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Making Young Kids Smarter About Finance

Monday, May 16, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Josie Duckett Boyd
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Retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730804576324173535935018.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

By EMILY GLAZER

How can you prepare your child to make dollars and sense of a tumultuous economy? Start as early as possible.


Financial experts say it's essential to get kids on the road to financial literacy at an early age. And schools, banks and other organizations are doling out new programs with that goal in mind.

"We would never send our kids to school and not teach them how to read, not teach them the ABCs," says Lori Mackey, founder of Prosperity 4 Kids, a financial-literacy website for kids. "So we have to build that foundation."


You don't have to wait for money lessons at school, however. Kids can get some Finance 101 thrown in with soccer and swimming this summer.


Junior Achievement, a nonprofit that educates students about the economy, runs a nationwide BizTown summer camp where kids work with teachers and volunteers to create a simulated economy. Kids ages 10 to 14 work pretend jobs, such as bank teller, product developer or CEO; pay rent for their space; make bank deposits; and balance a personal checkbook. The camp costs $225 to $269 per week. (Go to www.ja.org/Programs/programs.shtml.)


Junior Achievement has gotten into the classroom as well, with free, year-round programs at various elementary schools across the country. Lessons include in-school visits from local entrepreneurs and field trips to Junior Achievement centers where kids learn financial lessons such as opening a bank account.


Last summer, ING Direct started a summer camp for kids that teaches earning, spending and saving lessons to about 1,500 students in the Wilmington, Del., area. The free, one-week programs are taught by volunteers from the bank. The program is expected to return next month.


The bank also has partnered with the Books for Kids Foundation, which promotes literacy among children, to roll out five preschool financial-education literacy centers in Wilmington, Del., San Francisco and three other cities by 2012. The centers will include libraries with finance-related books geared toward kids ages three to five. (Go to booksforkids.org/libraries.)


Girls will soon be able to earn a merit badge for their financial savviness. In September, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. will roll out 13 types of "Personal Finance" badges for girls ages five to 18. To earn one, girls will have to complete five activities based on age. For instance, a five-year-old must recognize different coins while a 13-year-old must create a budget, says Suzanne Harper, the Girl Scouts' director of program resources.


"Even at the Daisy level [ages 5 and 6], they can start to understand that money doesn't grow on trees," Ms. Harper says.


Boy Scouts already can earn a "Personal Management" badge by completing activities such as stock research and shopping comparisons.


Parents also can find a host of new financial books, games and websites catering to younger kids. Ms. Mackey has written activity books in partnership with ING for first- to eighth-graders that include finance word searches and puzzles. (Download the activity books at ING's site for kids, orangekids.com.)


And don't let your kid's penchant for borrowing the smartphone to play games go to waste. There are apps for younger kids that focus on budgeting and saving. For instance, the Kids Money app for the iPhone teaches about saving for long-term purchases, like a new toy. Android smartphone users can try Kids Shopping Calc, which teaches budgeting by shopping in a virtual store with a set amount of money.


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