By: Lauren Barack
May 12, 2010
Susan Beacham thanks a four-bellied pig for giving her the edge to teach young children how to find financial footing--and for giving her firm, Money Savvy Generation, its spot on the educational map.
That discovery is in part why Chicago Public Schools has decided to launch Money Savvy next year, part of an eight-week course on financial literacy that's taught by teacher librarians, says Beacham. It's a road Beacham could not have immediately imagined when, as a financial services expert more than a decade ago, she watched her first-grade daughter learn Latin at school--but not money management.
"They were teaching her just how to make change," she says. "Traditionally, they didn't bring [financial lessons] up until middle school, but by then children think we have four heads. In K-4, they spend all their time and attention on their teachers and parents, and I decided to leverage that opportunity."
And so Money Savvy Generation was born, an educational program that offers lesson plans for teachers and school librarians in 27 states and countries including Mexico, Australia, and Singapore. Given the economic environment across the country, and through most of the world, many educators might agree that teaching children some financial literacy at an early age isn't a bad idea. However finding the time to work that in between test prep, and basic course work, isn't always simple.
However, Beacham approached teacher-librarians in Chicago earlier this year after discovering they had regular time with students each week, but flexibility in how to use it. She asked librarians to volunteer for a trial program--just one 50-minute class. The result? About 97,000 K-8 students took part.
While the lesson plans, book, and yes, the Money Savvy Pig, do come with a price tag, educators can find some free suggestions on the website along with allowance contracts parents can download as well. All lead to what Beacham believes are financially savvy--and fiscally healthy--students, families and hopefully citizens down the road.
"My feeling is that if we teach young children, we impact not just the child but the family, communities, and the country," she says. "You can have a student who is a genius, but fails to thrive in life because they don't know how to manage the money they earn."