You should also review the curriculum to make sure it’s appropriate for your child in terms of his or her age and upbringing. For example, a child growing up in a rural area may not understand the financial challenges common to an urban upbringing. “What you’re looking for is content targeted for your kid’s group,” Levine says. Ask if the curriculum has been evaluated, suggests Golden. Many programs have a component that gauges how much a child’s financial knowledge has increased after taking the program. “It can be a simple survey that is done before and after,” he says.
Since price isn’t an indicator of quality, “Parents may want to make sure there is some soundness to what’s being taught,” Levine says. One way to do that: Find programs that use an evaluated and widely accepted curriculum. The JumpStart Coalition compiles a listing and description of teaching materials at www.jumpstart.org/jump$tart-clearinghouse.html. “If a curriculum is listed in our clearinghouse, that means we’ve reviewed it and determined it’s pretty sound and that the content aligns with our national personal finance standards for grades K-12,” says Levine.
If the program is not based on a national training module, find out the qualifications of the person who developed it, Levine suggests. “Inquire if someone on the staff has financial expertise or if a guest was brought in to help develop it,” she says.
Financial education programs can take on a variety of formats, including summer camps, online modules, and after-school workshops. While the format you choose will largely depend on availability and convenience, “It should be something that happens regularly,” Aliche advises, “because knowledge that’s not put into practice will atrophy.”
The key is making financial knowledge as familiar to youngsters as the three R’s. “If you can get kids to develop good financial habits early, they’ll be able to set a goal and achieve it,” says Morrison. “Start the dialogue early and it will stay with them forever.”
— Additional reporting by Sheiresa Ngo