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MintFamily with Beth Kobliner: Money As You Learn – Teaching Money Math

Investment Concept Blackboard

For years, each of the 50 states had its own ideas about what kids should be taught from kindergarten up through 12th grade.

The result: a hodgepodge of standards and guidelines that differed each time you crossed into another state’s border.

In 2010, when the Common Core State Standards—basically an agreed-upon list of concepts for each grade—was first released, an amazing thing happened: 32 states adopted it.

Today, 45 states plus Washington, DC, have adopted the standards that schools are expected to teach.

So, what’s any of this got to do with money?

Well, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, of which I’m a member, decided that the introduction of this Common Core was our big opportunity.

As school districts, teachers, and book publishers nationwide scramble to rewrite their lessons so they’re in sync with the Common Core guidelines, what better time to shoehorn in some interesting math problems that also teach key money concepts?

The Common Core

Here’s what I mean: The Common Core says that kids in 7th grade should learn about compound interest. The mere thought of it makes just about anyone’s eyes glaze over.

At the brilliant inspiration of our Vice Chair Amy Rosen, the Council gathered some of the best math teachers in the country and had them bat around their favorite money/math problems to demonstrate the concept.

The idea of seeing how many years it’ll take to become a millionaire—or seeing how old you’ll be before paying off a massive credit card bill if you pay just the minimums—is a whole lot more interesting than memorizing a boring formula.

And by talking about investing, saving, and debt, you’re introducing kids to real-life concepts that they not only need to know, but also, in many cases, are jazzed to know.

Money As You Learn

The Council’s end product: Money as You Learna website that includes all kinds of great money/math exercises for teachers to provide to kids (and a companion to our parent-focused site Money as You Grow).

Led by Judy Wurtzel, an education policy consultant, and Dr. Julie Health, Director of the Economics Center and Professor at the University of Cincinnati, teachers nationwide worked together to come up with awesome content from which millions of kids could really benefit.

And so far, the concept is being embraced on both sides of the aisle. “Rarely in today’s climate is there an issue and an idea that is embraced by such a broad coalition—from Randi Weingarten to Chris Christie,” said Amy at our Council’s meeting with the President in February.

The biggest shout-outs, however, should go to the teachers who participated. Here’s the list:

  • Erin Boettcher, 4th grade teacher, Wilbur Elementary School, Bear, Delaware
  • Rachel Goldman, 1st grade teacher, Shepherd Elementary School, Washington, D.C.
  • Lisa Krueger, Mathematics teacher, Princeton High School, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Lisa McEwen, teacher, Manny Martinez Middle School, Denver, Colorado
  • Jeanine Moore, 4th grade math and social studies teacher, Long Neck Elementary, Millsboro, Delaware
  • Brian Page, Teaching, Personal Finance and Economics, Reading Community City School, Cincinnati, OH
  • David Pook, teacher at The Derryfield School, Manchester, New Hampshire and educational consultant to Student Achievement Partners
  • Rebecca Reed, K-12 Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor, Red Clay Consolidated School District, Wilmington, Delaware

Parents: Please ask your local school principals and teachers to integrate Money as You Learn into your children’s curriculum.

© 2013 Beth Kobliner, All Rights Reserved

Beth Kobliner is a personal finance commentator and journalist, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties,” and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Visit her at bethkobliner.com, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.