Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools
Students in grades 4-12 learn about financial literacy so they can understand how to make informed financial decisions. Financial literacy builds students' understanding of personal finances, the local and global economy and the results of their choices as consumers.
What is financial literacy and why is it important?
Financial literacy means having the knowledge and skills to make responsible economic and financial decisions with confidence. 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 to bigger investments, like paying for tuition or buying a car.
- Understand basic money management.
- Develop their own perspectives on financial matters, such as interest rates, mortgage rules or the Canadian or global economy.
- Participate fully in society as knowledgeable, responsible citizens who can confidently make decisions about where and how to invest their money.
- Stay financially stable and healthy throughout life.
- Understand the impact of economic choices on the world they live in.
Is financial literacy offered to students as a separate course?
No. Financial literacy education is integrated in the existing Ontario curriculum.
How is financial literacy taught in Ontario schools?
Financial literacy is part of the elementary and secondary curriculum in many different subjects such as mathematics, social studies, Canadian and World studies, business studies and many others. In some subjects, students may be learning specific skills such as understanding money, consumer awareness, personal finances, budgeting and money management that will help them develop financial literacy skills. In other subjects, financial literacy connections may be made as students learn about their place in the world, as a responsible and compassionate citizen or when they study different economic systems.
Through 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. Resources have been developed for teachers to help them connect financial literacy topics across the curriculum to deepen students' learning and make financial literacy more relevant.
How can parents help their children?
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 earliest years through to high school graduation. This is especially true with financial literacy since your child's decisions become more complex and expensive as they get older.
You can encourage the development of their knowledge and skills by discussing financial matters or providing practice in financial decision-making at home. For example, the parent of an elementary student can:
- Discuss 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 a purchase.
- Explain how to make the best buying decisions, e.g. by researching first and comparing different products
- 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.
The parent of a secondary student can:
- Explain how decisions about what to buy affect you, 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.
- Explore the costs and benefits of saving for purchases and student trips with their children.
- Discuss how to be a smart consumer by keeping personal information safe when buying online.
- Go online to Employment Ontario and the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for helpful information on planning for postsecondary education and training.
Where can I learn more about financial literacy education?
Learn more about how financial literacy is taught in Ontario schools by:
- Watching a video that shows the many ways financial literacy is included in the curriculum. The video features students, teachers and parents talking about the importance of financial literacy learning in Ontario schools.
- Reading the report from the Working Group on Financial Literacy, convened by the Curriculum Council, A Sound Investment: Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools.
- Seeing how financial literacy is incorporated within the existing curriculum. This is explained in the following Scope and Sequence of Expectations documents:
Visit these websites to learn more about financial literacy and financial decision making:
- GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca has information, tools, quizzes and more to help parents and students make better financial decisions in different areas of life. The website is run by the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization established by the Ontario Securities Commission.
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is a federal government agency that gives consumers information about a wide variety of consumer topics
- Federal Task Force on Financial Literacy has recommendations for financial literacy education that were made to the federal Minister of Finance
- Canadian Banker's Association has information for parents and students about financial literacy, planning, budgeting and saving.