Friday, September 12, 2008

How can I be overdrawn? I still have checks left!

Another envelope arrived in my school mailbox today, this one promoting a financial management curriculum for elementary schools. Apparently banks and credit unions will often pay for the curriculum materials if they know someone local will teach it.
Our instructional minutes are limited, very limited, largely because of standardized testing necessary to meet federal laws. I usually toss envelopes like this straight into the recycling barrel, but this one caught my eye.
At what age can children learn about money? How much should they learn, and when? What kinds of tools can parents use to teach about money: allowances, lemonade stands, savings accounts, Certificates of Deposit and money market accounts?
Schoolchildren learn about money in math class as early as second grade. But do they really understand interest? Mortgages? Loans in general? Credit Ratings?
If I asked (or even if I didn't), my students could probably sing the clever jingle to the Free Credit Report web site. But do they know what credit is or what it means? At age 10, I doubt it.
However, it's not too soon to teach kids the value of money. Many of my students are from poor families; our school qualifies for several grants and programs that serve disadvantaged families. Every year at least two or three in my class are homeless. Allowance? Forget it; these are families investing every meager penny into putting food on the table and getting to work.
We teachers are then faced with a tough job; how to teach the value of money to children who have none.
Our local high schools added a personal finance course to the graduation requirements a few years ago. In Amigo's Work Experience class they have the option of opening a credit union account at the institution with a satellite office in his school commons. La Petite, now in her senior year of college, ran a lemonade stand at age 8 and started independently managing her own checking account around age 16. If Amigo thinks he’s ready, opening a credit union account of his own would be a good idea.

Parent Bloggers Network teamed up with Capital One to sponsor this blog blast. Capital One now has an interactive site called Moneywi$e Learning Tool that helps families learn about money management.

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Blogger Karianna said...

When I was in elementary school we had a special lesson on banking. I've never forgotten that lesson, but have certainly forgotten quite a lot of the other subjects taught!

I agree that it is so important, especially in areas w/ poor students, to make a point about discussing financial management. All too often there is shame associated with money in those circles, but knowledge really is power.

9/13/2008 6:10 PM  

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