A Parent's Guide to Financial Literacy in Ontario Schools, Grades 4 to 12

Overview

Financial literacy learning ensures that Ontario's students have the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. Financial literacy builds students' understanding of personal finances, the local and global economy and the results of their choices as consumers so that they can make informed financial decisions throughout their lives.

Starting in the fall of 2019, financial literacy will play a larger role in the curriculum. Financial literacy is a major component of the required learning in the revised Grade 10 Careers Studies course. This is a mandatory course for all secondary students in Ontario. Financial literacy will also be an area of focus in the revised math curriculum being phased in for all grades and will include learning related to financial math, such as making change and calculating tax.

This fact sheet provides information about the key topics that students are learning in different grades and has tips to help you support your child's learning.

How do students learn about financial literacy?

There are four components of financial literacy education in Ontario:

  • Personal Finance
  • Consumer Awareness
  • Economic Understanding
  • Citizenship

Financial literacy is integrated across many different subjects from grades 4 to 12, such as mathematics, career studies, social studies, Canadian and World studies, business studies and many others.

In some subjects, students may be learning specific skills like understanding money, consumer awareness, personal finances, budgeting and money management. In other subjects, financial literacy connections may be made as students learn about their role in a global context, such as studying different economic systems.

Throughout the curriculum, students are developing skills in critical thinking, decision-making and problem solving that can be applied to subjects at school and to real life situations. For example, in Grade 10 Career Studies, students learn about budgeting, the implications of debt and paying for their first year after high school.

Why is financial literacy important for Ontario students?

In today's complex world, young people need a wide range of skills and knowledge to make informed choices. Financial literacy will help students to:

  • carefully consider their financial choices. This can apply to everyday decisions, like buying groceries or going out for dinner, to bigger investments, like paying for tuition or buying a car;
  • understand basic money management and budgeting, including paying bills on time and using credit responsibly;
  • develop their own perspectives on financial matters, such as interest rates, mortgage rules or the Canadian or global economy;
  • become knowledgeable and responsible citizens who are able to participate fully in society and confidently decide where and how to invest their money as well as protect their privacy online;
  • stay financially stable and healthy throughout life; and
  • understand the impact of economic choices on the world in which they live.

Helpful tips for parents

As a parent, you're a role model for your child. You have an important and continuing role to play in your child's education from the younger years through to high school graduation. This is especially true with financial literacy since your child's decisions become more complex and their choices more expensive as they get older and become more responsible.

You can encourage the development of their knowledge and skills by discussing financial matters and providing practice in financial decision-making at home.

Grades 4 to 6
Some of the key topics covered in these grades are the concept of money, government and its responsibilities to citizens, and the idea of “wants” versus “needs”. Here are some tips on how you can support your child's learning:

  • Talk about the differences between “wants” and “needs”. For example, you could talk about “wants” like fashionable clothing or video games vs. “needs” that could include food or replacing a pair of running shoes that are too small.
  • Give your child a weekly or monthly allowance, and decide together what it is intended to cover (e.g. entertainment, snacks, etc.) and discuss the benefit of saving a portion of the allowance for bigger purchases. Have on-going conversations with them about how they are managing their allowance.
  • Involve your child in decision making when shopping for household items, such as purchasing groceries for their school lunches. Have conversations about the decisions they are making and the impacts of these decisions. Compare the costs of different items.
  • Discuss a current event and the impact it may have on the local or global economy, your family or your community. Ask questions about what it means to your child and how they might get involved.
  • Talk about how to make the best buying decisions by researching and comparing different products before purchasing them. Research a buying decision together. This could be a big decision like buying a new computer for the family, or a regular activity, such as comparing costs of groceries in different flyers.

Grades 7 to 8
Some of the key topics covered in these grades are budgeting, the impact of consumer choices on the economy, and the importance of keeping personal information safe and secure, especially online. Here are some tips on how you can support your child's learning:

  • Point out the financial implications of decisions you make as a family. For example, you can work together to find out the costs of buying and caring for a pet, or the costs of going to a movie or taking a day trip. Talk about what this means for other future purchases.
  • Discuss how your family chooses to spend money on affects your family, your community, Canada and the world. For example, choices to buy certain locally made products, such as locally grown food, can have a positive impact on the local economy.
  • Discuss how to be a responsible consumer by keeping personal information safe, for example, when setting up an online account.
  • Explain how to save for a purchase, even if it is not large, so your child can understand how and why it's important to plan ahead. For example, you can discuss how to save for a new computer, a gift or a trip, by setting aside a certain portion of their allowance each month.

Grades 9 to 12
Some of the key topics covered in these grades are calculating pay, taxes, and interest expenses, how to be a socially responsible and ethical investor, and how to budget for life after high school. Here are some tips on how you can support your child's learning:

  • Talk to your teen about ways to make informed and responsible decisions as a consumer. For example, talk with your child about factors that go into deciding to purchase a phone, such as price, safety, internet access and chatting with friends. Ask whether a phone satisfies a 'want' or a 'need'.
  • Your teenager may start to earn a steady paycheck through part-time work or a summer job. Show them how to save and spend responsibly by helping them to develop a budget. Establish three categories: essential purchases, savings, and discretionary items, i.e. non-essential items that are “wants” rather than “needs”. Help your teen identify essential purchases, such as phone bills, and set a savings goal with the money left over.
  • Talk to your teen about debit and credit cards and how they work. This talk can include interest payments, minimum payment, the time needed to pay off the balance, and perks, such as cash back. Explain how using debit and credit cards responsibly can build a solid credit score. Late or unpaid credit card bills can affect their credit score and their ability to purchase a house or car in the future.
  • Plan early for post-secondary education with your teen by talking about the costs involved and supports available, like scholarships and the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Create a budget and plan together.
  • Set up a real or virtual investment through an app or an online program with your teenager and watch it grow together. Talk about the risks of investing and benefits of delayed gratification. You can explain the idea of delayed gratification by using examples like spending money now on a new pair of shoes or a phone vs. saving and investing money later to eventually buy a larger purchase, like a new car or computer. Support your teen as they make decisions about their investment.
  • Help your teen plan for a special celebration, such as their graduation, by developing a budget together. Discuss what costs will need to be considered, and decide together how to save for these expenses.

Information about Financial Literacy

Ministry of Education:

  • Visit the Ministry of Education's website at ontario.ca/financialliteracy for more information about financial literacy learning in Ontario schools.
  • Watch videos that show the many ways financial literacy is included in Ontario curricula. The videos features students, teachers and parents talking about the importance of financial literacy learning in Ontario schools.
  • Download the “E-Me” financial literacy and online safety app for Grade 7 and 8 students. This app supports the Ontario curriculum and promotes best practices for safe and responsible online banking. “E-Me” is available for free at the Apple iTunes Store and the Google Play Store.
  • Read the parent guide to Grade 10 Career Studies. This course has been updated for September 2019, with mandatorymore learning on financial literacy and an enhanced focus on career pathways.

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