By Amanda Moses
There is a common misconception that the ability to grasp economics and personal finance is reserved for students in high school and college. First and second graders from the Spring Creek Afterschool Program proved that you’re never too young to learn about money management through a new program— the Council for Economic Education. For ten weeks, eight and nine year- olds ventured through the complexities of investments, the functions of the stock market, the importance of a savings account, the cost benefit of purchases and entrepreneurship. “Our goal for this program was to essentially broaden our student’s awareness of finance. We wanted them to understand the difference between needs and wants, as well as the importance of saving rather than excessive spending,” said Jeremy Williams, Director of the Spring Creek Afterschool Program.
The project began in the fall, when students learned that they must first earn money (in the case for this project “econo bucks”) in order to purchase materials to make a marketable product. Through hard work in their studies, classwork, good behavior and attendance, the students received “econo bucks” so that they may purchase arts and crafts materials.
Like little entrepreneurs, they developed their very own brand of bedazzled frames, jewelry and jars filled with multicolored sand. Eight-year-old Armani Stone was excited to spend her ‘econo bucks’ on her arts and crafts products. “I think this experience was great and it made me feel good to earn my ‘econo bucks,’” and then spend them on what I wanted,” she said.
The program culminated on December 17th with a “Market Day” event, where students showcased their knowledge of business management. During this event, students showed their parents, with their brand of arts and crafts, how to balance the costs of developing a product, marketing and then selling it. “By allowing the students to start their own business, they were able to learn about profit and loss,” said Williams who explained that the students were also taught the importance of advertising to earn revenue by reaching a widespread audience.
Parents and fellow students stopped by the Market Day event and used “econo bucks” to purchase the various art projects. Larissa Gilbert, 9, says she was excited to purchase beautiful jewelry for her parents. “It’s nice to be able to buy these things for my mom and dad with the ‘econo bucks’ I earned,” she said.
Williams believes financial literacy is an important lesson all children should learn. Whether it’s putting aside allowance money for something they want or investing in a college savings account, understanding how to manage their personal finances can help them with their future choices.
Photos: The Spring Creek Afterschool Program