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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Make School More Relevant

We have been really busy lately and one of the things I have been thinking alot about is how I teach the kids things that are relevant to their lives. I never learned to balance a checkbook, make a budget or even simple things like saving money or planning for my retirement. As a result I am years behind what I could be doing. I am determined to give my kids a head start on these kind of things. I want relevancy in our homeschool and I gotta admit I still got a little of that unschool, real life learning spirit in me. I want my kids to be able to succeed in our world. And it's not the same world I grew up in. Finances is one of the most relevant things we can teach our kids. And one of the most neglected even among homeschoolers. I have never been asked to diagram a sentence or label the anatomy of a frog but I have needed to open a checking account, fill out a W-2 form, make a budget, pick a 401 k, manage a retirement fund. All these are things I had no idea how to do and so I put it off, neglected it and made costly mistakes. So I've been researching, reading, and finally implementing these things in our homeschool. I started out by opening each kid a savings account. I was able to open a little savers account at my bank for just $10. The kids all earn money by doing chores. I know some parents don't believe in paying kids to do chores but I think the lessons they learn from earning and managing their own money definitely outweighs the drawbacks. Just the lessons about tithes and charity makes it worth it in my opinion. Anyway I told the kids that once they earned $10 I would take them to open a savings account and I sweetened the deal by offering to match whatever they could save dollar for dollar for one month only. When each child had earned enough we went to the bank and opened their account. It was a really great experience my banker walked the kids through the process, let them initial and sign some of the papers and praised them for starting a savings so young. Now when their statement come in we open them up and review how much interest they are earning and how much they have deposited since their last statement. Even Lily is already learning how money in her savings is worth more than money in her piggy bank. I think it means more to them because they own it. It's not an account that I started for them, that I put money in it's their account with money they earned. Every couple of months I offer incentives to save. Sometimes I match their savings, Sometimes I offer bonuses. But when they get their allowance (or paydays as they call it) they choose how much goes to save and how much goes to spend. It's a good start.

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