Every Teacher Can Promote Financial Literacy with My Classroom Economy

Throughout April, we are celebrating Financial Capability Month by featuring a variety of financial education programs and resources that you can put to use in your classroom right away. The 21st in this series focuses on My Classroom Economy from Vanguard.

We get it. Time is tight – especially for educators. You’re often asked to fit more into your day than is humanly possible. The same can be said of adding financial education lessons to an already overflowing curriculum and schedule. That’s where My Classroom Economy comes in and helps.

The premise of My Classroom Economy is that students learn financial lessons through experiences they have in the classroom. The premise is simple: students need to earn school “dollars” so that they can rent their own desks. 

Teachers assign each student a job, from which he or she earns income. Students then spend their money renting or purchasing their desks and have the opportunity to buy items at classroom stores or auctions. My Classroom Economy also acts as a classroom management system, allowing teachers to establish rules, award bonuses or impose fines for specific behaviors. The program is very flexible, too, as teachers determine the jobs students take on and the rewards provided. See the program in action and get details about how it works here.

The program is designed so that it can be implemented at any grade level – Kindergarten through high school seniors – with the experiences getting more involved as students get older introducing concepts such as insurance and taxes. Older students must also complete a job application and explain why they would be best suited for the job. In some cases, there can be competition for the most popular and/or highest paying jobs.

One of the appeals of My Classroom Economy is that any teacher at any grade level can implement the program. Teach art or technology or English? You, too, can teach personal finance in a meaningful way.  Plus, the program is correlated to Common Core Standards in math, reading, and writing at each grade level.

All of the materials are also provided free of charge. You can download from the site. Or, if your school lacks the resources to print or copy the materials, you can request printed materials as well.  Vanguard will print and mail the requested documents to your school in the quantity requested.  

Does it work? A team of researchers at The Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison think so. They published a paper detailing the findings including:

  • My Classroom Economy increases:
    • Financial knowledge (13% of a standard deviation)
    • Budgeting behavior (11% of a standard deviation)
    • Financial socialization—talking to parents about money (19% of a standard deviation)
    • Economic experience outside of school (21% of a standard deviation)  
  • Students who used My Classroom Economy were more likely to have bank accounts and engage in money management behaviors outside of school.  
  • Parents of My Classroom Economy students reported that their students were taught about money at school at much higher rates than the comparison group.  
  • Teachers reported high satisfaction with My Classroom Economy, with 95% planning to continue using it.
  • My Classroom Economy appealed to teachers both as a classroom management system and as a financial education program. Teachers from a variety of backgrounds successfully implemented MCE.

Find out for yourself if the program might be a good fit in your classroom. Visit the My Classroom Economy site at https://www.myclassroomeconomy.org/.

Disclaimer: Resources included on the Making Cents blog have been reviewed by Pennsylvania educators and deemed worthwhile for classroom or professional use. Inclusion does not indicate endorsement by the Pennsylvania Department of Education or Penn State University.

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