April is Financial Literacy Month (also known as Financial Capability Month) and the perfect way to celebrate, especially as we enter the spring, is to explore new ideas and tools that empower students and families during these wild economic times. What has now become a month-long event, started as Youth Financial Literacy Day, which was first introduced by the National Endowment for Financial Education. In 2000, Jump$tart Coalition took over the planning and in 2004, transitioned it from a one-day event to an entire month, as a way to raise awareness about financial literacy and promote financial education through financial literacy activities, games, and more. In this post, we’ll show you financial literacy month ideas you can apply in your classroom.
Learning about finances in schools has not always been a requirement and it is one area that I wish that I had more preparation with as a student in high school and even in college. Students were divided into learning tracks, Business, Career, and Technical, or College Prep in my high school. Being enrolled in the college prep courses, left little, if any time, for students to enroll in courses that taught them how to plan a budget, balance a checkbook, or set up bank accounts or even start a business. The closest that we had to learn about anything involving finances was through our economics course and that provided only a very limited opportunity to learn about one aspect of finances in the world.
Especially as we are seeing new ways to exchange money and we’re learning more about the increased presence and use of NFTs and cryptocurrency, helping students to understand what these mean and how to make the best decisions for their finances is important. The way that the financial system looks now is very different from 10 years ago, and we cannot predict how much it will continue to change. This is why it’s important that all students have access to learning experiences that will provide them with a greater understanding of personal finances and how the financial world works.
In our schools
Today, many students are finding that a course in financial literacy is becoming part of their high school curriculum. Some schools have now included financial literacy or personal finance courses as part of their graduation requirement. As of last year, 27 states require schools to offer a personal finance course, with 15 states requiring students take a financial literacy course to graduate. Students from elementary school through high school can get involved in learning activities that help them to develop a greater awareness and understanding of what financial literacy means such as:
- Preparing themselves when it comes to finances
- Planning a budget
- Exploring entrepreneurship
- Applying for loans
- Filing taxes appropriately
Why is Financial Literacy Important For Students?
Financial literacy is an essential skill for everyone. It is important that we create opportunities for our students in our schools now so that they graduate, all having had the access to the right learning opportunities and preparation for whatever they will need in their future. How many times in your adult life have you said, “I wish I learned this in school”?
How To Integrate Financial Topics Into Your Classroom
Learning about financial literacy should not be something specific to simply one course. Regardless of grade level or content area, we can create opportunities for students to learn how to be financially literate. Here are a few financial literacy month activities you can try tomorrow:
Elementary Financial Literacy Activities [Grades 3-5]
Did you know that financial attitudes, habits, and norms develop the most during the ages of 6-12? Do you remember shopping in the grocery store reading prices or tagging along to the bank to deposit a check? These are all the start of building financial habits even if we didn’t know it! One of the greatest activities you can do with your elementary students is working on the concept of wants vs needs. Check out the lessons in Vault-Understanding Money to do just that while even exploring career options and supporting others through charities.
Middle School Financial Literacy Activities [Grades 6-8]
Students at this age are learning independence and crafting their identities so they can hone in on what activities and futures they want to pursue. It’s also the perfect age to embed financial literacy activities and project-based learning into your career lessons or even social studies activities. One idea comes from FutureSmart’s Building a Business lesson – students have the opportunity to see what all goes into budgeting and marketing for a business all through simulated experiences. Take this digital learning off-screen and have students create their own business. It’s amazing to see what they can create and how many ‘a-ha’ moments arise!
High School Financial Literacy Activities [Grades 9-12]
For many high school students, this is where reality kicks in that soon enough you’ll be deciding what the next steps out of high school are, that W-2 you receive will need to be part of your yearly taxes, and opening a loan at some point in your life will most likely happen. From math and business classes to advisory periods, there’s a way to seamlessly integrate financial education but why not start with what your students want to know first? Provide them the opportunity to select from a variety of topics [banking, entrepreneurship, using payment apps, the stock market, etc] and give them the tools they need to dive deeper into the concepts they are most interested in. Not only does this create buy-in from your students but they become the experts to teach others how to set up successful pathways.
Financial Literacy Learning With EVERFI
There are also many resources out there that make it easy for teachers to provide valuable lessons for students. EVERFI offers completely free-of-cost financial literacy courses to help teachers get started with exactly what they need to provide the best learning experience for students in the classroom. In the past school year alone, EVERFI has expanded upon their robust offering with several new, free courses, including SmartEconomics, Accounting Careers: Limitless Opportunities, Build: Credit Fundamentals, and Crypto Foundations, aimed to keep students financial knowledge growing in the constantly evolving personal finance landscape.
The financial literacy courses are self-paced and adapted for students in elementary, middle, or high school. Not only do the courses guide students through concepts in a gamified related way but you as the educator have access to lesson plans, curriculum guides, Pear Deck’s, and more to extend upon their learning.
Looking to increase your own financial knowledge for personal growth or to feel better prepared in the classroom? EVERFI has several tools to support you and your families. Find on-demand webinars for PD credits, adult learning modules, and local implementation support – all for free.
Financial literacy is an essential skill for everyone. It is important that we create opportunities for our students in our schools now so that they graduate, all having had the access to the right learning opportunities and preparation for whatever they will need in their future. Use these Financial Literacy Month activities to take the first step this April.
Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.
She is the author of seven books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU”, “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Things I Wish […] Knew” is now available at bit.ly/thingsiwishedu.