One of our Thinking Maps consultantâ€™s husband authors Financial Literacy curriculum and provides training. Over the years we have had many conversations about the disconnect between parents and their children regarding financial understanding. His research shows that money is a â€śtabooâ€ť topic for most American families. In fact, while growing up, I donâ€™t recall conversations about money with my own parents but feel that it is imperative that I have them with my kids.
As we watch some of the election coverage, one issue that political candidates debate is our countryâ€™s debt. My teenage kids inquired about this term. It was while I was beginning to explain the word that I realized their world is filled with parents, and even peers, paying for everything via a plastic card. In their elementary school experience they were part of efforts to move to a cash-less society. Students were assigned a card or ID number, and that is how they paid for lunch. If they brought money to pay for lunch they did not receive change (lunch was $1.75), but rather the cafeteria would credit the balance to their account. If we owed money because we did not prepay enough we would receive an automated phone call on Sunday evenings reminding us of the obligation. Needless to say, I think my kids are now beginning to understand the concept of debt.
Just recently I was working with my son on some problem-solving questions. One dealt with profit and estimating costs for materials/ingredients to make cupcakes. He looked at me perplexed even though I knew he understood the underlying math concepts. Â He was not familiar with the words profit or actual costs. But of course, why should he be familiar with these terms? There is nothing presently in his reality that would justify him knowing this. Of course, this lead to a teachable moment for me and another glazed-eye expression from him (It is at these times as a parent that I truly wish a thought-bubble would magically appear above my kidâ€™s head so I know exactly what he is thinking.). It was after I explained to him in a simplistic form what profit and cost were that he was able to move forward with solving the problem.
There is a similar type of problem that we showcase in our Thinking Maps Day 1 trainings to demonstrate how to break apart a problem using a Brace Map. Students add a Frame of Reference to identify mathematical concepts they need to understand to solve this problem. For so many educators, the idea of a tip is not foreign BUT for so many students this may not be part of their reality.
So many financial literacy moments are present in our math curriculum, however, I am challenged
once again both as a parent and an educator to begin having those â€śtabooâ€ť conversations with my own kids about money. Â As we move to Common Core State Standards ,there does not appear to be any specific focus on financial literacy. It is imperative that math educators (and parents) make certain that we include those conversations as part of teaching our standards. They donâ€™t necessarily need to be separate, unique lessons but rather imbed these concepts so that they become more of the studentâ€™s reality.
What financial lessons have you learned along the way through educators or parents? What financial literacy components have you added to your curriculum?