For years, many students received very little in terms of practical teaching — especially in math. Now, some school boards are trying to guide their students to better financial literacy.
This is a significant step toward genuine life skills that can help prepare kids for the future.
The Importance of Practical Life Skills
When many people have finished their education, they may feel very unprepared to face the world.
There is no teaching about budgeting, saving, credit, managing stress, or even how to put together a resume.
Walking into a first job interview can be a nightmare, as many find they don't how to prepare, conduct themselves, or know what questions to ask.
Then there’s the massive financial setback that most students face. It’s still crazy that 18-year-olds can just go into university and gain absolutely crippling debt without being prepared.
When, and if, you graduate — and God-forbid you can actually find a job — how do you navigate the world of finances?
Some school boards are trying to help give kids a leg-up on this.
The curriculum will now include practical math that can be put to use in real life. This will start as soon as they enter high school.
Students will learn things like how to apply for a mortgage. They will also learn more about loans and interest.
And here’s a big one: they will learn about debt — and more importantly — how to pay it off.
I wish I had received some knowledge of this, as it would have saved me a lot of disaster in my early 20s.
Starting Financial Literacy at a Younger Age
Some school boards in Canada are starting to tech financial literacy starting in the lower grades.
They are taught about currency and some financial management. This becomes even more important as we move away from physical money.
Many people don't use paper notes, and kids in the future will probably rarely see them.
Our money is earned digitally, transferred digitally, and spent digitally. It’s hard to gain a true understanding of what you have when it’s just represented by digits on a screen.
When you hold money, there’s a little more sense of its value.
Now, we just have to tap to instantly spend and transfer funds. It’s almost like it doesn’t really exist, and gaining some financial management is extremely important.
The Importance of Consumer Awareness
Teaching consumer awareness is another big part of the curriculum.
Learning how to navigate any kind of retail helps kids to understand how we can be taken advantage of financially in retail settings.
The curriculum will have students analyze a variety of financial situations to explain how mathematics can be applied.
They will also be taught about how interest rates work, and various other factors that can affect purchases.
It doesn’t get more practical than that.
Some school districts are even teaching kids how to read a review on a product and whether or not they should buy it.
Students as low as the fourth grade are being taught these extremely valuable lessons on basic risk and cost-benefit analysis.
Since we pretty much live online, simple review analysis can help kids become better consumers.
Just teaching the difference between “wants” and “needs” may go a long way.
An easy dismissal of this is to think that kids will just not care about financial literacy at a young age. They may just zone out.
But you can argue that it wouldn’t be any different from the number of kids who probably zone out during trigonometry and algebra.
When math like this can become more personal and practical, there may be a better chance of having it stick.
When kids can visualize the situation — and put themselves into it — it may resonate more.
A lot of people could have benefited from this growing up.
There may also be the thought that this should be left up to the parents. The problem is, kids might not have parents able to teach this sort of thing.
They may be in poor financial situations themselves and just trying to get out of it.
As kids, we spent 8 hours a day in school. Many spend more time with teachers than they do with their parents.
This seems like the perfect opportunity to teach more practical life skills.
Hopefully, this is something that is happening more across the board to give kids every advantage possible.
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