Money is a necessary tool, but like any other, it can easily lead its untrained users into uncomfortable — perhaps even painful — situations. So why, then is, financial literacy an educational requirement in less than half of the states in the U.S.? Students deserve to approach life armed with the knowledge they need to understand money matters. The following resources can give you insight into how to bring financial literacy into your classroom.
The Value of Financial Literacy
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Financial literacy is the ability to make wise monetary decisions when it comes to things like saving, spending, and investing. The resources in this section emphasize the value of incorporating financial literacy courses into education, and they contain thought-provoking examples that can help you hone how you teach about money.
- A Forbes contributor who focuses on education and entrepreneurship offers her opinion on why teaching financial literacy is valuable. The article points out that more than half of teachers do not feel qualified to teach financial literacy and presents ideas that teachers and parents can use to make kids more aware of how money works.
- Back in May 2014, Edudemic published a piece entitled “Why We Should be Teaching Financial Literacy.” The article contains statistics about the relationship today’s youth have to their finances and presents a video that makes a case for putting financial literacy into schools.
- Teaching our youth how to handle money matters is a responsibility that falls to educators, parents, and yes, even credit unions. This news article from nerdwallet.com offers examples of how credit unions are encouraging students to arm themselves with adequate financial knowledge. For example, one credit union hosts a contest that has a science fair vibe, but with a focus on finances.
- Entrepreneur Media presents an article that tells the story of Flocabulary, a publishing company that teaches financial literacy through hip-hop videos, which help students remember important principles. The article contains a link to one such video that tells the story of Melvin, a young man who makes some questionable financial decisions.
- A piece from Reuters showcases an interview with billionaire Warren Buffet, who promotes financial literacy through a cartoon series. He seeks to encourage young people to think with an entrepreneurial frame of mind, and he says, “You can’t be an entrepreneur unless you’re financially literate.”
- Games are invaluable teaching tools, and that extends even to games that aren’t specifically designed to educate. This article explains how Minecraft intuitively teaches kids about money with three key financial lessons: How to start from nothing, how to protect what you have, and how to make good connections.
Lesson Plans and Ideas
When you have dozens of thoughts buzzing around your head about how to teach your class the basics of how to deal with financial literacy, it can be a challenge to rope those ideas into solid lesson plans. The following resources include lesson plans and ideas that can help you craft a concrete approach.
- The folks at Edutopia compiled a list of handy resources for teaching financial literacy; some of the resources are thought-provoking articles while others lead to actual lesson plans. The list is organized by grade level.
- The National Education Association provides a list of lesson plans and lesson sets that can help you shape your curriculum. The list is sorted by bolded grade level, so it’s easy to scan.
- When fun and education join forces, they make an unstoppable duo. Themint.org’s “fun for kids” tab contains activities that can help kids learn the ropes of earning, spending, saving, and giving. The “tips for teens” tab goes deeper; it includes information on investing, tracking, and safeguarding money.
- These lesson plans on personal finance from teachthought.com are the result of a contest sponsored by H&R Block and WeAreTeachers. Educators submitted lesson plans for a shot at grant money. The result is a wealth of creative teaching ideas that you may be able to adapt to benefit your students.
- Mortgagecalculator.biz provides a list of lesson plans for grades K-12. Even the plans for young children go into things like risk management, insurance, credit, and debt. Some lessons integrate other subjects such as history.
- Learning how to give is an aspect of financial literacy that may get lost in the shuffle of trying to teach children to make their money work for them. One of the lessons on the Scholastic website puts charity on center stage; the other lessons cover things like saving, planning, and setting goals.
- This article from time.com gives pointers to parents on how to help their children become financially independent, but the tips therein may spark some ideas that you can use in the classroom. Some of the suggestions include “Let them make spending mistakes” and “Make them work for wants.”
- You’ve probably thought about an expensive purchase in terms of how many hours you would need to work to pay for it. You can use the same line of reasoning with children who are years away from getting their first job. This article from lifehacker.com tells you how to do that.
- Sesame Street’s Elmo takes up the responsibility of helping kids get a handle on how to use money. This 16-minute video entitled “For Me, for You, for Later” will appeal to young children and help them see the value of savvy spending.
- High school students love their cell phones; you can use that love to your advantage. This piece from U.S. News suggests that you use a smartphone app to show students how to comparison shop. It also has a few other suggestions for helping teenagers sharpen their money-handling skills.
Money may or may not be the root of all evil, but there is no question that mishandling money leads to trouble. Conversely, handling it well can lead to a life of stability, independence, and even creativity. You can use the above resources to help shape the next generation into one that is money-smart from the start.