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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Most schools do not have the luxury of offering a stand-alone Personal Finance course in middle school. We are fortunate at Reading Community City Schools to have a district committed to financial literacy. This year, our board and administration decided to offer Personal Finance in middle school, as well as continuing their graduation commitment to my stand-alone Personal Finance course beginning with the graduation class of 2014. Additionally, we have financial literacy concepts woven into the elementary years.

Taking the First Step

If your students are not receiving the financial education you believe they should, I encourage you to work with your State Jump$tart coalition for advice on how you can make an impact in your own school district. I also suggest writing your legislators and demanding a call to action. Our current economic reality is the evidence we need for financial literacy in schools, and should serve as motivation for our legislators to solve the problem. Be vigilant, our country needs financial education reform.

There are very few middle school stand-alone personal finance courses, but there are plenty of other ways to get it into the curriculum. The coursework can be woven into a number of content areas, and my favorite course for this is math. I suggest checking the Jump$tart website as a reference point for National Standards. For middle school math teachers, I believe The Math Forum @ Drexel is a tremendous resource.

Personal Finance Lessons for Middle School Students

I asked Dr. Valerie Klein for a practical personal finance lesson to incorporate in middle school math. Dr. Klein helped design Financial Education in the Math Classroom, the Math Forum @ Drexel's site designed to showcase valuable problems and tools. "In middle school math, students can explore percents and decimals by practicing comparison-shopping with local advertisements. When looking at repeated addition and multiplication, teachers can look to regular savings, perhaps in terms of a portion of one's paycheck or allowance and examine accumulation overtime, this can also be represented graphically. Once students create their own graphs of savings over time, it's easy to generate further mathematical conversations. Being able to read and compare graphs is an important skill and given the plethora of easily available graphical representations of personal finance topics (student loans, retirement accounts, mortgages, car loans, etc.) it is an accessible area for students to explore real world and complex ideas."

In my next piece, I will provide lesson guidance for the high school years. (Don't miss part one of this blog series, "Financial Literacy for Elementary Students.")

If you are passionate about financial literacy and want to collaborate with fellow educators to bring personal finance into your classroom, please join us on Twitter for our next #FinEdChat on Wednesday, December 7th from 8:30-9:00 pm, ET. Please feel free to vote for our next topic in advance of the chat.

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Kevin's picture

Brian, your blog here is very welcome. I teach math at an Expeditionary Learning school and in considering expeditions (long term problem-based units that pull content into authentic context), I can think of nothing more valuable than having PFL as a backdrop for all the skills in middle school. In fact I don't think as a math teacher that you even need to have a separate class. Investigations whether it be in integers, rational numbers, or linear relationships can find meaningful contexts to kids in the world of money. If authentic context is a key to engaging kids, then getting kids working with their own real money and the implications of their decisions will not only bring out the best in their math skills, but also prepare them with values and decisions about money long before they get into any trouble Bravo for championing the cause. When thinking of what's really important to all students' futures, financial literacy must become a priority in the middle math classroom!

Ruth Adorno's picture
Ruth Adorno
Writer at Golden Financial Services

This article has an important concept tied to it. That is financially educating kids at the middle school level. However the subjects in this article may be too advanced for middle school kids.

At this age, we need to provide these kids with a class on basics such as the importance of having good credit, responsible credit card use, how bad credit can hurt a persons financial well being, etc..

Having a financial class at the middle school level is an outstanding plan. I think every middle school in America should be emailed this article.

Providing kids with more financial education will lead to America having less people in debt, better credit scores and overall a more financially fit economy.

Financial education at this young age is what our society is lacking in.

I will have my company, Golden Financial Services follow you on Twitter and we will be sure to vote on your next topic. We need more influences like you to urge schools to improve their financial education.

I am passionate about this subject because back 10 years ago when I was in school there was very little financial education. I had a 550 credit score 8 years ago because I was irresponsible with my credit.

I finally received basic financial education and I now have close to an 800 credit score.

Emily's picture

Difficulty is for those who didn't try for the thing that they require and easy for those they try . These are key concept of life. No doubt finance lessons are difficult but concentrating on them under specialized person help to explore some new ares and develop some new concepts as greenery is required i today's life.

Love to teach getting some time from office http://www.faradaywestfinance.com.au/ provide me remembrance of my school days.

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