3 Tips for Organizing a Financial Literacy Workshop that Engages Kids and Teens

So you’ve gone and volunteered to organize a financial literacy workshop for 80+ fidgety youngsters and jaded teens. Now it’s time to deliver. How hard could that be? Doh! Maybe Kristin Penner can help you. She pulled it off earlier this month. Read on to find out how...

Kristin PennerThis is a guest post for the FamZoo blog by Kristin Penner. Kristin is a member of the San Jose Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an African-American organization of mothers who nurture future leaders by strengthening children ages 2-19 through chapter programming, community service, legislative advocacy and philanthropic giving.

Financial Literacy: a Healthy Lifestyle Cornerstone

Our organization, Jack and Jill of America, recently instituted a nationwide financial literacy program which aims to have our kids complete a comprehensive financial literacy curriculum by the time they graduate from high school. In planning for a multi-chapter children’s event titled “Aiming for a Healthy Lifestyle,” our San Jose chapter felt that financial literacy was an important cornerstone topic that should be addressed along with workshops on nutrition/cooking, gardening/sustainability, and exercise/recreation.

FamZoo on the Screen at Jack & Jill Financial Literacy Workshop

My challenge was to develop fun, interactive workshops to engage kids in financial literacy for this event, which brought together Jack & Jill kids from three SF Bay Area chapters. We had one workshop for ages 3-8 and another for ages 9-13, each with around 40 kids participating. The younger kids worked with Moonjar’s Spend/Save/Share banks and chore charts, while the older kids talked about savings goals and budgeting with the help of FamZoo’s savings planner and budgeting tools.

The Game Plan

Here is an outline of of the high level game plan we used for each session:

Session 1 for Ages 3-8: Earning, Spending, Saving, Sharing

After a quick intro:

  1. Talk about where money usually comes from and the idea of “earning.” Hand out individual chore charts and FamZoo sticker books. Kids can put their names on these and parents/volunteers can help them add any responsibilities they want to track.
  2. Brief talk with input from the kids about Saving, Spending, Sharing and the Moonjar banks.
  3. Hand out Moonjar banks and stickers to put their names on their banks.
  4. Help kids assemble their banks, put their names on the stickers, hand out activity sheet packets.
  5. Kids can do activity sheets from Moonjar curriculum, if time is remaining, or take them to do at home.

Session 2 for Ages 9-13: Savings Goals and Budgets

After a quick intro:

  1. Savings and Goals — introduce some concepts, illustrated with FamZoo website.
    1. Kids work in small groups (table groups) to complete goal-setting worksheet and come up with a savings goal to report back to the big group.
    2. Groups report in and we run their numbers in the FamZoo Savings Planner tool to see how long it will take them to reach their goals.
    3. Talk about strategies to get to their goals faster (earning extra money, buying smarter, saving more each week, earning interest).
  2. Budgeting — introduce some basic concepts.
    1. Whole group agrees on what is a reasonable clothing allowance per month.
    2. Kids work in their small groups to come up with a clothing budget to fit within that agreed allowance using catalogs provided and adults in room to help out with prices.
    3. Groups report in and enter their paper budgets in the FamZoo budgeting tool to see just how much it would cost per month.

With the help of some great volunteers and a lot of support from FamZoo and Moonjar, both workshops were quite successful. The kids were engaged with the topics and had fun working together.

3 Keys to Engagement

Are you planning a financial literacy workshop for kids? Here are a few tips I can pass on:

  1. Keep it relevant. The kids responded best to big concepts when they could see the application to their own lives. For example, having catalogs from stores they liked made a clothing budget seem much more immediate and compelling.
  2. Get them talking to you and to each other. Small group work really kept the kids engaged and on task. They especially liked coming up with shared savings goals like a trip to the go-cart track.
  3. Have multiple back-up plans. I was grateful to have physical banks, chore charts and activity sheets for the younger kids when the power went out citywide just before the workshops began. I also had printed worksheets and at least one printed copy of my PowerPoint presentation for the second workshop, though (thankfully) the power returned for that session with just five minutes to spare.

Good luck with your workshop!

— Kristin

If you’re interested in this type of workshop and you’d like to contact Kristin for more information, please click here to get to FamZoo’s contact form. Mention that you’d like to get in touch with Kristin Penner, and we’ll connect you.

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