Teaching students about finances is huge. If you didn’t get a chance to read the previous post, you can check it out here. In this post we are going to break down what aspect of finances we can teach and also look at developing an economy system for your class.
Components of Financial Literacy
If you spend time on Google™, checking all the financial websites, you can find several answers to what defines financial literacy. As we are looking at elementary students, we are going to keep it simple, focusing on 3 areas:
Within all of this is the question, what is money? Depending on what country you reside in, money can look different. Even here in North America, there are US currency, Canadian currency, Mexican currency and potentially 20 more currencies from the other countries on this continent.
What is Money?
When teaching finances to students, we often start with money, learning the value and names of coins. But what is money? Money is the item or currency that is being exchanged. It’s what people use to buy things, such as groceries, homes, clothing, etc. I often talk about exchange of good. When Europeans came to Canada, there were a lot of exchanges with the Indigenous people, to the point that trading posts were created. Many people continue to use the bartering system. Do our students understand the value of money?
Use An Economy System to Teach Finances to Students
Early on in my teaching career, I began having a jar full of dollar store items that the students could purchase. I would give students opportunities within class to earn “hoot loot” (teach the slang words for money) and watch as students grow from spending to saving up for something. It is one of the most commented upon topics from the parents.
How Do Students Earn Hoot Loot?
- weekly classroom job
- finding mistakes I’ve made
- work beyond expectation
- their own contributions to the Hoot Loot Jar – students donate, set their own price
- being ready at their desks before the 2nd bell rings – this improved attendance tremendously!
There are many who will not agree to paying students “money” and my response is “You Do You!” I use the analogy of work as a job. You don’t do the work, you don’t get paid. I am fully aware that intrinsic motivation might be stifled, but what the “experts” don’t see are the conversations, the community building, the growth of understanding value students experience with this economy system. Students donating to the hoot loot jar was their idea. I’ve seen students buy gifts for the family and for each other in the class. Again, you do you.
Do you use an economy system in your classroom? I would love to hear what you do.
There is still a few things I want to address but you’ll have to wait for the next post (cliff hanger!).