Financial Literacy Makes School Relevant

In this installment of Schools That Work, we visit Ariel Community Academy, a public K-8 school on the South Side of Chicago. They have been having remarkable success thanks to a number of effective strategies, particularly their financial literacy program. Among their alumni, 97 percent have graduated from high school and 65 percent are now in college.

By Mariko Nobori

"Who remembers the sign for 'needs?'" a teacher asks a class of first graders. Little hands shoot up to form peaked roofs over their heads.

"Right! And how about the sign for 'wants?'"

This time, with their palms up and fingers forming W's, they curl their fingers towards themselves in a "gimme" gesture. "Good!" the teacher responds. "Now I'm going to show you some things and you tell me with your hands if they're needs or wants." She shows them a picture of a puppy. Most students identify the dog as a want. But one boy raises his hand and notes that if the puppy were a seeing-eye dog, it would be a need for a blind person.

This is how educators at Ariel Community Academy, on the South Side of Chicago, teach financial literacy and critical thinking to their K-8 students -- by emphasizing the analysis and critical thinking that are essential to making good decisions about money. (Read more…)

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