Money Management Life Skills
One of the goals of special education is to make sure that students leave the classroom with the skills to lead an independent life upon graduation. One way that special education teachers teach this is by incorporating life skills lessons into the curriculum. One of the important skills that I have written about in previous blog post includes learning about online banking and money management. These skills can be taught at a young age and encourage through having students have responsibilities and rewards.
Responsibilities & Rewards
With today’s tech-savvy times, there are online programs where teachers or parents can help their students and children track their responsibilities and rewards online. One site that I found that is very kid friendly (easy to use, well designed, and colorful) was Kidspoint. Kidspoint is a free resource where you set up an account, add the rewards, and track the additions and subtractions of points. When the child reaches 100, then the child earns the reward. This site also works via text message so that points can be added and subtracted on the fly.
The skills of tracking the responsibilities and the rewards can then be transferred to teaching about money management. One way that this can be taught is by establishing responsibilities both at home and school. At home,the students would earn an allowance. At school, the students could earn fake money that could be applied to various rewards. One good resource that informs parents about how to start teaching about money is an article on the Six Wise website. The article encourages teaching money management early in a child’s life. Children should be taught the different aspects of money – spending, saving, donating, and investing along with making choices.
Just like there are sites for tracking responsibilities and rewards there are sites that help kids and parents to track allowances. One site that I found is Zefty. Zefty is a free online site for tracking allowances. On Zefty, both the parent and child have a login account. Allowances are then ‘deposited’ and ‘deducted’ from the account. Basically the parents act as the bank – however there is no actual money in the online system. Kids are able to track their allowance, print out checks to redeem with their parents, and calculate how long they will have to save to earn for something they would like to buy.
Another similar site is Active Allowance. Active Allowance has both a free version and a paid version of the program. The paid version has addition features like budgeting, creating multiple accounts for a child, and child log on accounts. This site is Similar to Zefty, both the child and the parents have an account. Parents can setup weekly checklists of items to be completed to earn the allowance. The children can then track their progress, calculate savings, and print out allowance checks to redeem with their parents.
Both of these sites can be incorporated into the classroom environment. One way to do this would be to connect with the parents to setup school responsibilities that can be added to the list like completing classwork, home working, participating in class, or even displaying appropriate socialization skills. Another way to use these sites in the classroom is to use fake money (or even introducing credit and debit cards) and have preset rewards like a homework pass, 5 more minutes of free reading, or other classroom appropriate rewards. This would still encourage the students to learn the skills of money management along with incorporating the technology to help in tracking and motivation.
Incorporating money management with technology is a realistic approach to how adults in today’s society budget, save, and invest money. These skills are important for all students to learn, especially students with special needs.
-Article by Laura Ketcham