My son has a school project that has me as excited as he is. His class is creating a mini-economy. Each four-person team has come up with a name for their town and they are working through the steps to set up their economic systems. Every child has developed a resume, and is currently working on a prototype product to sell, which they will sell at VCU market days in the spring. The team that earns the most money wins a prize, I think. All the kids will have a different job – ranging from banker to job foreman.
I have been helping Trip come up with a prototype product that we think will win over his team. He really wants to do Viking wire weaving, but I don’t think he would be able to generate 50 salable items in a month. My suggestions to him include sea glass pendants, ocean-themed magnets, and friendship bracelets. Hopefully he will pick something that he can easily teach his class-mates.
For my part, I have been invited to give a lecture on budgeting and banking systems. I’m excited by the prospect, but am frustrated by the lack of age-appropriate teaching tools. Why do we, as a society, wait until 11th and 12th grade before we start teaching our children how to budget, save, and maintain a check register? Come to think of it, I learned most of that the hard way. Sure, my parents taught me to budget and save, but not the fine details. It was more like – you should give a percentage of your earnings to charity, save most of the rest, and only buy what you absolutely need. While that is OK advice, it isn’t enough when you need to know when to spend your savings, how to plan for the future, and how to figure out much money you need to generate to live the lifestyle you want.
I love that these 4th graders are learning such an important lesson. It gives them a great foundation to build real-life skills. Plus, they are having so much fun doing it. How cool is that?