- Make it easy. Few of us have the extra time, energy or budget to implement an entirely new class so it’s important to find a natural fit for financial literacy within the work you’re already doing. English class can include essays about what money means to your students, family and consumer science students can practice creating a family budget, geography students can research currency around the world and discuss the ways different cultures view money. Finances affect many aspects of our lives so it’s a natural fit to teach these concepts in a variety of subjects.
- Choose the right words. Using the right words can make or break a money lesson. If talking about money is hard or boring for your students, changing the way you talk about it may gain you more buy-in.
Be creative – especially with certain financial concepts that have gotten a bad name. Give money terminology a fresh perspective with some positive wordplay.
Budgets mean restriction for a lot of people so instead call it a spending plan, focusing on most students’ love of spending. Instead of an emergency fund, try relaxation fund. Talking about emergencies may automatically make someone feel tense, focus instead on how being prepared helps stressful situations not seem so bad.
- Get students involved. If you’re met with blank stares when talking emergency funds or retirement, let your students feed you concepts that make managing money more relevant to them. Instead of providing an example of an emergency, ask your students what would be a financial emergency for them and then explore the topic from there.
- Think outside the financial box. Some concepts may be harder to grasp than others. When faced with a challenging money concept think in terms that aren’t financial. Take opportunity cost for example; opportunity cost is the next best thing you didn’t choose. Ask your students what their two favorite foods are. Then ask, if they could only eat one for an entire week, which they would choose. The option they didn’t pick is their opportunity cost.
Money can be very personal and elicit an emotional response. By practicing concepts without using money, it may allow them to look at it more objectively. Once they’re comfortable thinking about money concepts in other terms, it will be easier for them to apply it to their finances.
- Make it personal. If the subject doesn’t feel relevant to our situation, we’re less likely to pay attention and take it to heart. Finding ways to make managing money relevant to our students is key in helping to create lessons that will last a lifetime.
When talking about issues that are far in your student’s future, like retirement, ask them to picture someone close to them that’s close to retirement age – parents, grandparents, a coach or favorite teacher. Once they can put a face to the situation it may feel more important and interesting to them.