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Episode 36: How Do We Build Financial Literacy? Strategies for Young Learners - Interview w/ Lindsay

Desiree Harrison 0:00

In school, children learn to identity coins and add change. There might even be discussions about how to add and subtract money. But how often are we attaching these interactions to meaningful contexts for children?

How often are we talking about how to create and maintain a monthly budget? Or how to control spending on a credit card to avoid future debt and interest rates?

Today's episode explores why it's so important to start having these critical conversations with elementary children.

Desiree Harrison 0:59

Alright, so with us on the podcast today we have Dr. Lindsay Gold who has a book called, On the Money: Math Activities to Build Financial Literacy, Grades K-5.

So, welcome to the podcast!

Lindsay Gold 1:16

Thank you! I appreciate you having me.

Desiree Harrison 1:21

So, yes, I'm really excited about this conversation because financial literacy isn't something that you, necessarily, hear about - it's not the first item to be brought up, especially when you're talking about little kids - in the elementary grades.

And, you know, finances is something that everyone has to think about at some point. But we don't always have a concrete definition of what this means.

So, can we start with you telling us what financial literacy means to you, and why we as educators and parents should care about young children learning this.

Headshot of Dr. Lindsay A. Gold
Dr. Lindsay A. Gold

Lindsay Gold 2:01

Sure. So, I'll begin by giving you a little background on how I started studying financial literacy - because it kind of puts it into context.

So, I was working on my doctorate, and one of my fellow classmates was doing something - he was high school - was doing something about financial literacy.

And he said, "So, what do you at elementary do with financial literacy?"

And, very rarely am I speechless, but I was like, "Umm, we count coins, we identity coins.." and I'm searching my brain, like-

What does that mean?

What does financial literacy at the elementary level even mean?

And so that's how I ended up actually doing my dissertation on financial literacy in grades K-2.

But, in doing that, I came up with my definition of what financial literacy means at the elementary level. And I call it, essential concepts and skills that students need to achieve on the path to becoming a financial literate adult.

So, what that means in terms of skills and concepts - are the skills would be, like, performing basic mathematical operations related to money - coin identification, sorting, counting, those kinds of things.

But the piece that I was really missing were those financial concepts. And, to me, that requires the deeper understanding beyond that fundamental memorization.

So, that would include things like, saving, spending, borrowing - those kinds of concepts. And, why it's important is that I really think that we need to start this conversation early, which is why I was super excited when you reached out to me, because it is a mission of mine to really put this on the forefront of math educators, especially at the elementary - that if we started this conversation a lot earlier, I think we would see better results.

So, it's important to the educators and parents because it would help us prepare these students for their financial future. So, when you're talking to an elementary student, they might not be thinking that, "Oh, I need money to buy a car, or a house, or save for college, or plan for a family," but they can start thinking about - what does it mean to have money? To save money? To earn money? What does it mean to borrow something?

Even at the early level, we talk about - they might not understand what it means to take a loan, but they would understand what it means to borrow someone's pencil, or a library book.

And so we talk about how it's important for them to return those items, just like they had them - in good condition - those kinds of things. Which is then can be related to loans and how we have to pay those back.

So, we just take the concepts and put them on a more skill level that our elementary students would be used to. (5:17)

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