Financial literacy education in Ontario Schools


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Financial Literacy: Supporting your Child’s Learning

[Clips are shown from interviews with parents and teachers. Footage is shown of students taking part in financial literacy lessons. A narrator is heard speaking in between interview clips.]

Teacher >> He is being taxed at 19 per cent, right? And that money is being deducted...

Narrator >> All across Ontario, students in grades 4 through 12 learn about financial literacy.

There are four key elements: Personal Finance, Economic Understanding, Consumer Awareness and Citizenship. These four elements work together to build students' understanding of financial literacy.

But learning can go beyond the classroom. Parents can help support this learning at home. Personal finance involves basic money management, which includes saving, spending, borrowing and investing.

Brenda Peacock (parent)  >> When he gets his allowance, he gets 8 dollars. He has to split it up equally between three jars. One is his spending jar, one is for the bank and one is for donations.

Narrator >> With your child, you could show them how to save and spend responsibly.

For example, you can decide together how to manage their money by establishing three categories, such as essential purchases, savings and items they want.

With your teen, you could talk about the concept of earning interest and the impact of paying off debt, using real life examples.

Economic understanding covers financial issues that are local, national and global.

Curry Gray (parent) >> My daughter actually asked me the other day, "I don't understand all this eurozone stuff, I mean it's, I don't understand it, what's it about? How does that affect me?"

Narrator >> With your child, you could talk about inflation by comparing the cost of something your child buys to what it used to cost 10 or 20 years ago.

With your teen, you could talk about an exchange rate before they go on a trip. For example, the U.S  dollar and the Canadian dollar.

Consumer awareness emphasizes being a conscious consumer and understanding the impact of purchasing choices. It also means knowing our rights as a consumer and recognizing the costs before, during and after making a purchase. This includes identifying the difference between “wants” and “needs”.

It also includes discussing how to be a smart consumer by keeping personal information safe, especially online.

Emily Samuel (teacher)  >> And of course they have to think about, what's going to be the best option for them? Cash - if you lose it, it's gone - whereas a debit card has a PIN number for that security. So that might be something that we have an additional lesson about and discuss with them.

Narrator >> With your child, you could encourage them to ask questions and think through a purchase before they buy. This could include looking for discounts or comparison shopping. Your teen may be curious about how debit and credit cards work. You could talk with them about interest, minimum payments, paying off the balance and keeping personal information, such as a PIN, safe.

Citizenship, in terms of financial literacy, means that students learn to recognize good corporate citizens in their neighbourhood and understand the benefit of supporting companies that do good work.

This helps students understand that they can have an impact as consumers.

Karam Ali (parent) >> So many business around us and they help a lot. And the kids, they notice this. They notice some business outside of the school they help with the school as part of the community, which is fantastic.

Narrator >> You could have a conversation with your child or teen about how decisions about what to buy affect you, your family, your community, Canada and the world.

For example, buying local produce can have a positive impact on the local economy and buying products with less packaging helps the environment.

Exploring these four elements of financial literacy will help students of all ages better understand the world around them, regardless of their preconceptions.

Brenda Peacock >> My kids actually thought that we just had to go to the bank and we had unlimited funds. Every time we stuck our plastic card in there, we could get whatever we wanted.

Oh, if only that were true.

Learn more about financial literacy by visiting our website.


Financial literacy in the Ontario curriculum

Narration: This may sound familiar.

Brenda / Parent: My kids actually thought that we just had to go to the bank and we had unlimited funds.

Narration: But Brenda's children are now learning the fundamentals of financial literacy.

Grade 4 Student: I save up until I have that money and then I just get all my coins and stuff for the tax.

Narration: Ontario students from grades four to twelve are learning and thinking about financial literacy.

Grade 9 Student: What's happening to your money and what to do with it.

Narration: And Experts say now – more than ever, knowledge of money matters is essential.

Jane Rooney / Director of Financial Literacy, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: Financial literacy is about having the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to make responsible financial decisions.

Tom Hazma / President, Investor Education Fund: The point is is to be able to adequately direct the means that you have to the goals that you have.

Narration: It's already part of the curriculum, and teachers are finding relevant ways to bring it alive.

Emily Samuel / Teacher: How much spending money do you think you're going to require for that day?

Nathan Startek/ Grade 8 Teacher: We can say, you're going to use this in the real world because it's part of your life, it's part of your day-to-day living.

Narration: Elementary students are learning simple money management skills and developing thinking skills as they consider needs versus wants with purchases, such as buying a gift or a snack.
Building on those lessons, secondary students develop more refined problem solving skills as they manage more complex decisions with things like cell phone contracts and planning for long-term goals."

Grade 10 Student: You figure out how pay for it, plan for it and once you get it
you feel like you achieve something.

Narration: These skills will help set students up for success – because they'll be able to apply them at any age, no matter what they do later in life.

Sylvia / Parent: It inspires the kids to try harder, like hey, like I have a part in this world too.

Catherine Inglis / Teaching Learning Coach: It's not just the kids who are going to be running the banks, but those who are using the banks day to day.

Narration: And some advice that any expert would agree with

Grade 11 Student: You supposed to control money, not money supposed to control you.

Grade 12 Student: Spend within your means.