Financial literacy has been a hot topic in recent years as an increasing number of young adults enter the workforce with student loan payments and a lack of proper financial training. While more states are requiring every student to take a financial literacy class to complete high school, parents are still largely responsible for teaching their children about money.
It’s a Hard Subject to Find In Schools
Very few states make high school students learn about economics or personal finance, and many students receive their diploma without learning some of the most basic skills! There has been more emphasis on requiring a financial literacy course in all states, but at the very least, the number of states changing their requirements has remained relatively flat.
In Idaho, Georgia, and Texas, a financial literacy class and standardized exam is required. Credit outcomes have notably risen for those high school graduates according to this report. This can be taken as a positive, showing that financial literacy classes can be beneficial to students.
Of the states that make financial literacy education mandatory, most students take the course in high school. A few states have started implementing financial lessons in elementary school and wait to start teaching in-depth material until high school. a complete K-12 financial literacy program is still the exception to the rule.
While New York has implemented finance curriculum standards, it still seemed necessary to teach my kids personal finance before high school. After all, it looked like their financial health was on the line. Despite that, that goal isn’t without it’s challenges.
Working Parents Don’t Have the Time
In many cases and my own, parents have been left with the responsibility to teach their children about financial literacy. This can be a real struggle for working parents that only see their children for a few hours each day. They might tell their children the importance of paying bills on time, but they might not give them actual opportunities to manage money.
As an increasing number of transactions are paid with a parent’s credit card, in-person and online, children also don’t have the same opportunity to pay for purchases with cash as previous generations of children have as well. With that in mind, I decided to pay my kids with cash for certain chores. This gives them a little bit of spending power that they earned on their own, and it gives me a way to teach them about money. An actual bank account is down the road a little way!
Despite of everything I try to do, it is still hard to offer them the full education they deserve. Luckily, there are other ways to educate children outside of the home.
Idea: Find a Summer Camp?
One way to educate children on finance is having them attend a finance summer camp. If you haven’t realized it, there is a summer camp for just about everything, not just sports and band practice.
Finance camp can last anywhere from three days to one week. Some camps might even allow students to return for consecutive weekly sessions if they teach different material. Camps are also broken down into different age groups, splitting high school students from middle school students. I may not need this option when my kids get older, but it’s always on the table.
A week-long session would probably cost somewhere in the 100-dollar range. While it’s going to vary considerably, I would expect a camp to cover a variety of topics like starting a micro-business, investing, and money management 101. If you live near a major stock exchange or financial hub, the camp may even decide to take a field trip one day so the children can meet a stockbroker and briefly shadow their every move.
Why Is It Important?
Children need to learn about finance as early as possible. A 4-year-old shouldn’t be expected to understand the benefits of investing. But they can start somewhere. They see their parents shop on a regular basis, and it helps them understand the concept of needing enough money to buy goods.
As children grow, they can learn the value of saving money by clipping coupons, putting money in a bank account, or investing in hypothetical stocks. These are all daily financial activities that children can learn from experience.
By having opportunities to learn about finance as a small child, they will be more prepared for the future when they get their first job as a teenager and are responsible for paying their own bills like car insurance or a cell phone. These lessons can also pay dividends in their adult years when they need to decide for themselves.
While teaching children about finance isn’t easy or emphasized as much as it should be, you can still find opportunities to do so. Even as a working parent, you can have them sit beside you during monthly bills, or you can discuss financial decisions with them.