The United States Senate declared April National Financial Literacy Month to dedicate focus on increasing the financial capability of our youth.
The statistics are both staggering and eye-opening:
- More than 1 in 6 students in the U.S. do not reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.
- Nearly 1/4 of millennials spend more than they earn.
- 67% of Gen Y have less than 3 months’ worth of emergency funds.
This is why it is so critical to bring financial literacy content into the classroom. Pathway to Financial Success in Schools is a standards-aligned suite of materials created by Discover Financial Services and Discovery Education that aims to support students, educators, and their families with tools and expertise to make intelligent financial decisions and achieve their personal goals. I gravitated toward this program because the lessons are interactive and are set up in a way that makes it intuitive for teachers to implement. They are broken down into easy to manage sections: Classroom Activities, Family Connections, and Additional Resources.
The curriculum is divided into eight units that cover topics from Being Financially Responsible to Growing and Protecting Your Finances. Each lesson is aligned to standards from the Council for Economic Education. Lessons are laid out with learning objectives, key terms, and handouts for the students. This makes the lessons easy to select and align to state requirements for financial literacy.
The innovative twist on the lessons is the section called “Connect.” Pathway to Financial Success in Schools does an amazing job connecting each lesson to the individual student, related careers, and the outside world. This is a fantastic way to differentiate the lesson and offer a connection to the outside world. The lesson on Understanding Insurance asks students to consider the types of insurance that a student may personally encounter in the future, to think about related careers in insurance, and to consider how policymakers have varying roles with insurance around the world.
Another great feature of these lessons is that some feature a separate “Family Connection” activity to reinforce the topics learned in school outside of the classroom. These connections make the possibilities of extending the lessons endless! Students are challenged to have discussions with their family members to learn more about the topic explored in the classroom. This helps expand the students’ knowledge to peripheral subject areas, generational differences, and helps them develop a deeper understanding of the financial literacy topics, opening the door for further discussions. One of my favorite sets of conversation starters goes along with the lesson on Comparing Job Offers. Students are tasked with discussing first job offers and evolving careers with their family members.
The discussion prompts are given below:
In addition to the standalone lessons, links are provided to other resources and interactives from financial literacy organizations like the FDIC, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Federal Trade Commission, NextGen Personal Finance (NGPF), National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), and the University of Arizona’s Take Charge Today. These resources are invaluable accompaniments to the program. As an educator, I’m always looking for exciting, interactive, and engaging supplements to my classroom activities. I like to keep my students active and give them choice in activities as much as possible. The vetted resources provided by this curriculum is a real time saver for educators! Some of my favorites include:
- The Bean Game (Utah State University Extension)
- The Financial Identity Quiz (National Endowment for Financial Education)
- No Fail Online Banking (NextGen Personal Finance)
- Credit Score Estimator (MyFico)
- Human Capital Infographic (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)
Overall, the curriculum from the Pathway to Financial Success in Schools program is effortless. Each lesson is self-contained and could be added into a growing financial literacy program, or substituted for another lesson within an existing program.