"Does anyone know what it is called when you put money in a credit union or bank, leave it for awhile, and then it makes more money?" asked Vicky Burdick from the Jamestown Area Community Credit Union. "It's called earning interest. It is very important to your future to learn how to be responsible with your money. If, for instance, you want a new bike then you need to earn the money by working, and then saving, to be able to buy it."
Mrs. Burdick recently met with Love Elementary School fourth-graders in Danielle Russell's class. The credit union offers curriculum to schools on the importance of working and saving to earn the things you need in life called "Saving with Mandy and Randy."
"One of our goals is to conduct community outreach with local students so they are aware of money management from an early age," said Mrs. Burdick. "We try to instill the 50/50 rule - spend 50 percent of what you earn and save the other 50 percent towards an item you might need or want. Our country is very into instant gratification and we want to teach the next generation that by working hard and saving their money they can afford to purchase the items they need."
Love Elementary School fourth-grader Katelynn Silvis works on a math problem with Vicky Burdick from Jamestown Area Community Credit Union during a recent classroom visit.
Mrs. Russell connected the presentation with her math and character education curriculum. This is Mrs. Russell's third year teaching this group of students and she was looking for a fun way for students to learn more responsibility, hone their math skills and review their study of community. Students have the opportunity to "earn" money every day. They begin with 30 cents and can earn, or lose, money based on their classroom performance. If a student goes above and beyond on a classroom assignment or goes out of their way to help a friend, they earn additional money. If a student is not putting forth their best effort or acting in a way that is not responsible or respectful, they can lose money. At the end of each day, students record on a classroom chart, the amount of money they have. At the end of each week, students calculate their savings by "depositing" them in a real savings book donated by the credit union. Once a month, Mrs. Russell sets up a "store" where students can purchase small items based on their savings. For example, there is holiday store where students can purchase small gifts for their families from their earnings. Mrs. Russell encourages students to save at least half of their savings each week to put towards a bigger store at the end of the school year to reinforce the idea of saving for a bigger goal.
"I think this is just something different than adding numbers up on paper," said Mrs. Russell. "They take ownership of their actions and of their savings accounts. It also encourages the idea of saving money, not only now, but in the future."
To enhance the in-class work, Mrs. Russell approached the Jamestown Area Community Credit Union to ask for a donation, but received much more, with help from Mrs. Burdick. The students really enjoy the money exercises.
"Doing our own savings accounts really help us learn math in a fun way," said fourth-grader Katelynn Silvis. "When we get older, we will have to take care of our own money and if we practice now, we'll know how to do it properly when we are adults."