When I tell my friends that I teach younger students about Finance and Accounting, they think I’m crazy. How can a twelve-year-old understand derivatives, valuation, or compounded interest? Over the past couple of years, I have worked with numerous tweens and teens to convey my passion for the subject. I really enjoy the look on their faces after we’ve demystified credit cards, financial statements, or an overview of the stock markets. I teach by building a context for finance and emphasizing foundational ideas. But most importantly, I let the students’ curiosities guide and shape our lessons.
A sixth grader was extremely inquisitive and really wanted to understand the foundations of economics. At first, he was confused by “supply and demand,” a fundamental concept. To make sure that he understood the concept, we discussed and explored the curve in great detail. We made it intuitive, through discussion and context, so that he could explain it in his own words.
An eighth grader wanted to understand finance better to help manage her personal bank accounts. While she was only in middle school, she wanted to take some control of her financial life. She wanted to know as much as she could about personal finance (savings, checking and taxes). We also explored credit cards and the movement of money electronically. She was a deeply curious student and had a great deal of interest in the subject. Her curiosities and questions guided our finance sessions.
A group of sixth graders were particularly interested in understanding how a company worked and how we could understand its performance from its financial statement. They could not believe how much we could find out about a company; they were in awe when I explained that every public company could be analyzed in this same way.
A seventh grader wanted to understand how companies make money. To make these concepts more accessible, I broke up the information into manageable discussion topics and related them to his personal finance experience. This helped him to better understand his own financial life as well as how companies worked.
Teaching finance to younger students is so important. They are highly interested in the topic and so many math and critical thinking skills can be reinforced and applied in a real context. It also helps younger students to develop respect and responsibility for managing money. I know many adults who struggle with basic finance concepts; it’s unfortunate because these concepts are really accessible. Developing financial literacy is critically important for learners of all ages. And my goal is to make it fun and intuitive!