CINCINNATI — Throughout grade school, students learn the fundamentals of English, mathematics, science and social studies. But what about classes on economics and how to best spend your money?
Schools across southwest Ohio are teaching students financial literacy thanks to a program through one Ohio university.
On Friday, Amity Elementary students participated in the Susan Sargen Student Enterprise Program store day at Amity Elementary. Sixth-grade student Hudson Siemon saved up $130 worth of StEP bucks and is looking for the perfect buy.
“The gift cards are mostly interesting, but you have to save up for the whole year,” said Siemon.
Good behavior, attendance and performance are what help students earn the virtual currency. It’s all a part of the University of Cincinnati Economics Center StEP program which teaches students about financial literacy.
Saving and giving back to kids in need is one important thing he said he learned. Amity Elementary School donates the donated money to A Kid Again, an organization that helps kids with life-threatening conditions.
“Say that they have a wheelchair and they can’t go to Kings Island, you can save enough so you can donate so they can actually go there,” he said.
Siemon is one of the dozens of third through sixth-grade students in the program. Learning how to write a check is one of the skills he said he learned.
“If you know how to write a check early on, you will know how to do that as an adult so you won’t struggle to do it. And so you know what to fill out, and all that,” he said.
Kristen King is the Amity Elementary StEP coordinator. StEP has been at Amity for 10 years, but the program has helped schools across the Cincinnati area for more than 15 years. King said she’s truly seen the impact of the program on her students.
“A lot of stuffed animals get bought earlier on, but later as they get older I see more things like the more expensive gift cards and bigger dollars donated at the end of the year,” said King. “So I do think that they do kind of change some of their habits.”
As students like Siemon graduate from the program, organizers hope they have gained both life and soft skills and are able to make careful and considerate decisions when dealing with money. Siemon said he’s grateful to the program because he learned more about writing checks which has prepared him for his future.
“When I was first doing it [writing checks] in third grade, I didn’t know how to, plus saving is important if you need to save for a car or house,” he said.
For more on the StEP click here.