Parents and teens want financial education in the classroom

39% of Ontario high school students feel ill-equipped when it comes to money

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The majority of Ontario parents (84%) and teens (70%) want financial education in the classroom, according to a new survey for the Investor Education Fund (IEF). The two groups also agree the majority of students aren’t prepared to manage their money after high school.

Eighty-four per cent of parents say it is important to teach personal finance in the classroom and more than half (53%) say it is extremely important—even if they’re already teaching their kids about money matters at home.

Financial education was introduced in the Ontario school curriculum for grades 4-12 in fall 2012. One year later, more than a quarter (28%) of parents don’t think it’s being taught and more than half (53%) say they aren’t sure if it is, the study found. British Columbia was the first province to have a mandatory course in financial literacy on its high school curriculum. Alberta has a required program called CALM (Career and Life Management) that contains some basic financial teachings. Back in 2010, when the federal Task Force on Financial Literacy published its overview report, Manitoba was in the process of integrating financial literacy throughout the kindergarten-to-grade-12 curriculum. Other provinces offer financial literacy courses but they are not required to graduate, according to the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights.

Outside the classroom, parents report teaching their kids about saving for long-term goals (73%), how interest compounds debt (68%), how to create a budget (61%) and how money grows through saving and investing (56%). Fourteen per cent of Ontario parents don’t teach their teens about any of these topics, the survey found.

“This study reveals how strong the appetite for formal financial literacy education is among parents of Ontario high school students,” IEF President Tom Hamza said in a press release. “It also shows that we need to better support Ontario teachers in getting financial lessons into their classes.”

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IEF launched three new resources for parents, teachers and students on the heels Thursday’s report. The Mind Over Money Educator Academy offers free personal and professional development workshops for Ontario educators. InspireFinancialLearning.ca provides free curriculum-based Mind Over Money lesson plans, videos and activities for  teachers and parents to support financial education in schools and at home. The Mind Over Money Student Video Contest invites students to submit their video answers, individually or collectively with classmates, to the question: “What should every student know about money?” The contest will run until Jan. 31, 2014. The winner of each grade group will receive a $250 gift certificate to use towards school supplies.

IEF is a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission to provide unbiased and independent financial tools.

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