In addition to covering my United States Government and Politics curriculum, every year I put my students through a mini “adulting 101” bootcamp. During the first semester of school we focus on basic “adulting” skills like registering to vote, laundry care, vehicle maintenance, building a resume, meal planning, cooking, etc.
During the second semester, I focus on four financial basics that establish a foundation for these students to become financially literate adults.
- The basics of banking includes checking accounts, savings accounts, writing checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, fees and setting up automatic payments.
- Understanding credit, credit cards, fees and penalties, interest rates, repayment and credit scores.
- Borrowing money, interest rates, repayment options and debt.
- Budgeting, saving and investing.
Initially when I narrowed the focus of the financial literacy portion of my “adulting 101” curriculum, I reached out to my local bank for information and resources. They not only provided me with free resources, they also offered to present to my students. This was an awesome opportunity for a financial professional and community partner to answer questions and provide insight to these young adults getting ready to start the next, but for most, the first financial chapter of their lives.
Every year I invite my local bank representative to introduce financial literacy to my students. I follow up with a series of mini lessons on each topic that tie in hands-on activities that incorporate real world scenarios. It is kind of like the young adult version of The Game of Life.
Among other activities, students learn how to write checks and deposit slips and balance a ledger. They research credit cards, fees, rewards and calculate total repayment costs compared to paying cash. They research different types of loans, how they acquire interest and repayment options. And they create personal budgets to deal with projected living expenses, bills and unexpected financial situations like doctor bills, blown out tires and birthday presents.
Standing at the starting line of adulthood can be an overwhelming experience for many of my senior students come spring. College applications have already been submitted, some have been informed of and accepted early admissions, but many of them are making their pros and cons lists between their top choices for university.
This process almost always leads into a conversation about the cost of attending university, in conjunction with how to pay for it. These conversations remind me of my own experiences as a senior, excited and a bit scared, sitting around the kitchen table on numerous occasions with my mother who helped me navigate the financial world for the first time.
Now, around the tables in my own classroom, I get to pay it forward to my own students. One lesson at a time, helping to build confident, knowledgeable, financially literate adults.
Yamilza Rivera Negron has taught AP Psychology, Student Leadership, and United States Government and Politics in the Clark County School District, Nevada, for the past 11 years.