3 Ways To Help Students Retain Financial Literacy Lessons

Posted on: 22 January 2019

Financial literacy is a vital skill for today's complicated world, and too few Americans achieve it. Even those who learn financial concepts often soon forget them due to lack of use or failure to connect with the subject. If you're trying to reverse this trend by educating others about finances, here are three ways to make it stick with your students better.

1. Make it Currently Relevant

For people to really work to understand and apply what they learn, it must have relevance to their own lives. High school students learning about how home mortgages work, for instance, will likely forget much of those lessons in the years between school and home ownership. They will also have no motivation to learn these concepts well. Teaching them how to navigate college loans, though, is a much more useful skill at that point in their lives.

2. Use Hands-on Learning

Break up the traditional classroom teaching model and use plenty of "real world" or "hands-on" experience to help students understand subjects. You could, for instance, have students fill out an actual loan application or present various ways to pay off a specified debt. Pretend to invest as a class by using fake money and real stock market data. Help students pull their actual credit report for free through Annual Credit Report. Whether it's real activities or pretend ones, getting people involved is the key. 

3. Focus on the Basics

If your students are from diverse backgrounds, ages, or financial situations, it's hard to find the right set of skills to teach them all together. The best thing to do in this scenario is to convey basic skills that they can translate into various financial tasks later on. What are these basics? 

  • Knowing how to make, keep, and adjust a budget
  • Knowing the way compound interest works (in credit and in savings)
  • Knowing how to avoid credit traps and make wise choices
  • Knowing what identity theft is and how to protect themselves from it

By teaching how compound interest works, for instance, students can apply this skill to everything from a basic savings account to stock market investing to the real cost of home mortgages. And limiting their focus to a few key ideas helps prevent lessons from being lost in the jumble. 

You can help more people have a healthy and productive financial life by focusing on the core ideas of this financial literacy class model, using the real world, and educating for what's going on in people's lives now. The result will be better financial literacy for your students and more fulfillment for you.