Twenty years of teaching financial literacy

Earlier this month, thousands of Delaware elementary school students participated in Teach Children To Save Day (TCTSD). The national event, sponsored by the American Bankers Association (ABA), was produced locally by the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware and the Delaware Bankers Association (DBA).

To honor the 20th anniversary of TCTSD in Delaware, the state House of Representatives passed a joint resolution on April 18 designating the week of April 23, 2018 as Delaware’s Teach Children to Save Week.

“The joint resolution passed by the state House of Representatives shows that Delaware values our work and believes personal finance education is very important for the success of our students,” said Carlos Asarta, associate professor of economics and director of the CEEE. “We are very proud of the work that we have done with the Delaware Bankers Association and thousands of volunteers from the business community to bring financial education to more than 100,000 students across Delaware over the past 20 years.”

Throughout the week of April 23-27, hundreds of volunteers from the banking community visited classrooms across the state to read a book, teach fundamental financial concepts and generate student discussion. According to statistics on DBA’s website, approximately 8,000 students in more than 75 schools participated in TCTSD.

“Teach Children to Save Day is one of my favorite volunteer events of the year,” said Joe Westcott, UD Class of ‘98 and VP, Operations and Delaware Market President at Capital One. Westcott, who has volunteered for TCTSD since 2008, taught a class of third-graders at William E. Cooke Elementary School in Hockessin.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see kids comprehend the concepts and benefits of saving,” he said. “Being in front of a classroom of third-graders is not a day-to-day experience for me, so I enjoy getting out of my comfort zone.”

Volunteers read The Great Investo and the Winning Ticket, a children’s book commissioned specifically for TCTSD. The short book, written and illustrated by Greg Koseluk of the DBA, features “the world’s worst money magician” who wastes money on questionable fast-cash schemes before learning that saving his money in a bank account is the safest bet of all. Students then discussed and worked through math problems that reinforced concepts of probability and compound interest that were key themes of the story.

“Mr. Westcott was a terrific presenter – the kids were engaged throughout the entire lesson,” said Nancy McDermott, UD Class of ‘03 and a third-grade teacher at Cooke Elementary. “My students really enjoyed seeing how interest from a savings account makes your money grow. They also enjoyed learning about probability, which was new to them.”

McDerott also said that TCTSD reinforced economic concepts she had taught earlier in the year, including money management and saving. This was her first time hosting the event in her classroom.

Westcott’s TCTSD volunteering had a heightened purpose this year: his nine-year-old daughter was among McDermott’s students.

“We talk about the value of saving all the time,” Westcott said. “At all levels of primary education, we can do a better job teaching the fundamentals of financial literacy. Programs like Teach Children to Save Day help prepare the next generation for financial success.”

“Learning about money is a life skill that is vital for a successful future,” agreed McDermott. “The earlier we can teach kids how to manage money, the more prepared they will be to make financial decisions as an adult.”

Developed by the CEEE in conjunction with the Delaware Financial Education Alliance, Delaware’s TCTSD program and curriculum have been recognized by the ABA as among the best in the nation.

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