April is National Financial Capability Month in the U.S., which represents an opportunity for employers and plan sponsors to help their employees and plan participants boost their money skills.
One audience, however, that employers may not typically consider for financial education is the children of employees. Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) say that starting financial education early can help children get on the road to adult financial well-being.
Employers and plan sponsors can play a role by alerting employees to resources, including those available for free from CFPB. The agency has published guides to help parents have conversations about money using common family financial decisions. CFBP has also compiled a list of popular children’s books in addition to publishing its own series of storybooks for young children.
Building Blocks to Financial Literacy
About 17 states have a financial education requirement for high school graduation, and half of the states have some type of legislation requiring financial education. This requirement should be viewed as a “capstone” for financial education, said Lyn Haralson, a financial education program analyst at CFPB. “We believe in starting earlier and integrating it using our building blocks development model, which reflects the skills that children acquire as they grow.”
The building blocks model focuses on financial skills that are appropriate for children at very young ages through their middle school and high school years. CFPB provides the following description of the building blocks:
The ability to plan ahead, remember information, multitask, solve problems and control impulses. Children develop these traits as early as age three and continue building them throughout childhood.
-Financial habits and values
People use standards, shortcuts, routine practices and rules to live by in navigating daily financial activities. These areas develop quickly during elementary school and in the preteen years.
–Financial decision-making skills
It is important to build familiarity with financial concepts and competency in research and analysis. Teenagers and young adults have good opportunities to develop these skills.
Parents as Teachers
While school is a great place for children to learn financial skills, most children say that their parents introduced them to financial literacy, Haralson said. “The problem with that is that there are varying levels of knowledge among parents,” she noted.
That’s where the CFPB can help. “Parents can use the building blocks as a framework to help them keep their conversations about money age appropriate. If children have questions about money topics, parents can keep the building blocks in mind when they answer,” according to CFBP.
If you’re a parent and looking for skill-building activities, CFPB suggests:
Turn to the CFPB’s Money as You Grow site to find age-appropriate activities you can do at home and around your neighborhood.
Search the CFPB’s teacher activities site to choose among hundreds of short activities, sorted by subject, grade level, activity type and more.
See the FDIC’s Money Smart for Young People guides for modules on individual topics, plus additional readings and references.