My 3 year old son is starting to show an interest in coin collecting.
I posted a couple days ago about selling two Morgan dollars and buying a few other coins, among them a Silver Eagle, at a coin shop in Sioux Falls, SD. I was excited about my new purchases and started telling my three-year-old son about it. Of course, he didn't understand everything I said but he comprehended that I was happy. And, as a side note, he was also happy because his aunt had just bought him a large plastic tyrannosaurus rex toy (he is very into The Land Before Time right now, specifically Sharptooth-- a tyrannosaurus, and also the villain).
Since it was sealed in a plastic capsule,
I handed my son the Silver Eagle to look at. He set his new toy aside and began to examine it. He considered the coin for about twenty seconds and then looked at me and asked, "Daddy's coin?"
I replied, "That's right, buddy. Do you like it?"
He nodded, said, "Yeah," handed it back, and resumed playing with his dinosaur.
Obviously, this interaction did not change his life, but, for half a minute, my three-year-old showed signs of numismatic interest. Kids like coins; it's a fact. Coins are different colors, different sizes, usually shiny, and readily available. As a child gets older and the concept of money takes shape, coins become even more interesting. They are money. As they grow older, a child learns that not all coins are created equal and some, usually older coins, are worth more than their face value. This is what first intrigued me when I was young, "Money that is worth even more money?" However, for a child my son's age, all it took was a pleasant design and a little shine.
I have always planned on sharing my hobby with my son. I picture us sorting through pocket change or a few rolls from the bank, trying to fill holes in a Whitman album. Maybe take him to a coin show and let him buy a few harder to find dates to complete his album(s). My thoughts had never ventured far past these imaginings until he was examining the Silver Eagle.
Coin collecting has the potential to hold a child's interest while teaching them about: our monetary system, the minting process, our past presidents, U.S. History, politics (ie. Theodore Roosevelt and the St. Gaudens Double Eagle), geography (the different mint locations as well as the various Gold & Silver rushes), economics (coin values & prices), compiling an orderly collection, patience, and the sense of pride that comes from completing a set.
Now, let's go a step further and consider what happens when you bring world coins into the mix. Every coin has a story. Collecting world coins with your child opens up an infinite number of new doors. For instance, why does China mint Silver Pandas? It is a nature, history, and political lesson all in one; not to mention an opportunity to illustrate the concept of culture to your child.
Also, how cool would it be to attend the ANA's World's Fair of Money?
What has me most eager to show my son numismatics is the chance to bond over a hobby. He isn't quite old enough yet, but in a few years he will be. Until that time, I consider it my job to gain as much numismatic knowledge as I can. I figure that even if my son doesn't end up interested in collecting, I will never regret pursuing my hobby.