November is Financial Literacy Month across Canada – an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make financial decisions.
But having the confidence to make smart financial decisions comes from being exposed to it at a young age, which is why Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada is heading into more than 50 schools across the Maritimes to help Grade 4 students develop good habits early.
The program, called ‘The Grade 4 Read’, has been running since 2011 and aims to introduce the importance of personal finance as well as age-appropriate financial literacy concepts through a story.
Each year, a new book is chosen, with this year’s title being The Can Man by Craig Orback. The story centres around a boy named Tim who wants a skateboard for his birthday but knows his family can’t afford it. In order to buy it for himself, he aims to make money by collecting cans alongside a homeless man, discovering along the way that maybe getting a skateboard isn’t as important as he thought it was.
Following the story, all students are asked to set a financial goal from what they learned, and for doing so will receive a piggy bank. The main objective of the project is to encourage participants to start saving no matter how little funds may be.
In addition to the reading, students fill out a worksheet that introduces goal setting, budgeting and saving, while also complementing the curriculum math outcomes for Grade 4.
“Financial literacy requires life-long learning, which is why we are getting in front of children at a young age,” says John D. Eisner, President of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada. “With Canadian consumer debt now at an all-time high, it’s imperative that we start speaking to our children about personal finance and saving, instead of looking at the topic of money as taboo, which is what we’ve been historically taught to do.”
Since 2011, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada has given out over 8,000 piggy banks to students in Atlantic Canada.