Why Financial Literacy Matters

3 minutes

The Ontario Ministry of Education’s updates to the new Grades 4-9 math curriculum, released earlier this year, include Financial Literacy as a key pillar of essential learning for students across Ontario. For many, this has raised questions about how Financial Literacy should be taught in schools and why it is important for students to grasp these concepts.

“As much as I appreciate Pythagorean theorem, I haven’t really used it too much in my everyday life. We need to teach students really basic life skills so when they get into the world of work, they’re better prepared.”

-Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy, Director of Education, Credit Counselling Society of Toronto

In today’s digitized world, young people need an even wider range of skills to make informed choices. A Statistics Canada report shows that the rapid increase of digital financial services and cryptocurrencies has greatly increased the complexity of the financial marketplace, creating more incentives and opportunities to build debt.

The pandemic provides an example of unexpected health and economic crises that can impact us. A survey by Abacus Research suggests that young people will be the most economically impacted by COVID-19, so the need for preparatory skills to help them manage the economic consequences is urgent.

Why Financial Literacy is So Important

According to Dr. John Mighton, Founder of JUMP Math, being financially literate means having the knowledge and awareness to confidently make responsible personal and professional economic decisions. This knowledge also creates more social equity.

He explains why financial literacy is critical to preparing young people to face economic challenges in the future.

“A lack of understanding of basic financial concepts, at an early age, poorly prepares young people for issues later in life. There’s no denying that the great recession of 2009 was because few of us have been taught the fundamentals of interest rates,” notes Dr. Mighton.

He further points out that Bank of Canada research suggests that household debt is one of the Canadian economy’s largest financial vulnerabilities, reaching historic highs, partly because it has become easier and more attractive to incur debt.

“We weren’t prepared from a young age to understand the big risk in small changes, such as a 1% mortgage increase, so these misconceptions are having repercussions around the world. Across society, we’re making choices based on growth rates in health, education, employment, etc. How can we have a healthy, sustainable society and economy without a deep understanding of percentage, ratios, etc.?”

Improving Math Scores Across Ontario

Research by the Canadian Society for the Study of Education has suggested that many teachers are uncomfortable teaching financial issues due to a lack of confidence and knowledge, as well as math anxiety. A 2019 study found that professional development is a crucial factor in helping educators feel confident and motivated to teach finance in their classrooms.

FREE Financial Literacy Support for Grades 4-9 Ontario Teachers & Students

JUMP Math received funding from the Government of Ontario to create a free online Financial Literacy Support Platform (English and French) to support the teaching and learning of financial literacy in Grades 4-9 classrooms across the province.

This accessible platform is now available to help teachers understand the ministry expectations across all grades, access instructional support and build student confidence and skills through grade-specific online interactive exercises and activities, and includes:

· Interactive, online student exercises and activities that teachers can assign, either in class or at home

· On-demand instructional support webinars that provide in-depth insights on ministry expectations and each topic covered in the new math curriculum

· A convenient dashboard to help teachers monitor and assess student progress as they move through the exercises, and be ready to provide support or additional practice, where needed

· Complete Grade 9 Lesson Plans to assist with class preparation

Financial Literacy lesson plans for Grades 4-8 (English only) are also available for free in the Resource Centre of the JUMP Math website by logging in.