Talking about money: Bridging the disconnect between kids and parents
May 1, 2015
Did you know that 42 percent of parents think they’re encouraging their kids to talk about money — but, only 19 percent of kids recognize that encouragement?
Talking about money isn’t always easy, and can be confusing and overwhelming for adults and kids alike. That’s why BMO Harris is working to bridge the financial education gap with the Talk With Our Kids About Money program. Originated by BMO in Canada, the program has been expanded into the U.S., focusing initially on Wisconsin and Illinois — with more locations to come.
At the heart of the program is the Talk With Our Kids About Money Day website, featuring a school-based program for 7th grade teachers, as well as a home-based program for parents with children of all ages.
When teachers register on the site to access the school-based program, they are provided with lesson plans for a variety of subject areas, developed as examples and suggestions. Teachers are also encouraged to create their own ideas or adapt those provided on the website to suit their subject and students’ needs. Lesson plans are designed to require minimal preparation, and to be fun and engaging. There is an opportunity for teachers to share their ideas on the site, and to post questions if they want more help.
Meanwhile, within the section of the site for parents, resources are organized by age range, with ideas for activities in the community, day trips, games, music, and TV shows and movies to watch. Parents will also find links to additional resources to help them implement the activities.
"We know that many parents want to help their kids understand financial responsibility," says Diana Brenchley, Manager of Community Partnerships at BMO, "and they’ve looked for resources to help. We hope this site will help them to get the conversation started."
Talk With Our Kids About Money Day
While the lesson plans can be used throughout the year, Talk With Our Kids About Money Day takes place annually on the last Wednesday in April and is intended to get a conversation started with kids and the two most important influencers in their lives — parents and school.
This past April, students at the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM) prepared for their first Talk With Our Kids About Money Day.
BEAM is the first school of its kind in Milwaukee, where students are taught how to become financially accountable and successful alongside the traditional curriculum.
BEAM features an innovative business and economics curriculum, focusing on themes relating to personal finance, entrepreneurship and the basics of a market economy. Students learn skills such as basic banking, personal budgeting and problem solving.
"BEAM was such a compatible fit for Talk With Our Kids About Money," says Brenchley. "In fact, we expanded our focus to students in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8."
Forty-two students, working in pairs and on their own time, participated in a money fair, held April 22. At this fair, they showcased their exhibits, with topics chosen from a list supplied by their teachers. The top three student teams selected from the money fair entries focused on "Six Economic Principles," "The Cost of a Wedding" and "The Stock Market Behind the Scenes."
On April 29 — the official Wisconsin launch of Talk With Our Kids About Money — all money fair exhibits were on display for guests, and these three teams presented their projects to an audience of students, teachers and community members. Welcoming them were representatives of BMO Harris, including Kelly Harper, Director of customer brand experience, as well as Gary Rabbior, from the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education; Dave Mancl, from the Governor’s Council on Economic Literacy; and LaDonna Leazer, a teacher at BEAM.
"The Talk With Our Kids About Money Day activities sparked the interests of many BEAM students," says BEAM teacher LaDonna Leazer. "This excitement has other students begging to participate next year."