“Studying financial literacy gives our students a real-world application of math concepts,” said Math Coordinator and Assistant Middle School Head Jennifer Anderson. “It also helps students understand the real cost of living.”
Ms. Anderson said financial skills are woven throughout the Middle School curriculum, often using math tools that the students are already learning. In sixth grade, students discover how to develop a budget, write a check, and estimate costs. For example, they devise plans for a deck outside their house using tools such as perimeter and square footage, and estimate costs using those skills. They also do other financial exercises using ratio, proportion, and percent, Ms. Anderson said.
In seventh grade, students do a “Game of Life” project over the course of the year. They pick an occupation out of a hat, and record its starting salary and tax rate. Based on their income, they determine every part of a budget, from what kind of car they will drive to where they will live, and what kind of phone they will have. Finally, they learn how to consolidate student loan debt, calculating terms, interest rates, and payments, and picking an affordable way to pay it down. They also do things like plan a vacation for a family of five with a budget that includes transportation, lodging, and meals.
“Towards the end of the year, we throw them some curve balls, and ask them to figure out how they will handle those,” said Ms. Anderson. Those can include medical bills, the birth of a child, or getting married or divorced.
All of it is designed to get students started on a life of fiscal responsibility and awareness. And They can continue to develop their financial literacy in Hun Upper School, where they can take macro- or microeconomics or entrepreneurial studies.
“Financial literacy answers that age-old question every math teacher hears from her students,” said Ms. Anderson. “They ask, when am I ever going to use math in my life? And it shows them the answer, which is, every day!”