Financial literacy skills are essential to have when students enter the real world.
If a student chooses to attend college, the debt compounded from university and other needs can put them at a big financial deficit before they get their first job. Basic financial skills such as saving and budgeting can do wonders for students hoping to offset their student loans or other expenses.
Even if students don’t attend college, financial literacy skills are essential to navigating young adulthood successfully.
It’s never too soon to introduce the basics of financing to students. Here are four easy ways you can incorporate financial literacy into your curriculum.
Comparison shopping is an easy way to help students understand what real-world items cost - and how to manage those costs. In addition, comparison shopping on a budget can help students understand wants versus needs.
Classroom grocery shopping is a straightforward way to get started. Assign students a hypothetical allowance and a list of food items they need to “purchase” for a meal or recipe. Then, have students browse real grocery store websites. By searching for food items and comparing the cost of different brands, students can learn how much certain items cost, and how those goods may or may not fit into their budget.
Allowing young students to grocery shop with play food items right in the classroom can teach basic money skills in a fun and interactive way. Make sure your students get a grocery store feel by adding price stickers and a cash register. Encourage students to think about what they can buy in the moment with classroom money.
Budget management worksheets
Budget management is an essential component to financial literacy, and can help students understand how to organize and set aside expenses for housing, food, transportation and entertainment as young adults.
Find a simple budget planning worksheet (check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for worksheets and other budget-planning tools) and assign students a hypothetical monthly income. For example: a low-income or high-income based on typical people in your area.
Walk students through the different types of expenses they can expect to manage in the real world, like transportation or healthcare.
Budget planning can help students understand how to best allocate money and plan for expenses based on a monthly income.
Money themed play
There are lots of ways to incorporate money themed play into the classroom to boost financial literacy.
For example, money themed board games can teach young students basic money skills in a fun and collaborative way. Ideal for small groups, most money themed board games involve counting, collecting and exchanging money all the way to the finish line.
Or, fill a classroom money jar with fake coins and bills and have students guess the amount inside the jar. The student with the closest estimate wins a prize.
For young students, a classroom money kit is great to have on hand for dramatic play in a classroom storefront or kitchen.
Teaching the concept of investment doesn’t have to be complicated.
Take advantage of investment game worksheets to get started. For example, this worksheet gives students the option to “purchase” shares of a tech company for $100 each and play out scenarios that affect the company’s stock price.
For more advanced learning, encourage students to explore a free stock market stimulator like TradingKart. Students get virtual cash and can test their trading skills by investing in different industries and seeing if they get a return on their investment.
Stock market stimulators are a fun yet safe way for students to learn the inherent risks associated with investing - and whether those risks are worth the possible rewards.
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