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.