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Financial Literacy in Schools: How to Advocate for Better Education

Hey parents!

Welcome to an important conversation about something that's often overlooked but incredibly crucial: financial literacy in schools. We all want our kids to succeed, right? Well, understanding money is a big part of that equation. In this article, we'll explore why financial literacy matters, the current state of financial education in schools, and most importantly, how you can advocate for better financial education for your children and their peers.

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Why Financial Literacy Matters

Empowering Kids for Life

Financial literacy isn't just about knowing how to keep more money in the bank than we spend. Financial literacy can enable an entire life full of dreams and possibilities, while financial illiteracy can do the exact opposite.

I think we owe it to the next generation of kids to give them as much information and opportunity as possible. As many people know, it’s extremely hard to chase your dreams when you’re drowning in debt, or worried about making rent next month, or any number of other issues that can arise from poor financial planning.

According to research from Junior Achievement and Citizens, over half of high-schoolers feel unprepared for their financial future. This causes undue stress, when the answer is relatively easy…teach the basics of personal finance in schools.

The Current State of Financial Education

The Gaps in the System

75% of U.S. students do not have financial education as a guaranteed course in their high school. Now, this is somewhat of an exciting number, because as recently as 2016 it was 84% of students who didn’t have an opportunity to learn finance in school. There’s been a recent push over the last decade or so to get financial literacy into schools, and according to Next Gen Personal Finance, 24.6% of all high school students in 2023 will attend a school that has personal finance as a mandatory course for graduation.

We are making great strides in this regard, however we think that it’s just a baby step. We know that kids start picking up on financial concepts as early as 6 years old. If children are starting to understand money in 1st grade, why aren’t we teaching them in 1st grade?

Challenges Faced by Students

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We advocate for financial courses in schools because not every family has the ability or knowledge around personal finance to pass along to their children. By putting courses into schools, we ensure that everyone gets an equal start to learning, and that everyone has an equal chance to build on their financial literacy classes to become financially independent or free! In other words, we don’t advocate an equality of outcome, but we absolutely advocate for an equality of start; and by placing financial literacy courses into schools (as early as elementary school), we are giving all of the next generation an equal start in their financial literacy journey.

Advocating for Financial Literacy in Schools

Understanding the Curriculum

Take a closer look at what your child is learning in school. Is there a dedicated financial literacy course? Many schools teach financial literacy as part of other courses, often social studies. We think that’s totally fine if there’s plans to build on it. For instance, if there’s coursework in 1st - 8th grade, then it’s ok to break all the concepts up into smaller sections for each year!

The Ideal financial education includes concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and understanding credit. If these areas are lacking, it’s time to advocate for a more comprehensive curriculum. Obviously these are just the bare minimum items we would want to see every kids taught, but it’s a start!

Engaging with School Authorities

Communication is key. Schedule meetings with teachers and administrators. Don’t be afraid to attend your public school board meetings and raise financial literacy as a concern. Discuss your concerns and share your insights on the importance of financial education. When they see that parents are invested, schools are more likely to make positive changes.

Raising Community Awareness

Knowledge is power. Organize workshops in your community to spread awareness about the importance of financial literacy. The more people understand this need, the stronger our collective voice becomes in advocating for change.

Supporting Financial Education at Home

While schools play a significant role, don’t underestimate the power of home education. Teach your kids about money. Make it fun – create games, set up a family budgeting activity, or involve them in your financial decisions. Practical, hands-on learning goes a long way.

Building a Supportive Network

Connect with other parents who share your concerns. Online forums, social media groups, or local community events can help you exchange ideas and strategies. Together, we can amplify our voices and create a demand for better financial education.

Overcoming Challenges

Addressing Resistance

Change is often met with resistance. Be prepared to face opposition. Be prepared with knowledge and statistics about the benefits of financial education. Show them the success stories from schools where financial literacy programs have made a difference.

Staying Persistent

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and advocating for change takes time. Stay persistent. Keep attending meetings, keep talking, keep sharing. Your dedication will inspire others and keep the momentum going.

Inspiring Change

Let’s celebrate the schools and communities where financial literacy programs have made a real impact. These success stories inspire others and prove that change is not only possible but also incredibly beneficial for our children’s future.

In conclusion, advocating for financial literacy in schools is not just a task for educators and policymakers. It’s a responsibility we all share as parents. By understanding the gaps, engaging with schools, raising awareness, supporting education at home, and building a strong network, we can make a difference.

Remember, our kids deserve the best possible start in life, and financial literacy is an essential part of that journey. Let’s join hands and advocate for a brighter, financially literate future for our children. Together, we can make it happen!


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