remember, the Quarterly Communications we send to you share not only the current value of your child’s Alfond Grant, but also additional age-based tips and resources across a number of different content areas (Literacy, Math & Science, Health & Wellness and Financial Literacy).  You can access those online any time, and even sign up for e-delivery at MyAlfondGrant.org. Check them out today!


Age 0-18 months

It’s never too early to start saving for college. The money you save for your child’s education can make a big difference when your baby is grown up. There are lots of easy ways to get into good habits of spending and saving. Children learn their money proficiency from their parents. It’s not too late to develop new skills if it’s been hard for you in the past. And your child will learn how to save by learning from you.

Tips for Parents

Begin setting aside savings. Each month, set aside money for college savings. Even small amounts will add up. Five dollars in change each week will add up to $4,680 in 18 years, or you can save $500 a year by not buying coffee on your way to work each weekday.

Investigate different savings vehicles. Learn about different ways to save for your child’s college education. Visit NextGenforMe.com to read about Maine’s 529 plan. 

Save on a schedule. Plan on making regular contributions to your child’s college savings. You can make automatic contributions through payroll deductions or from a bank account – or mark your calendar to contribute every major holiday and birthdays.*

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to Planning & Saving.

*Dollar-cost averaging, and other periodic investments do not ensure a profit and do not protect against loss in declining markets. Such a plan involves continuous investment in securities, regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue their purchases through periods of high or low-price levels.


Book Recommendations

Read finance-related books with your child. Here are some age-appropriate suggestions. 


Financial Resources

  • Raising Readers. Lots of information to help you help your child develop a love of reading.
  • MyMoney.gov. Start learning about money management from birth through adulthood.
  • Your local bank. Your local bank is a great resource where you can meet with experts who can talk with you about making a savings plan that’s right for your family.

Age 18-36 months

Your child’s Alfond Grant is only the first step in saving for college. The next step is to keep adding to it. Every little bit you put away may help reduce the cost of higher education. Whatever you have available when it’s time to go to college is money you will not have to borrow.

Tips for Parents

Consider opening a NextGen 529 account. By opening a NextGen account, you can make your own contributions to your child’s future and it may help reduce the cost.

Learn more about saving for college. Visit CollegeSavings.org.

Look into additional savings. Maine has other benefits you may be eligible for through tax savings and reimbursements. Visit Child Care Tax Credits at Maine.gov.

Be on a budget. Keep track of how much you spend. Write down every penny that leaves your pocket and then review your spending habits after one month.

Always make payments on time. Set goals and a time frame for paying bills and stick to it. Late fees are a waste of money!

Pay yourself first. Every month, set aside a specific amount of money for personal use. Part of this money can go towards your child’s college savings.

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to College Savings.


Book Recommendations

Read finance-related books with your child. Here are some age-appropriate suggestions. 


Financial Resources

  • Child Care Tax Credits at Maine.gov. Maine has other benefits you may be eligible for through tax savings and reimbursements. Find out more here.
  • CollegeSavings.org. Learn why saving now matters, how saving for college can really “add up”, and why 529 savings plans may be right for you.

Age 3-5 years

Preschoolers are starting to understand the meaning of money, and this is the time to teach responsible saving and spending. At this age, you may decide to give a small allowance each week, and your child may be doing some chores around the house like simple cleaning (picking up his/her room, helping with dishes). Use allowance as a tool to teach responsible spending and saving. You can show a child how to save and purchase things with money that has been saved.

Tips for Parents

Count pennies with your child. Coin sorting is a great activity for preschoolers. Teach your child about money by helping sort colors, sizes, and values.

Be a financial role model. Your child will learn about saving and spending from you. Talk about the things you’re saving up for. Show your child how the money you’re saving for college is adding up.

Take it to the bank. Most banks will let a child have their own account if a parent signs them up. Help your child save and show how to make a deposit and check the balance.

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to College Savings.


Book Recommendations

Read books about finance with them. Here are some age-appropriate ones.


Financial Resources

  • Kids’ Money is an interactive resource for parents, teachers, and kids designed to help children develop successful money management habits and become financially responsible adults.
  • The Preschool Children’s Understanding of Money fact sheet has ideas and activities you can employ on how to improve how your child understands money via The Texas A&M University System.
  • Mint is an all-in-one financing app containing resources to help parents tackle personal finance with their kids, an important life skill. Raising financially-savvy children involves teaching them a variety of aspects from budgeting to planning, earning, and saving.

Age 5-7 years

At this age, your child is a sponge who takes in everything around them. Use that to teach them about being financially responsible.

Tips for Parents

Setting goals. Tell your child how you make choices about what you need versus what you want to purchase – and how you set goals for each.

Teach them the difference between want vs.need. Ask your child to think of an item they would like to start saving for, like a new bike. Ask them: do they need it or want it?

Talk money saving tips with your child. Talk with your child about how much money they will need to save for any item they choose – and help them make a plan for saving their allowance money towards it.

Leave room for mistakes. Part of putting kids in control of their own money is letting them learn from their errors. It’s tempting to step in and steer kids away from a potentially costly mistake, but it may be better to use that mistake as a teachable moment. In that way, they’ll know in the future what not to do with their cash.

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to College Savings.


Book Recommendations

Read books about finance with them. Here are some great ones.


Financial Resources

  • United States Mint for Kids. The U.S. Mint has a page dedicated to teaching kids about money. It contains coloring books, games, videos, and more.
  • National Financial Educators Council. Find tips and resources to teach personal finance to kids
  • Leave Room for mistakes: Part of putting kids in control of their own money is letting them learn from their errors. It’s tempting to step in and steer kids away from a potentially costly mistake, but it may be better to use that mistake as a teachable moment. In that way, they’ll know in the future what not to do with their cash.

Additional Resources

Health Resources
Literacy Resources
Science and Math Tips

Age 8-10 years

Now’s the time to help your child learn good financial habits that will shape how they earn, save, and shop.

Tips for Parents

Open a bank account with your child. By age 10, your children should be ready for this next step toward financial independence. This can be both exciting and scary for kids, so be sure to talk in advance to prepare them.

Consider small jobs to promote the value of earning money.

When shopping, ask your child to help you compare prices. Look at brand-name items and own-brand products. Talk about which ones cost more and why. And how you can save money.

Teach your child about 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3. Whether your child receives an allowance, or earns a bit of money helping out, or gets some cash for a birthday, help them see the value of the money they have. Consider using ⅓ to spend, ⅓ to save and ⅓ to give to charity.

Encourage your child to set a savings goal. When your child sets aside money to save, ask them what they want to save for, help them find out how much it costs, and sneak in some math as they figure out how long it might take them to meet their goal.

Talk about money with your child. Parents are often reluctant to talk with their children about money – but talking about money gives your children a chance to learn and to feel comfortable with financial matters. Let them know the kinds of things you’re trying to juggle and how you decide what to spend on and how to save.

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to College Savings.


Book Recommendations

Read books about finance with them. Here are some suggestions.


Financial Resources

  • The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: Money as You Grow. Provides tips and activities to help your child’s money skills, habits, and attitudes grow.
  • Claim Your Future helps students set goals and links today’s education and spending choices to future job options and financial stability.
  • Consider small jobs to promote the value of earning money.
  • By age 10, your children should be ready for the next step toward financial independence: opening a bank account. This can be both exciting and scary for kids, so be sure to talk in advance to prepare them.
  • When you are out and about, ask them to help you compare prices. Look at brand name items and own brand products. Talk about which ones cost more and why. And how you can save money.

Additional Resources

Health Resources
  • Too little sleep is associated with obesity, partly because inadequate sleep makes us eat more and be less physically active. Children need more sleep than adults, and the amount varies by age. See the recommended amounts of sleep  and suggested habits to improve sleep.
  • Blast off game to help learn the food pyramid
  • Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days for good health and fitness and for healthy weight during growth.
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen, Quentin Blake
  • What to Do When You Worry Too Much by by Dawn Huebner, Bonnie Mathews
Literacy Resources
  • Scholastic Raising Readers Tips
  • Board games are a great way to firm up recognition of sight words, as well as spelling and vocabulary skills. Try favorites like Password, Blurt, Boggle Jr., Apples to Apples, and Buzzword Junior.
  • Help your kids share the joy of reading by donating books to kids who lack them. Have them select books from their own collection (ones they’ve outgrown or their favorites).
  • Judy Moody Series by Megan McDonald, Peter H. Reynolds
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Science and Math Resources
  • Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented 
  • Invite curiosity. Science learning begins with curiosity. Observations and questions can create a climate of discovery – key to scientific learning. Children can learn a lot about science even at bath time. Let your child ask her own questions but you can also stimulate curiosity. For instance, when seeing a rubber duck float in the water, invite him to think by saying, “I wonder if the soap will also float?” See what questions she asks and what experiments she tries.
  • Play math games at home, There are many games your child can play that involve math. Beginning in the elementary years, students can learn to enjoy math by playing games such as chess, dominoes, cribbage, checkers, Set, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and backgammon.
  • How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson 
  • Kate the Chemist Series by Kate Biberdorf 
  • Nick and Tesla Series by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith

Age 11-13 years

As a teen and pre-teen, your child can start to earn money and make some decisions on their own. Be there to lead them in the right direction.

Tips for Parents

Expand purchase responsibilities. It’s time for more responsibility, preparing for bigger decisions in high school. Move gradually, layering on responsibility for items like clothing. Stay involved, give guidance and remember your kids still have to listen even if they don’t want to.

Demonstrate different ways of giving. This is a great age to involve your kids in giving to worthy causes. They’re old enough to appreciate both the need and how they can help. Giving can be financial or of time and talent. It should reflect and reinforce the family values you want to instill.

Review the quarterly communications about the Alfond Grant with your child. Make sure they know that there’s money put away for higher education, and talk with them about how you can help them take that next step after high school.

Read more tips at the Parents’ Guide to College Savings.


Book Recommendations

Read books about finance with them. Here are some suggestions.


Financial Resources


Additional Resources

Health Resources
  • Your student will likely be transitioning to middle school at this time and it can often be a difficult time for adolescents to navigate. Students will likely now have multiple teachers with different styles and assignments. Helping them organize their work will help to alleviate their stress level and will keep them on the right track to success. 
  • Exercise is especially important at this age. Your pre-teen’s body is growing rapidly and needs physical activity, which also supports their emotional well-being. 
  • As children get older, they may begin navigating the internet more on their own. Teaching them how to safely do this is important for their online and mental health as well. Use the resources at commonsense.org for more information. 
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Literacy Tips
  • Middle school is a crucial time to engage your child in learning. It is often during these years that children are either ignited by or turned off to school. If your child struggles to learn, problem solve together and get a plan in place to allow success (and confidence!) to build. Support your child outside of school and find ways to extend or enhance what he’s doing at school. 
  • Remember that any reading is good reading. Don’t stress if your child starts to read magazines instead of books, or wants to revisit favorite books of four years ago. Reading is reading and is meant to be fun. So let him choose what he wants to read rather than force-feeding him ‘good books’ because this is the fastest way you can kill off the reading bug.
  • Scholastic has many tips and book recommendations to help continue raising a reader as they navigate their teens.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry 
Science and Math Resources
  • Explain how math applies to real-life situations and challenge children to help you solve the math problems you encounter when you’re out together, such as figuring out how many apples to buy or calculating change. They’ll be more interested in mastering math if they realize its value.
  • Use the internet to search for science experiments to do at home. The possibilities are endless.
  • Exploratorium has encouraged awe and wonder in the minds of young people as a hands-on museum located in San Francisco.
  • The Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds in America. Its website now features educational material specifically designed to help young kids explore birds and nature from the safety of their homes during the pandemic. That includes birding guides and projects that range from learning how to draw a bird to identifying and appreciating city pigeons.
  • The Boy who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
  • See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
  • A Very Improbable Story by Edward Einhorn, Adam Gustavson

More Tips for Parents