Many Americans have the plight of being in debt and don’t understand the basic concepts of saving for the future or handling money responsibly. The Council for Economic Education recently conducted a survey where they found that a mere 20 states have taking an economic class in high school as a requirement to graduate.

These low numbers lead to vast gaps between the knowledge a high school graduate has of financial concerns and what they actually need to know in the real world.
For millennial parents, financial literacy is especially difficult. Their children are now in elementary school and likely oblivious to financial matters themselves. Parents feel wary of speaking to their kids about money management when they are struggling with their personal finances. Some teachers, especially in lower grades, are taking steps to combat this issue by teaching basic financial concepts in the classroom. Here are some of their methods.

Be Detailed

Many people assume students, especially at the elementary level, won’t understand loftier concepts. Don’t make this mistake and avoid teaching students more complex money ideas. Tell them about different kinds of taxes and how investments work, as well as the basics of income and opening a bank account. They may not understand all of it, but they’ll certainly have a head start once they’re faced with their own finances in the future.

Integrate with Other Topics

Since most schools don’t require financial literacy to be taught and don’t set aside time for it, teachers must make their own time to teach the subject. A great way to accomplish this goal is slipping a financial education section into teaching other topics, such as history (economic history) and literature (how to read bills and bank statements).

Teach the Value of Time

For classrooms where the students are there the entire academic year, like elementary school, a type of real-world Monopoly can be played. Make the activity fun: assign students jobs, give them an income, provide options of homes to rent and investment opportunities. By continuing this activity for a full year or semester, students have time to save, invest, or spend their money and see how that works out in the long run.

Relate to the Real World

Talk to students about the economy and stocks. Many adults don’t understand the basic concepts of investment and how stocks work, so showing students the real numbers may encourage them to do more research on their own and start making small investments. Don’t be afraid to discuss the cost of living in the area as well. Parents likely won’t talk to their young children about how much groceries, rent, or utilities cost, so by educating the students on these issues, they’ll have a realistic understanding of how much items cost.