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Third grade students from Wilbur Elementary School listen while a special guest reads a story about saving money to them.
Third grade students from Wilbur Elementary School listen while a special guest reads a story about saving money to them.

Teaching children to save

Photo by Maria Errico

Lerner’s CEEE sponsors national program Teach Children to Save Day, reaching many Delaware students

If some third graders at Kathleen H. Wilbur Elementary School follows the advice of a  special recent visitor to their class, they may be able to buy candy, Nintendo games or whatever else their hearts desire in the near future. If what they’ve learned sparks a flame within them, the lesson might travel through life with them, paying dividends along the way.

That is the aim of Teach Children to Save Day (TCTSD), celebrated this year in Delaware in late April. Every year the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, part of the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, partners with the Delaware Financial Education Alliance (DFEA) to present personal finance lessons and financial literacy programming to students statewide. This year 6,700 third and fourth grade students in 286 classrooms throughout the state heard from 125 Delaware banking professionals about the importance of saving money.

Tia McKenzie-Joseph, vice president and senior compliance consultant for M&T Bank, read to a group of eager third graders from the book The Lonely Bill, by Greg Koseluk, vice president, marketing and public relations for the Delaware Bankers Association (DBA). She left behind a copy of the book for the classroom library, a gift from the DBA and DFEA who funded the purchase of all TCTSD books statewide.

TCTSD is a national program that is hosted annually in April, which is also National Financial Literacy Month.

“I am committed to raising financial awareness, meeting our youth where they are, teaching the importance of saving for a successful future and the benefits of money management,” McKenzie-Joseph said. “Educating students at a young age creates communities of lifelong savings habits which in turn help make our communities better…smart savers today become even smarter money managers tomorrow.”

McKenzie-Joseph was paired with students from Alex Phoenix and Casey Bowne’s classroom. She read to students and showed them pictures to help them follow along with the story. She inquired about students’ saving habits and listened to them share stories about saving money in piggy banks, wallets, purses and special hiding places inside their homes. Others shared plans to make big purchases with money that they saved.

“I’m saving for a Paris trip, because there is a Disneyland in Paris,” shared a precocious student named Greysen. “And I’m also saving for a cruise that I’m going on this year,” he added excitedly.

When McKenzie-Joseph told him how impressed she was with his luxurious trips and asked him if he could bring anyone else along with him, Greyson answered that he was already going with a group of people, so, unfortunately, he could not.

Bonnie Meszaros, associate director of the CEEE, championed the TCTSD goal of introducing to children the importance of developing life-long saving habits early in life. Elementary school is the perfect place to begin encouraging the habit.

“As an added benefit, teachers are offered an engaging way to teach about saving, and to learn more about the CEEE as a resource for grade-appropriate personal finance lessons,” Meszaros said.

After reading the book, McKenzie-Joseph used the classroom smart board to illustrate through math equations what happens when people deposit their money into banks and how compound interest works.

Students all agreed that saving money in the bank, where it could gain interest and remain safe, was better than stashing it in a special hiding place at home.

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