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The stock market is in a downturn, corporations are laying off workers, public companies are collapsing and federal law makers want the next generation of students to understand how to manage their money.
A subject that was once kept in the home is being moved to the school systems because the teaching of financial education in the home is failing. In 2002, 75% of the graduating high school seniors could not answer basic financial concepts. To solve the problem, teachers at all levels are being asked or pressured to include lessons on subjects such as credit, debt, money management and investments.
A simple, but yet effective money management lesson is to teach children how to write checks and balance a checkbook. It may not be as glamorous as teaching stocks or mutual funds, but will provide practical experience for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. In a recent study, 87% of the US adult population or 172 million people use a checking account to pay bills.
In today's world, it may seem that the concept of using paper checks to pay bills is falling to wayside with the onset of ATM / debit cards, direct deposit and electronic funds transfers (EFT). Do not be fooled. The Federal Reserve Bank is predicting to process 50 billion paper checks in 2003. The Nilson Report also states that the volume of paper checks will rise between 2% - 4% each year, through 2020.
A successful lesson plan can help a child develop the foundation necessary to build important money management skills that they will need through out their lifetime. Understanding basic financial tools, will help students manage their money, stay within budget and problem solve. Timothy Liptrap, a co-author of the 68 page lesson plan How to Write Checks states "students, who understand how to budget, spend and manage their money, will be better off than many adults in today's world."
According to Liptrap, Teachers who create their own lessons should "keep the lesson plan practical" while teaching conceptual skills. "Each month when a parent sits down to pay the bills, they should have their child pull-up a seat to assist and learn. A lesson plan should replicate this experience in the classroom by providing practice checks, bank statements, mock invoices and check registers for each student."
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