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Who should be teaching the next generation about money?

Teaching kids about money seems to fall into a grey area between parents and school educators, with both assuming the responsibility will be carried out by the other. International growth lead at Banqer, Simon Brown, discusses what can be done to make the next generation more financially savvy. 

“I could have done with that when I was that age. Actually, I could probably still do with that now.” 

Working at Banqer means I hear this fairly regularly, but right from the start this comment has intrigued me. Why didn’t anyone teach you about money? Your school more than likely than not taught you about compound sentences, why not compound interest? Your parents likely taught you how to drive a car, why not how to drive down debt quickly?

It seems financial education falls into somewhat of a Bermuda Triangle where both parents and the schooling system recognise that it’s important issue, but neither is sure whose true responsibility it is to pick up the gauntlet.

Another comment I hear regularly is “why isn’t it in the curriculum?” But the truth is (at least here in New Zealand), financial education is included in the national curriculum. This should act as an impetus for teachers to introduce these concepts in their classroom, but unfortunately this curriculum addition hasn’t been widely adopted at all and can currently be thought of as a bolt-on. Although this bolt-on is fairly comprehensive and goes as far as including a variety of financial capability progressions at each curriculum level, the majority of the 1,200+ teachers we work with have never heard of the financial capability progressions before we point them out. 

Furthermore, while financial education is in the curriculum, so too are many other subjects, and unfortunately when competing in a teacher's already packed schedule it seems that financial education often falls by the wayside. Hence the need for multiple-touch points and for parents to pick-up the lessons that begin in the classroom and continue them at home. 

The recent budget announcements from the Government represents the importance they place on financial literacy being an integral part of the curriculum. The $10.2 million they plan to invest over the next four years for initiatives to improve the financial capability of young New Zealanders could drastically shift the weighting financial literacy is afforded in classrooms nationwide, whether this is money well spent is a matter for another day. 

Given that there is already a defined place for financial literacy in schools, and it’s presence is only going to increase in the next four years, should parents resolve to consign financial matters to the classroom?

Absolutely not. A child’s home-life is full of opportunity to learn about money, even without intentional instruction. Instead, parents should focus on intentional inclusion, by this I mean bringing your children into the financial fold. If school is where they are improving their financial literacy, home should be where they put these learnings into practice (or at least watch you do them at first). And as finances become increasingly invisible, it’s more pressing than ever to ensure you reveal money to your child.

We’ve seen through Banqer that it’s often the children who come from a money inclusive home that thrive in their classroom economy. So the responsibility belongs to us all when it comes to financial literacy. We need our educators to be confident including financial literacy in the classroom, and parents need to ensure we’re including our children in money conversations at home. It’s only through integrating money lessons into a child's everyday classroom and home life we can ensure they have the opportunity to grow to be fully prepared for the financial world ahead.

This was originally published on Brown's LinkedIn.