The Warren-Walker School of Young Entrepreneurs (SofYE) instructs Warren-Walker 4th-8th grade students in financial literacy, business management, product development, and the importance of philanthropy. The SofYE curriculum is paired with the award-winning Junior Achievement (JA) program’s “BizTown, It’s My Business”, and JA Finance Park.
Students in grades four through six participate in the JA BizTown program where they learn the basics of the economy, cost of goods, profit margins, supply and demand, proper workplace behavior, and giving to charity. The program culminates with a trip to BizTown, a 10,000 sq. ft. mini-city that is run by the students for the day. They take on the roles of positions ranging from the town mayor to CEO of individual businesses like Jack in the Box and Mission Federal Credit Union; the students even assume the role of police officer and retail sales. It is required of the students to apply and interview for all of these positions as they would in the adult world. Students in grades six through eight participate in the JA “It’s My Business” program and JA Finance Park.
At the elementary level, after the JA BizTown trip, the students take a closer look into the nature of money, how it is made and distributed. The program teaches the importance of saving money, needs versus wants, budgeting, and what it takes to start a business as an entrepreneur. We have guest speakers join the class to explain how they conduct business and inform the students on what it takes for them to run it successfully. Fourth grade writes a research paper on an entrepreneur of their choice and how that particular person made a difference. Fifth grade will go through the process of coming up with a new or improved product and learn how to market it.
In too many cases, schools have dropped financial literacy from their curriculum simply to prepare for material on standardized tests. The math skills utilized in budgeting, price setting with the cost of goods sold, and calculating interest will help with math content on such tests. Also, being able to read, write, and understand contracts will help in the area of reading comprehension. Since younger students tend to lack financial goals, getting them familiar and interested in finance is important. Teaching financial literacy in school from the earliest grades can help establish a foundation to build upon (McCormick, 2009) and perhaps graduate college without the burden of student debt. Through hands-on experiences of creating a product and role-playing running a business, students will come out of the program with the knowledge and skills to be financially secure in the years after attending Warren-Walker.
McCormick, M.H. (2009). The Effectiveness of Youth Financial Education: A Review of the Literature (PDF). Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 20(1),70-83.
- Patrick Williams, 4th Grade Teacher & WWSofYE Advisor