Learning all about money are Lismore South public School students Kyla Whipps, Kaine Franke and Renee Nickel.
Learning all about money are Lismore South public School students Kyla Whipps, Kaine Franke and Renee Nickel. Doug Eaton

Making sense of money

WHEN it comes to money, students at Lismore South Public School are getting the right start to responsible spending and even managing budgets.

Children from kindergarten to Year 6 at Lismore South are benefiting from a program called "Making Cents".

The course, developed in 2008 for schools in lower-income areas, is aimed at overcoming the lack of financial education the students' parents might have experienced as youngsters.

"There was a clear need across schools to address financial literacy," explained Year 1 and 2 teacher Margaret Phillips yesterday.

"It was shown financial education needed to start in the early stages."

Mrs Phillips said subse- quent surveys had shown 86 to 88% of students who participated in the "Making Cents" program had improved learning in Maths and Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE) studies.

Last week Australian financial counselling service Debt Rescue said it was frightening how little some children knew about money management, with poor modelling from adults.

Debt Rescue operations manager Rachael Witton said she had "visited schools where some kids have never seen cash and others could not tell you the difference between a 50c piece and a 20c piece".

"The younger you start developing their financial literacy skills, the better," Ms Witton said.

Mrs Phillips said the "Making Cents" program was integrated across all subjects and used games so that learning about money is fun.

The games include "Home to Bank" in which children throw a dice to move across a board, landing on squares where they either spend or earn. The winner is the one who ends up with the most in the bank.

Under the program, kindergarten and Years 1 and 2 concentrate on how money is used and recognising coins, Years 3 and 4 on budgeting and Years 5 and 6 on calculating credit.

"In the higher grades students are given stories about using a mobile phone for example," she said.



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