They may not be holding down jobs and paying bills like their high school counterparts, but elementary and middle-schoolers are already beginning their financial education.
For the past few years, Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) students at Sykesville Middle School have been recognized by the A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words contest produced by the Maryland Council on Economic Education’s (MCEE).
Sykesville Middle student Kaylin Burrell’s drawing was featured as the May image in a calendar produced by MCEE. Burrell’s picture illustrates the idea of a marketplace, and shows people shopping amid a variety of colorful stores.
Her piece was one of 16 picked out of more than 1,500 entries. Four thousand copies of the 2018-2019 calendar were printed and distributed to teachers, schools, and MCEE supporters.
For the upcoming 2019-2020 calendar, two more Sykesville Middle School students were chosen. Their names and their artwork will be made public following an awards luncheon on May 15. Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher Carol Schaper, said Sykesville Middle has consistently had winners in recent years.
The selection committee chooses images for the calendar based on how well they capture and portray one of 10 economic concepts.
MCEE’s mission is “improving student economic and personal finance education in Maryland.”
Jeannie Kihn, a staff member of MCEE who serves as instructor during their Financial Labs at Towson University, said state data shows students who get financial literacy education are better savers, have less debt and are more mindful of their credit score.
While elementary and middle school students like Burell may not be writing their own budgets, Kihn said that the foundation in financial education they can build at that age is important.
“You cannot get one or two lessons before college and expect children to retain it,” she said.
In practice, they have found that students aren’t consistently prepared if financial education is left to parents and guardians at home.
“Parents don’t always pass these lessons on because they haven’t had them,” Kihn said.
MCEE contacts teachers they have made contact with through workshops and institutional training and asks them to send entries. Some years there have been as many as 2,200 entries to the calendar contest.
Schaper said that she has had as many as three winners in one year from her Sykesville Middle School students, and usually submits 20-25 entries across her classes.
She said, for her eighth-graders especially, learning about spending plans and financial literacy becomes important as they start to think about things they may want to do, such as paying for car insurance or going to college.
One of the harder concepts to teach is investing, she said. But it’s encouraging that the majority of students in her classes already have a savings account, she said.
Carroll is among seven Maryland counties that require students to pass a financial literacy class in order to graduate high school. Others offer the courses, but do not require them for students to earn a diploma.
On Jan. 26, 2010 the State Board of Education approved the Maryland State Curriculum for Personal Financial Literacy Education, which requires financial literacy education in elementary, middle,and high schools.
Schaper said she is proud of her students for how seriously they take the calendar contest and it is gratifying for them to go to the awards luncheon where their work is displayed on a huge screen. Burrell and her parents and teachers were invited to attend the awards luncheon at Towson University with the other winners.
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More information about the contest is available at www.econed.org/poster-contest.