Do you know what your kids are learning in school? There’s more going on than reading, writing and arithmetic. A new program is helping some students become financially fit.
“Nothing is free. Everything costs money,” says Betty McMurray, Financial Fitness coordinator.
One of the best lessons you can learn in life is now being taught in school. The Chicago Public School system is testing a new program designed by the University of Illinois at Chicago for kids in kindergarten through grade five.
“It’s really becoming essential for kids to learn at a very young age the fundamentals of personal finance,” says Elizabeth Handlin, Federal Reserve of Chicago.
But do kids this young really understand what money is?
“They’re understanding that they need it to survive. And they’re understanding that they need to save some of it. In some of our prior lessons. They’re you need to put away some now in order to have something later,” McMurray says.
“What I basically see is that they know what the word money means and they’re excited about the word money. Dollars they’re excited about. The word finance, they’re not too sure about,” says Shelton Flowers, principal of King Elementary.
What are kids learning about money?
“I learned that you should save money and not spend it,” says Pamela Payne, student.
Of course, spending it is a lot more fun. But these kinds do seem to be learning about delayed gratification or as was the lesson the say I visited the school, opportunity cost.
“How much have you saved toward your laptop computer,” Ilyce asked.
“$20, but I still got a lot to go because they cost like $200,” says Marcos Gonzalez, student.
Financial experts say learning to make smart money choices now, will help turn these kids into adults who save rather than run up credit card debt.
“Kids have so many more choices than they did even five years ago. And the sooner they learn to manage their money and make good choices with their money, the better chance they have to start their young adulthood with a clean slate,” Handlin says.
“I think one of the biggest problems in our society is that we’re either afraid or embarrassed to talk to each other about money. We just assume it’s something you’re going to learn from your parents or your family or someone later on and we see the results of that in our culture. People who are adults don’t know how to manage money,” says Judy Rice, City Treasurer.
But if you start the lessons in kindergarten, children have the best chance of growing up money smart.
The Financial Fitness program is being piloted in 12 city schools. The Chicago Public School Board hopes to expand the program next year.