Is elementary school too early to teach kids about being money smart? Research done by Standard & Poor’s in 2019 found that only 57% of adults in America are financially literate. This astoundingly low number highlights one of the missing components of the American public education system: a lack of consistent, complete financial knowledge provided to students. Even if the curriculum in upper grades involves concepts supporting financial literacy, for some students, a lifetime of sound financial practices can actually begin in elementary school.
1. Introduce Budgeting
Kids love to be involved in reaching a goal that rewards them with a treat or something out of the scope of regular life like a special toy or video game. Parents and educators can model and assist with budgeting using allowances, classroom prizes, or other transactional tokens to earn items or experiences they would like.
2. Use Multiplication to Teach About Paying Compounding Interest
Let students work through a real-world problem of wanting to buy something without having enough money. Introduce basic interest through the multiplication equation of interest = principal x rate x time to discover how much extra money is needed when interest is compounded.
3. Use Multiplication to Learn About Earning Compounding Interest
Using the same multiplication concepts, students can also learn about how compounding interest can benefit them. Create a “bank account” for students to practice anticipating how much money they can earn with compounding interest is applied to a savings account.
4. Teach Compounding Interest with a Game
Kids love tangible practices so using a game like Double the Penny is a perfect way to illustrate the growth of compounding interest. Using a jar with a preset amount of change and a worksheet to fill out each day, students double each day’s totals for two weeks to explore compounding interest benefits.
5. Practice Buying on Credit
While elementary students are arguably too young for their own credit cards, they can understand the concept behind buying something by paying out a little or a lot at a time. Using an online credit card comparison tool, students can see early on how having a well-designed card can benefit those in need of making big purchases or be detrimental to increasing debt loads.
6. Create a Savings Thermometer
Utilizing an old-school growing thermometer that is colored in to indicate growth, let elementary-aged kids create a visual representation of savings growth over time.
7. Introduce Savings Accounts
Using an academic lesson plan from Scholastic, show elementary students the differences between savings and checking accounts as well as what Certificates of Deposit are.
8. Play Monopoly
This classic board game is fun for kids of all ages. Students can learn how to budget their money, pay taxes and fees, buy and sell the property as well as how to keep track of their savings along the way. Monopoly is even an excellent tool to use in small doses. Since a game can go on for a long time, playing for a specific goal like only buying as much property as you can provide an opportunity for a more targeted lesson to be understood or practiced.