Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Never too early! First-graders learn money skills

Never too early! First-graders learn money skills
‘We’re changing lives,’ official says about Memphis program

The smart young savers in Kimberly Britt's first-grade class at Richland Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn., may not be able to spell "entrepreneur" yet, but she's teaching each one of them how to become one.

Budding restaurateurs, cat sitters and dog walkers, these 6- and 7-year-olds are also learning the difference between "needs vs. wants" and determining the "opportunity cost" of their economic decisions.

Watch Teaching Value of a Dollar video:

Britt reads a story about a young girl having to choose between using money she earned dog walking to buy a new vest or a bike. Camille Clippinger, 6, says she understands why the girl decided to just decorate her old vest so she could save the money for a shiny new two-wheeler.

"She didn't have enough money so she had to get one or the other," Clippinger says.
Clippinger and her classmates are learning the importance of saving, budgeting and entrepreneurship through a program called Smart Tennessee. In the past four years, the program has reached more than 70,000 students statewide in first through eighth grades.

"We're the only state that does a systematic, comprehensive approach starting in first grade, and going all the way up," says University of Memphis economist Julie Heath, who created the program. "I think we're changing lives."

Tennessee is one of only 13 states in the country that requires students take a personal finance course to graduate from high school. But Heath says it's important not to wait that long.

"We treat economic and financial literacy like reading literacy. You start early in the primary grades and build a foundation," says Heath. "Economic and financial literacy ... is not just an educational issue, it's an economic development issue."

Sharon Epperson

No comments: