The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 20, 2014

Junior Achievement celebrates Financial Literacy Month

What do elementary-age kids need to know about finances, you ask?

“You're really never too young to start making wise financial choices,” said Jaci Siebenaler, Junior Achievement district manager. And there are numerous school districts and teachers who agree with that sentiment.

“We jumped by 800 students in one year,” Siebenaler said. “Our goal was 6,400, and we exceeded it.”

Junior Achievement is a nonprofit organization aimed at preparing young people to succeed in the global economy. The seven key content areas addressed are: business, citizenship, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics/character, financial literacy and career development.

Volunteers — including parents, grandparents, business leaders and others — make five to seven visits to a classroom in which a teacher has requested the curriculum be taught. Each grade level has curriculum tailored to the children’s age group and to Minnesota state stands of education.

This month — Financial Literacy Month — is especially important for Junior Achievement.

“Volunteers are really getting into the classroom,” Siebenaler said. “April is such a big month for us.”

Siebenaler said what makes the curriculum so effective is the hands-on, experiential learning for kids. New programs are constantly being introduced to keep the lessons fresh.

Third-grade students might get a chance to learn what a city planner does, including lessons on zoning and how to read blueprints, by setting up a 3D cardboard city. High school lessons are more sophisticated, with students taking part in simulated experiences, such as running a manufacturing company in the year 2035.

Hundreds of local volunteers take part in the program, going into both public and private schools and teaching more than 6,400 students.

For more information, email jsiebenaler@jaum.org.

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