Kids, cash and classrooms

Since the dawn of time, kids have been lobbing tough questions their parents’ way. Where do babies come from? Why is the sky blue? What does a certain colourful slang word mean? And the questions often come with precision timing, too: right when company is over. But this past month, parents may have noticed some new queries in the mix:

“How much does this cost?”
“How much of your paycheque are you saving?”
“Have you started an RESP for me?”

Enter the stunned parent. Where did all these questions come from? As it turns out, thanks in part to IEF, the source may be Ontario’s educators.

Since 2011, financial literacy has started to make its way into the Ontario school curriculum for grades 4 through 12. This is great news, and potentially a real turning point in the journey toward helping youth become responsible money managers. Of course, that journey starts with training the teachers; so, this past August while students enjoyed their last few weeks of summer vacation, IEF and Ontario teachers were hard at work preparing for the new school year.

IEF brought interested educators together for 3 Financial Literacy Educators’ Summits (FLES) held in Sudbury, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Ottawa, where we showcased our research-based and unbiased Mind Over Money financial lessons and activities. These lessons can be incorporated into nearly every subject at every grade level – because after all, learning about money isn’t just a math exercise. Along with hands-on training, the summits gave teachers the opportunity to hear from experts like Rob Carrick, Alison Griffiths and Preet Banerjee, and to work with leading fellow educators toward tackling financial literacy in the classroom.

The teachers’ enthusiasm, energy and talent are inspiring: they genuinely want your kids (or as many of them put it, “their” kids) to thrive in the real world, and they know that money management skills are a key part of this. All the teachers I spoke with were impressed with the creativity of the Mind Over Money lessons and activities, and couldn’t wait to teach them in their classrooms. One teacher was so motivated to receive financial literacy training that he drove all the way to our Sudbury session when his local Niagara-on-the-Lake summit had sold out.

Take a look at what all the fuss was about:

Now, a month into the school year, the latest Mind Over Money lessons are reaching kids. Schoolchildren in grade 4 are starting with the basics: what money is and how it’s used. Older students learn concepts like saving, budgeting, and even credit card interest rates and investing fundamentals. So if your 8-year-old is suddenly asking how much things cost, your 10-year-old gets curious about your saving habits, or your 14-year-old wants to see an RESP set up in his or her name, you might be seeing the early impact of our work with teachers. You’re also seeing the beginnings of a life of understanding and implementing good money management.

It’s a great thing when your kids turn to you for answers – it shows you’re their greatest influence, and it’s an opportunity to teach them lifelong skills. But if you’re unsure what to say or haven’t had “the talk” yet, check out our resources for speaking to your kids about money.

Teachers are working passionately to get children on a bright financial path – let’s be sure to support them.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

Tom Hamza
Investor Education Fund

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