Money matters: Event teaches financial literacyLocal business-education teacher Chris Silver and nationally renowned speaker Chad Foster agree that kids need every possible opportunity to learn about financial literacy.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Local business-education teacher Chris Silver and nationally renowned speaker Chad Foster agree that kids need every possible opportunity to learn about financial literacy.
And why not others in the community, too?
That thought led to a Financial Literacy event offered for free at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the River Falls High School, for which Foster delivers the keynote address.
The next day, students will hear his presentation then play interactive games designed to help them learn.
Asked why he thinks there is a need for the Financial Literacy event, Silver says, “Basically, I’ve seen a need to teach financial literacy to our kids.”
He explains that while the school offers classes in personal finance, not all kids take the class.
Silver said while different classes teach about credit, money and business, no single lesson covers the gamut of information people need to successfully manage their financial lives.
“A lot of these kids aren’t prepared to thrive in an economy that’s been challenging,” said Silver.
He feels strongly about teaching kids to plan and use credit wisely and to choose well among the many lending options.
Silver said, for example, some kids have no idea about how much, say, health insurance costs.
The teacher and father of four comments that all the options and information can seem a bit like a “tornado” of options.
Silver heard Foster speak at a conference and was “blown away” by his ability to put financial-literacy information into perspective for young people.
He began to think how great it would be to have Foster come to River Falls.
After his presentation to students on Jan. 13, Foster says his audience will adjourn and play fun-but-educational games.
Every student in each grade can take in the presentation and participate in the games.
Silver says students in each grade will take part in an activity designed to help them learn about the various aspects of finance as well as business, credit, unethical business practices, budgeting…
“The 13th is kind of an all-day event,” said the teacher.
Students in all grades can participate in interactive sessions of “ask the expert.”
Freshman and sophomore students will play Budget or Bust, which Silver says is like the board game Life but has been customized with close-to-home situations and budget experiences.
Students in 11th grade will be assigned a set of circumstances then will complete a Life Scenarios computer simulation in which they’re required to make budgetary choices based on their circumstances.
Seniors get to go shopping -- at the Reality Store. Silver explained that about 60 different volunteers from the community will assist with the reality exercise. The school recruited local experts in banking, finance, insurance, day care, entertainment, realty, property management and many other sectors.
Students will first be assigned a status such as head of household or single, then go from station to station making life choices about rent, insurance, day care, groceries and more, while adhering to their budget.
“Students will be assigned a career, and with that career comes a salary,” said Silver. “Some of the students will go broke and some will make it, but either way, the exercise helps them understand.”
He said it would have been great to get enough volunteers to do “Reality Store” for the whole school but says of all the age groups, seniors will need those lessons the soonest.
Silver said one thing personally important to him is for kids to walk away from Financial Literacy Day understanding the “true cost” of credit.
The Financial Literacy event started as a presentation by Foster, who’s written “Teenagers Preparing for the Real World,” and “Financial Literacy for Teens.” Silver said as the concept was discussed, it grew into more, with activities to reinforce the speaker’s keynote message(s).
He said the money to pay Foster comes from the student group Future Business Leaders of America.
Book author Foster broke into the business world at age 19, when he invented Saf Dek, the material used to make recreational play equipment at McDonald's and Disney World.
Foster also worked on the team at Special Olympics International and took a two-year fact-finding trip across the country.
His website says that trip: “…convinced him that young people in America were receiving an incomplete education in that they were not being fully prepared with 21st century skills for their inevitable entry into the world of work.”
Foster’s curriculum has been shared in 4,500 middle and high school class room and with some half a million students and educators.
Learn more about him at his web site: www.chadfoster.com.