by Beth Kotz
The typical high school curriculum covers a tremendous breadth of information on a wide range of topics, yet personal finance is rarely among them.
Considering many high school students will soon be college students, ready to take on student loans, open bank accounts and learn how credit cards work, perhaps it’s time that money management takes on a more prominent role in high school classes.
If you’d like to incorporate personal finance into your lesson plans, here are seven free resources to help get you started.
Practical Money Skills
It’s no secret that students learn more effectively when they’re excited and engaged with a lesson, and the Practical Money Skills website tries to boost engagement by wrapping its lessons into slick, interactive games that cater to students of all ages. All the basic skills of financial literacy are covered, from simple money management to good debt practices, and the site also features additional educational materials and resources. Grade-appropriate lesson plans are also available for teachers.
The brainchild of Brian Page, a nationally-recognized personal finance and economics teacher from Ohio, FinEdChat is an effort to boost engagement and encourage financial literacy education. The centerpiece of this effort is the FinEdChat blog, which features an abundance of useful information and resources for teachers interested in incorporating financial education into their lesson plans. Page also operates the informative FinEdChat Twitter account, and the “#FinEdChat” hashtag makes it easy to keep track of the latest developments in financial education at the high school level.
Sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission, OnGuardOnline offers a powerful toolkit aimed at educating students on how to protect themselves and their sensitive information online. Students can play games that teach them how to recognize phishing attacks, how to respond to a hacking attempt and how to differentiate between what information is and isn’t safe to share. The site also provides educators with a variety of games, lesson plans and other tools to use in the classroom and share with parents and the community at large.
Few things are more important to a child’s financial future than learning how to create and manage a budget. As an educator, you can use budget simulators to teach the importance of creating a budget, balancing a checkbook and handling other important duties in a fun and engaging way. Budget Challenge offers a comprehensive simulation that accomplishes just that, and it even includes a mobile app so students can stay engaged on the go.
Financial Literacy Month
Created by a group of financial experts at Money Management International, Financial Literacy Month is a 30-day program intended to give people of all ages the tools needed to lead a successful financial life. Although Financial Literacy Month officially begins on April 1, the 30-step program can be incorporated into a curriculum at any time of the year to serve as a roadmap to financial literacy. The initiative also includes an assortment of worksheets, educational materials and even a personalized certificate to keep students motivated.
Finance in the Classroom
Though originally created by the Utah State Board of Education, Finance in the Classroom is a versatile resource for teachers, students and parents across the country. The website provides an assortment of course outlines, activities, lesson plans and other resources for teachers as well as interactive games and other tools for students from kindergarten through grade 12. For teachers in Utah, the platform also includes professional development tools, boot camps and other activities.
Online Personal Finance Games
Surveys have shown that more than 91 percent of children play video games, making games an exceptionally useful platform for reaching students and engaging them directly with their lessons. Personal finance games like those from Commonwealth, Gen i Revolution and Practical Money Skills turn games into powerful teaching tools to educate students on everything from basic accounting and budgeting to investment and retirement savings.
Though an increasing number of states are beginning to require some form of personal finance education at the high school level, many high schoolers still graduate without having obtained the skills necessary to manage their finances. Educators are in a great position to make an impact and teach financial literacy, but they need the tools to do it effectively. The free resources above provide exactly that, offering games, activities, plans and other information that will engage students and leave them far better equipped to handle the world that awaits after graduation.
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.