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College’s CANSave project teaches financial skills to Kelowna elementary students

Grade 3 AS Matheson students with Enactus Okanagan College students presenting a $1,125 cheque to the Kelowna SPCA, made possible by Valley First.
Image Credit: Contributed
March 02, 2016 - 1:34 PM

KELOWNA - Elementary school students in Kelowna have been getting an early education in financial literacy thanks to an innovative curriculum integration program developed by Enactus Okanagan College students in partnership with Valley First.

In January a group of five College students, under the direction of Okanagan College School of Business Professor Devin Rubadeau, began sharing their knowledge and passion for financial literacy with two Grade 3 classes at AS Matheson Elementary. Over a five-week period, the College students created a simulated economy within the classroom to teach the children the values of needs vs. wants, saving for the future, and the importance of giving back.

“Research has shown that life changing behavior is instilled when applied at the earliest age possible,” says second-year Bachelor of Business Administration student and CANSave project manager Abbey Jones. “Talking about money can be taboo in families and by the time kids start post-secondary the lure of credit cards and the task of managing finances often leads them to a debt scenario. We wanted to design something to help avoid this.”

Using pretend Enactus Bucks, the 50 elementary students earned a wage for completing their assigned CANSave workbooks, had to pay “desk rent” each week of the program, and were also tempted with games, toys, and stationary in a classroom store. Students also encountered the unexpected expense of the classroom Smart Board breaking. They could earn additional wages for completing bonus sheets in their workbook, and showing exceptional behaviours that would be viewed positively in a future workplace. The program also involved parent participation at home, encouraging meaningful conversations about money within the family.

Valley First contributed savings account passports to the students to help them track their savings and expenses. It made the simulation that much more real. The organization also committed to providing $25 for each student who successfully completed the program. The dollars earned were to be combined and donated to a charity of the class’s choice.

Within the first two weeks of the program one third of the students learned a valuable lesson: they were in debt.

“We saw a lot of peer pressure in class where one friend chose to use their Enactus Bucks to buy a toy, and as such the other, even if they couldn’t afford it, did the same,” says Jones. “But when we explained spending above and beyond would mean they wouldn’t have money left to donate to their charity of choice, the SPCA, they got motivated to clean up their finances.”

On Feb. 23, the students from AS Matheson were joined by their Enactus Okanagan College teachers to proudly presented a cheque from Valley First for $1,125 to the Kelowna SPCA, demonstrating that money isn’t all just about earning and spending, but also about having the freedom to give back to the community.

The CANSave curriculum, which was developed around the B.C. Ministry of Education Elementary School Curriculum (taking into account recent updates), has caught the eye of other teachers in the region.

“It’s exciting to see the positive feedback from Kelowna’s teaching community for this student-led program,” says Rubadeau. “One of the pilot teachers is planning to introduce this to other teachers in the district at an upcoming professional development event. Two School District 23 teachers will also adapt the curriculum and incorporate it into their lesson plans for their Grade 1 classes. It’s amazing and a testament to the great work by our College students.”

Teachers interested in learning more about how they can include CANSave into their lesson-plans can contact Devin Rubadeau at drubadeau@okanagan.bc.ca.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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