Even though the responsibility does not fall on them.
I have two kids in elementary school and one in high school.
I am constantly giving them money or helping them count money for things they need to buy at school.
There is a student store in elementary and high school.
There are fundraisers that they have to create a plan for depending on the prize they want to earn.
There are activities that they have to pay for if they want to participate.
When they learn about math in elementary school they learn about money.
This helps supplement what caregivers should be teaching at home.
Like many, I did not learn about personal finance at home. I wish that my parents were provided with opportunities to learn about personal finance so that they could have shown me these important life skills before I turned 18.
Our demand for schools to provide more financial education to students is misplaced. Let’s not spend millions of dollars on creating a curriculum for something that should be taught at home.
Can schools do better?
Students should be more involved in activities that are already taking place in school. Allowing space for them at the planning table as well as the debriefing. Let them take the lead in planning fundraisers, letting them handle the cash register at the book fair and other school fundraisers; with adult supervision. Currently, these activities are led by the PTA (adults). Students are usually given the responsibility of being the ushers at these events. We do not let them handle cash. Why?
If schools would release some control and be more inclusive of students in money-related projects there is much to be learned about personal finance. From seeing how money is earned to deciding how to spend it. To be more specific, students as early as elementary could learn about budgeting, making financial goals, saving, and investing. These are all essential life skills that can be taught by participating in real experiences, not sitting in a personal finance class. Children learn by doing.
There is no new curriculum that needs to be created. Personal Finance is common sense and simple. We overcomplicate it by not talking about it and not being transparent. Let students be at the table. They are the ones at the receiving end.
My last point for not formalizing personal finance education in schools is that all families handle money differently. It can be as sensitive as one’s personal morals and values. If schools begin to embed personal finance curriculums in schools that may conflict with cultural beliefs.
Therefore, I believe that the focus should be on the caregivers. Offer financial education for them. Help them learn how to budget, make goals, invest, save and identify their personal values so that they can teach these skills to their children.
Schools are meant to support the family unit, yet often struggle in this area. This is a great opportunity for family engagement at the school level. When families are involved in their child’s education the outcomes are better for all; the community, school, and home.