Would you like your son or daughter, or another young person you know, to acquire any of the following skills or attributes?
1) Improved reading ability
3) Improved comprehension
4) The ability to set and reach goals
5) Organizational skills
8) The ability to establish priorities
10) Understanding the value of money
11) An interest in history and culture
12) Comprehending the importance of gaining specialized knowledge
What am I promising here, Super Kid? How could collecting coins accomplish all of the things? Please allow me to dash through the list and explain how it works.
Improved reading ability. There aren't many technical books about coins, written for children. Most general numismatic references are written in fairly simple language so the child can accept a reasonable reading challenge. Visiting Internet sites dealing with coins will again challenge a child to read. Reading is a necessary skill if you want to be a serious coin collector. I've found most children improve their reading ability when reading becomes personally important to them.
Improved comprehension. Coin collecting has its specialized vocabulary. Even at the entry level, the collector will want to remember many numismatic terms. To get the full meaning from an article the child may need to consult a dictionary. For collectors there is a need and a good reason to remember what's been read. The moment a child realizes information is important they will find a way to remember it. You need only watch them play video games to understand this.
Organizational skills. Coin collectors are always checking references, price lists and information provided on the Internet. The collector must be organized, as this trait is an important part of the hobby. Information must be readily available and kept up to date.
Self-confidence. Kids know the difference between learning and just spending time in school. Learning about coins can be a life-long hobby and a continual process. The child will know they are making progress and gathering knowledge that is both interesting and obviously valuable. It is difficult for any child to feel in control and in charge. Coin collecting provides this opportunity.
Pride. A feeling of genuine pride is not easy for a child to obtain. Receiving praise for school work or sports accomplishments is often seen as a superficial pat on the head. Pride must be generated from within. Coin collecting is not something everyone does and knows about. The child can take pride in independently learning about coins and being involved in a special activity that is obviously important to adults and will impress peers.
Developing an interest in history and culture. One can hardly collect coins without learning about the people who produced them. Even if a child doesn't continue with the hobby, they will be exposed to many other interesting subjects and develop an appreciation for their importance.
Neatness. A coin collector must be neat. We can't have valuable coins getting lost! The coin collector will organize their collection and reference materials. Once the value of neatness is recognized it is usually applied to other aspects of life.
The ability to set and reach goals. Coin collectors are always making short and long term plans. Few collectors are content to have a casual assortment of coins. There is a good reason why every coin is added to the collection. Coin collectors wish to build sets and acquire certain important coins. Completing even a small set of coins is seen as an important accomplishment. The collector gains much satisfaction from reaching goals.
Self-esteem. Perhaps the greatest benefit coin collecting offers a young person is the opportunity to legitimately participate in the adult world. Coin collecting no age restrictions and I've known a number of teenagers who quickly became knowledgeable numismatists. Knowing about coins is knowledge that is appreciated by adults and the child can soon find themselves in a position to teach and inform adults about the hobby. Often a little success can grow into lots of ambition.
The ability to establish priorities. Determining priorities is usually difficult for children. There is so much going on and often their time and activities are planned for them. When it is their turn to decide what to do with time children seldom have creative ideas. Coin collecting can be a very exciting hobby. A child will want to spend time with their new endeavor - reading, learning and looking at the coins in their growing collection. We all must learn how to plan our time. Coin collectors know how to use leisure time wisely.
Understanding the value of money. A common complaint among adults is that kids don't understand the value of a buck. The moment kids have money they find a way to spend it. The young coin collector must learn to save for that special coin. They may be prompted to think of ways to earn extra money by getting better grades in school, working around the house, babysitting, or mowing the neighbor's yard. Children should have fun and money often seems as a necessary part of this activity. Any young person could make a far worse choice than spending their money on books and coins.
Gaining specialized knowledge. If you have a computer around the house do you notice how the kids take great pride in knowing how to operate this machine? It's not the computer that's important. Rather, they can do something worthwhile that you can't do! Coin collecting offers this same rare opportunity. It also prompts children to investigate other ways to be considered an important person in the adult world. As a child, it was my fascination with coin collecting that got my parents interested in the hobby. I've always been the foremost numismatist in the family and I gained this status by the time I was 12 years old!
Getting a Young Person Started Collecting Coins
Not everyone should become a coin collector, but I think it's wise to make an effort to introduce young people to the hobby and provide some initial encouragement.
One of the nice things about kids and coins is that a little exposure to the hobby is usually all it takes to kindle an interest or show that, at least for now, there is none. If your family has saved a few old coins you already have the "starter kit". When looking at an old cent, silver dollar or a few world coins, the child should at least be curious. If you have no old coins, spending $20 or less at the local coin shop and giving these coins as a birthday or holiday present is another good way to make the introduction. A nice choice would be a set of coins minted in the child's birth year. I've never met anyone who didn't appreciate this gift. Even if they have no interest in collecting coins, this set is something they will save.
It is also wise to have a copy of some coin related publication on hand to offer the child who shows any interest in the hobby. When introducing children to coin collecting, it is a common mistake to initially do too much. Many would be chemists have been discouraged after receiving a chemistry set before they were ready for it. The last thing we want to do is create the impression that collecting coins is all your idea and something you want the child to do. Every child already has too much of this type of guidance. Coin collecting should not be made to seem like a required activity. Our purpose in gently exposing kids to the hobby is to help them discover it on their own.
Be prepared for your initial spark to light the collecting fire. Don't allow it to go up in flames. New coin collectors of all ages have the tendency to want to do it all right now. They often feel a sense of urgency. All sorts of supplies are purchased. Every extra dollar they can find is spent on coins. Then, sometimes after only a few months of collecting, they become disenchanted and abandon the hobby. Please don't let this happen. It would be far better if the child only developed a mild, but sustained interest. Here are a few ways to keep a young collector's enthusiasm under control.
Encourage the child to share their new interest with you - on their terms. Be there to enjoy the hobby when the child wants you to get you involved.
Help the child develop a coin-buying budget and see that it stays in place.
If possible, establish a system of rewards for research. Don't lay down the law, but with the child involved develop guidelines. For example, if they wish to add a coin to the collection can they write 50 words about why it should be included? If they have read an article on the Internet can they answer a few questions about it?
Absolutely discourage any ideas the child may have about making money buying coins. Most coins any young collector can afford will be worth far less than they paid should they wish to dispose of them. This should be explained as soon as the youngster shows any sustained interest in the hobby. At that point they should begin understanding the real benefits coin collecting can provide. Making money is not one of them.
It's easy for me to say, but try to observe your child's collecting activities to judge if progress is being made. If you have any questions or would like some specific counseling, I'm only an email message away.
Kids and coins go together. It's a great hobby for young people. Collecting coins is also a very individual pursuit. It is extremely important to be receptive to the abilities and interests of every collector--should they be nine or ninety.