Financial Literacy For Our Youth: A Marathon Not A Sprint!

Apr 23, 2020
NGPF Fellows

 Thanks for NGPF Fellow Jason-Lamont Jackson Sr. from West Orange HS in West Orange NJ for this guest post!


My rewarding career as both a teacher and a coach began simultaneously approximately 22 years ago.  I can vividly remember early experiences as if they happened just yesterday, both in the classroom and on the track.  Year after year I’ve added to my educational and athletic toolkit to improve in each area and I came to a quick conclusion back then, which I've continuously reinforced; TEACHER and COACH are synonymous!  It has been this approach that I carry into both professions with extreme passion and detail.


Many people across the country and throughout the world are currently experiencing devastating financial losses. As we push forward during these uncertain times of educating our students in Financial Literacy, we must continue to advocate for more in-depth instruction. Our students in West Orange, NJ are very fortunate to not only have a full semester of Financial Literacy during High School, but also in middle school as we've begun to lay a foundation in grades 6,7, and 8 with a few weeks of introductory lessons. This allows for reinforcement and retention of concepts prior to graduation and before entering the real world as a young adult.


As a Coach, that concept of reinforcement and retention causes me to think of the term "basework." Athletic basework is the foundation we must lay in order to make it to the end of the athletic season and subsequent years of competition; it's the preparation for future competitions. Regardless of what event you're competing in from the 100m dash up to 26.2 mile marathon, there's a time of basework that an athlete MUST engage in before moving to more specific (event) work.  The longer you develop your basework, the higher your final PEAK will be. PEAK means your best possible performance. Shown in (figure #1) 


As previously mentioned here in West Orange we recently started our 6th graders with some financial literacy basics; S.M.A.R.T Goals, Needs vs. Wants, and the Influence of Social Media on Spending. I would argue that we need to continue to have more in depth lessons during each subsequent grade once entering high school for students to truly take advantage of the various aspects of financial literacy. Starting students off as early as possible, gives them a base of financial literacy learning that could help them reach a peak and change the lives of their families for generations to come! If we apply the same concepts as it relates to achieving the best possible performance in athletics as seen in Figure 1. We can be assured that laying a foundation early in education will ultimately result in successful student comprehension and implementation of financial literacy for the duration of their lives. (see Figure #2.)

As educators, there are several key takeaways for us from experiencing this current pandemic. For me, one of the keys is certainly that we must commit to continue laying the foundation for our youth in financial literacy. Our students will not forget this time they're experiencing as it's unprecedented, and this communal learning opportunity will not present itself again any time soon. We're in this for the future of our students; remember it's a marathon, not a sprint!


Supporting links:

  1. An Early Start on Financial Literacy Pays Off
  2. Do Kids Need To Learn About Money
  3. The Preparation Period in Athletics
  4. Coach R (Peaking for Competitions) Info

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