You can’t teach kids about money, unless you make good financial decisions too! Every time, you spend, save, invest or even make decisions about money, you are demonstrating to your children what they should do. By the time they grow up, they have seen you make thousands of transactions and it becomes the only experience they know for them. I still this is still true, but it is not too late to fix it!
“Whether you want to or not, you do serve as a role model” for your children! (Brooks Robinson American Baseball player) As parents, we often share our values and try to teach your children right from wrong. As hard as you try, it is ironic that they learn much more from what you do versus what you may say to them. All children and particularly teenagers watch and listen to what you are doing. What are you showing your children?
Consequences or experience is the best teacher!
I recently read a New York Times article called Class Field Trip Stops at a Local Pawnshop. A Personal finance teacher wanted his students to experience what it is like if you do not live within your means. They experienced what it is like to go to a pawn shop, check cashing facility, Payday center, collateral loans or rent to own store. This has much more impact than some artificial classroom lesson! This is a real life lesson.
The students learned about sky high interest rates, prices and consequences firsthand. You can talk about these consequences similar to a parent telling their children about them or actually experience them. Field trips allow students to experience lessons rather than just listening to them. It links what they learned in personal finance with the consequence if they do not live within their means.
As an experienced teacher, I find that field trips or real life experiences add a great deal to lessons. Some may even say that it is much better than a lesson. I think it is best to have both! You still need to teach, guide, explain, show, coach, train young people and definitely model financially responsible behavior. Experiences enhance the lesson or allow the young people to participate in the lesson which gives meaning to learning.
Field trips work!
I remember taking a class to a Pepsi distributor to learn about interviewing and some entry level jobs. Of course the students enjoyed finding out that they could have all the drinks they wanted. During the morning session, they happen to see job candidates waiting to be interviewed dressed in suits. The jobs were $9 an hour jobs and the candidates were dressed up and ready for an interview. They learned a lot from that experience.
Years ago, I took a class to Junior Achievement Finance Park. It starts with a four-week classroom curriculum that culminates with a day at Junior Achievement Finance Park. Students participate in a reality based decision-making process addressing individual and family budgeting, including housing, transportation, food, utilities, health care, investments, philanthropy and banking.
It is an opportunity for the students to put into use what they learned in the classroom. Two weeks of classroom follow-up allows students to use their new financial knowledge to explore career options and set future goals. It is the best way to apply their skills and reinforce those skills in a dynamic environment. This a great way for the students to see how their choices will impact their financial wellbeing.
I remember school trips to the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve of New York which made quite an impression on me. I remember my parent’s taking me to their bank and the branch manager giving me a tour. It probably helped that I was interested in these kinds of things, but nevertheless the exposure had impact. Experiencing the lesson is the best way to learn!
In my personal finance class, I used some banker volunteers to teach them about business plans. The class finished the lessons with a competition with prizes and recognition. The entire class went on a field trip to the bank and each department explained what they did. It was probably the first time they ever went into a bank. In addition, they learned much more by finding out what they did beside fill the ATM.
It would be great if every parent would teach their children about personal finance. Better yet, it would be more helpful if ever school had a personal finance class. Very few parents and even fewer schools offer this kind of training! Parents should model financial responsibility and help their children by exposing to experiences that will help them be responsible adults. You can’t teach kids about money, unless you make good financial decisions too!
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