Right on the Money [Teaching Financial Literacy]
Glouberman, Noa, Teach
How to teach your students financial literacy
Long before they can add and subtract, children know about money. They see adults around them feed coins to parking meters and withdraw paper money from the ATM. The slim plastic card their parents use to make purchases probably enters their radar screen at a fairly young age, too.
At home, parents may introduce their kids to the concepts of money and personal finance by doling out a weekly allowance. Often, however, this is where the lessons end. And, while school is great for teaching subjects like biology, creative writing, algebra and even Volleyball, some Canadian students may never learn a single lesson on how to manage money prudently and make the most of financial opportunities.
The good news is there's a movement afoot to teach kids about money and other financial matters. If it succeeds, pretty soon we'll have a society full of money-savvy adults. Because the truth is, the earlier you learn to handle money, the more likely you are to manage it properly and live a prosperous life.
And, you need not do it all on your own. Several Canadian organizations - agreeing the subjects of money and personal finance ought to be more regularly incorporated into the K-12 curriculum - have developed various teacher resources to help you make your students more financially literate.
There's Something About Money
In 1998, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) launched a comprehensive public information program called Building a Better Understanding, marking the beginning of a long-term commitment to help improve Canadians' knowledge of the economy and personal finance issues. "Our research had shown Canadians wanted to know more about banking and today's changing financial world to help them make informed decisions," explains Maura Drew-Lytle, Senior Manager of Media Relations at the CBA. "There's Something About Money was launched to begin reaching Canadians at a young age."
Introduced during the 1999-2000 school year, There's Something About Money is a program consisting of a Web site full of tools and resources to provide young people with a fun and interactive guide on money topics they care about: credit, starting a business, reading a paycheque and financing their education, etc. In addition, the CBA offers a free, non-commercial money management seminar to provide Grade 10 students and up with a good understanding of financial basics and give them the tools they need to make informed financial decisions.
Drew-Lytle says, "We decided to target this age group [Grade 10 and up] because it is at this stage young people really start making decisions that have financial consequences, like deciding on post-secondary education, moving away from home for the first time or launching their own careers in the work force. Many young people have part-time jobs, bank accounts and financial responsibilities; some may even have credit cards. Learning how to manage the financial aspects of their lives early will help to ensure they make the right decisions later on."
Teachers can request an in-class seminar, which involves a 75-minute presentation delivered by a community-based banker and covers such topics as how to finance post secondary education, how to use credit tools properly, how to protect yourself and your money from fraud, budgeting and simple investment strategies. All the material covered at the seminar is supplemented by the Web site, which offers additional tips and quizzes.
Since its launch, over 3,300 seminars have been delivered to more than 93,000 students in Canadian classrooms. To find out more about the program, visit www.yourmoney.ca and find the section under Teacher Tools containing information on how to request a seminar or further resource material. Or, call toll-free 1-800-263-0231.
RBC Royal Bank Financial Lifeskills Education Program