Teaching financial literacy to Tennessee school children

Published 1:57 pm Friday, April 26, 2024

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As educators in your community, we see more than concerns in the classroom. We see families struggling to live month to month. We see people going into debt over emergencies because they simply don’t have enough saved to help them recover. Most importantly, we see the stress financial strains put on families. Financial stability begins with understanding basic concepts around money, such as saving, spending, and borrowing. Children develop financial mindsets and habits by watching how adults manage their money. For this reason, each of us is committed to teaching your children financial literacy concepts.

We want to break the cycle of financial stress by helping your children better understand finances before they reach an age where money decisions can positively or negatively impact the rest of their lives. We utilize resources provided by the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission. The Commission provides grade-level appropriate tools and training to bring financial concepts into our regular lesson plans for students in Kindergarten through Middle School. We use coins and dollars for teaching math concepts, allowing students to learn the value of money along with arithmetic. We use books about spending and saving for reading and language arts. Social studies lessons become a great way to teach children how our society has moved from bartering to cash to credit. Even the behavioral management system used in the classroom becomes a way to teach children how they are part of an economy.

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When we incorporate financial lessons into our teaching standards, we see increased engagement from our students. We use these learning moments to teach finances, because we know even small changes in money management can have significant impact over the life of the child. And as a bonus, we’ve heard from parents that children who understand the difference between wants and needs are easier to reason with at the grocery store check-out! 

We are proud to support the work of the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission by serving as members of its Distinguished Educator Council. We are a group of educators who are passionate about financial literacy. By sharing our own experiences teaching financial literacy, we help the Commission identify areas of improvement to equip educators with high-quality financial education resources for their classrooms.

Please join us in our mission to reduce financial stress for families in our communities by committing to work in small ways to teach our children about money. Resources and training are available to you when you are ready to use them. Visit TNFLC.org to learn which resources will work best in your classrooms.

The TNLFC Distinguished Educator Council is composed of: Kara Campbell, Jefferson Elementary, Jefferson County Schools; Angie Dahle, Family Engagement Liaison, McMinn County Schools; Dr. Stacey Fisher, Professor of Literacy in K-5 Cohorts, East TN State University; Shelly Lott, Related Arts Teacher, Northeast Middle School, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools; Candiace Osborne, School Counselor, Berclair Elementary, Memphis-Shelby County Schools; and Teri Parks, Social Studies Teacher, BCLA, Bedford County Schools.

(Jamie Page is Assistant Communications Director of the Tennessee Department of Treasury)