Teach teens financial literacy

At the end of April’s Financial Literacy Month, Junior Achievement of Georgia (JA) reflected on the role that financial responsibility and the recent economic recession has had on the success of Georgia’s youth.

Inspired by the topic, JA encouraged parents and mentors to address the subject of finance with youth by increasing their awareness on how to become financially stable, conveying the importance of setting goals and paving the way for success.

It is important to remember that sharing the knowledge necessary for achieving financial success should not stop with one month. It should continue throughout the year. We challenge parents and mentors to continue conversations and prepare children to take control of their finances.

Junior Achievement dedicates itself to preparing kindergarten through 12th-grade students for success in a global economy. We understand that being well-versed in financial literacy is far more complex than teaching your child to put pennies in the piggy bank. Due to the complexity of this issue, it is vital that we introduce financial literacy to children early.

Due to constraining economic conditions, today’s youth are being forced to learn more about money management. In fact, 81 percent of teens say k-12 is the best time to learn about money management. How do we have this serious conversation with our children so they are prepared for the financial challenges ahead? Well, there’s no doubt financial literacy is a difficult subject to introduce to anyone, let alone a fifth grader, but it is a subject that will assist and influence that child the rest of his or her life.

It is never too soon to teach these lessons. Much like the “birds and bees” talk of previous eras, money management has become one of those “tough conversations” teenagers need to have with their parents. Many parents are uncomfortable educating their children about financial literacy and hope they learn these lessons from someone else. But the more honest and open we become with our youth, the more opportunities they have to learn, understand and grow.

The goal of Junior Achievement is to reinvent the way children learn about financial issues and how to weather an unstable economic climate. Learning the basics of finance and economics will help youth prepare for their future — whether it’s buying their first car, saving for college or investing in that first home.

To achieve this goal, Junior Achievement’s Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center will open this August with two hallmark programs — JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. The concepts exist in more than 20 U.S. cities. Students will be exposed to opportunities for hands-on interactive learning, and be provided a rigorous, relevant curriculum around financial literacy, business and career exploration.

It is the responsibility of the entire community to help build our youth’s foundation for success. Junior Achievement and many area businesses like Chick-fil-A, Delta and SunTrust are working together to provide students with the stepping stones to a sound financial future.

Jack Harris is president of Junior Achievement of Georgia.

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