School kids get grasp on money

Teaching the value of a dollar is old school - lessons on supply and demand, currency exchange, and the stock market are drilling Kiwi kids in financial literacy.

Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School has seized upon the chance to install a new financial literacy resource made available to all schools by the Ministry of Education a fortnight ago.

The resource is designed for year levels 1 to 10 and and adds basic economic concepts to classrooms.

While practical lessons about money are a mainstay of mathematics lessons, the new resource encourages financial literacy to be taught throughout the curriculum, with classroom money and market days being worked into daily lessons.

Next week, Palmerston North Intermediate pupils will get a visit from bank representatives tasked with teaching the children about budgeting.

Principal David Jopson hoped the financial lessons learnt at school would also translate to home.

"The ultimate goal that can be built up over time is positioning them to make well-informed financial decisions throughout their lives," he said.

The school children had designed their own classroom currency and created an incentive and fine system to promote understanding of money management.

Some showed an entrepreneurial spirit that took teacher Barbara Pritchard by surprise. One pupil turned 20 classroom dollars into $400 - while others landed themselves in "debt".

"It's getting them to think about what to spend money on and reassuring them that it is OK to want to spend money on things but not beyond their means," she said.

The resource was being trialled in select classrooms this term, but the amount of interest displayed by pupils meant it could be rolled out to the whole school next year, teacher Kaye Webber said.

"They became quite interested in the recession and austerity. They really wanted to know about economics because they hear all these things on the news and want to understand it."

Part of the children's lessons involved recording their family expenditure for a month, which had been eye-opening for Holly Greene, 13.

"We use quite a lot of power and stuff because there's seven people in our family."

She had been squirrelling away money given to her on special occasions and had used budgeting advice learned at school to manage her pocket money.

"I learned not to spend as much on what I want, more on what I actually need," she said.

The Manawatu Standard